Victor Hugo’s House — Guernsey

You might not realise it but Guernsey, a picturesque island nestled in the English Channel, holds a significant place in literary history as the sanctuary that inspired one of the greatest writers of all time—Victor Hugo. We had been to the island a few times before we finally visited Victor Hugo’s house and as we prepare to visit the island again we have already booked a revisit to the House so we can see the things we are pretty sure we missed the first time. I strongly urge you to pre book before you arrive on the island. It is virtually impossible to turn up and get in as you need to join one of their hour long house tours, and they are booked up in advance.

Victor Hugo, the renowned French author sought refuge on this idyllic island during his exile from France, and it was within the walls of Hauteville House that he penned some of his most influential works. In fact we were told by our knowledge guide that he actually finished Les Miserables in the office on the top floor.

In 1855, Victor Hugo arrived in Guernsey seeking political asylum after his opposition to Napoleon III’s regime. He found solace in the enchanting ambiance of the island and took up residence in Hauteville House, rumour has it to be close to his mistress who lived on the same street. This remarkable house became his sanctuary—a place where he could escape the confines of exile and unleash his creative genius. The house provided Hugo with a serene environment and breathtaking views that became an integral part of his literary inspiration.

Hauteville House stands as a testament to Victor Hugo’s unique vision and artistic flair. The writer transformed the house into a veritable work of art, overseeing its architectural design, interior decoration, and even the smallest details. Each room of the house reflects his eclectic taste and rich imagination, blending different styles and themes to create an immersive and awe-inspiring environment. From grand tapestries and intricate woodwork to ornate furnishings and vibrant colors, every corner of Hauteville House exudes the spirit of Victor Hugo’s creativity. And remarkably it can be seen today, it is very much as though Victor has just stepped out.

Hugo designed the house as a representation of his own life and ideologies. Every room tells a story, showcasing his political views, social commentary, and literary themes. From the opulent Salon Chinois, adorned with Eastern motifs and symbolism, to the intimate Red Room, a space dedicated to contemplation and introspection, visitors are transported into the intricate world of Hugo’s imagination. The library on the upper landing is dark despite the skylight at one end but you can still imagine Hugo standing in front of the bookcases looking for particular piece of work.

Hauteville House not only captivates with its interior, but its surrounding gardens are equally enchanting. Victor Hugo, an ardent nature lover, cultivated a vibrant and picturesque landscape that harmoniously blends with the coastal beauty of Guernsey. As you stroll through the gardens, you can marvel at the variety of plants, flowers, and trees that inspired Hugo during his daily walks. The breathtaking views of the English Channel from the terraces further enhance the sense of tranquility and connection to nature. Arrive half an hour before your tour time and you can wander the grounds beforehand for free.

Visiting Victor Hugo’s house in Guernsey is not merely a tour of a historic site; it is an immersive cultural experience that transports you into the world of this literary giant. Hauteville House has been impeccably preserved, allowing visitors to step into the very rooms where Hugo lived, wrote, and created. The guided tours provide insightful commentary and anecdotes, shedding light on the writer’s life, his exile, and the impact of Guernsey on his literary legacy.

The house is open from 10am until 4pm daily but is closed on Wednesdays.

£12 for adults, with concession tickets from £10.

Be aware that there is no lift and there are only stairs to the upper floors, with the top floor being accessed only via a tight and narrow staircase.

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