The French Royal Wardrobe
Commission for le Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Fr)
Book published by Flammarion
The Hôtel de la Marine restored
The extensive work on the Hôtel de la Marine, led by the Center for National Monuments (Centre des Monuments Nationaux) from 2017 to 2021, was a complex operation that revealed all the talents of the teams brought together for this project.
What did it actually entail? First of all, it involved the restoration of glamorous premises built late in the ancien régime by one of France’s finest architects, Ange Jacques Gabriel. Although occupied by the Department of the Navy (Marine) for 226 years, the nature of these premises was never irrevocably altered, hence they are now considered by specialists to be an authentic model of eighteenth-century building skills.
Next, adaptations were required in order to open this remarkable building to the wider public for the first time in its long history. The infrastructure needed to be modernized, security facilities had to be updated, and the requirements of those who came to work in or visit the building had to be addressed. Space had to be found for a café, restaurant, offices, and all the services needed to welcome the hundreds of thousands of people who will come to the Hôtel de la Marine in the future for one reason or another.
Finally, the interior decoration and atmosphere of the highly delicate heritage rooms had to be recreated. The result is one of the most refined urban residences of the Enlightenment era, evoking a now rare example of French lifestyle and savoir-faire.
This long-term restoration project, an outstanding achievement that owes much to the support of numerous public and private lenders, involved almost every field of the arts and crafts. It was closely followed by Ambroise Tézenas, whose photographs offer readers rare insight into a human as well as a cultural saga.
These pictures constitute a lasting record. Artworks in themselves, they will become part of the history of the building, enabling future generations to experience the rebirth of a remarkable example of French heritage.
President of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux