Au Petit Paris (Little Paris)Marcel Dhièvre (1977)
476 Avenue de la République, Saint-Dizier, Champagne-Ardenne, 52100, France
begun circa 1937
Au Petit Paris is open to visitors Wednesday to Saturday. Visit the website for more information.
About the Artist/Site
Born in a small community near the city of Saint-Dizier, Marcel Dhièvre was somewhat isolated during his youth, no doubt a result from a congential paralysis that he suffered in his right hand. He married in 1920, and for a short period held a job with the French national railways, but this did not suit him. In 1923, he and his wife bought a house on the Avenue de la République in Saint-Dizier, where they started a clothing shop, selling products from on site and also in nearby markets.
After divorcing in 1935, Dhièvre married again two years later, and the couple moved to Eurville, a community not far from Saint-Dizier. Although partially disabled, Dhièvre constructed their home himself; soon, having met an Italian painter/decorater who introduced him ito his métier, he began to embellish the outside of the house with mosaic decorations. After his clothing shop reopened after World War II, he began a major project in which his urban home became completely covered in ornamentation.
Dhièvre traveled regularly to Paris to supplement the stock of his shop, and he so admired the grandeur of the city that he called his shop, Au Petit Paris (At Little Paris). He embellished the facade with mosaics, focusing on natural motifs such as representations of flowers, trees, and birds, as well as on important Parisian monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Chambre des Députés. He worked inside as well, decorating the interior walls with frescoes, and he also painted and created ceramic constructions.
After Dhièvre retired in 1960, he devoted himself fully to his life's work, which he did so passionately that he gradually lost contact with the outside world. He continued working until his death in November 1977.
Although in 1984 the house was recognized as a Monument Historique, its future remained uncertain for several decades. The new private owner, who wanted to maintain the house as an art environment, could not obtain the necessary funds, so the site gradually fell into disrepair, as the colors of the mosaics faded and elements fell off. In 2008, however, the city announced it would become the owner of the site and allocate funds to restore it, implementing the restoration during 2011-2012.
~Henk van Es / Sophie Lepetit
Update, May 2020: After the restored house was reopened in September 2012, for some years it remained unclear how it would be used. In late 2017 it was announced that it would become kind of a cultural café. In September 2019 such a cafe opened indeed, the Bar au Petit Paris.
Map & Site Information
476 Avenue de la République
Saint-Dizier, Champagne-Ardenne, 52100 fr
Latitude/Longitude: 48.6381577 / 4.937957
Brannay, Bourgogne Franche-Comté
Dicy, Bourgogne Franche-Comté