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