History of the Hôtel de la Marine

The Hôtel de la Marine, looking out over the history of France

Designed by architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel, the Hôtel de la Marine was built between 1757 and 1774 on the north-east side of what is now the Place de la Concorde.

Originally intended to store royal furnishings, the building was assigned to the Navy Minister in 1789 when the royal family returned to Paris.

It has witnessed some of the most notable events in the history of France:

  • 11 July 1789: Prince de Lambesc ordered a cavalry charge against a crowd gathered on the Place Louis XV to protest against the dismissal of the Minister of Finance, Jacques Necker; the protestors pillaged historic weapons kept in the Royal Furniture Store,
  • October 1789: the Navy Ministry moved into the building,
  • 11 and 17 September 1792: the Crown Jewels were stolen from the building,
  • 11 August 1792: the equestrian statue of Louis XV was pulled down and the square was renamed “Place de la Révolution”,
  • 21 January 1793 and 16 October 1793: the death certificates of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were drawn up in the Hôtel de la Marine after they were guillotined on the square in front,
  • 2 December 1804: the coronation ball, attended by Napoleon I and Josephine, was held in the State reception rooms,
  • Autumn 1830: the square took the name it bears today, Place de la Concorde,
  • 26 October 1836: the Luxor obelisk was erected on the Place de la Concorde, watched from the balcony by Louis-Philippe,
  • 27 April 1848: signature of the Abolition of Slavery Act promoted by Victor Schoelcher,
  • Siege of Paris, 1870: the State reception rooms were requisitioned to serve as a hospital,
  • Second World War: the building was occupied by the German Navy (Kriegsmarine),
  • 25 August 1944: liberation of Paris. General de Gaulle passed in front of the building on his way from the Champs-Élysées to the Hôtel de Ville.

The Hôtel de la Marine building was listed as a historic monument in 1923: it comprises a succession of rooms whose décor (sculpted plasterwork, painted or gilded woodwork, wooden parquet flooring, etc.) traces the history of ornamental decoration from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The rooms constitute a coherent whole in a decorative style marked by naval symbolism. The peristyle at the front of the building is embellished with particularly outstanding sculptures.

(Updated: January 2016)