The Maison de Victor Hugo is the Paris home—and now museum—of the great novelist Victor Hugo (you know: Les Miserables)

The place des Vosges is one of the most elegant of Paris's residential squares, and unless you're going to pony up for a rooms in the exquisite (and pricey) Pavillion de la Reine hotel, the best way to get an peek inside one of the tony apartment lining this mini private park is to tour the former digs of the great Victor-Marie Hugo—you know, the guy who wrote Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Les Misérables (the version without songs in it).

Long before Les Mis ever found its way to Broadway, it was an immensely popular French novel about the French Revolution that most people used for impressing others with their literary appetites and intellectual credentials—though in the manner of many a Great Novel, it wasn't so much actually read as it was kept as a prop on one's bookshelf—or, given the size of the thing, perhaps propping open one's door.

Victor Hugo penned Les Misérables, along with many other works, whilst keeping house from 1832–48 on the second floor of the former Hôtel Rohan-Guéménée—which wins the coveted "most accents in a single word" award for Paris place names.

The best bits of the displays on the great novelist's life (in brief: born illegitimate in 1802; a literary sensation by the age of 29; lived in exile during Napoleon's III's rule from 1851–70; died a national hero at the age of 83) are the homey ones: his inkwell, first editions of his books, and hundreds of illustrations he did himself for his works (the man was almost as deft at drawing as he was with words).

Hugo's writings also inspired more than 1,000 works of music, from to Verdi's Rigoletto to, of course, Schönberg's Les Misérables (still the longest-running musical in London's West End).

The house also happens to be a fine example of a chic 1610 redbrick mansion. Even if you're not into 19th century French lit, worth popping in to get a gander of how the better half lived in that era. Why not? Admission is, after all, free.

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