I had the privilege to visit this “hotel pariculier” (private mansion, townhouse) with one of Paris’ best preserved (and restored) 17th century interiors. It’s today referred to as “Hôtel Lauzun” and is since 1928 owned by the City of Paris. The building is to be found on Ile Saint Louis, which was more or less uninhabited until the 17th century, but then got a number of similar townhouses built, mostly for the aristocracy, but also for some rich “bourgeois”, which was the case with this building. The first owner, by the name of Charles Gruyn, had made a fortune on supplying cereals to the armies, later imprisoned (mixed up in Nicolas Fouquet’s disfavour). It seems to be a bit unsure who was the architect – Louis Le Vau or Charles Chamois and most of the interior decorators and painters are also unknown. The year of completion seems anyhow to have been 1657.
The building got the name for which it’s known today from a later occupant, the Duke of Lauzun (1632-1723), an adventurous personality, with some serious ups and downs with regard to royal favours (ten years in prison), finally more or less secretly married to the “greatest heiress in Europe”, known as “La Grande Mademoiselle”, cousin of Louis XIV.
The exterior toward the Seine quays offers a beautiful balcony, some dolphin decorated gutters, and a miss-spelled inscription of Lauzun’s name.
Some pictures from the interior yard.
The views from the windows show nice surroundings as the Seine River, the Pont Marie (… not the Mary you may believe, but the family name of the person responsible for its construction, complete in 1635), the dome of the Saint Paul Church…
Some views from the main entrance stairs, ceilings…
… and some from the first floor.
The second floor offers a row of rooms…
… all covered by paintings, especially by gold, and all kinds of decoration – no “empty space” anywhere.
During the 18th century the premises had a number of occupants, but the island was no longer so popular by the higher aristocracy. The Revolution arrived. In the beginning of the 19th century this hôtel belonged to the Marquis de Pimodan, who temporarily gave it his name. Many of the mansions on the island were split into apartments, workshops… This one was saved by a rich art collector, the Baron Pichon, who bought it in 1842 and gave it back its name “Hôtel Lauzun”. He rented rooms on the top floor to some illustrious members of the literary intelligentsia, like Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier. We can see the less prestigious stairs leading to this top floor. Baudelaire started to write “Les Fleurs du Mal” here and this is also where Baudelaire, Gautier, de Nerval, Dumas, Delacroix… met to make some drug experiments, the “Club de Haschischins”.
Today the City of Paris has installed “L’Institut d’Etudes Avancées” here. You may be able to get in by the help of a professional guide or historian.