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French Lesson at the Hôtel-Dieu in the Paris 4th

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Open to hear a description of the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris in French and then read the full-text with highlighted vocabulary below.


Private French lesson at Hotel-Dieu_de_Paris_(2007)Location: 1, place du Parvis Notre-DamePublic

Transportation:  metros line 4 at Cité or line 1, 4, 7, 11, or 14 at Chatlet

Hours: Open twenty-four hours everyday, but be respectful that this is a functioning hostpital

Admission fees: free to visit the gardens

Websiteswww.aphp.fr/hopital/hotel-dieu

The Hôtel-Dieu or “Hostel of God” is one of the oldest still operating hospitals in the world. Located next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 651 to offer food, shelter, and medical care to the poor. For many centuries it was the only hospital in Paris and it AncienHotelDieuParisMarvillehad a terrible reputation. In the 1700s, there was often one bed for every five patients and a quarter of the patients who entered the hospital died of diseases they caught there. The hospital was damaged numerous times throughout the centuries by fire and war.  Baron Haussmann moved the Hôtel-Dieu to its current location during his transformation of Paris in the mid-1800s.  The present structure was built in 1877 and with its construction the quality of care also improved. (It also helped that other hospitals opened in Paris.)  Today Hôtel-Dieu is still the first casualty center for emergency cases in Paris and it has approximately 350 beds (with one patient per bed).

While most Parisians only visit the Hôtel-Dieu for medical emergencies, you can explore the building and its beautiful gardens without the excuse of a broken leg or painful ear infection.  To access the gardens enter through the front entrance of the hospital on the square of Notre Dame, then make a right down the corridor, and a left to the garden entrance. The park benches located along the colonnaded walkways are a perfect place to quietly study your French verb conjugation or relax after noisy day of sightseeing.

You can also stay at the Hôtel-Dieu even if you are not sick. The Hospitel hotel occupies the top floor of the hospital.

To help you prepare for your visit, here is a French text on the Hôtel-Dieu:

Situés en général à l’ombre de la cathédrale et dépendant de l’autorité de l’évêque, les premiers hôtels-Dieu font leur apparition en France au VIIe siècle. Ils servaient à héberger les pèlerins et à évangéliser les voyageurs mais, petit-à-petit, cette fonction hospitalière se transforme d’une part en hospice et d’autre part en hôpital qui accueillent principalement les vieillards, les malades et les pauvres.

Contrairement aux autres hôpitaux parisiens d’Ancien Régime, l’Hôtel-Dieu n’était pas spécialisé et acceptait même les lépreux qui étaient toutefois immédiatement transférés dans une dépendance de l’Hôtel-Dieu en banlieue, la léproserie. Ainsi, voyageurs, femmes enceintes, enfants abandonnés, pauvres, vieillards, blessés ou malades étaient tous admis. Par principe, l’Hôtel-Dieu ne refusait personne, et il fallait entasser les paillasses des malades jusque dans les couloirs en cas d’épidémie ou de disette.

Ancêtre des hôpitaux parisiens, l’Hôtel-Dieu garde une aura exceptionnelle pendant tout l’Ancien Régime.

un pélerin = a pilgrim ; évangéliser = evangelize; petit-à-petit = little by little ; un hospice = hospice; un vieillard = old person ; un lépreux = leprous ; une léproserie = leprosarium; une paillasse = straw mattress ; une épidémie = plague ; une disette = scarcity

Interested in a private French lesson at the Hôtel-Dieu? Call or contact us to organize a lesson here or at another site “off the beaten path” in Paris.

Photo Credits: A view across the square in front of the Notre Dame, looking towards the Hôtel de Dieu by Les Hutchins from Berkeley, California. Photograph by Charles Marvill between 1875-1868 of the previous structure before it was demolish by Haussmann. The colonnaded courtyard inside the Hôtel de Dieu.  The Pont Notre-Dame and the Hôtel-Dieu.