Saturday, October 30, 2010

Passage de la Reine de Hongrie

This photo isn't my best work but that's not the point.  This door marks one of the many covered passages that can be found in the city of Paris, some all tricked out with fancy shops, others literally just passages from one street to another, in this case between the rue Montmartre and rue Montorgeuil in the 2nd arrondissement.  (This entrance is at 17 rue Montorgeuil.)  It's a cautionary tale about Julie Bécheur, a shopkeeper at the nearby Les Halles market, who lived in the passageway.  One day, she took a petition to the queen of France on behalf of the other women of the district.  The nature of her grievance or request is lost to time but not the remark made by Queen Marie Antoinette that Mme. Bécheur reminded her of the queen of Hungary who just happened to be the queen's mother, the all powerful Maria Theresa.  Apparently, this flattered Mme Becheur enough to repeat it to all the neighborhood.  In time, there was hardly a soul who hadn't heard about the queen's remark and somewhat as a joke, someone changed the name of the passage to reflect the importance of one of its residents.

But then a little thing called the French Revolution happened and we all know how that turned out for Marie Antoinette.  And you don't have to know much about the Revolution to know that it didn't turn out well for pretty much anyone connected to the royals, in this case, an insignificant shopkeeper with aspirations above her station who too lost her head.

The moral of the story?  Believing a flatterer may secure you a place in history but it's probably not very good for your physical well being.

Special thanks to Jacques for sharing this historical tidbit.

5 comments:

Ksam said...

Wow, what a great story - thanks for sharing indeed!

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

What an incredible story ....albeit sad...thanks.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

It is too bad that Mme. Bécheur was caught in the middle and lost her head. I understand that there are many of the passages which like this one are closed. Thanks for taking us there... with the story.

Anonymous said...

It reminded me of what happened to the Princesse de Lamballe! Maria O. Russell

croquecamille said...

There are great stories behind just about everything in Paris, aren't there? Thanks for sharing this one, it's new to me.

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