Hôtel de la Marine: From Royal Furniture Depot to High-Tech Museum

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Hôtel de la Marine: From Royal Furniture Depot to High-Tech Museum
Imagine stepping out of the Paris metro at Place de la Concorde in 2022 and straight into the 18th century. Sound impossible? Actually, you can do just that if you book a ticket to visit the Hôtel de la Marine, recently reopened after a six-year restoration. The covered courtyard at Hotel de la Marine. © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong Constructed in the second half of the 1700s, the Hôtel de la Marine formed part of the grand urban scheme that constituted the Place Louis XV, today known as Place de la Concorde. In 1744, the king had fallen gravely ill and seemed to be dying. As he miraculously recovered, the city of Paris chose to mark the occasion with the erection of an equestrian statue, to be placed at the center of a new, grand square, modeled on the royal squares planned at the time of Louis XIV. Faced with the task of finding a suitable plot of land, City Hall launched a call for tender. The winner was Ange-Jacques Gabriel, the king’s architect in chief, who suggested building it on the marshland that extended between the Tuileries and the Champs Elysées. In Gabriel’s project, the statue was to be placed in the middle of a perspective that would extend from the Seine towards the north, with a new road, the Rue Royale, linking the square to the Faubourg Saint Honoré. Flanking the road, two identical, symmetrical buildings. On the other side, a balustrade overlooking the river. Only later, the Pont de la Concorde would be built, extending the perspective all the way to Palais Bourbon on the Left Bank, using the rubble salvaged from the Bastille fortress, recently torn down. The obelisk has replaced the statue of Louis XV. © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong If you wonder why you never noticed the statue, it’s because it ⁠— along with many other royal effigies ⁠— was the object of revolutionary wrath, melted down to make cannons. Thankfully, the Hôtel de la Marine and its twin (home today to the luxurious Hôtel Crillon and the French Automobile Club) withstood the French Revolution. Upon its completion, the building to the right of the Rue Royale was destined to house the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the royal furniture repository instituted by the Sun King. Until Louis XIV’s decision to take up permanent residence in Versailles, the king and his court would travel from one royal residence to the next in the course of the year. Furniture and home accessories would need to be moved and stored, a vast undertaking that required a central repository.
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Lead photo credit : Twin buildings flanking Rue Royale © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

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Sarah Bartesaghi Truong has lived, studied and worked in Milan, Paris and London. Her lifelong passion for art in all its forms and her entrepreneurial dreams were the catalyst for a career change: she left the world of investment banking to go back to school, at the Sotheby’s Institute of London. Ten years ago, she moved back to Paris, the ideal location for an art-lover. As an Italian in Paris, she decided she would keep playing the tourist in her adoptive home town, always on the lookout for the many wonders the French capital has to offer to the curious explorer. VeniVidiParis, the company she founded, plans curated itineraries in the French capital and its vicinity for travellers wishing to discover the city’s vibrant art scene, but not only. Take a look at her recent discoveries on her Instagram feed, @venividiparis, or contact her at [email protected] for help planning your next Parisian vacation.