The Arc de Triomphe is not the only prominent Paris monument under the purview of the Center for French Monuments. There is also the magnificent Hotel de La Marine, a mini-Versailles in the heart of Paris.
This past June, after a four-year, $157 million painstaking restoration, the storied palace opened its magnificent doors to the public for the first time in 250 years.
Commissioned by Louis XV and occupying pride of place on the Place de la Concorde, the 550-room manse had originally been the repository of royal furniture, jewelry, art, tapestries and armaments. Given its royal provenance, it’s no surprise then that it was soon caught up in the winds of history. Indeed, the storming of the Bastille, marking the start of the French Revolution in 1789, is thought to have been facilitated by weapons seized by revolutionaries from the arms room.
It is in another room, one overlooking the Place de Concorde, where Marie Antoinette’s death warrant was signed and it is in its gilded halls where Napoleon and Josephine held their coronation ball. The 1848 act that abolished slavery in France was signed there too. And, after having served as headquarters for the French navy for two centuries, the palace became home to a Nazi division during World War II.
Today, it basks in its original 18th century splendor thanks to the meticulous efforts of some 200 of France’s finest artisans. To say that no detail has been overlooked is practically an understatement. Virtually every scrap of paint, every stick of furniture, every piece of silk, every floorboard, and so much more, has been faithfully reconstituted.
A visit to the Hotel de la Marine is not just a feast for the eyes, however. Acoustic and gastronomic treats add to the pleasure. State-of-the-art headsets provide an immersive, 3D aural experience whereby sounds follow the movements of your head.
And should you feel peckish at the end of your tour, two restaurants await to tickle your taste buds: the ultra stylish Café Lapérouse, a bonbon of a brasserie backed by LVMH scion Antoine Arnault, and the more formal Mimosa, helmed by acclaimed Michelin-starred chef, Jean-François Piège, owner of perennial favorites, La Poule au Pot and A l’Epi d’Or.
We were lucky enough to visit the Hôtel de la Marine in 2019 during its incredible transformation. Click here to re-visit our hard hard tour and to learn more about the Hôtel de la Marine and the Center for National Monuments, the government organization overseeing the Hôtel’s restoration. You might just be inspired to contribute to the conservation, preservation, and promotion of French heritage.