France is well known as a nation of lovers, and there are so many wonderful love stories in France’s history that have stood the test of time.
So, we thought we’d indulge our romantic side, as we love to do here at The French Bedroom Company, and tell you the stories of our favourite famous French lovers, and imagine what type of French bed they might sleep on today.
Héloïse & Abelard
“When my self is not with you, it is nowhere.”
In the 12th century, a young philosopher of Christianity and his student began a love affair that would transcend hundreds of years. Abelard, famous for his infallible memory and quick wit, taught in the Paris schools of Notre Dame. Héloïse was a very well-educated young woman who was renowned for her writing and knowledge of language, which was unusual at the time.
Abelard sought Héloïse out and became her philosophy tutor, but they spent more time making love than learning. However, they were not discreet about it, and talk of their affair made it to the streets of Paris, where ballads were sung of their love.
As a teacher, Abelard was supposed to be celibate, so he became very alarmed at this gossip, and thought it best that Héloïse went back to her convent school. But he couldn’t keep away, famously making love in the nun’s refectory! Eventually, Héloïse became pregnant.
This did not please her uncle, who demanded that they marry. Neither Abelard nor Héloïse liked this option as they both know it would ruin Abelard’s career. They both reluctantly agreed, if it was kept a secret.
Her uncle did not keep it a secret.
In response, thinking that it would save his reputation, Abelard decided it was best if Heloise went to a convent and became a (very unwilling) nun. Her uncle thought Abelard had abandoned his niece, so he arranged the very medieval retaliation of castration!
Abelard became a monk, and Héloïse a nun. They wrote many beautiful love letters to each other, witch Héloïse confessing that she thought often of their sexual endeavours when she should have been praying!
They have been the subjects of paintings, literature, on stage and even referenced in film, and there is also a monument to them in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise.
Our Sassy Boo Boudoir Majestic Four Poster bed, with its twisting pillars, scroll top headboard and a footboard with a multiple-arched design, would be the perfect bed for this couple.
Napoleon & Josephine
“Without his Josephine… what can he do?”
Napoleon Bonaparte, the emperor of France and one of the most powerful men in history, was known for being a military genius, but he was also full of fiery passion for Josephine.
Josephine was 32 and a mother of two when she met Napoleon. He was 26, making their love affair quite the scandal. It was a match of convenience, Napoleon needed an older woman to make him look respectable, and Josephine was looking for her next lover to keep her in the upper echelons of French society. Napoleon soon became obsessed with Josephine.
They married in 1796 in Paris and two days later, Napoleon left to lead the Italian army to triumph. He wrote many letters bursting with passion and fire, but Josephine rarely wrote back. In fact, she barely even read them. She was having an affair.
When Napoleon found out, he began his own affair in retaliation. Their marriage never really recovered, but it appears that Josephine did come to match Napoleon’s love for her.
As Napoleon was crowned Emperor of The French and Josephine Empress, it was becoming clear that Josephine could not bear children, and eventually Napoleon informed her that he was divorcing her. On hearing this news, she screamed and collapsed, having to be carried to her bed.
At the divorce ceremony, each party read words of devotion to one another, with Josephine sobbing through her words. Napoleon tried to ensure that she would be looked after, allowing her to retain the rank and title of empress, “and especially that she never doubt my sentiments, and that she ever hold me as her best and dearest friend.”
He remarried, and had a child in 1811, who was titled King of Rome.
Josephine died when she was 50, and Napoleon reacted by locking himself in his room, refusing to see anyone. His last words before he died were said to have been, “France, l’armée, tête d’armée, Joséphine”.
As emperor & empress, Napoleon and Josephine would have had to have slept in a stately emperor bed. We even have one named after them, crafted out of the finest solid mahogany with ornate floral hand-carvings.
Alice B. Toklas & Gertrude Stein
“It was Gertrude Stein who held my complete attention, as she did for all the many years I knew her. I knew her until her death, and all these empty ones since then.”
Hosts of the Avant Garde number 27 rue de Fleurus salon in the early 20th century, theirs was the place to be on a Saturday night if you were a writer or artist. Considered crucial influences in the modernist movement, Alice and Gertrude attracted creators like Picasso, Mattise, Ernest Hemingway, Thornton Wilder and more to their home.
They met on Alice’s second day in Paris. Both American expats, they bonded instantly, and intensely, and were barely away from each other in the next 40 years of their relationship, until Gertrude’s death.
While Gertrude was the writer and art collector, and mentor to many creators, Alice was her “wifey”, and would help publish her works and make sure she was fed. Gertrude would work late into the night and small hours, and would leave love notes on her pillow for Alice to read when she woke up.
Gertrude died of cancer in 1946, and as their marriage was never legally recognised or in the eyes of society at large, Alice’s situation was precarious. Gertrude had intended her art collection for Alice, but Gertrude’s family took it for their own. She converted to Catholicism in the hopes that it would mean she would be with Gertrude again after her own death.
Stylish but simple, we think Alice and Gertrude would have slept in a bed like our Calvados Brown Velvet Bed, and we’d like to think that Alice would have paired it with colourful patterned bedding.
Simone de Beauvoir & John Paul Sartre
“We were two of a kind, and our relationship would endure as long as we did: but it could not make up entirely for the fleeting riches to be had from encounters with different people.”
Defying the conventions of love of both their time and ours, Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre are the epitome of contemporary love and partnership.
Considered the mother of the modern women’s movement, Simone was the author of renowned feminist text The Second Sex. Her partnership with Jean-Paul was set against the backdrop of the roaring twenties, the decade where anything went, and the duo’s relationship mirrored this adventurous period.
Simone met Jean-Paul, a philosopher and playwright, in 1929 while they were both studying philosophy. The lovers rejected the norms of a monogamous relationship and set out on a partnership that bestowed freedom to explore sexual and romantic relations outside of their own, with the only condition being ultimate transparency.
Throughout this lifelong partnership, both Simone and Jean-Paul had numerous romantic and sexual relationships with others. Simone would go on to facilitate sexual encounters for Jean-Paul, whilst her own affairs appeared to be amorous and longer-term like those she engaged with the American Novelist Nelson Algeran.
The lovers' emotional intimacy flourished for 51 years, with the pair never marrying and choosing to live in separate homes (well, they do say the key to a happy couple starts with separate bathrooms!) deciding instead to home their relationship within Parisian jazz clubs and coffee shops – elements that many would wish for today.
This bold, indissoluble couple championed individuality and pushed against society's perception of love, focusing entirely on their own needs. Of all the successes Simone achieved, she declared her greatest achievement in life was her relationship with Jean-Paul.
Our House of Valois upholstered bed that with painted black wood bordered frame, exudes art deco elegance would be the perfect choice for this couple and their many lovers...
Tell us your favourite French lovers!