Hôtel de Lauzun

Entertainment & Arts

Europe, France, Paris

The Hôtel de Lauzun on the quai d'Anjou, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, is the rival of the Hôtel Lambert among the few hôtels particuliers that retain their rich carved, painted, mirrored and gilded interiors from the time of Louis XIV. The hôtel particulier was not built by the Duc de Lauzun, whose name it bears, but by a rich financier, Charles Gruyn des Bordes, the son of an inn-keeper grown rich from his trade and richer still, according to a pamphleteer, through speculations enabled by his title as general commissioner of cavalry during the civil disorders of the Fronde. Gruyn des Bordes had purchased the lot in 1641, but by the time he was prepared to build, he had new neighbours in the Île Saint-Louis to emulate, namely, the Hôtel Lambert de Thorigny. His new wife, Geneviève de Mony, hastened the completion of the house, completed in 1657 from designs by Louis Le Vau. Gruyn's initial 'G' is interlaced with her 'M' on chimneybreasts and throughout the decor. Gruyn, however, had Nicolas Fouquet as a patron and shared in Fouquet's disastrous fall. An inquest into his financial dealings found him guilty of fraud; he was thrown into prison and died there. His widow, having kept her financial affairs separate from his, survived his ruin and left the hotel to her son. In the meantime, Antoine Nompar de Caumont, Duc de Lauzun, had fallen from Louis XIV's favour and had spent a decade in prison. Once he had clandestinely wed his lover, La Grande Mademoiselle, she had ransomed him from the King and he immediately purchased the estate from de Mony's son. Lauzun enriched many of the interiors. The Hôtel de Lauzun passed on to the great-niece of Cardinal Mazarin, who fled from the convent of Chaillot with the Marquis de Richelieu and eloped him in London. In 1709 the Marquis de Richelieu sold the house to Pierre-François Ogier, receveur du clergé who further enriched its interiors. In the eighteenth century, as fashionable new districts drew aristocrats to the west of Paris, the Île Saint-Louis, in the heart of medieval Paris, became a backwater, then declassé. The Hôtel de Lauzun retained its aristocratic owners (now the Marquis de Pimôdan) until the French Revolution. With that event, the estate, like many of its once-grand neighbours, had its upstairs chambers and attics divided into apartments and rented by successful artisans. In the 1840s, when the estate (now known as Hôtel Pimodan) belonged to the bibliophile and collector, baron Jérôme Pichon, auditeur au Conseil d’Etat, the upstairs apartments were rented to Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier. These two residents formed their Club des Hashischins, where they experimented with hashish. While residing there, Baudelaire wrote the first poems of Les Fleurs du Mal. The Hôtel de Lauzun, presently owned by the City of Paris, is closed for the public since January 2011.