Digging in: the delights of the research process

I'm once again back in research mode, this time preparing to write two novels about Josephine's daughter Hortense. They are to be a YA ("Young Adult") and will thus focus on Hortense's teen years.

The first takes place largely in the boarding school Hortense was placed in at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, run by Madame Campan. 

I've been to Saint-Germain-en-Laye many, many times over the years, but it has been almost two decades since I've been there to research the Napoleonic era. Now I have the advantage of the Net, and (with perseverance) have found a bounty of information. 

This is what I've gleaned so far:

On July 31, 1794, Campan opened her school—"National Institution of Saint-Germain"—on rue de Poissy. In the spring of the following year, on May 25, she rented Hôtel de Rohan on 42, rue de l'Unité—now 42, rue des Ursulines—opening it there on July 1, 1795. Two months later, on September 1, Josephine enrols Hortense and possibly her niece Emily there. 

What I long for, however, are images, and this was the first image of the Hôtel de Rohan I was able to find:


(Link here.)

The French government provides all sorts of information on historical sites. This one is a treasure of information and images:

Here is a map detail from the mid-18th century:

mid 18th-century plan

And another one from 1820:

1820 plan


The inner courtyard (mid-19th century):

Inner courtyard mid-19th century

The basin in the entry:

basin in the entry

You can see it filled with plants here:

the entry

And here's a detail of the staircase:

Staircase, early 18th century

The former Hôtel de Rohan is now, of course, an apartment block (and, I gather, a guitar school). I hope to get in to see it on my next research trip to France, but for now, these images help a great deal. 

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