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Meudon: a little history box of art, music and literature in France

When we talk about France we always think right away to Paris or other bigger cities, but how much do we know about the hidden gems and lovely places located just in the suburbs? One of these is Meudon, situated only 15 minutes on the RER-C train southwest of the Eiffel Tower and 15 minutes northeast of the Chateau of Versailles.

The American research engineer Ira Katz, who has lived in France for over 12 years, wants to share with us the hidden beauty and history of this town. His motivation for this article started when he attended a concert last year at the house formerly owned by the organist Marcel Dupré, the elegance and beauty of the music, the architecture, the educated audience inspired him an intense nostalgia for something he had never known but it can still be discovered here: civilisation.

Meudon is built on the hills with a forest and wonderful parks. On one hill there was a grand chateau (castle) that was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, but later an astronomical observatory was built on the site. It is the location for astronomical research of the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), and from its Observatoire park you have a beautiful view of Paris.

Meudon has played a bit part in the history of art, music and literature, and this history lingers on in daily life. Ira collected for us 5 examples of how Meudon is figured in the history.

1. François Rabelais

Thanks to his literacy power and historical importance, Rabelais is considered one of the greatest writers of world literature and among the creators of modern European writing.  His literary legacy is such that today the word Rabelaisian has been coined as an adjective inspired by his work and life. In 1547, he became curate at Meudon, where he lived for 3 months before his death in Paris in April 1553. One of the schools in Meudon is named after him.

2. Molière.

The widow of Molière, the French Shakespeare, bought a house in Meudon (she lived there 1676-1700) that is now the home of the same Art and History Museum (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire).

3. Auguste Rodin.

The great sculptor Auguste Rodin had a house in Meudon. In addition to the beautiful and well known museum at his house in Paris (known for the crowd too), there is the Musée Rodin museum that was his house in Meudon as well.

4. Louis-Ferdinand Céline. {.Normal1}

The innovative 20th century writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline settled in Meudon after his return to France from exile (he was tried in absentia for collaboration and antisemitic writings) after the war. Céline died on July 1, 1961 of a ruptured aneurysm and was buried in a small cemetery in Meudon near his house.

5. Richard Wagner.

The German composer Wagner spent a few months living in Meudon in 1841, while writing The Flying Dutchman. The plaque in front of his house quotes him: “ Sa misère est extrême et il connaît, à Meudon, les mois les plus cruels de son existence .” (which means: His misery was the most extreme he had known at Meudon, the months were the cruelest in his existence).

Nowadays we are surrounded by all kind of news related conflicts, cultural and politic situations and it's not always easy to remain positive, but as Ira says "Life is much more than what the government controls. Meudon is a wonderful place to live and raise a family due to the history, people, and culture here".

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