Friday, September 5, 2014

Ruby Princess, Guernsey, UK, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wonder how many of you have been to Guernsey or even know where it is.  I thought it was off the south west coast of England.  Wrong.  It is near the northwest coast of France.  We did not know until a few weeks ago that it was the home of French author Victor Hugo during his self imposed exile from France.  It was here that he wrote Les Miserables, a family favorite.  Have to see the house!

Guernsey is home to 67,000 residents.  French is the unofficial first language.  There was no English spoken here until the 20th century.  St. Peter Port is charming.

Believe it!!!  This is their IRS office!

Hugo's home was known as Hauteville House....everyone thinks this is it.  Some years back, they put up this sign.....Juliette Drouet was his mistress/companion for 50 years.

About 6 doors up the street is the REAL Hauteville House.  After Hugo's death, his family donated the home to the City of Paris....

"Hauteville" means high above the city

Victor Hugo was more than an author and a poet.  He passion was interior decorating.  After you view these pictures, you may agree with me that you would not have hired him.  He was a painter, sculptor and designer.  Long before it was the "green" thing to do, he was recycling.  No way to describe this house.  We were stunned speechless!  We had no reservations and were turned away.  As we walked back down the steps, the agent came after us and said two people did not show!!!!  Would we want to join the tour?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

The light switches

Hugo took old pieces of furniture and recycled them.  He carved the intricate detail on many of them. He positioned the mirror to be able to see everyone in the room.  Old cabinets became a mantel.

Tapestries were everywhere, not just on the walls but also on the ceilings, in the hallways and in some rooms.

This room housed a collection of plates.  Ironically, it is the only room on this level with any sunlight.

Victor Hugo spoke 5 languages:  French, Spanish, Latin, German, Italian.  Here he has inscribed:  Life is in exile.

The two walls below are in the dining room.  All the walls are covered in Delft tiles from Holland. 

Notice HMMG atop the mantel.  Hugo believed in God, but had no affiliation with any organized religion.

Ascending to the second floor (third in this country), the decor becomes a bit brighter with a marked Asian influence.  The red and the blue rooms, as he called them, were game rooms, sitting rooms, places where the family gathered.

The door below is made of two pieces of art.  Hugo used the "trompe l'oeil" method repeatedly in his home.....the phrase is french for "mistake the eye"....most of the doors were covered in the same wallpaper as the walls or artwork, whatever he could do to disguise them.

Going up to yet another floor, the light increases.

We enter Hugo's bedroom.  

A church pew which he retrieved from a decaying church.

The bed he rarely slept in.

Another example of Hugo's woodcarving.  The Madonna is atop this piece.

The sole room on the fourth floor (third floor).  He wrote Les Miserables over the course of 20 years, most of them in this house and in this room.  This is where he "lived", worked and even slept.

On a clear day, he could see all the Channel Islands and even his beloved France.

This piece of art was done by Victor Hugo; note the VH in the bottom right corner.  There is really no way to truly represent this house.  Dark, the 10 of us on the tour, totally unlivable.  Until one reaches the top floor....then it becomes not only livable, but inviting, warm, hospitable....and inspiring.  But not a space he shared with anyone.

Below are the gardens and the back of the house.

Regretfully, we only had 4 hours in this lovely spot in the world.  We all agreed that we could have spent a week here.  The climate is perfect....not much rain, sunny days, moderate temperatures, lots of history and very friendly people.

The island was under Nazi occupation during WWII.  We did not have time to see the bunkers and war sites.

The tender long was so long that Princess had to hire the local ferry to get us all back on the ship.  No one wanted to leave!