Hotel de Lauzun, introduction
The is the Hotel de Lauzun, 17 quai d'Anjou on Ile Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissment. It was built in 1657 by the architect Louis Le Vau. It is presently owned by the City of Paris, and is not opened to members of the public, although there are some tour groups allowed to visit. Photographs are strictly prohibited, even in the courtyard. It is well worth a visit if you are lucky enough to get the chance.
Hotel de Lauzun, History
Although the Duc de Lauzun gave his name to the house, the first owner was actually Charles Gruyn, a rich commoner. And it is his initials that are visible on the walls and ceilings. The Duc de Lauzun became the second owner, but before he could enjoy the house he was imprisoned by Louis XIV for ten years for an insult against the king.
Later on the house went so far down market as to be divided up into apartments and rented by artisans, many of whom were dyers of cloth. For a while Charles Baudelaire and Theophile Gautier lived here. And it was here that they and some others formed their Club de Haschichins where they documented their experiments with the drug. It was also in this house that Baudelaire wrote the first poems of Les Fleurs du Mal. More recently the City of Paris has undertaken its restoration, and they seem to be doing a very good job.
Hotel de Lauzun, design and decoration
On the left and below are parts of one of the famous drainpipes. This fish design was added in the 19th century, and the drainpipes in the courtyard (below left) are unadorned. The photograph above shows the side of the balcony overlooking the Seine.
The design of the house is atypical of the period as it does not follow the pattern of the main part being located between the courtyard and garden. On Ile Saint-Louis space was at a premium even in the 17th century, so the main part of the house overlooks the street - it also has the advantage of overlooking the Seine.
The colour of paint used on the drainpipes and windows today is thought to be the same or similar to the original colour when the house was first built.
The parquet flooring inside the house has a square design with each square measuring one metre and containing 32 pieces of wood, this is also thought to be the original design. The decoration inside the house is superb, but there is little point describing it - it has to be seen to be appreciated.