Victor Hugo, the acclaimed French author of classics such as The Hunchbank of Notre-Dame and Les Miserables and impassioned humanist who spent his life advocating for the poor and oppressed, was a resident of Paris. He lived in the Hôtel de Rohan Guéménée at 6, Place des Vosges (then Place Royale) between 1832 and 1848 with his family. He wrote several major works while residing there, including Les Misérables, and welcomed literary contemporaries such as poet Alfred de Vigny and Alexandre Dumas.
In 1903, a museum opened within the walls of Hugo's former residence, opening further insight into his life, work and times. The collections pay tribute to the writer and guide visitors to deeper understanding of his work through personal artifacts, furniture, manuscripts and photos. Happily for anyone on a tight budget, the permanent exhibit is free. Read on to learn why to carve out some time in your schedule for this underrated but fascinating little museum. Especially if you want to learn more about the writers who marked Parisian life and culture and take a literary tour of the capital, we recommend an hour or two at the elegant townhouse.
Location and Contact Information:
Address and Getting There:
Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée - 6, place des Vosges
Metro: St-Paul, Bastille or Chemin Vert
Tel : +33 (0)1 42 72 10 16
Opening Hours and Tickets:
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. Closed Mondays and French bank holidays.
Tickets: Admission to the permanent collections and displays is free of charge for all visitors. Entry prices vary for temporary exhibits: call ahead or visit the website for current rates.
Sights and Attractions Nearby the Museum:
- Marais Neighborhood (See Paris' Medieval Foundations)
- Musee Carnavalet- Free Museum of Paris History
- Centre Georges Pompidou and the National Museum of Modern Art
- Marvelously Modern Paris: Exploring Les Halles and Beaubourg
- Rue Montorgueil: A Charming Village in the Parisian City Center
What to Expect Within the House's Walls?
The exhibit at the Maiso Victor Hugo is intended to give visitors a sense of what the famed author's daily existence might have looked like. Thematic rooms are arranged with furniture, works of art that once belonged to the writer or that he himself created, and other precious objects from Hugo's personal collections.
According to the museum's website, the curators imagined the exhibit as a chronological journey across Hugo's tumultuous life, and organized into three main periods: "before exile", "exile", and "after exile". The author had exiled himself to Brussels, and later to the Isle of Guernsey, after a violent coup d'etat in France in 1851 overthrew the Revolutionary order and ushered in the Second Empire under Napoleon III. This chronological organization allows visitors to understand the chaotic historical events shaping the writer's life and writings.
Main Rooms to Explore
The main rooms to spend extra time focusing on include the Antechamber, featuring Hugo family portraits and curated to evoke the childhood years of the author. The Red Lounge, meanwhile, decorated in red damask, is designed to call up the Romantic period and the authors, artists, and literary movements Hugo associated himself with, from Lamartine to to Mérimée and Dumas. Visitors will get an immediate impression of daily life in the apartments when visiting the Dining Room, with its lavish chandeliers and sumptuous period furniture.
Other rooms of note include the Small Study, which is now devoted to smaller temporary exhibitions, the "Return from Exile Room", which highlights works of art devoted to Hugo after his exile, including the famed portrait by Léon Bonnat and an even more-celebrated bust by sculptor Auguste Rodin. Finally, step inside the Bedroom for an even more intimate glimpse into the author's daily life.