Essential Architecture-  Paris

Hôtel Carnavalet (Musée Historique de la Ville de Paris)


Pierre Lescot


23 Rue de Sevigné, 4th.


poss. 1548


French Renaissance




Town House (hôtel) Now Museum.
  The heart of the Carnavalet Museum
  Carnavalet's central garden
  Hôtel Carnavalet Entrance
The vast Carnavalet Museum, devoted to the history of Paris, occupies two adjoining mansions (the Hôtel Le Peletier de St-Fargeau and the Hôtel Carnavalet). They include entire decorated rooms with panelling, furniture and many works of art.

The main building, The Hôtel Carnavalet, was built as a town house in 1548 by Nicolas Dupuis. The Hôtel Carnavalet is a Renaissance jewel that in the mid-1600s became the home of writer Madame de Sévigné. The 17th century Hôtel le Peletier was added to the museum in 1989 to contain the larger part of the museum's 20th century interiors.

Some particularly interesting exhibits are:

Madame de Sévigné's Gallery;
The 20th century, Ballroom of the Hôtel de Wendel;
The Charles Le Brun Ceiling;
The Hotel d'Uzès Reception Room;
An ancient recipe for frog-leg soup, and;
Robespierre's final Letter

The only 16th-century hôtel of Paris that remains intact today, this hôtel boasts an extraordinary history of occupants, the most famous being the Marquise de Sevigné, a lady-in-waiting remembered today for her astonishingly frank letters. The Carnavalet was originally built for a Parisian politician, but soon was taken over by the Widow De Kernevenoy, whose mispronounced name gives us the hôtel’s title. Documents are unclear, but it’s believed that the architect who built much of the Louvre, Lescot, is also responsible for the Carnavalet. If you stand in the main entrance off Rue de Sevigné, just inside the courtyard, you’ll see the symmetrical proportions of his original façade, with wonderful Renaissance figures representing the Four Seasons by sculptor J. Goujon. At the time of construction, the roof was steeply pitched, like a medieval roof, but it has changed somewhat since then. Imagine you have just stepped out from a carriage into this calm, elegant courtyard. The walls behind you keep the hubbub of Renaissance Paris at bay. Considering the frequent unrest plaguing the city during this period, the heavy walls and grand gates were more than merely decorative: the wealthy could retreat to relative safety while the city raged outside. Their windows, much larger than those of the Medieval period, logically face inwards, overlooking the beautifully-designed courtyard.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to
  Carnavalet entry from Official Paris tourism website (in English).
55 photos of the museum
Musee Carnavalet (Carnavalet Museum)