53 rue Mouffetard 75005 Paris
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, today I’ll be sharing the true story of a REAL pot of gold, found on the infamous Rue Mouffetard, the beloved street that still manages to retain a touch of authentic Parisian charm.
If you take a look around the area near the interaction of the Rue Pot du Pot de Fer, you will see a souvenir shop, and a vegan Pastry shop, and an E-cigarette Boutique. Hello 2021!! Right where you see a hideously modern building, an old AF apartment building dating to before the 16th century used to stand.
In May of 1938, as it was in the process of being demolished, a treasure was discovered amongst the rubble.. The Treasure of the Rue Mouffetard! When I saw this book title in 2018, I was pretty stunned. I mean, I’m an amateur historian and this is MY street, how have I never heard of this treasure?!
Wrapped neatly in paper detailing the last will and testament of Louis Nivelle dated 16 November, 1756- were 3,556 pieces of gold coins, depicting King Louis XV from the early 1700’s. The demo crew, not exactly familiar with what they had discovered, pocketed what they believed to be old copper coins, and went on with their business. Except for one guy, who took his coins to a jeweler out of curiosity, only to discover the true value of what sat in his pocket.
Well the city of Paris was notified, and lucky for them, because about that building that was demolished? Well it was under their ownership! Unfortunately for the construction crew, their “copper” coins were confiscated from their homes and from the neighboring cafés where they were traded for espressos, and even from a candy machine at the metro Robespierre.
So what was all this money doing stashed away? Mr. Nivelle lived a pretty cush life; he was a respected citizen and worked as a secretary for the Big Man King Louis XV himself. But he held dangerous religious beliefs for the time, and also had a bit of a double life. When he died unexpectedly in October of 1757, he must have hidden his fortune at his 2nd “secret” residence on the Rue Mouffetard so well, that his daughter, to whom the will was addressed- never found it.
But the story gets even crazier.. 200 years later when it is rediscovered, the problem of ownership for this hoard of 3,500 gold coins, each worth about $10,000 in 1938 ($174,000 today)- needed to be dealt with and it took the city 11 years to decide.
They eventually gave back a portion to the construction workers, a portion to themselves (this is tax friendly France of course!), AND the descendants of Louis Neville…They found 83!