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May 20, 2012


The Smallest House in Paris

by soundlandscapes

WE DON’T KNOW TOO MUCH about the smallest house in Paris but we do know that it’s wedged between two tall buildings in the Rue du Château d’Eau, at N° 39, and if you don’t know it’s there it’s easily missed.

The house is approximately 1.10 metres wide and 5 metres high and it comprises a ground floor shop and one upstairs room. It is said that it was built as a result of a family quarrel.

The land where the house now stands used to be a passage connecting the Rue du Château d’Eau to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin. It seems that in a dispute, the heirs to the land were unable to reach agreement so the owner resolved the problem by building this tiny house and blocking the passage.

There is however, more to the Rue du Château d’Eau than just the smallest house in Paris. The street stretches for almost half a mile from the Boulevard de Magenta to Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis.

I always think of this street as comprising two parts. The first part, from the Boulevard de Magenta close to République to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, is fairly quiet and very French. It includes the popular Marché Saint-Martin.

From the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis the street takes on a very different hue reflecting the multi-cultural atmosphere of this city. We move from France to Africa.

Sounds of Rue du Château d’Eau:

Hairdressers, beauty salons, nail bars, noisy African men, beautiful African women and a mélange of sounds dominate this part of the fascinating Rue du Château d’Eau.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 20 2012

    It really is noticeably different in tone isn’t it? A bit more life, less “contained” sounding. This might be one of my favourites recordings that you’ve done. Have you mixed it at all, or is it a straight recording?

    • May 20 2012

      Thanks Jay. I think the recording reflects the atmosphere of the place. There are pockets of sound like this around Paris. For example, I published a blog piece some time ago about ‘Little Jafna’, and the Tamil community in Paris and the sounds there have a similar quality to them. I think it’s a cultural thing as much as anything and in Paris we are blessed with a mélange of different cultures which adds colour and texture to our sights and sounds. I’ve managed to create quite a large archive of these different Parisian sound textures.

      As far as this recording is concerned, it’s not a mix. I simply walked around the area between the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin and the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis recording as I went. The whole recording amounts to around 30 minutes so I have edited down the version that appears here to around four and a half minutes. Most of what you hear in this clip was actually recorded at the junction of the Rue du Château d’Eau and the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. It’s just about the liveliest part of the street in the daytime.


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