Patti Smith Buys Rimbaud’s Replicated Childhood Home in France

The house is located in the small town where the legendary poet wrote ‘A Season in Hell.’

Patti Smith at the Arthur Rimbaud museum in Charleville-Mezieres in 2011, where she paid tribute to French poet in the 120th anniversary of his death. Photo GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images.
Patti Smith at the Arthur Rimbaud museum in Charleville-Mezieres in 2011, where she paid tribute to French poet on the 120th anniversary of his death. Photo GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images.

Patti Smith, writer and musician extraordinaire, has bought a reconstruction of the childhood home of her lifelong idol, the French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

The house is located in Roche, a tiny, quiet village with a total of 90 inhabitants in the region of Ardennes, near the French-Belgian border. This location is particularly significant for Rimbaud enthusiasts because that’s where he wrote one of his best-loved work, A Season in Hell, aged just 19.

The reconstruction, spearheaded by Jacqueline Kranenvitter and Paul Boens, became a pilgrimage site for fans of the writer and enfant terrible, but had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

According to Le Journal des Arts, the transaction took place in utmost secrecy. This past February, while she was in France to receive the Grand Vermeil medal of the city of Paris, Smith quoted Rimbaud in her speech.

But what she didn’t reveal then was that she was scheduled to sign the paperwork of the sale of the symbolic house—located in the town where Rimbaud spent much of his childhood—only a few hours later.

The transaction was facilitated by Alain Tourneux, president of the International Association of Friends of Arthur Rimbaud, who contacted the artist to inform her of the decaying state of the house, L’Ardennais reports.

Smith, a Rimbaud die-hard fan if there ever was one, decided to step in. Her plans for the house haven’t been revealed, but it is safe to assume that she will take good care of the property.

Smith first fell in love with Rimbaud’s work as a teenager, finding comfort in his words. “I devoted so much of my girlish daydreams to Rimbaud. Rimbaud was like my boyfriend,” she said in a 1996 interview with BOMB Magazine.


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