The Hôtel de la Marine opened its doors to the public this summer after a 4-year log restoration and upgrading project. Visitors can now discover this marvel by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel.
Before becoming in 2015 the headquarters of the General Staff of the Navy, this sumptuous building was the Royal Furniture Store. This institution’s role was to buy and maintain the king’s furniture: beds, chairs, tables but also crown diamonds, household linen, weapons …
A cabinet of pleasures
But the Hotel de la Marine also has its share of unusual places! Indeed, the first steward of the furniture repository of the crown, Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu was a libertine. For his pleasures, he had the cabinet fitted out juxtaposing his bedroom with mirrors painted with naked women in lascivious postions… This mirror cabinet was not to the taste of the wife of the second steward, Fontanieu’s successor, Marc-Antoine Thierry of Ville d’Avray. She ordered that the paintings be covered to transform the naked women into cherubs and women in long dresses. Another unusual place: Behind the wall of the diplomatic lounge, along the fireplace is a cramped hiding place in which an indiscreet ear could hide to listen to the debates of the highest spheres of the state.
The biggest burglary in French history
And it was at the Hôtel de la Marine that one of the biggest burglaries in French history took place one night in September 1792. About forty individuals entered the palace of the custodian to steal the crown jewels. They took advantage of the twilight to climb the facade of the building and land on the loggia of the Place de la Concorde. All that remained was to break a shutter to enter the living room where the jewelry was. So don’t hesitate to visit this jewel of French history!