Behind the Les Mis Story on Guernsey

Victor Hugo statue

The DVD and Blue-ray release of box office smash hit, Les Misérables DVD and Blu-ray release on 22nd March will be exciting fans across the country, but those who want to get behind the real story can book a trip to Guernsey where the Les Misérables author, Victor Hugo, penned the epic novel in 1862.

Fans will be able to see the authors bizarrely decorated house, his local haunts and clifftop inspiration, as well as aspects of his colourful love life.

Hugo moved to Guernsey in 1855 and spent 15 years on the island, during which time he wrote some of his most famous works including Les Misérables and Les Travailleurs de la Mer. These years were the most productive of his life and he is said to have drawn inspiration from the beauty of the island. Below are outlined the best Hugo- related visits:

Hauteville House

Visitors can explore Hauteville House in St. Peter Port’s Old Quarter, where Hugo lived during his time in Guernsey. The house was eccentrically decorated with second-hand furniture and bric-à-brac collected on Hugo’s excursions around the island. Doors are made from tables, columns have been created from table legs, tapestries decorate the ceilings and wood panelling is made from old chests. Hugo was also intrigued by light, reflection and mystery so there are tricks with light and mirrors in several parts of the house, as well as hidden cupboards and secret staircases. Hauteville House is open from April to September (excluding Sundays) and entry is £7 per adult. Booking is necessary via 01481 721911 or e-mail hugohouse@cwgsy.net.

The Victoria Tower

The Victoria Tower in St. Peter Port was erected in honor of a visit to the island by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846 and was a frequent secret meeting spot for Hugo and his lover, Juliette Drouet. Look closely and you will find their initials carved into the wall. Visitors need to collect the key from the Candie Gardens Museum and Gallery which opens the door  to the 99 steps up to the top of the tower.

St. Peter Port

Victoria Tower - Please credit Visit Guernsey
The Victoria Tower was a frequent secret meeting spot for Hugo and his lover, Juliette Drouet.

A number of Guernsey tour guides run Hugo-inspired walking tours through St. Peter Port, passing Hugo’s favourite haunts and dedicated sites. The two hour tour will take participants to the house a few doors down from Hauteville House at number 20, where Hugo’s lover Juliette Drouet lived. The couple would communicate by tying coloured hankies to the railings outside their homes with different colours signalling different moods and messages. The guide will also take visitors to the imposing Caste Cornet where Hugo was fond of walking; the granite statue of the author in Candie Gardens and Hugo’s other favourite spots in the coastal town. For prices and dates of the walking tours see:

Coastal Paths

Hugo’s walks along Guernsey’s 39-miles of coastline were so frequent that his striding figure became a familiar image to the islanders. He is known to have written in the morning and then walked the clifftop paths in the afternoons for inspiration. Even Hugo’s statue in Candie Gardens is in this familiar walking pose.  Visitors can follow the coastal paths themselves or guided walks can be booked.

Getting there

Flights to Guernsey from London Gatwick are available with Aurigny and Flybe. Return flights start from £92 per person and £75 respectively including all taxes and charges. Departures from several regional airports are also available such as from Southampton with Blue Islands, with return flights costing from £126 per person including all taxes and charges.

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