This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
The family stayed in Rambouillet until 1957.
Marie gave birth in 1951 to a stillborn daughter that would have been named Catherine.
Then, in 1952, my sister Monique was born. In 1953, my second sister Brigitte. In 1954, my younger brother Antoine.
So, from 1947 to 1954, six children in seven years. I don't know if my parents decided to slow down, but after Antoine, the interval between each child went up to two years. So, in 1956, my brother Benoît was born. All four children after myself were born at the Rambouillet hospital. This is where she was visited by Madame Coty, the wife of the French president, after she gave birth to my sister Monique.
Our House in Rambouillet
(source: Google Maps Street View)
The house in Rambouillet was still enough for a family of seven children. Bruno and myself were sharing a bedroom on the second floor. On the first floor, Philippe was alone in one bedroom, Monique and Brigitte were sharing a bedroom, and Antoine and Benoît were in the bedroom next to my parents' bedroom.
The only real inconvenient of living in Rambouillet was that it was far from Paris. Every week day, my father spent an hour and a half to go to work, and to return from work.
The Institut de France had been given a house near Paris, probably through inheritance, where they were to allow writers that live for free. It was a large house with seven bedrooms. Instead of putting several writers in this house, the Institut decided to allow a writer with a large family to live there.
One of these writers was Jacques Péricard who lived in the house with his large family before World War II. He had up to eleven children. In 1926, he had published a book "Roman d'un Papa - J'ai Huit Enfants" (Novel of a Dad - I Have Eight Children).
As the house was again available in 1957, somebody at the Institut, probably the head librarian, thought that Paul, with his seven children would be a good candidate. Paul had co-written a book that had been published in 1955: "Courtoisie chrétienne et dignité humaine" (Christian Courtesy and Human Dignity). So, he was indeed a writer with a large family.
So, Paul was given the opportunity to move to this house for free. My parents did not hesitate, as there were several advantages: no more rent to pay, a shorter commute for Paul and being closer to her parents in Paris for Marie.
So, in April 1957, we moved from Rambouillet to Saint-Ouen to live at 6 rue Pasteur.
Continue to Part 6
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