Vic­tor Hugo’s home, art ini­tia­tives, fly­ing in fog and tak­ing on the per­ils of so­cial me­dia

Country Life Every Week - - Country Life International -

VIC­TOR HUGO’S Guernsey home is set to be re­stored to its former glory, af­ter a €3 mil­lion do­na­tion from bil­lion­aire François Pin­ault, fa­ther-in-law of Hol­ly­wood ac­tress Selma Hayek.

Hauteville House, St Peter Port, is where the French Ro­man­tic poet and nov­el­ist, who spent his life ar­gu­ing against the death penalty and was a lit­tle too po­lit­i­cally ac­tive for Napoleon III’S lik­ing, re­treated to in ex­ile. Hugo lived on Guernsey for 15 years (1855–70) and his house, where he was in­spired to write Les Mis­érables and Les Tra­vailleurs de la Mer among other works, has been pre­served as he had it. His writ­ing room at the top of the house en­joys panoramic views out to sea to­wards France.

How­ever, while restora­tion is un­der way and the house is closed, vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to roam the is­land that Hugo loved. He liked to swim at Havelet Bay, for ex­am­ple, and walk along the coast to Fer­main Bay or up the west side to Port Soif. Some say he reg­u­larly met his mistress, Juli­ette Drouet, at Vic­to­ria Tower (built in 1848 to com­mem­o­rate Queen Vic­to­ria’s visit), where the pair en­graved their ini­tials. Guernsey Mu­seum at Candie Gar­dens is hold­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of his draw­ings this sum­mer, en­ti­tled ‘Hugo: Vi­sions of Ex­ile’ (un­til Septem­ber 16).

Hauteville House (top) is still just as it ap­peared when Vic­tor Hugo wrote Les Mis­érables (above)

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