Charles Baudelaire lived in the Hotel de Lauzun, 17, quai d’Anjou, in the popular Bohemian district of Ile St Louis in Paris, from October 1843 to September 1845. The hotel, also known as the Hotel Pimodan, was an old town house, built in the era of Louis XIV, with a majestic classical facade adorned with dolphin shaped drain pipes and an aristocratic, carved, painted, mirrored and gilded interior. As the neighbourhood became déclassé following the 1798 Revolution, it was divided into apartments and attics, rented by successful artisans, artists and writers such as Baudelaire and his friend and fellow poet, journalist and literary critic, Theophile Gautier.
Here the young writer wrote the early poems of Les Fleurs du Mal, enjoyed the company of his mistress, Jeanne Duval, and attended Le Club des Haschichens (Hashish Club) suppers, with associates such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Honore de Balzac. Dressed in Arab clothing they drank coffee laced with a green jam-like substance made of hashish, pistachio, orange juice and spices and experienced euphoria, hallucinations, a rapid flow of ideas and incredible mirth, known as ‘intellectual intoxication’.
Whilst Les Fleurs du Mal, published in 1857 and deemed controversial and shocking in its day, deals with the themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis , depression, urban corruption and lost innocence, the notes Baudelaire made observing the hashish-taking experiments at the Hotel de Lauzun, in which he occasionally took part, formed the basis of his book, Les Paradis Artificiel (Artificial Paradises), which compares the social aspects of wine drinking with the anti social and evil effects of the drug.
The Hotel Lauzun was bought by the City of Paris in 1928. It has been used for its exceptional setting to host official dinners, concerts, film sets, conferences and private tours. Following extensive restoration, it now houses the Institute for Advanced Studies, dedicated to humanities and scientific research.
It is the setting of a new play by Richard Dalla Rosa (‘The Lesbians’). The play has been adapted for performance by GoodDog Theatre Company.