What is a French Hôtel Particulier?

In France, the term “hôtel particulier” refers to a grand townhouse or mansion. Unlike the word “hotel” in English, which suggests a place where people pay to stay temporarily, the French “hôtel particulier” is a private residence, usually for a single, wealthy family.

“Hôtel” simply refers to a large place of residence, while “particulier” is the French word for “person.”

These structures are often historical, featuring elaborate architecture, and are situated in urban settings. They are distinguished from ordinary houses by their size, and ornamental features, and often include courtyards and gardens. The term underscores the exclusivity and grandeur of the property, and such residences are markers of social status and historical significance.

How Many Hôtel Particuliers are in Paris?

The number of hôtels particuliers in Paris is not fixed as it can depend on what criteria are used to define them, but there are several hundred in the city, many of which have been converted into museums, government buildings, or cultural institutions.

Notable examples include the Hôtel de Sully, located in the Marais district, which now serves as the Center for National Monuments. The Hôtel Carnavalet, also in the Marais, houses the Carnavalet Museum of the History of Paris.

The Hôtel d’Évreux, currently known as the Élysée Palace, serves as the official residence of the President of France. The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) is another prominent example, serving as the administrative center of the city.

These hôtels particuliers are remarkable not only for their architectural majesty but also for their cultural significance to the city of Paris and France itself.

Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is a notable complex in Paris that serves a different function compared to a typical hôtel particulier. It was originally built as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans under the orders of King Louis XIV in the 1670s.

Today, the site houses several museums including the Musée de l’Armée, as well as monuments and churches, the most famous of which is the Dôme des Invalides where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried.

While it carries the word “Hôtel,” its function is more akin to a public institution than a private residence. The term is used here in its older meaning of a hostelry for a specific group, in this case, disabled military veterans.

The Hôtel des Invalides stands as an iconic French landmark, representing both French military history and architectural prowess.

Hôtel Fieubet

The Hôtel Fieubet is one such former residential hôtel particulier located on a street corner in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It is part of the larger Hôtel Royal de Saint-Pol complex, constructed by the French noble Phélypeaux family at the beginning of the 17th century.

While the building was partially ruined in the 19th century, since 1877, it serves as the private Massillon School.

I was drawn to the lovely sculptures that pop out from the façade of this hôtel particulier, and sure enough, the building has been listed as a historical monument since March 24, 1928

Hotel Fieubet, Paris, France
Hotel Fieubet, Paris, France
Hotel Fieubet_DSCF1088

Hôtel de Bretonvilliers

The Hôtel de Bretonvilliers is a stunning hôtel particulier in the 4th arrondissement that I had passed several times before photographing it. This charming building is located on the île Saint-Louis and offers a passageway underneath it. It’s remarkably well constructed considering the openness below it! It’s located at the intersection of Rue de Bretonvilliers and Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île.

The original building was constructed from 1637 to 1642, yet most of it was demolished in 1874. It was designed by the French architect Jean Androuet du Cerceau, for the count Claude Le Ragois de Bretonvilliers who died in 1645. Bretonvilliers was an advising secretary to King Louis XIII as well as a banker.  The stunning arched pavilion was classified as a “historical monument” on April 1, 1986, giving it protection.

Hotel de Bretonvilliers, Paris, France

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