Lonely Planet Writer

Victor Hugo's Guernsey house where he wrote Les Misérables reopens to the public

If you want to see the birthplace of one of the greatest literary masterpieces in history, then you’ll be happy to know the house where Victor Hugo penned Les Misérables is open again after a year and a half of renovations.

Victor Hugo and his family spent here fifteen years in exile during the reign of Napoleon III. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Hauteville House is found on the Channel island of Guernsey, and it’s the place where the French writer and his family spent fifteen long years of exile from 1857 to 1870. The house has been completely renovated with the joint efforts of the Paris-Musées association, which owns the house and François Pinault, the entrepreneur who owns the Kering luxury group (comprised of brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga.  Now, after a one-and-a-half-year renovation programme that cost around €4 million, the house is ready to welcome visitors once again.

The Pinault Collection funded the renovations with around €3.5 million, while the Paris-Musées foundation contributed €800k. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Hauteville House is a unique place, designed largely by Hugo himself who shaped the house to reflect his literary ideas and his poetry. The mansion has been reconstructed in exactly the way Hugo had imagined. Around 200 artisans, worked on the renovations and they took great care in reconstructing the symbols and hidden meanings Hugo had given each piece.

Two of the main problems of Hauteville House which the renovations fixed were infiltrations and humidity. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

The biggest symbol of them all might be the house itself, though, which is dark and poorly-lit on the ground floor and then opens up to the light as one climbs up the stairs to the upper floors.

The lower floors of Hauteville House are dark and poorly-lit, decorated with heavy furniture and carpets. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Hugo himself loved to write looking out at the sea, and you’ll be able to visit the room where he gave birth to some of his most famous works – The Man Who Laughs, Tales of the Sea, The Legend of the Ages but, most importantly, Les Misérables, in itself a story about searching for light and redemption.

The higher floors of the house open up into the light and the sea outside. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Hauteville House officially opened again last weekend, with new and stricter rules to ensure that the integrity of the house will be preserved. Touring will only be permitted with a guide and in small groups of ten people per visit, which must be booked in advance. A full admission ticket is £10, while a reduced ticket is £8.

The Hauteville House will now be open to visitors every year between April and September. Image by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

If you’d like to know more about the Hauteville House and organise your visit, you can do so at the museum’s official website here.