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From the so-called “Hôtel du Paroy” to the Maison Doisneau 

The building, which is today home to the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau, was built by the Jesuits in the second half of the 18th century, making it one of the oldest buildings in Gentilly. Its use at that time remains unclear and it was only during the 20th century that the building became a hotel renting furnished rooms. The ‘Hôtel du Paroy’ took its name from the street where it was situated, Rue du Paroy, which changed names at a later date to become Rue de la Division du Général Leclerc. In April 1985, Gentilly town council decided to buy the run-down building, which was in a state of abandon, without however any specific intentions in mind.

In 1992, during the celebrations for Robert Doisneau’s 80th birthday (the photographer was born in Gentilly), it was decided to give his name to this former hotel that would henceforth become a centre dedicated to photography. As a matter of fact, the future Maison Doisneau was located just a few hundred metres from 39 Avenue Raspail, where the photographer was actually born on April 14th 1912. The building is recognisable thanks to its commemorative plaque.

Renovation work began under the direction of the architect Jacqueline Eberhard and the 200 m2 interior was redesigned to receive visitors, host exhibitions and provide office space for the site’s administration. Unfortunately Robert Doisneau died on April 1st 1994 before the opening; the Maison de la Photographie opened its doors in 1996, with as its patron Jean Dieuzaide, another major figure of French humanist photography and one of Robert Doisneau’s friends.