Maison Victor Hugo Museum in Paris
The Maison Victor Hugo is one of the state owned museums in Paris that is dedicated to the life and works of this famous author that produced works such as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, and this museum is located in the very place that he resided for several years.
A bit of history
Originally, when the square was first constructed it was called the Place Royale, as there was a royal palace on the same site centuries before, and when the buildings were first constructed around the square, there was one known as the kings pavilion and another as the queens pavilion at the opposite side.
One of the deciding factors with its complete construction, was that it should be uniformed and every house or building that was built must be in exactly the same style, architecture and design on the facade, which had to face the square and include two wings, along with steep slate roofs with dormers.
This of course, characterises the square today, and it was at the start of the 1600s that Isaac Arnauld, who was a councillor and involved with the finances for King Henri IV was granted a plot of land, so that he could build one of these uniformed buildings that faced the square and to a specific layout.
This particular residence at Number 6 Place des Vosges, was then taken over by the Rohan-Guemenee family who then substantially improved the building and gave it the name of Hotel Rohan-Guemenee that it still has today, and descendants from the same family resided here for around 150 years.
The Hotel Rohan-Guemenee was then rented by the author Victor Hugo, who was aged 30 at the time, and he lived here with his wife Adele from the October of 1832 through to the year 1848.
Jacques Desmary then became the owner of this building and he made many alterations, including having two balconies added, although these are long since gone and the facade now looks as it was supposed to, when it was first constructed.
It was the second floor apartment of the Hotel Rohan-Guemenee that Victor Hugo rented, and it was here that he wrote some of his major works, including a large part of Les Miserables.
Yet after he moved out, the following owners also made many alterations that meant the layout of the Hotel Rohan-Guemenee completely changed, which is a shame, but that is part of the history of Paris.
Anyway, a gentleman by the name of Paul Meurice, who was a good friend of Victor Hugo, was nominated by Victor Hugo to be his executor upon his death. And a few years after Victor Hugo’s death in 1885, it was Paul Meurice who decided that there should be a museum in Paris dedicated to this famous author, poet, playwright and incredible politician recognised by the people of Paris.
How the Maison Victor Hugo Museum in Paris Started
Paul Meurice contact the Paris council in 1902 with a suggestion that the building at 6 Place des Vosges should be turned into a museum dedicated to Victor Hugo, and this was actually very good timing, as the city were already making celebration plans to commemorate his impressive works, which would mark the centenary of the birth of Victor Hugo.
So, through a large donation provided by Paul Meurice, the Paris city were able to purchase the building at Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo had lived and worked for some years, and then turn this into a museum from the rich collection that he also donated.
Then the grand children of Victor Hugo also helped to recreate his bedroom as it was when he died in 1885, plus there were numerous pieces of furniture and collectibles that were also donated from Juliette Drouet who was his mistress at the house where Victor Hugo had lived in exile in Guernsey for twenty years.
With accuracy and passion the rooms took shape to illustrate the three main stages of Victor Hugo’s life, which was before, during and after his exile in Guernsey, and eventually this museum in Paris was officially inaugurated in 1903.
The Maison Victor Hugo Museum in Paris today
Located on the second floor of 6 Place des Voges, the Maison Victor Hugo consists of an antechamber that leads through to the Chinese styled living room and a Medieval styled dining room and then through to the bedroom of Victor Hugo that has been reconstructed to show where he passed away in 1885.
You will be able to get to see written works including manuscripts and even correspondence that belonged to this famous writer, along with his original ink well and some of the first editions of his works.
There are original pieces of furniture and even his bed where he died in Paris on 22nd May 1885. In fact his last home was one of the streets that goes from the Place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile that was originally named Avenue Sainte Cloud, but was renamed Avenue Victor Hugo in 1881.
Yet he was not just an incredible writer, Victor Hugo was also classified as one of the greatest French poets and someone that had a major influence on music, yet he was also a workaholic and a great political figure, all of which gained the admiration of the Paris people even before his death.
So when he passed away in 1885 at the age of 83, Paris mourned and over two million people took to the streets to see his funeral procession from the Arc de Triomphe to his final resting place at The Pantheon.
Therefore at the Maison Victor Hugo museum you can get to see a painting of the funeral procession, along with numerous other caricatures, sculptures and paintings and these are in addition to all the collectables, memorabilia and souvenirs that Victor Hugo collected over the years.
However, on the first floor of the Hotel Rohan-Guemenee at 6 Place des Vosges, there is a permanent exhibition of his drawings as well as an iconography detailing his literary works, but this floor is also home to temporary exhibitions as well.
There is also the interior decoration that was carried out while he was in exile along with a rich library that is open to the public by prior appointment.
So whether you are interested in history, politics, musicals, poems, etc, then the Maison Victor Hugo is well worth a visit, whilst you are on holiday in Paris.
Visiting the Maison Victor Hugo
The Maison Victor Hugo Museum in Paris is open from a Tuesday through to a Sunday, but it is always closed on a Monday and closed for a good part of January, along with all National French holidays.
This museum is open from 10am through to 6pm, but the last time you can enter is 45 minutes before closing time, yet we would like to point out that this museum in Paris is closed from the end of April 2018 through to approximately April 2019.
The main museum itself is completely free to enjoy, however, you do have to pay for the temporary exhibitions that are held on the first floor, although these are even free for children under the age of 14.
You can also arrange for guided tours, which are conducted in either French or English, plus group tours are available, yet these do have to be booked in advance over the telephone.
You will also be pleased to know that the Maison Victor Hugo museum is accessible to the disabled and even wheelchairs are available to hire. Plus for those that are sight impaired there are booklets in larger type, even magnifying glasses for consulting documents.
A tactile tour is also available, where you are provided a guide as to different items that you can touch. In addition to these, there are tours in French sign language and lip reading for the hearing impaired as well.
There is also a bookshop and photography is allowed, but you cannot use a flash or a tripod when taking pictures, however, we would also like to point out that no large bags are allowed and through security measures in place, any handbag, etc can be checked.
Access to the Maison Victor Hugo in Paris
Located in the 4th Arrondissement of Paris at the Place des Vosges, when it comes to getting here via public transport, you will find that the closest Metro stations are the Bastille stop to the south at the Place de la Bastille serving lines 1, 5 and 8, the Saint-Paul stop to the west serving line 1 or the Chemin-Vert stop to the north serving line 8.
Alternatively you access this museum by bus via lines 20, 29, 65, 69, 76, 86, 87 and 96 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N01, N02, N11, N16 and N144 that will also get you within walking distance of the Place des Vosges and the Maison Victor Hugo.