To travelâ¢ BY: Delia von Neuschatz
The Arc de Triomphe is not the only important monument in Paris under the supervision of the Center des monuments de France. There is also the magnificent HÃ´tel de La Marine, a mini-Versailles in the heart of Paris.
Last June, after a painstaking restoration of $ 157 million over four years, the two-story palace opened its magnificent doors to the public for the first time in 250 years.
Commissioned by Louis XV and occupying a prominent place on the Place de la Concorde, the 550-room presbytery was originally the repository for royal furniture, jewelry, art, tapestries and armament. Considering his royal provenance, then, it’s no surprise that he was quickly caught up in the winds of history. Indeed, the storming of the Bastille, marking the start of the French Revolution in 1789, would have been facilitated by the weapons seized by the revolutionaries in the weapons room.
It is in another room, one overlooking the Place de la Concorde, where that of Marie-Antoinette the death warrant has been signed and it is in its golden rooms that Napoleon and Josephine held their coronation ball. The act of 1848 which abolishes slavery in France is also signed there. And, after serving as the headquarters of the French Navy for two centuries, the palace became the seat of a Nazi division during World War II.
Today, it regains its original eighteenth-century splendor thanks to the meticulous efforts of some 200 of the best artisans in France. To say that no detail has been overlooked is practically an understatement. Virtually every piece of paint, every piece of furniture, every piece of silk, every floor, and so much more, has been faithfully recreated.
However, a visit to the HÃ´tel de la Marine is not just a feast for the eyes. Acoustic and gastronomic delights add to the fun. State-of-the-art headphones provide an immersive 3D hearing experience in which sounds follow the movements of your head.
And if you feel peckish at the end of your visit, two restaurants are waiting for you to tickle your taste buds: the ultra chic CafÃ© LapÃ©rouse, a brasserie candy backed by the LVMH scion. Antoine Arnault, and the more formal Mimosa, led by a Michelin-starred chef, Jean-Francois Trap, owner of perennial favorites, La Poule au Pot and A l’Epi d’Or.
We had the chance to visit the HÃ´tel de la Marine in 2019 during its incredible transformation. Click here to revisit our hard hard tour and find out more about the HÃ´tel de la Marine and the National Monuments Center, the government agency responsible for the restoration of the Hotel. You might just be inspired to contribute to the conservation, preservation and enhancement of French heritage.