“En l’année 1872, la maison portant le numéro 7 de Saville-row, Burlington Gardens – maison dans laquelle Sheridan mourut en 1814 –, était habitée par Phileas Fogg, esq., l’un des membres les plus singuliers et les plus remarqués du Reform-Club de Londres, bien qu’il semblât prendre à tâche de ne rien faire qui pût attirer l’attention.”

In the summer of 1995 I was on a holiday trip in England with my family, during which we visited London for one day. Of course I could not leave this capital without having a look at the Reform Club and Phileas Fogg’s house in Savile Row (not Saville Row, as in some editions of Around the World in 80 Days).

Photo of the Reform Club
The Reform Club

The first thing I noticed when I was walking up the stairs to the enormous front door of the well-known Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, was the air of luxury that hung all around the place. At the door I addressed a member of the Club. I told him that I was a Jules Verne collector and that I was eager to see this Club in real, flattering him a little (“So this is the famous Reform Club, wow, this is really it,” etc.). I asked politely if I could have a look inside. “I’m afraid not,” said the gentleman. I tried to persuade him, but now the porter joined us. Unfortunately he had his orders, although he was sincerely sorry for me. But: “Strictly members only, Sir. No photographs, no visitors, strictly members only,” was the best I could get out of the gentleman. I asked if I was allowed, then, to take a photograph, but that too was strictly forbidden. No photographs, no visitors, strictly members only.

Meanwhile I had cast a quick glance through the door. What I perceived was an extremely luxurious interior, with portraits, giant stairs with brass and gold and red carpets everywhere. I had my camera ready, but an old man with grey whiskers came down the stairs and stretched out his hand so as to prevent me from making a picture. They were all very persistent, in any case more persistent than I was, so I took a photograph of the door mat, with the Reform Club logo on it, and I left. I doubt whether the members know their illustrious colleague. Of course they wouldn’t care much, because Fogg was invented by a French writer.

My next goal was to see the house in which Phileas Fogg had lived. I had noted the address at home: 47 Savile Row, London. Savile Row is an old road, parallel to the very crowded and well-known Regent Street. Lots of tailors have their residence here; they are all quite expensive. The numbers in Savile Row were distributed at random, it seemed. Houses had been destroyed, houses had been built, and it was quite a mess. I looked for no. 47 throughout the entire street, but I could not find it anywhere; 39 was as far as it went. I decided to ask one of the tailors, so I went into a shop (Anderson and Co, established somewhere in the 19th century) to ask if there was, or had ever been, a no. 47, Savile Row. They thought not. The tailor knew the book vaguely; his opinion was that the address was “probably fictitious”.

In Prince’s Street there are many second-hand bookshops. I went into all of them of course, and beside buying some books, I checked a good edition of Around the World to see if Fogg’s address was really 47. Surprise: in this edition it was 7! I went back to Savile Row to watch the house (nothing special, just a dull front door next to some shops; it has probably known better times) and to take a photograph. Anyway, I was glad that I had seen Phileas’ house after all. And this little excursion in the footsteps of Fogg had taken me to some nice locations that I might otherwise have missed.

Savile Row
Savile Row
Number 7
Nr. 7, Savile Row