The Château des Roches, or Maison littéraire de Victor Hugo as it is now better known in Vauboyen, Bièvres, was the property of Louis-François Bertin (1766–1841) – also known as Bertin l'Aîné (the Elder) – who was a journalist, the founder of the Journal des débats and a patron of the arts.
Louis-François Bertin's statue is opposite Hugo's.
The medallion inscribed 'A mon célèbre ami Victor Hugo | P. J. David', by David d'Angers.
The bust is also by David d'Angers.
The plaque at the side of the tower was inscribed in the same year as the Maison littéraire was founded, and fittingly the verse is an extract from Hugo's 'Bièvre' [sic], written in 1831, dedicated to 'Mademoiselle Louise B[ertin]', and published in Les Feuilles d'automne:
Quelque chose des cieux qui flotte et qui s'enivre;
Un de ces lieux qu'enfant j'aimais et je rêvais,
Dont la beauté sereine, inépuisable, intime,
Verse à l'âme un oubli sérieux et sublime
De tout ce que la terre et l'homme ont de mauvais.'
Somewhere on the Maison Littéraire's website – and I can't remember who said it or how recently – there is a claim that Hugo is the most famous and the most read French writer in the world. Well, certainly he can't be anywhere near the most read French writer these days – how many people have actually read (as opposed to watched a dire distortion of) Les Misérables, for instance? But most famous? The mind almost automatically leaps to Balzac or Zola, but are there really no other serious contenders? There must be, surely? Voltaire!