Maison Zola - Dreyfus Museum
Looking for a quiet house, far from the bustle of the capital, Emile Zola – fresh from the success of the novel L’Assommoir – acquired his “cabin” near the Seine, in Medan, to the west of Paris, in 1878.
Following meticulous restoration and restoration work, the Maison Zola – a place of warm friendship and literary creation, now awarded “Maison des Illustres” status – opens a door onto the world of the great writer and his wife Alexandrine.
And in one of the building’s annexes, delve into the twists and turns of the Dreyfus Affair. The Musée Dreyfus is the first museum in France to be devoted to the scandal that divided public opinion at the dawn of the twentieth century, prompting Zola to publish his famous “J’accuse” treatise on 13 January 1898 on the front page of the Paris daily L’Aurore in the form of an open letter to the President of the Republic.
La Maison Zola: the intimate home of the author of Nana and the Rougon-Macquart cycle
The home of the famous novelist for nearly 25 years, the Maison Zola boasts a layout and internal décor providing a reflection of its illustrious owner – resolutely modern and progressive. Zola supervised the work himself, enlarging the property and adding outbuildings as his literary successes increased. For example, the square tower was added in 1878-1879, followed by the hexagonal tower or Germinal tower in 1885-1886, transforming the look of the building.
It was here, in the calm of his magnificently preserved study, that Zola wrote some of the most beautiful pages of French literature… Nana and Germinal, as well as the continuation of the Rougon-Macquart cycle, the story of a family during the Second French Empire, of which eight of the twenty books in the cycle had already been published. It was in the intimacy of this wealthy residence, where they stayed for eight months of each year, that Zola and his wife also loved to receive their friends, most notably including Guy de Maupassant – who took part in the famous “Soirées de Médan” evenings – and also the novelist’s childhood friend Paul Cézanne.
The Dreyfus Museum: lest we forget
The Pavillon Charpentier extension and outbuildings of the Maison Zola now provide the perfect home for the Musée Dreyfus, the only museum in France to present and document Emile Zola’s commitment, the miscarriage of justice underlying the affair, the gap between the authorities and public opinion, and the role of the press via a comprehensive historical and educational presentation.
In a space covering 300 m², an abundance of historical documents, combined with innovative media systems, offers fascinating insights into this affair and the lasting impact it had on French society. The museum presents more than 500 objects dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the “Affair”: manuscripts, photographs, songs, projected light shows, brochures, posters, leaflets, etc. The exhibition tells of the injustices suffered by Alfred Dreyfus and Zola’s absolute and disinterested commitment to the case, while conveying the values of sharing, respect for others and tolerance.
Lieutenant Alfred Dreyfus was pardoned on 19 September 1899 and rehabilitated in 1906. Emile Zola, who died in 1902, was interred in the Panthéon in 1908.
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Days and opening hours
All year round, every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Group rate available for > 20 people.
- Copyright image:
- Philippe Oriol