The Hôtel de la Marine

Museums | A day in Paris
L'Hotel de la Marine à Paris
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A monumental icon of French art de vivre.

The twin palaces either side of rue Royale on Place de la Concorde are extremely well-known. One became the famous Hôtel Crillon and the other housed the Navy Ministry after the 1789 Revolution. Once the Ministry moved out, the building underwent four years of meticulous, expert restoration and now, finally, the building designed by Louis XV's chief architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel over two centuries ago is open to the public! Much of the 18th century masterpiece's original layout has been recreated and visitors' delight is bound to be unanimous for at least two good reasons: in addition to reopening, it is now possible to cross the courtyards from rue Royale to rue Saint Florentin and Place de la Concorde once again. The vast Intendant*'s reception hall and the Honorary reception hall both have a new type of glass roof which attracts and refracts the light (also open for nocturnal visits). The luxurious apartments on the first floor opening onto the loggia from which King Louis-Philippe watched the Luxor obelisk being raised in 1836, marking the centre of the square, are also now open to visitors (on-line reservation required, three different tours available). 

L'Hotel de la Marine à ParisThe longest tour starts with the apartments where the intendant* overseeing the royal storage facility lived. Prior to the Revolution, the building was used to store royal furniture and staff were in charge of maintaining the royal residences. It was open to the public once a month because weapons, armour and valuable ornaments were housed there, including the crown jewels, which were the object of a memorable theft in 1792 and only ever partially recovered. The first intendant, Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu, arranged the apartment with exquisite taste, which the team strived to restore in full detail (the mirror cabinet is a pure delight!). The results are so authentic visitors have the impression the historical figures have only just left the room. The shortest tour focuses on the ceremonial salons, which lead onto what used to be known as Place Louis XV.


Restaurant-Chez-MaximsAfter the visit, time for a break at Café Laperouse under the arches of the Intendant's courtyard or dinner at the Mimosa restaurant where talented Chef Jean-François Piège prepares Mediterranean dishes evoking the Rivieria, Nice and Capri of the 1960s. Prefer switching to Art Nouveau for dinner? Maxim's is just over the road (photo).

*Administrative agent for the monarchy