French Monument of the Month: Hôtel de la Marine in Paris 



French Monument of the Month: Hôtel de la Marine in Paris 

In this monthly series, we take a look around France’s many beautiful historical buildings under the care of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. This month, the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris which is presenting an exclusive exhibition on Medieval art, straight from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London 

Situated in the heart of Paris, the Hôtel de la Marine stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. With its opulent façade illuminating place de la Concorde and fascinating exhibits, this iconic landmark is often overlooked but should definitely make the cut on your bucketlist for your next trip to Paris.   

Dining room © Benjamin Gavaudo / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

From the King’s furniture to the Navy headquarters

Originally built as one of two palaces to be placed at either end of the Place Louis XV (the current place de la Concorde), the grandiose building held the royal furniture as soon as the works on the square were done in 1765. For the next 25 years, it not only housed the royal family’s collection of furniture but also the steward in charge who oversaw the furniture in all royal dwellings, from Versailles to Fontainebleau.  

The institution – la Garde-Meuble Royal – was in charge of the choice, purchase and maintenance of the king’s furniture, ranging from the bed to the chairs. It was also in charge of the conservation of the royal collections of arms and armour, fabrics and hangings, vases of hard stones, bronzes and finally the Crown diamonds, but also cooking utensils and linens! 

During the Revolution, the building was seen as a symbol of the royal family’s opulence. In fact, the story goes that on July 13th 1789, the revolutionaries plundered the armoury and, the next day, opened fire on the Bastille using silver-adorned canons gifted to Louis XIV by the king of Siam! After the Crown jewels were stolen in 1792 and the rest of the artifacts were burned or sold off at auctions, the fate of the building was sealed. 

The impressive Salon des Amiraux © Marine A. Tézenas / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

The Navy began moving in as early as 1789, when Louis XVI decided to move the entire court back to Paris. The institution gradually took over the entire building which was appropriately renamed Hôtel de la Marine. The French Navy was housed there for over two centuries and only left in 2015! 

It was then placed in the care of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and underwent extensive renovations to restore it to its former glory and reopen as a museum. 

Enjoy perhaps one of the finest views of Paris © J-P. Delagarde / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

Exquisite exhibitions 

Its architecture, but also its painted decorations, furniture and works of art from the 18th and 19th centuries showcase the close links between decorative art, craftsmanship, French excellence and the expression of power. 

Since 2017, several restoration campaigns have brought to light remarkable period elements, including the original decorations of the steward’s apartments from the end of the 18th century.  

One of the highlights of the museum is the stunning Salon des Amiraux, with its gilded ceiling, intricate woodwork, and magnificent chandeliers. You can explore the apartments, guided by the voice of ‘Le Confident’ who takes visitors on an immersive tour, ending with the ceremonial salons and a unique view of Paris from the loggia. Guided tours, kid’s activities and workshops are also available. 

Audioguides and children’s activities are available to enhance your visit © Didier Plowy / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

Within the prestigious Al-Thani Collection, the Hôtel de la Marine has just opened an exclusive exhibition on medieval art. Running until October 22, “Medieval Treasures from the Victoria and Albert Museum: when the English spoke French” illustrates the complex and interdependent relationship between England and continental Europe throughout of the Middle Ages through a collection of sculptures, enameled glass, ivories, stained glass, textiles, ceramics, illuminated manuscripts, goldsmithery and jewellery.   

Showcasing extraordinary works made in England, France, Italy and beyond, this is the first time over 70 of these objects are making an appearance in France. The exhibition brings to light the rich artistic culture that flourished in what was a truly international era. 

Among the most notable works in the Victoria and Albert Museum are the Gloucester Candlestick, the Becket Casket, the Clare Chasuble and a goblet, known as The Luck of Edenhall. 

For more information, visit 

From June 30 to October 22 2023

Full price: 13 €.

Usual gratuities apply

Book online

Lead photo credit : Hôtel de la Marine, on place de la Concorde in Paris © J-P. Delagarde / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

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Sophie is Digital Editor for France Today. Raised in Burgundy to British parents, she grew up bilingual in a small village where summers were about forest walks and lazy swims in the river. A Franco-British citizen, she studied literature, then journalism in Paris and Cardiff before quickly dipping her toes (and quill) into travel writing. She’s been specialised and writing about France since 2016 and now works from her home office in north-east France.

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  •  Henri
    2023-07-12 04:53:47
    Hello Sophie and thank you for your beautiful and literal site which I view all the time. I am a Francophile, living in Los Angeles. May I ask you a question ? And I will pay your fee if you bill me. I am a retired person. I have about #3200/month in pension and 70.000 euros in saving. I live alone and I speak some French. I wonder where in France maybe the place where I can live. I have a simple life , I love everything about France and I like to have my morning coffee in a cafe and my daily lunch in a restaurant......Nothing simpler than that. So where do you send me too considering my budget. Thx


    • Sophie Gardner-Roberts
      2023-07-16 06:11:34
      Sophie Gardner-Roberts
      Hello Henri, I suggest you visit our sister site for advice on where to buy a property in France. Alternatively, you can pick up a copy or subscribe to French Property News, our leading magazine about buying in and moving to France. Thank you for your interest in France Today! Kind regards, Sophie