If you walk around Place des Vosges, please pay a visit to Victor Hugo’s apartment, which is now a charming museum located at number 6 of the Place.
Victor Hugo, who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the Romantic movement in France, lived on the second floor of the former private mansion of Rohan-Guéméné for 16 years, from 1832 to 1848.
The apartment of seven adjoining rooms, retraces the life of the illustrious French writer, poet, playwright and novelist.
The Antichamber evokes the first years of Victor Hugo’s marriage to Adèle Foucher, his childhood friend. From the marriage were born five children: Léopold, Léopoldine, Charles, François-Victor and Adèle.
Léopold will live only a few months.
Léopoldine will die at the age of 19, drowned with her husband Charles Vacquerie who was unable to save her, in a tragic nautical accident in 1843.
Adèle (the mother) will die in 1868.
Charles will die at the age of 44 of a sudden stroke in 1871.
François-Victor will die of tuberculosis at age 45 in 1873.
Victor Hugo will die in 1885 and Adèle will remain the only survivor of the illustrious Hugo family until her death in 1915. Strongly shaken by the death of her sister Léopoldine, Adèle will develop mental illness and will die in a mental institution (“The Story of Adèle H” by François Truffaut recounts the fate of this poor child).
The Red Lounge presents family portraits, including that of Léopoldine – who married Charles in 1843 at the Saint Paul church, a stone’s throw from the Place des Vosges apartment.
Back to the Red Lounge. Family portraits are displayed.
The Red Lounge evokes Victor Hugo’s life in this apartment where he leads an intense political, literary and family life. He receives his friends there, Alphonse de Lamartine, Alfred de Vigny, Alexandre Dumas, Honoré de Balzac, Prosper Mérimée and Sainte-Beuve.
Let’s talk for a moment about Adèle and Sainte-Beuve. This talented writer and literary critic, friend of Victor Hugo, becomes Adèle Hugo’s lover in 1830.
Victor Hugo begins in 1833 a relationship that would last 50 years with Juliette Drouet. Adèle breaks up with Sainte-Beuve in 1837 to devote herself to her children and the growing notoriety of her husband, but the tenacious hatred persists between Hugo and his former friend.
The Chinese Lounge and the two rooms that follow evoke Victor Hugo’s exile from 1852 to 1870 following his opposition to the coup orchestrated by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte on December 2, 1851. As an opponent, he leaves for an exile that will last 19 years, between Brussels, Jersey and Guernsey. The Chinese Lounge is decorated with the furniture that was originally in the house of Juliette Drouet, who went into exile with her lover and his family in Guernsey.
The small adjacent room displays numerous photographs of the writer and his family during their exile in Jersey, from 1852 to 1855.
The Study evokes with its original furniture and the famous portrait executed by Léon Bonnat the return of the Hugo family to Paris – no longer in the apartment located Place des Vosges, but avenue d’Eylau (later renamed avenue Victor Hugo).
However, it is in the Study of the Place des Vosges’ apartment that “Lucrèce Borgia” (1833), “Marie Tudor” (1833), “Ruy Blas” (1838), and the beginning of “Les Misérables” (published in 1862) will be written.
The work table was raised according to Victor Hugo’s instructions so that he could work standing up.
Victor Hugo’s bedroom, located avenue d’Eylau where he spent the last years of his life, has been faithfully recreated.
The Place des Vosges apartment has undergone several transformations (disappearance of the corridors and the balcony) which no longer make it possible to precisely reconstruct the original setting. Furthermore, the auction and the dispersal of the Hugo family’s belongings in 1852 do not allow a faithful reconstruction of the layout of this apartment.
However, the visit of Victor Hugo’s apartment allows to apprehend the intimacy of the great writer.
March 18, 2022