Good Reading : February 2004
(writer’shouse) 22 Even before it became home to one of France’s greatest writers,Victor Hugo’s house on the Place des Vosges, arguably the most beautiful square in France, had an impeccable pedigree. It was built in the early 1600s and eventually passed into the hands of Prince Louis de Rohan. Later, it briefly became a school.Victor Hugo moved into this, his fifth home in 1832, not without complaining about the logistics. He wrote to a friend: ‘I want you to feel sorry for me… involved as I have been for the past week in the ghastly upheaval of moving house… I have been in this state of utter chaos for a week now, planting nails and hammering and looking for all the world like a robber. It is an appalling expe - rience’. He was to remain in the house for 16 years. Hugo was a practical man with an interest in interior decor- ation. In fact, he designed several of the pieces of furniture in his apartments himself, as well as selecting the furnishings.To our taste today, the interiors look very dark, with their ornate wood panels and heavy curtains and tapestries, particularly in Hugo’s bedroom where one can view the lecter n style desk at which he wrote standing up. The writer had a preference for red damask, on walls, ceilings and windows, and never hesitated to impose his taste, according to the logbook of his polisher and upholsterer Guigon, who kept a detailed account of the work he undertook for the Hugo family. Hugo was also an avid collector of pictures and antiques and of people. In its heyday as a salon, the house welcomed such visitors as Balzac, Dumas, Berlioz, Liszt, Rossini and Rodin, to name but a few. But the house was also the target of a workers’ revolt when rioters broke into it. The tur moil of such violent times eventually prompted the family to move to a quieter, less prominent address, until the writer went into exile on the island of Guer nsey following the coup d’état by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. (GoodReading) house ofhugo Step inside VICTOR HUGO’S sumptuously decorated home in Paris.