Ah, Victor Hugo … him behind the classic that is Les Mis … turns out he lived on Guernsey for 15 years. He left France after insulting Napoleon III in 1851 and settled in Jersey. However, after criticising Queen Victoria, he was asked to leave, which is how he ended up in St Peter Port.
This was a visit that I had pre-booked before leaving home (and subsequently rearranged because of our weather delay). Hauteville House has recently reopened after a period of restoration and tickets are at a premium. Visitors are shown around in a group with a guide – ours was very good and clearly passionate about all things Victor Hugo.
I came to the conclusion that Monsieur Hugo was patently bonkers, but brilliantly so. The decor throughout the house is lavishly, full of dark wood, heavy with religious symbolism and his own initials, and tapestries (even on the ceilings). Only his attic work space had plenty of light and, on a clear day, a view across to France.
The garden, however, is stunning. The oak in the middle of the lawn was planted by Victor Hugo and he christened it “the oak of the United States of Europe“.