‘Maison’ is French for ‘house’. In this case the word is slightly misleading. While no palace, though sited in the Place des Vosges – originally known as Place Royale – Maison de Victor Hugo is no simple domicile. These sprawling apartments were the home of the famed writer between 1832 and 1848. Hugo fled from the revolution in that year.
Victor Hugo was the author of such well-known (if less widely read) works such as Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also penned lesser known, but far superior works, such as Ninety-Three and The Man Who Laughs.
A treat even for those with only a passing interest in literature, the Victor Hugo museum is chock full of drawings, mementos, 19th century furniture and more. The Chinese salon from Hugo’s house on Guernsey has been relocated here, as well.
The square outside the house is a delightful beginning. Lined with brick houses, arcades and a garden, it’s easy to imagine the author approaching along cobblestoned streets.
As he neared, he would have seen (as visitors can today) a large red and white brick facade atop several large arches. The top of the house displays classical Greek ornamentation typical of the period.
Inside, along with first editions of the writer’s works, is a painting of his funeral procession at the Arc de Triomphe. At the time of his death his fame and popularity were so great that millions came to mourn his passing.
There are also portraits of his family. Alongside are drawings and documents showing the life story of Hugo and the many artists he knew as friends. Balzac and Dumas, Paganini and Liszt, Musset and many more dined here. Even Dickens and the Duke of Orleans paid visits. Read more…
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Translated from the French, La Ville Lumière means ‘City of Lights‘. By now a commonplace description, there’s nothing commonplace about the place. Paris, for those who love… well, anything, is stellar.
Paris City of Lights
With over 2 million inhabitants, 11 million in the Ile-de-France region overall, Paris is a metropolis second to none. A center of world culture for centuries, it hosts the most up-to-date museums alongside its ancient sites and sights.
Despite the enormous population and the ever present cars, there are nonetheless numerous oases scattered around the city. Even today, parts of the Seine can offer a quiet walk down the banks of one of Europe’s most famous rivers. Here the many bridges are both artistic and functional, in true Gallic style.
Other quiet nooks, such as the Marais district, home to Victor Hugo’s apartments, seem to have changed little since he wrote his masterpieces there. And on some days one can visit any number of excellent museums and be one of the few visitors, even during the summer.
But there’s also the bustling, exciting city that roars from morn to morn. Read more…
As you approach the gates of Versailles palace you inescapably have the feeling of entering not a palace but an entire city. The impression is justified given the massive scale of the building and the even larger grounds.
Palace de Versailles History
Beginning as a modest château of stone and slate to serve as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII (13th), Versailles blossomed – figuratively and literally – during the reign of his son. By 1682, after 20 years of work, the ‘Sun King’ took up residence… and then building really began.
Versailles Palace Gardens
At its height the grounds covered 1,800 acres and housed over 1,500 fountains besides the enormous palace. Around 300 remain today. Around the grounds are several distinct gardens. Read more…