Travel with me to the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg

main staircase winter palace
The main staircase

Welcome to my blog which unites my two passions: French and travel. Today, I would like to invite you to visit the sumptuous Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg. The Hermitage owes its origins to the creative and educational activities of the Russian rulers. The winter residence of the Tsars became the centre around which a great museum, its architectural complex and its countless treasures crystallised. Construction of the current Winter Palace began in 1754 and took 8 years to complete. It was built by the architect Francesco Rastrelli on the order of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. When Catherine the Great became empress in 1762, she wanted to have the Small and Old Hermitage to be built next to the official residence in order to house her art collection.  The Raphael Loggias block was added to the Old Hermitage.  This was followed by the building of the Hermitage Theatre .  This whole group of buildings next to the Winter Palace became known as “the Hermitage”.

The Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace

Catherine the Great  wanted her palace to be more beautiful than any other European palace. And I truly think that she succeeded. Catherine acquired 225 paintings in 1764, the Gotzkowsky paintings. Thus the history of the museum is traditionally held to be 1764 and the day chosen was 7th December, the feast day of St. Catherine (in honour of its founder). The collection continued to grow under Catherine’s successors.

The Winter Palace which was the imperial residence for many years became part of the Hermitage Museum in 1917, the year before Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks. It was then declared a state museum. During the First World War, the museum’s main collections were moved to Moscow and were only returned at the end of 1920. The museum also lost many of its works when the practice of expanding museums across the USSR was established. Tragically, many of its masterpieces were sold to buyers abroad in order to solve the state’s financial problems. The trade was only stopped in 1934.  The museum was also bombed during WWII but it stood firm and in 1945 the museum reopened its doors to visitors.

There are countless beautiful things to see in this museum – a lot of them gold! In fact, they have a Gold Room where there are so many incredible things it’s difficult to describe. You are not allowed to take photos in this room though. You will see many of the imperial family’s belongings in this room which is actually more than one room, and many treasures dating back to the 4th to the 7th century B.C. It really is worth the visit.


Another beautiful item which is in the Hermitage (not in the Gold Room) is the Clock Peacock made in the 2nd half of the 18th century by Englishman James Cox. It is an amazing piece of machinery which still works.

It can take years to see all the collections and priceless pieces of art in this Museum but even to see just a small portion is a worthwhile endeavour which will delight you.

French Vocabulary


je voudrais réserver une chambre, I would like to book a room reserver

une chambre simple, a single room chambre simple

une chambre double, a double room chambre double

une chambre avec petit déjeuner, a room with breakfastavec petit dej

une chambre en demi-pension, half board demi pension

en pension complète, full board pension complete

avez-vous une chambre pour ce soir? do you have a room for tonight? chambre pour ce soir

pour deux personnes/pour deux nuits, for two people/for two nights deux personnes

la douche ne marche pas, the shower doesn’t work douche ne marche pas

la télévision ne marche pas, the television doesn’t work tele ne marche pas

quel est le prix d’une chambre double?  how much does a double room cost? prix chambre double

est-ce que le petit déjeuner est compris? is breakfast included? dejeuner compris

à quelle heure faut-il rendre la clé? at what time must we check out (return the key)? rendre la cle