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Love, Life and Death at the Victor Hugo Museum, Villequier

The Seine River tells many stories as it snakes along from Paris to the Normandy coast.

One such story is told in the quiet little village of Villequier. 

The pretty village of Villequier is nestled on the Seine River in northern France

Victor Hugo Museum, Villequier

In Villequier, you find the elegant mansion of the Vacqueries, a rich ship-owning family from Le Havre.

The Vacqueries were friends of Victor Hugo, the famous French author.

Their former holiday home is now the Victor Hugo Museum (Musee Victor Hugo), Villequier – not to be confused with the Maison de Victor Hugo in Paris, where the author once lived.

Victor Hugo Museum, Villequier

The Villequier museum illustrates the life of Leopoldine Hugo, who was the writer’s daughter. She was married to Charles Vacqueries.

Theirs was an idyllic but tragically short life; she and her young husband drowned in 1843 just six months after their wedding.

The Victor Hugo House and Museum also celebrates the work of Victor Hugo himself, as well as his life, loves and family – you see drawings by Victor, some of his great books, photos and period furniture.

We visited the museum on a Seine River cruise with Scenic Cruises – bicycling there on fun e-bikes.

bicycling in france
Not the Tour de France! Our bicycling group enjoys the sights on the way to the Victor Hugo Museum

You can get a glimpse of Victor Hugo’s complicated life through our photos of the Victor Hugo Museum, shown below.

Photos of the Musee Victor Hugo, Villequier

Victor Hugo

victor hugo museum

Born in 1802, Victor Hugo is most well-known for his novels, Les Miserables (1862) and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831).

Julie Foucher

As a teenager, Victor fell in love with Adele Julie Foucher and married her in 1822.

They had four children, and despite both of them having affairs, their marriage lasted.

Rooms in the Maison Victor Hugo, Villequier

victor hugo museum villequier france

There are about a dozen rooms in the Villequier museum, filled with artifacts, prints and photographs.

It helps if you understand a little French, as most everything (signage, interpretive descriptions, etc.) is in French.

We had an English-speaking guide who accompanied us from our river ship (the Scenic Gem), and she was able to bring the place to life for us.

We like the high ceiling in the room below! But the bed looks a bit narrow for our tastes :-).

victor hugo museum villequier

Leopoldine Hugo

Leopoldine Hugo was Victor and Adele’s eldest daughter.

She was only 19 and pregnant when she died.

She and her husband Charles were out sailing on the Seine when their boat capsized. He drowned trying to save her, diving down and swimming underneath the boat six times in an effort to rescue her.

Leopoldine Hugo

Quite understandably, Victor never really got over his beloved daughter’s death.

In his Contemplations collection of 156 lyrical poems, he wrote eloquently of visiting his daughter’s grave:

“Tomorrow, at dawn, the moment the countryside whitens,
I will leave. You see, I know that you await me.
I will go through the forest, I will go across the mountain.
I can no longer remain away from you.

I will trudge on, my eyes fixed on my thoughts,
Without seeing anything outside, without hearing any sound,
Alone, unknown, back bent, hands crossed,
Sad, and the day for me will be like the night.

I will not look upon the gold of nightfall,
Nor the sails from afar that descend on Harfleur,
And when I arrive, I will place on your grave
A bouquet of green holly and heather in bloom.”

Juliette Drouet

And who is this pretty lady?

Juliette Drouet

She is Juliette Drouet, Victor Hugo’s mistress.

A French actress, she and Victor began their affair after she performed in one of Hugo’s plays, Lucrezia Borgia

They remained lovers for 50 years until her death in 1883.

Villequier Cemetery

Victor Hugo family gravestones

Victor’s wife Adele, along with Leopoldine, her husband Charles and two uncles are all buried in the cemetery of Villequier, a short walk away.

Victor was buried at the Pantheon in Paris.

More information

Check out the Victor Hugo Museum website.

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Victor Hugo Museum - Villequier

Photo credits: © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

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Saturday 3rd of February 2018

What an interesting story. Of course, we all know a little about Victor Hugo, but we never seem to know enough!

Janice and George

Saturday 3rd of February 2018

You're right - there's so much more to his story than just the novels he wrote...


Wednesday 31st of January 2018

It would have been interesting to learn more about the Hugo family! Great post!

Janice and George

Wednesday 31st of January 2018

It was very interesting! We knew very little about the man before bicycling to the museum, apart from his two famous novels. It was especially sad to learn though that he only found out about his daughter's death when reading a newspaper while traveling with his mistress.


Tuesday 30th of January 2018

Quite a sad story, but a lovely museum. I always wanted to do a river cruise in Europe, maybe I should try the Seine River cruise. It seems they have some very nice shore trips.

Janice and George

Wednesday 31st of January 2018

This Seine River cruise is a very culturally-rich experience. Other European river cruises may be just as culture-intense. We were just (pleasantly!) surprised at how historic Normandy is... We can definitely recommend it!

Irene S Levine

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

Thanks for sharing the rich history behind Villequier and showcasing its beauty through your photography! Seems like a wonderful Scenic cruise in Normandy~

Janice and George

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

Yes, a very scenic Scenic cruise :-).