The Hôtel de Lauzun is a real little unknown gem of the heritage of the City of Paris which is hidden behind a sober facade of the Île Saint-Louis.
Listed as a Historic Monument
It is impossible to guess from the outside that the Hôtel de Lauzun, built in the 17th century but restored and transformed many times, houses on its two floors and its 1310 m2 some splendours worthy of Venetian palaces : carved wooden ceilings « à la française » or flat and painted “Italian style”, gold woodwork, etc. And what about the magnificent suite of four rooms with decreasing sizes and shimmering decor – including a magnificent music room – located on the second floor… . Fireplaces, murals, mirrors, ceilings magnetically attract the eye. Listed as a Historic Monument in 1906, the hotel has had a turbulent life.
An exceptional setting for official dinners
The first owner, Charles Gruyn, a wealthy merchant, wanted to show his success by having a mansion built. To do this, in 1656, he called on the architect Charles Chamois (second architect of Le Vau). But it is the name of the next owner that gives its name to the hotel: Antonin Nompar de Caumont, flamboyant Duke of Lauzun. A noble known for his arrogance and his multiple escapades who would have been the secret husband of the Grande Mademoiselle, first cousin of Louis XIV. During the 18th century, there were many buyers, but gradually the hotel was abandoned. In the abandoned house, craftsmen set up their workshops and precipitate the degradation of the place. In 1842, a wealthy art lover, Baron Pichon, acquired the hotel and restored it to its former glory after major restoration work. The aristocrat rented part of the premises to writers : Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Roger de Beauvoir who led a bohemian life and organized dinners . When Pichon died, the hotel was once again sold. In 1928, the City of Paris acquired it. Since then, the hotel has served as an exceptional setting for official dinners (receptions for Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Juan Carlos of Spain, etc.), concerts, film shoots, recordings of broadcasts (in particular France Culture), conferences, etc.
A sundial on the wall
Since 2013, the hotel has also housed the Paris Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA), a very high-level international research center dedicated to the humanities and social sciences. . On the north wall of the hotel, we discover a sundial where it is still possible to read the markers engraved in Roman numerals. A sundial ? Not quite. Exactly 26 sundials remain in Paris on the walls of former private mansions… including three on the Île Saint-Louis. But the particularity of that of the Hotel de Lauzun is to be, in reality, a meridian, that is to say a dial that only works in the middle of the day, from eleven o’clock in the morning to two o’clock in the morning. ‘afternoon. And for good reason: due to a lack of sufficient sunshine in the courtyard, it was not possible to install a “real” sundial with its 12 hour lines. The Lauzun meridian has not been in working order since 1957, the year of the disappearance of the perforated disc which filtered the light.
Hotel de Lauzun 17 Quai d’Anjou, Paris