As one of the literary museums of Paris, la Maison de Victor Hugo is the apartment on the Place des Vosges (Le Marais) where the famous 19th-century novelist lived from 1832-1848. It’s an intimate glimpse into his home, his writing, and the people in his life.
Known by Anglophone audiences primarily through his novels such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Victor Hugo was also active in politics, and his resistance against Napoléon III’s coup d’état in 1851 forced him into exile in Guernsey during France’s Second Empire until 1870 (when France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War ushered in the Third Republic).
After returning to Paris he lived in other apartments (his last was in the 16th arrondissement, where he died in his bed at age 83). It should be noted that the apartment at Place des Vosges was altered so many times after he moved out (including housing a boy’s school for some time) that it is only an “idea” of what it may have looked like during his time there based on historical records.
The ground floor of the museum houses the ticket desk, a small book and souvenir shop, and the newly-added café overlooking the inner courtyard (it should be open by July 2021). The first floor is where the temporary expositions are held (these require a paid ticket).
The second floor is the permanent collection, where the objects and furnishings in his former apartment are divided into Before Exile, During Exile, and After Exile. In addition to furnishings and personal letters and objects, it also includes paintings and busts of the author, his family members, his mistress, and his contemporaries, as well as many artworks illustrating his works.
Some of the more interesting objects are his standing desk (he didn’t sit while writing) and the “Salon Chinois” that he created himself to decorate the house of his mistress, actress Juliet Drouot, when they were both in exile in Guernsey (in separate homes). You can see his and her initials hidden within the designs.
You can easily visit the entire permanent collection in 20-30 minutes if you stop to read the descriptions (some in English; get the audio guide if you want more info in English), longer if you also visit the temporary collection. You usually don’t need to get an advance ticket or wait in line, unless you happen to get there the same time as a school class or tour group.
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, from 10am-6pm. Closed on holidays.
Tickets: Entrance is free (except during certain temporary exhibitions, then it’s €9). Part of the City of Paris Municipal Museums.
Info and Services: Café overlooking the courtyard. Small book/souvenir shop. Audio guides in 5 languages €5.