After the destruction of multiple historically important medieval buildings, Victor Hugo wrote an article in 1825, “Guerre aux démolisseurs!” (“War on the demolishers!”). Hugo’s article and widespread support for his idea led to the start of protecting historic monuments. But historic monuments are only part of the history that can be found at a specific location. Up until fairly recently, developers and contractors have been able to build on apparently empty spaces without any investigation into the ground below or preservation/conservation of what was found in the ground.
In other words, if contractors dug up the ground and found historic artifacts, they could disregard the ruins below and immediately continue with their constructions. All without any preservation or study of the site, or the objects.
Even if they found Gallo-Roman or Medieval ruins, burial grounds, roads, temples, etc…., nothing would have to be conserved. Ignore that history and keep on building! This article is a bit dense. But, stick with me and hopefully you will appreciate Inrap and its work with Tromelin.
Obviously, tearing up and throwing away ancient ruins was not good. After multiple scandals involving the destruction of large and significant finds around the turn of the 21st century, France enacted laws that require an archeological study of building sites. Inrap is the department tasked with preventing the loss of archeological heritage on land, and in water, and providing the results of those studies to the public. Inrap is short for, “Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives.” Or, in English, “French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research.”
This is a tremendous task given that the land of France is dotted with scattered sites from pre-written history, to Roman times, to sites as recent as WWI and WWII. The published results from Inrap’s work are fascinating and widely diverse. It seems that the archeologists are finding more and more mesmerizing works every day!
Graffiti from soldiers in caves during WWI; thousand-year-old footprints in Normandy; a ritual Jewish bath from Medieval France; Gallic warriors from 3 and 4 centuries BC; hunter-gathers in Paleolithic times – they find it all in France. And with more construction, more astonishing archeological ruins are found and investigated.
Through its research, and its obligation to provide information to the public, Inrap helps with various public exhibitions. These exhibitions generally display the work of this important organizations. One of these exhibitions in which it played a significant role is, “Tromelin, the Island of Forgotten Slaves.” The final stop of this traveling exhibition is at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris from February 13, 2019 until June 3, 2019.
The exhibition explores the French East India Company’s, Utile, and what happened to its passengers. The Utile was shipwrecked in 1761 on a desert island in the Indian Ocean. Along with its French crew, the ship was carrying an illegal cargo of 160 enslaved Malagasy people. (Malagasy are natives of Madagascar; Malagasy in French is Malgache.)
On the desert island, French and Malagasy survivors made a raft to try to return to Madagascar. Leaving 80 surviving Malagasy people on the island with a 3 month supply of food, the French crew sailed away promising to return to rescue them as soon as they reached Madagascar.
The ones who left the island never returned for the survivors.
Fifteen years later, a Frenchman named, Bernard Boudin de Tromelin, captained his ship to the island and rescued the only remaining survivors: 7 Malagasy women and an eight-month-old Malagasy child. The remote island remains a French territory and is now named, Tromelin Island, in honor of the rescuer.
Inrap Research Expeditions
Since the 2000s, Inrap has played a decisive role in thoroughly researching all historical details of enslaved peoples during France’s colonial period. Because the location included a shipwreck, Inrap formed a collaboration with the Naval Archeology Research Group (le Groupe de recherche en archéologie navale, or GRAN).
Both groups wanted to collect as much information, using the latest technology, and as comprehensively as possible. In multiple expeditions between 2006 and 2013, the organizations conducted historic, archeological and environmental work on the island and in its waters.
The culmination of this research and the efforts of other participating organizations is the public exhibition, “Tromelin, the Island of Forgotten Slaves.” It is divided into three sections: examining the slave trade in the Indian Ocean; the archeological information collected about the enslaved people, their culture while on the island, their food, life and death; and finally, memorial.
Since 2015, it has been traveling to various cities of France with great success. Now, it makes its last stop in Paris at one of the great museums in France.
