I made it an absolute point to visit the Maison de Victor Hugo during one of my visits to Paris. Hugo was brilliant, controversial, and eccentric. He was a poet, politician, and novelist who penned Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Victor Hugo lived a life that could be divided into three major periods- before exile, exile, and after exile; he is considered to be the greatest writer in France of all time, with a literary career spanning sixty years. My decision to visit Victor Hugo’s apartment in Paris, was a type of literary pilgrimage for me.
Maison de Victor Hugo was his place of residence with his wife Adele for 16 years, between 1832 and 1848. They had rented a 280 square meter apartment on the second floor of the converted mansion (museum), in the Place des Vosges (3rd and 4th arrondissement of Paris). The mansion was renovated into a museum after a large donation from Paul Meurice was used to buy the house in Paris. It is one of the 14 City of Paris’ Museums to be incorporated since January 2013 in the public institution, Paris Musees. It is worth the visit for those who appreciate Victor Hugo, his writings, and his extraordinary life.
The museum with its lavish interior is laid out in a clever way, to take you on a journey through his life. It evokes his passions and writings through his personal objects, furnishings, and works of art that he had created himself. The apartment is arranged according to the three major time periods of his life, as a chronological journey: before exile, exile and after exile.
It is a thoughtful and well planned out museum with each room representing a significant time of Hugo’s life. From the beginning, the Antechamber, which represents Hugo’s youth and life growing up, and until the Bedroom, which houses the bed where he died on May 22, 1885.
Of all the rooms that intrigued me, was both his bedroom and the Chinese Lounge. His bedroom in rich shades of burgundy red, and carved mahogany furniture is a recreation of Victor Hugo’s bedroom at 130 Avenue d’Eylau. It is there that he spent the last years of his life. There are a couple of significant pieces of furniture in the bedroom, including his famous raised desk where he would write standing up, and his bed that he passed away in on May of 1885.
The Chinese Lounge and Dining Room (above)
The Chinese Lounge was unique and ornate, and it showcased Victor Hugo’s brilliance as a decorator. The Chinese-style panels were designed by Hugo in 1863-1864, and painted by Tom Gore, who was a craftsman employed at the Hauteville House worksite. Victor Hugo’s imaginative side is displayed in the whimsical design of the pattern, with monograms of VH and JD that are sprinkled throughout the décor.
Maison de Victor Hugo was a fascinating look into his life, and I had learned more about him than I had ever read in books or online. The museum is not large and may take you a little more than an hour, but it is worth that bit of time to visit, while you are in Paris.
For more information, please visit – Maison de Victor Hugo
There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come…– Victor Hugo
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