Poland wants to buy Marie Curie’s vacation house in France


SAINT-REMY-LES-CHEVREUSE, France — Poland’s prime minister says he’s given instructions for the government to buy a house in France where the Nobel-winning scientist couple Marie Sklodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie spent holidays and weekends from 1904-1906.

Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter this week that the house, on the southwest outskirts of Paris, is “part of Poland’s history.”

The 120 sq. meters (1,300 sq. feet) stone building in Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse carries a price tag of 790,000 euros ($950,000). It’s in disrepair but its peeling wall-paper, the fireplaces and the floor tiles date back to the Curie times, according to local real estate agency Stephane Plaza.

It said that Polish-born Marie Curie may have painted some ceiling designs herself, but there is no proof of that.

“This property was built in 1890 and was Pierre and Marie Curie’s holiday destination between 1904 and 1906,” where they came with their daughters Irene and Eve, said Daniel Cazou-Mingot, head of the real estate agency.

“They (came) here during weekends, Easter holidays, summer holidays,” Cazou-Mingot told The Associated Press during a visit to the property Wednesday. “There’s been no experiments done (on) this property.”

One day in April 1906, Pierre headed back to Paris for an academic meeting and was hit and killed by a horse-drawn cart.

“After this accident, Marie Curie came back from time to time with her daughters and then she stopped coming,” and the house — with its 900-sq. meter (9,700-sq. foot) garden, 19th century dovecote and water pump — was sold, Cazou-Mingot said.

Renovation costs are estimated at some 200,000 euros ($240,000).

Some critics in Poland commented on social media that taxpayers’ money would be wasted on a house where Marie Curie did not spend long.

But the right-wing government has made it a priority to secure and care for places and objects significant for Poland’s history.

Born in 1867 in Warsaw as Maria Sklodowska, the scholar moved to Paris in 1891 and was one of the first women to study science at the Sorbonne. She pursued a scientific career with her French husband. After Pierre’s death that vacated the Sorbonne’s physics chair, she was offered the job and became the first female professor at the renowned university.

In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie and French scientist Henri Becquerel jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies on radioactivity.

Marie Curie also won the 1911 Nobel in Chemistry for discovering radium and polonium. The latter she named after Poland.

She died in 1943 in Passy, France, from radiation sickness. Marie and Pierre Curie are buried at the Paris Pantheon, among other distinguished French citizens.


Scislowska reported from Warsaw.

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