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Historical Paris mansion destroyed by fire

A Paris mansion, widely considered one of the finest examples of mid-17th century French architecture, has been partially destroyed by a fire. The historic site was recently acquired by a Qatari prince.

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It took six hours for more than 100 firefighters to douse the blaze at the Hotel Lambert, a private mansion on the eastern tip of Ile Saint-Louis, an island in the Seine in the heart of Paris.

The building, which is a listed French historical site, was undergoing renovations and was unoccupied when the fire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday.

The cause of the blaze, which torched the roof, was not immediately clear.

French radio quoted a fire service spokesman who described the damage as extensive and said that some of the murals in the mansion's salons and galleries might have been affected.
The Hotel Lambert was built for a wealthy financier, Nicolas Lambert in the 1640s by the architect Louis Vau. Vau is the same architect who oversaw an expansion of the Chateau de Versailles for "Sun King" Louis XIV.

The mansion was decorated by some of the most famous painters of the day, including Charles Le Brun. It was also once home to the 18th-century philosopher Voltaire.
Prince Abdullah bin Abdullah Al Thani, brother of former emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, bought the mansion in 2007.
hc/mz (AFP, dpa)