The architecture of the Hotel de Sens features some elements of
defence such as turrets built for surveillance, a square tower that served as a dungeon
and the arched entryway that had chutes built into it enabling defenders to pour boiling
water on invaders.
It is this arched entry that leads into a courtyard where you can admire the elegant
formal gardens along with a fig tree and on a glorious day, sitting on one of the garden
benches taking time to relax is a real dream away from the hustle and bustle of the city
Some of the history of this medieval mansion house is quite sketchy, although in 1605
Queen Margot, who was the first wife of King Henri IV was sent to live at this residence
after her marriage was annulled.
She named the street that this mansion is positioned on after the fig tree she had cut
down, as it was getting in the way of her carriages.
Later, from 1689 through to 1743, it was the office of the Lyon stage coach for parcels
and deliveries and had a full title of Siege de Messageries, Coches and Carroisses de
Lyon, Bourgogne et Franche Comté and after the Revolution it was occupied by art
students, then turned into a jam factory.
In 1883, the Paris Council decided to create a library that specialised in art and
art techniques as they wanted to create a place where people could gain more knowledge in
all areas of art.
Then Samuel Fornay, who was an industrialist decided to donate 200,000 francs to be used
for the education of young artists and in 1886 the Bibliotheque Fornay, named in his
honour, was first established at a place in the 11th arrondissement.
It soon became a very popular place for people in all areas of art from bronze workers to
architects and eventually in 1929 the Paris Council decided to move the Bibliotheque
Fornay to the Hotel de Sens.
From 1939 through to 1961 the Hotel de Sens underwent a full restoration programme and the
Bibliothèque Fornay is still housed in this medieval mansion today, where it has a
collection of around 200,000 books, 2,580 periodicals, 23,000 posters, 1,110,000
postcards, 325,000 reproductions, 28,000 commercial catalogues and approximately 50,000
The Hotel de Sans also holds temporary exhibitions from time to time as well, and the
courtyard and library are open to the public on a Tuesday to Friday from 1.30pm to 8.30pm
and on Saturday from 10am to 8.30pm.
It is always closed on Sunday and Monday.
Address & Contact Details:
Hôtel de Sens
1 Rue du Figuier