The City of Paris conserves the two houses that Victor Hugo lived in the longest : the Rohan-Guéménée mansion in Paris and the Hauteville House in Guernesey. The Rohan-Guéménée mansion became a museum in 1902 through a donation made to the City of Paris by Paul Meurice. Today, the apartment in which Victor Hugo lived from 1832 to 1848 replicates his life through three decisive periods: before exile, during exile and after exile. The museum presents two temporary exhibitions per year, highlighting the works of the collection and Victor Hugo’s talent as a visionary illustrator.
Hauteville House was purchased in 1856 by the author with his earnings from Contemplations and given to the City of Paris in 1927 by the descendants of Victor Hugo. The exiled poet’s residence is a “true autograph over three floors, a poem in several rooms”, as his son Charles wrote. In his ‘look-out’, overlooking the harbour and drawing from the strength of the ocean, the writer and designer wrote Les Misérables, The Legend of the Ages, Toilers of the Sea and The Man Who Laughs.
This rich and varied collection makes the museum, which also provides logistical support for the publication of Victor Hugo’s correspondence, highly specific.
With the creation of the museum in mind, Paul Meurice had collected numerous documents from Victor Hugo’s contemporaries and the autograph market, thus laying down the basis of an autograph collection.
It was enlarged by the addition of several family donations: that of Victor Hugo’s granddaughter Jeanne in the 1920s, that of Jean Hugo, in 1950 and 1953, and that of Paul Meurice’s granddaughter, Annette Langlois-Berthelot. Bibliophiles and booklovers have also made their contributions in addition to the purchases made by the museum.
Family correspondence makes up a large part, but a very diverse range of correspondents is also present: writers (Dumas, George Sand, Alfred de Vigny, Baudelaire, Verlaine…) artists (Boulanger, David d’Angers, Devéria, Clesinger, Chifflart …), politicians (Victor Schoelcher, Louis Blanc, Adolphe Thiers…), and people from the theatre (Mademoiselle George, Frédéric Lemaître, Marie Dorval, Sarah Bernhardt...).
Some particularly substantial collections stand out, such as the exchanges between Hugo and his sister-in-law, Julie Chenay, who acted as steward of Hauteville-House (Georges Ravault donation) and, of course, that with his loyal friend Paul Meurice whose connections with the family are also revealed in many of Charles Hugo’s letters.
Love letters are also represented with 28 of Victor Hugo’s letters to Léonie Biard, in which he gives free rein to his burning passion. Most importantly, however, the museum holds more than 1,000 letters from Juliette Drouet, the 4,176 sheets of which are today directly accessible online.
With a little more than 18,000 handwritten letters, correspondence is a major feature of the museum’s manuscript collections. The museum has therefore undertaken an ambitious digitization project to make this heritage, which takes us into the private world of the great man, more easily available to the public.
Free access to the permanent collections.
- Métro : Bastille (line 1, 5, 8), Bréguet-Sabin (line 5), Saint-Paul (line 1) or Chemin-vert (line 8)
- Bus : 20, 29, 65, 69, 76, 86, 87, 96
- Velib' : 105-109 terre plein Saint-Paul, 27 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 36 rue de Sévigné
- Autolib' : 2 rue Neuve Saint-Pierre
Maison de Victor Hugo
Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée
6, place des Vosges