The greatest French artists chose to live in Paris. They’ve written, sculpted, painted, imagined their biggest works. To connect a little bit more to the life of these great men and feel the environment in which they used to create, how about visiting their homes?
Within the guide below, you’ll find 13 artist’s homes set in Paris or outside, and they all are open to the public – except one, but it was unimaginable to write this guide without including it.
Enjoy your visit!
Victor Hugo’s house is one of the most famous artist’s homes in Paris. Set on the second floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée on the wonderful Place des Vosges, it housed Victor Hugo between 1832 and 1848. About twenty years after his death in 1885, his house has been turned into a museum. We discover period furniture, the table on which he wrote some of his greatest works, and even his bed where he gave up the ghost.
Another huge French writer lived in Paris at the same time: Honoré de Balzac. But it’s in the 16th arrondissement and not the 4th like his fellow that he chooses to settle in. it’s in Passy that he will live for seven years and he’ll write the Comédie Humaine. This house also became a museum and shows us Balzac’s private life: manuscripts, daily objects, paintings, engravings, original editions. Moreover, the access to the permanent collections is free of charge.
There are people who like Le Corbusier’s works and others who hate them. For the first, did you know the flat of the architect set in Paris 16th arrondissement was open to the general public for a decade? It’s in this building built by his own care and listed a historical monument since 1972 that we can find this flat-studio we can visit upon booking.
Alright alright, I can hear you grumble “Gainsbourg’s house can’t be visited…” We know that, and we find it’s a shame; and ye, we have to inform everyone who doesn’t know that Gainsbourg’s house is a must-see in Paris. Fans of the singers keep coming and commune with themselves and the most artist among them even take the care of leaving a mark of their coming and their love through lovely tags making this façade in Rue de Verneuil perfectly moving.
Jean Cocteau and his works admirers don’t deny yourself the pleasure and have a go to Milly-la-Forêt to discover the beautiful house in which the French writer/poet/playwright/filmmaker lived between 1947 and 1963. You can’t miss it, it owns two red turrets on its façade! Every room has been left as they were, from the lounge to the bedroom without forgetting the office. You can complete your tour with the permanent exhibitions around the artist’s life.
You can’t separate Giverny from Claude Monet. It’s in this village, at one-hour drive from Paris, he painted – among others – by the water his most famous series: the Water Lilies. Today, you can visit his charming house with rooms each one more beautiful and colorful than the others, walk the small bridges and enjoy your time in his beautiful flowered and colorful gardens as he used to love them.
In the Villeneuve mill in Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, everything has been left at the same spot since Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet died. From the indoor decoration to the crockery without forgetting books, armchairs and paintings. They lived in this 13th-century mill from 1951 to their death and they even are buried there! Don’t hesitate to have a walk in the park or the contemporary art exhibitions held very regularly.
In 1890, Vincent Van Gogh rents a room for 3.50 francs a day at the Auberge Ravoux set in Auvers sur Oise. Nothing very prestigious for this great painter: a 7-sqm bedroom, in the attic and featuring a very tiny roof window! This bedroom was left like that and never rented again, and you can visit it today. But remember it’s in this very room that Van Gogh took his own life.
It’s in a wonderful 18th-century private mansion that Auguste Rodin lived for the last years of his life. Today, now turned into a museum, the last house of the artist houses permanent collections including masterworks of the sculptor and his famous mistress who was a sculptress too: Camille Claudel. In the beautiful garden surrounding the building, we discover other major works of the artist while enjoying the quietness of these French formal garden.
In the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, well-hidden behind the large church can be found Eugène Delacroix’s very last house. The painter lived there between 1857 and 1863, the year he died. Delacroix’ flat and studio can be visited like the wonderful green garden where it feels good to take a walk and rest far from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.
You may not know him but Ossip Zadkine is considered as one of the greatest cubist sculptors in the history of art. Coming from Russia, he lived in rue d’Assas for about 40 years, between 1928 and 1967! And we completely understand him when we discover all the charm of the place: a cute little house covering one floor, a well, a dovecote, a conservatory and a beautiful garden… We would have done the same!
Antoine Bourdelle taught sculptor that are maybe more famous than him today such as Rodin and Giacometti, please. His house, set in the Montparnasse neighborhood, has been turned into a museum for amateurs’ greatest joy. We roam in his flat, his studio and garden to discover a large number of bronzes, marble and gypsum works.
In the Nouvelle-Athènes neighborhood in Paris, Gustave Moreau lived with his parents in a private mansion. Transformed into a museum when he was still alive (!) in 1903, the building houses the painter’s apartments and studios. Everything there is charming, from the Louis XVI decoration to the boudoir without forgetting the many paintings of the artist.
Who knows, all these visits will have you set to painting, sculpting and writing!