Musee de l’Histoire de France is a museum of French history, located at the historical Hôtel de Soubise.
The museum is operated by one of the world’s largest national archives organizations (with over 100 km of documents in their shelves), the French Achives Nationales.
French history museum’s vast collections are exhibited at two palaces, the Hôtel de Soubise and Hôtel de Rohan (87, rue Vieille-du-Temple, Paris).
Of these two, Hôtel de Soubise is used to display the permanent collection, while Hôtel de Rohan houses temporary, major exhibitions.
PHOTO: Musee de l’Histoire de France’s Hôtel de Soubise building, as seen from the main courtyard, at 60, rue des Francs-Bourgeois.
PHOTO: Hôtel de Soubise was originally constructed during the 14th century, but completely rebuilt in the 18th century…which is why the palace gate is all that remains of the original 14th century building.
When construction on the Hôtel de Soubise was completed in 1371, the palace was known by the name “Hôtel de Clisson”, and owned by the Count of Guise.
A turning point for the palace was in 1705, when it was completely rebuilt, from plans by Pierre-Alexis Delamair…
…and as a result, only a dramatic entrance gate to the courtyard is what remains of the original 14th century building.
At the same time that this rebuilding took place, another palace was added to the neighborhood — “Hôtel de Rohan” — now the secondary exhibition space for the museum’s collections.
Both buildings were nationalized in 1808, with Napoleon giving orders to turn the Hôtel de Soubise into the French National Archives. At the same time, Hôtel de Rohan was turned into national printing house (a role it retained until 1927).
The current use of Hôtel de Soubise as (partly) a museum began in 1867, from the orders of Napoleon III.
Museum of French History has many interesting objects and documents, including highlights such as…
- documents from Merovingian Kings before Charlemagne,
- the only known portrait of Jean of Arc,
- the last will of King Louis XVI (who died at the guillotine),
- Napoleon’s testament and last will, as well as
- guard keys to the cells at Bastille.
Musee de l’Histoire de France
Address: 59, rue Guynemer, 93383 Pierrefitte-sur-Seine cedex
Official website: www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr
In recent years, there have been uncertainties related to where the collections will be displayed. The closest subway station to Hôtel de Soubise is at “Rambuteau” (Paris metro line M11).
At the time of writing this, the official website displays the museum’s current location, however, at the 59, rue Guynemer, 93383 Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.