“Tromelin, The Island of Forgotten Slaves” (“Tromelin, l’Île des Esclaves Oubliés”) Musée de l’Homme Address: 17 place du Trocadéro, 75016 Nearest Métro: Trocadéro; exit at “Avenue Paul Doumer – Musée de l’Homme” Official website of Musée de l’Homme: http://www.museedelhomme.fr/en Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Man) is part of the National Natural History Museums in France and it presents the evolution of humans and human societies. It occupies one side of the gargantuan Palais de Chaillot (across from the Eiffel Tower).
Interested in Inrap? Read more here. The site even has an extract of a film about the enslaved Malagasy who were abandoned on the island.
Visual and performing arts again take center stage when planning a trip to Paris. Along with organ concerts and musical performance at many churches, take a look at this super short list of exciting events. They may be enough reason to start planning now.
Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac hosts a comprehensive exhibition on Oceania from March 12, 2019 until July 7, 2019. On the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific region, encompassing the 25,000 islands of Oceania, he introduced the Western world to Oceanic peoples and their art. From the museum’s website, “Across this vast, scattered territory in which each archipelago island and land has managed to preserve its own unique characteristics, artists nonetheless share universal questions, issues, and reflections. Featuring painstakingly sculpted canoes, jade ornaments, ritual figures, and contemporary videos and installations, Oceania reveals how tradition and ancestral memory coexist with the visionary and sometimes critical perspective that these artists have of their society and the rest of the world.”
Palais de Tokyo
Various exhibitions and site-specific installations fill the huge spaces here. From Julien Creuzet, Theaster Gates, Julius von Bismark, to Louis-Cyprien Rials and more. These young artists are exploring world societies norms and histories and putting it right in front through cutting edge art. Open from noon to midnight every day except Tuesdays. Buckle up and take a look at the exhibits filling the Palais de Tokyo.
“Calder-Picasso” is on view from February 19, 2019, until August 25, 2019, at the National Picasso Museum Paris (Musée National Picasso-Paris). This exhibition will be a rare chance to see together approximately 150 works by these two 20th century masters. Negative space or the void is the focus of the show. Should be an interesting mash-up.
The Orient of the Painters, from Dream to Light
From March 7, 2019, until July 21, 2019, the Musée Marmottan Monet mounts “The Orient of the Painters, from Dream to Light.” This show presents Orientalist paintings along with the theory that abstraction had its birth in these Orientalism paintings. (During the 19th century, the “Orient” to the painters in Europe was generally the Middle East and North African countries. The distant exotic lands had only been revealed through Napoleon’s conquests and the return of stories and trophies.) The paintings are alive with vivid color and fantastical scenes. May have to make a return trip to see this show or at least hope for a catalog.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Closed for rehanging and installation. Reopens March 15, 2019.
Opéra National de Paris – Bastille
Over at the Opéra Bastille, enjoy timeless favorites by recognized masters of opera. Or, see the experimental, Tree of Codes. What about the not too often performed, Prince Igor by Borodine? Or, Rameau’s opera-ballet, Les Indes galantes?
Celebrate the 350th anniversary of Opera in Paris at the Palais Garnier on 08 May 2019. The incredible diva, Anna Netrebko, will perform along with Yusif Eyvazov. Throughout the remainder of the spring season, Mozart, Verdi, and Donizetti are on the stage, as well as many ballet performances. All are in the sumptuous red velvet and gilded surrounds of the famous opera house.
Find a variety of concerts, chamber music, choral works and solo singing performances in the spring. Berlioz’s Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and even Benjamin Brittan’s War Requiem. Where else can you hear these?
Theatre National de Chaillot
Théâtre National de Chaillot offers a selection of interesting and arresting dance performances. Just reading the titles of the works is enticing: Some Hope for the Bastards by Canadian, Frédérick Gravel; Nederlands Dans Theater’s, Subtle Dust; Catherine Diverrès’, Blow The Bloody Doors Off!
Everyone knows the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, but in Paris, there are plenty of opportunities to find lesser known museums. Most of these are kind of double-headers as museums go. The house or building is an outstanding work of art along with the art that is inside. Make sure to put a few of the two-for-ones on your Paris List.
