2003 – Right across the courtyard of
We decided to visit the house in 2003. In spite of our careful planning, the Maison de la Magie was ‘exceptionally’ closed for the day. So after visiting the Château, we found ourselves aimlessly standing around in the square between the castle and Houdin’s house. We were discussing where to go next, when the bell of a nearby church tower struck the first stroke of . All of a sudden we heard a rambling noise behind the closed shutters of Houdin’s house. Four of the shutters opened automatically giving way to enormous clawing paws.
Apart from us there were a dozen of other people in the square. We all stood there staring at the strange spectacle. Over each paw an enormous growling head of a dragon appeared. One of the dragons seemed to have a ‘technical’ problem and only showed the tip of his snout, while the others wildly waved their heads up and down making fierce roaring noises.
The show lasted for about five minutes, after which the dragons one by one retreated into the house, with the shutters automatically closing as soon as they were inside. The noise ebbed away and in the silence that followed we heard a child sobbing. The dragons had clearly frightened it.
Afterwards we learned that these mechanical beasts made their appearance several times a day on the stroke of the hour.
Before leaving the square we took some pictures of the statue of the great Houdin himself (see magnifying glass). I think he looks a bit like the French singer/songwriter Claude François, who wrote ‘Comme d’Habitude’, the song that became an international hit as ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. Don’t you agree?