Pierre Boulat

Hotel Beau Séjour, place de la Contrescarpe


Four centuries old, the hotel was, when Pierre Boulat shot the story in 1953 , the cheapest in France.

12 narrow rooms, basically furnished, without running water, central heating, or telephone and no one to clean or help. But it was also the most looked for by foreign artists arriving in Paris. In fact, the only way to get a room there, was to be an artist recommanded to the owner, Madame Marabelle, by another artist who would have stay there before.

She had been a house keeper and bought the hotel in 1930 for a pittance. She persisted only to rent to foreign artists – Swedish, American, German, Mexican, British – and ledded her business with a stick. In that Babel Tower, she officiated as full-time stepmother, occasionally confidente and sometimes even art critic when the settlement of the notes depended on the sale of a canvas.  But under an authoritarian initially surly and voluntarily, she hid a heart of gold. It was a cheep story of hate and love.