In Passy, at the corner of Rue Raynouard and rue Singer, is the site of a house that once stood here called the “Hôtel de Valentinois” — hôtel in the old sense of the word, meaning mansion. This was where the American diplomat, writer, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) lived for nearly ten years while he was the American “plenipotentiary” (and later ambassador) to France.
All you loyal readers of my Halle tips (thanks again to both of you) may recall that I mentioned Benjamin Franklin as the inventor of a musical instrument called the glass armonica in 1762.
Fifteen years later, when he arrived in Paris, Franklin was seventy-one years old and his mission was to secure French assistance for the American War of Independence against the British. He was very successful in this, and he was also successful in negotiating the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783, which officially ended the war and established the United States as an independent country.
Second photo: The historical plaque at the site of the Hôtel de Valentinois says that in the early eighteenth century it had one of the best views of any building in Passy, because in 1711 the owner bought the house on the opposite side of the street, had it torn down and prohibited any further construction there, so he had an unencumbered view of the river.
(In the three centuries since then there has been quite a bit of construction between here and the river, so the view of the river is no longer as good as it once was. But now from just up the road you can see the Eiffel Tower, which of course didn’t exist in 1711.)
From 1736 to 1774 the house was used as a theater and was the site of wild parties hosted by the Countess de Valentinois. Later the house was bought by a merchant named Le Ray de Chaumont, a friend of Benjamin Franklin’s who invited him to stay there from 1777 to 1785.