Discover the beautiful, quaint harbour town of St Peter Port, which Victor Hugo made his home and creative muse for 15 years.
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“It's a true old Norman port, hardly English.”
The Parish Church of St Peter Port, known locally as the Town Church, would have been one of the first buildings seen by Hugo upon his arrival in Guernsey. It overlooks the town’s harbour, and was referenced in Hugo’s 1866 novel Les Travailleurs de la mer (Toilers of the Sea).
“with its three gable-ends, its transept, and its spire... offering a welcome to those arriving and a farewell to those departing.”
The Markets in St Peter Port were frequented by Hugo and his servants, shopping in the lee of the Town Church for fresh local fish and vegetables. The large stone market building still stands, largely unchanged, in historic St Peter Port today.
Hugo would frequently swim in Havelet Bay, situated close to his house at Hauteville. In Toilers of the Sea he describes how during springtime the bay was “alive with flowers, nests, fragrances, birds, butterflies and bees.” The bay is overlooked by Castle Cornet, and Hugo witnessed the construction of the adjacent lighthouse during his time in Guernsey.
“Nothing could be more peaceful than this spot in calm weather, nothing more tumultuous in heavy seas.”
Built to honour a visit by Queen Victoria in 1846, this tower was a secret meeting spot of Hugo and his lover Juliette Drouet, where they would enjoy panoramic views across St Peter Port and the neighbouring islands. Their initials can be seen, carefully etched into the tower's imposing walls.
Thanks to the success of his writing, Hugo was able to purchase a large townhouse with views across St Peter Port and out to sea. The property recently underwent major renovation, and reopened to the public in April 2019. It has been faithfully restored, both inside and out, to its authentic glory.
This was the first house Hugo and his family resided in on their arrival in Guernsey, and where he finished writing Les Contemplations. He would later purchase 20 Hauteville for Juliette Drouet (his mistress) to live in, just a few doors down from his own residence.
The brisk walk up the Hauteville rewards you with Hugo's magnificent view over the harbour and neighbouring islands.
St. Peter Port today, with its cobbled streets, picturesque marina and historic gardens, is considered one of Europe's prettiest harbour towns.