France Jaigu was perfectly content with her family’s light-filled apartment near the Champs-Élysées. So the psychoanalyst admits she was more than a little hesitant when her husband, Charles, a journalist with Le Figaro, told her he wanted to buy his childhood home from his mother and move from the Right Bank to the Left into a cramped 16th-century townhouse on one of Paris’s oldest streets. She finally agreed, but on one condition. “If we are going to move there,” she said, “I get carte blanche with the decor.”
The house, in the fifth arrondissement off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, did have some advantages. Her mother-in-law’s apartment—a triplex at the top of the six-story townhouse—had an annex where the couple’s young-adult children (who are still at home) could live while affording some privacy for the parents. Their oldest son resides in another apartment in the building.