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Berlioz in Paris

British Embassy in Paris

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    Berlioz and Harriet Smithson were married at the British Embassy on 3rd October 1833. Berlioz had borrowed 300 francs from one of his friends, Thomas Gounet, to pay for the expenses. Bertha Stritch, Robert Cooper, Jacques Strunz and Liszt were their witnesses. The couple went to Vincennes near Paris for their honeymoon. 

    In a letter to his younger sister Adèle, dated 6 October 1833, Berlioz writes (Correspondance Générale no. 347):

Yes, my dear Adèle, it is all over. The ceremony took place last Thursday following French and English practices. Henriette was afraid I might become emotional, and had urged me to keep complete control of myself in front of so many witnesses; I followed her instructions so well that I kept my calm superbly and it was she who wept. I am staying with her at Vincennes in a pretty little country cottage, far away from all indiscreet looks. On the day of our marriage her sister left us alone and we had our wedding feast in the most comical manner you can imagine. There were no servants to wait on us, and we had our dinner brought to us from the Vincennes restaurant. As for the dessert we picked it in the garden; the weather was delightful – sunny, mild, gentle, altogether wonderful. In short it was pure bliss.

British Embassy in Paris in pictures

    The first picture below is an 1830 engraving showing the Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg St Honoré, from A. Pugin’s book Paris and its Environs, published in London in 1831, in our collection. The next two images show the certificates of Berlioz’s marriage registration, at the British Embassy in Paris, and at the office of the Mayor of the first arrondissement. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

    The six modern photos of the British Embassy on this page were taken by Mr Christopher Follett in 2009. © Christopher Follett for the 2009 photos. All rights reserved.
We are most grateful to Mr Follett for sending us electronic copies of the photos and for granting us permission to reproduce them here.

British Embassy in Paris in 1830
British Embassy

(Large view)

This is an 1830 engraving showing the Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, from A. Pugin’s book Paris and its Environs, published in London in 1831, in our collection.

The certificate of marriage as registered at the British Embassy
Marriage certificate

(Large view)

The original copy of this certificate is in the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) in London.

The French record of Berlioz’s marriage
Marriage certificate

(Large view)

The original copy of this certificate is in the library of the Paris Conservatoire.

British Embassy in Paris in 2009
 – view from Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
British Embassy

(Large view)

British Embassy in Paris in 2009
 – view from Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
British Embassy

(Large view)

State Dining Room
British Embassy

(Large view)

The marriage ceremony between Berlioz and Harriet Smithson took place in this room.

State Dining Room
British Embassy

(Large view)

Rear of the building and garden
– view from State Dining Room
British Embassy

(Large view)

Rear of the building and garden
– view from State Dining Room
British Embassy

(Large view)

© (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page. All rights reserved.

© 2009 Christopher Follett for the 2009 photos. All rights reserved.

Copyright notice: The texts, photos, images and musical scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law. All rights of publication or reproduction of this material in any form, including Web page use, are reserved. Their use without our explicit permission is illegal.

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