Carriage-entrance doors, sculpted by Étienne Le Hongre, photographed by Eugène Atget in 1899

The Hôtel Hesselin, later known as the Hôtel d'Ambrun, was a Parisian town house (hôtel particulier), erected around 1639 to 1642 for Louis Hesselin [fr] to the designs of the French architect Louis Le Vau.[1] It was located on the Île Saint-Louis, on the west side of the rue Poulletier at its intersection with the quai du Dauphin (now 24 quai de Béthune, 4th arrondissement of Paris).[2]



Le Vau's designs for the Hôtel Hesselin were reproduced in six engravings by Jean Marot, which were published in the Grand Marot in 1686.[3] The house shows Le Vau's skill at adapting plans to unique and unusual sites. Since the plot was located on a quiet quai, where street noise was minimal, he moved the entrance courtyard, which typically kept the main part of the house, the corps de logis, far away from the street, to behind the wings used for living, so the latter were near the River Seine and provided vistas across the river toward the University and upriver toward the Salpêtrière.[4] The courtyard was reached from the quai via a carriage entryway (porte cochère) and passageway. The impressive doors of the carriage entryway were sculpted by Étienne Le Hongre and have been preserved. The courtyard led directly to the garden at the rear, and the stables were east of the garden, along the rue Poulletier. On the right side of the courtyard a short flight of steps led to a highly decorated vestibule with a grand staircase on its south side leading to the main floor above, where there was a grand gallery (grande galerie) running parallel to the quai, with four windows overlooking the river to the south and three, the courtyard to the north.[5]


Another imaginative feature of the house was the arrangement of the facades along the river. Le Vau was also responsible for the design and construction of the house to the left, the Hôtel Sainctot, the river side of which was nearly complete by 1640.[4][7] He combined the elevations of the two houses so they formed a nearly symmetrical ensemble.[4]


By the 1930s the Hôtel Hesselin had deteriorated and had reached a dilapidated state. It was demolished in 1935 at the request of the rich American cosmetics magnate, Helena Rubinstein,[8] and a new building was erected to the designs of the architect Louis Sue.[9] The new building incorporated elements from the original, including Le Hongre's doors from the carriage entryway[5] and an iron balcony, which had been declared a monument historique in 1927.[10]


  1. ^ Cojannot 2012, p. 103.
  2. ^ Bordier 1998, p. 104; Cojannot 2012, p. 103.
  3. ^ Cojannot 2012, pp. 105–108; Deutsch 2015, pp. 461–462.
  4. ^ a b c Blunt 1953, p. 132.
  5. ^ a b Bordier 1998, pp. 169–191.
  6. ^ Referred to as the second étage in Marot's engraving.
  7. ^ See Cojannot 2012, pp. 103–104, for the dating of the Hôtel Sainctot.
  8. ^ Bordier 1998, p. 180.
  9. ^ Cojannot 2012, p. 104.
  10. ^ Base Mérimée, PA00086333.


  • Blunt, Anthony (1953). Art and Architecture in France 1500 to 1700. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. OCLC 1019966574.
  • Bordier, Cyril (1998). Louis Le Vau, Architecte: Les immeubles et hôtels particuliers parisiens. Paris: Librairie Léonce Laget. ISBN 9782852041196.
  • Cojannot, Alexandre (2012). Louis Le Vau et les nouvelles ambitions de l'architecture française 1612–1654. Paris: Picard. ISBN 9782708409361.
  • Deutsch, Kristina (2015). Jean Marot : Un graveur d'architecture à l'époque de Louis XIV. Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 9783110375954.

Coordinates: 48°51′03″N 2°21′27″E / 48.850782°N 2.35740°E / 48.850782; 2.35740