When it comes to Romanticism, he is, as they say, the pure drop. Born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin just outside Warsaw in 1810, Chopin’s father Nicolas was a teacher of French born in the Lorraine who proudly insisted on speaking his adopted Polish at home. Quickly recognised as a child prodigy, Chopin gave public concerts and started composing at the age of seven. He moved widely in artistic circles in his youth, traveling to Berlin and then Vienna where he debuted on the big stage to acclaim. Caught up in the wave of Polish emigration fleeing the November Uprising, he arrived in Paris for the first time in 1830 and was quickly taken to heart by a confraternity of fellow musicians with Robert Schumann summing up the general consensus the following year when he wrote the famous words: “Chapeaux bas Messieurs, un génie!". Chopin spent the majority of his remaining 19 years in Paris and they are amply remembered around the city and primarily on the Right Bank: there are plaques where he first lived at #27 rue Poissonnière and later at #80 rue Taitbout, and finally where he passed away in 1849 at #12 Place Vendôme. And there is more: his study replete with Pleyel piano is reconstructed at the Salon Frédéric Chopin in the Bibliothèque Polonaise on the Île Saint Louis and of course he is remembered by the city with the Place Chopin in a rather unmelodramatic part of the 16th arrondissement. Chopin’s much documented and tumultuous 9-year relationship with writer George Sand can be vicariously relived at the Musée de la Vie Romantique at #16 rue Chaptal, where plaster-casts of Sand’s arm beside Chopin’s hand are a particular draw. At the Parc Monceau a large marble sculpture of Chopin playing the piano is tucked away in a corner for lovers to discover while ambling along those twisted paths, and of course fans of Liebestod will be obliged to say a prayer at Chopin’s grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery. But perhaps the icing on the cake for true romantics is the Hôtel Chopin, hidden away from prying eyes at the end of the Passage Jouffroy, an arcade where Chopin spent many a wandering ballade during his early days in Paris; with rooms starting at around €80, it is possibly the most romantic address in the city.
Hotel Chopin, 46 Passage Jouffroy, 10 Boulevard Montmartre, 75009. Tel: 01 47 70 58 10.