Today we’d like to take you on a tour of one of the most exquisite public locations in Paris, the Hôtel de Soubise, home of the French National Archives.
The word "hôtel" does not translate literally here. In French a hôtel is also a city mansion or stately home, which is how it is used in this case. The Hôtel de Soubise was created in the early 1700’s for the Prince and Princess of Soubise (Anne de Rohan-Chabot, a former mistress of Louis XIV). It replaced a fortified manor house that had been on the site in the Marais since 1375. The interior decor of the Hôtel de Soubise is considered among the best examples of Rococo style in France. We hope that the photos and video we have included, taken mostly on a private photographic tour of the Hôtel, will show you why.
One of the most splendid rooms in the Hôtel is the Salon de la Princesse, an oval chamber embellished in finest Rococo fashion with intricate, gilded boiserie (carved wood), cherubs, ceiling paintings and mirrors.
We have assembled a gallery of photos to show you some details of this fascintaing room (below).
Boiserie is a highly-skilled art form in which wood paneling is carved in painstaking detail and then gilded or painted. This spectacular boiserie ceiling in the Salon de la Princesse (above and in the video below) is featured in Georgianna's book, Paris in Bloom (subject of an earlier post in Le Journal),
Above are some more examples of the painstakingly crafted boiserie to be found at the Hôtel de Soubise. These two images, along with the cover image of this post, were taken in the Salon du Prince which has extensive ivory boiserie against pale, duck-egg blue paneling.
Below is a video which shows the Hôtel de Soubise boiserie in detail.
The Chambre de la Princesse, the Princess's bedchamber, is sumptuously decorated in red, gold and white with sparkling chandeliers and large mirrors.
Throughout the interior, the details are clearly very well thought out and delightfully executed. On the left is a view of the chandeliers in the Prince's bed chamber, reflected to infinity in the mirrors. On the right, two red chairs elegantly fill an alcove, with a window looking out onto the beautiful courtyard beyond.
The interior of the Hôtel de Soubise has been designed with magnificent hallways and entries. When the doors are open, the views through halls and into rooms are spacious and inviting, with everything perfectly arranged.
Because the Hôtel de Soubise houses the National Archives of France, there are some very rare and ancient documents on display.
The oldest document in the archives dates back to 673.
As our tribute to the elegant and charming Hôtel de Soubise, we have added four new prints to the Parisian Moments collection, shown below. These are available as a print collection or as individual prints and canvases. You can see a full description here.
The French National Archives at the Hôtel de Soubise are open every day except Tuesday.
Opening hours are 10am to 5:30pm on weekdays, 2pm to 5:30pm on Saturday and 2pm to 5:30pm on Sunday.
The address is 60, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75003 Paris, in the Marais.
Prices are €8 when there is a temporary exhibition, otherwise €5. For more information you can visit the website.
We do hope you have enjoyed our introduction of the Hôtel de Soubise. Please leave us a comment to tell us how you liked this post and whether you would like to see us cover other museums and national buildings in Paris. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them. We will answer them all.