1. Musée Picasso Paris
Photo by Yann Caradec from Paris, France, Musée Picasso, Paris 1 November 2014, CC BY-SA 2.0
The Musée Picasso Paris is located in the newly renovated Hôtel Salé. Originally restored between 1974 – 1979 as an historical monument, it was transformed into a museum between 1979 and the 1985 opening.
During that time, the house from the 1600s was carefully converted into a magnificent art space. It is truly an outstanding example of a Hotel Particulier – or private mansion.
In 1985, Bruno Foucart described the Hôtel Salé as, “the grandest, most extraordinary, if not the most extravagant, of the grand Parisian houses of the 17th century”.
And, what is inside? Works from the prolific master, Pablo Picasso. More than 5,000 paintings, etchings, engravings, sketches and sculputures.
Make sure to notice the incredible stucco and stone work in the mansion – you really can’t help but see it.
2. Musée Marmottan Monet
Claude Monet, “Impression, soleil levant.” The painting that gave its name to Impressionism.
More than 300 works by Claude Monet occupy the Musée Marmottan Monet. The elegant home in the 16th arrondissement is where you can see the painting that gave its name to Impressionism. Claude Monet’s “Impression, soleil levant” (“Impression, sunrise” in English), may not be as big of a stunner as other works by Monet. But, without a doubt, you will instantly recognize it as an impressionist painting.
In 1966, Michel Monet, the son of Claude Monet, gave his inherited collection of his father’s paintings to the Musée Marmottan Monet. Along with the largest collection of Monets, you can see works by Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, Morisot and many more. The house itself is worthy of a visit on its own. It is a creaky-floored example of a well-off family’s townhouse.
As with several other famous paintings, “Impression, soleil levant” was at the center of an art heist in 1985. Armed bandits stole that painting and several others. Eventually, all were recovered in Corsica in 1990.
Late opening until 9pm on Thursdays.
3. Musée Rodin
Another incredible house with sumptuous grounds and gardens to match! After a recent renovation inside the Musée Rodin, it is even more marvelous than before. This mansion is like a country estate in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. And, it includes loads of Rodins! About 300 – both inside and out.
Originally built in the early 1700s on the outer limits of Paris, the Hôtel Biron was commissioned by a wealthy financier. He did not live to see the project completed, but a host of other luminaries lived in the house from a duchess, to a cardinal, to Jean Cocteau and eventually Rodin. Rodin made a deal with the French government – let me stay in the house and I will give you all of my remaining art when I die. Sounds like a good deal.
The house is extraordinary. High ceilings, wood floors, beautiful staircase, windows everywhere. And, the sculptures fit as if they were meant to be there – basking in natural light. On the grounds, you will see old roses with nearly forearm-sized canes and manicured lawns. Then, under the trees and along the sides, admire monumental sculptures by the master, including the Gates of Hell, the Thinker and the Burghers of Calais. If you need it, take a rest at the café under the trees.
4. Maison de Victor Hugo
Maison de Victor Hugo
Want to see what one of the townhouses on the Place des Vosges looks like? And, visit the home of one of the most famous writers ever? Find your way to the 4th arrondissement and visit the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Victor Hugo lived in this apartment from 1832 – 1848. The museum is arranged in chronological order of Hugo’s life. Decorations and furniture from his other residences have been donated by his family and are shown in various rooms. As well as seeing the bed where he died in 1885, you can view the desk where he stood to write his famous literature.
Look out the windows for glorious views onto the Place des Vosges and the statue of Louis XIII. If you are interested in French fiction, history and the life of one of France’s greatest writers, you should consider visiting Maison de Victor Hugo. Or, go take a look if you just really love the apartments around the Place des Vosges.
5. Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art)
This relatively new endeavor in the 14th arrondissement is dedicated to promoting contemporary art from around the world. Not only contemporary visual art, but also any contemporary art media.
Its website states, “As a reflection of our times, the Fondation Cartier embraces all creative fields and genres of contemporary art, ranging from design to photography, from painting to video art and from fashion to performance art. This testifies to the Fondation Cartier’s commitment and skill, to its blend of rigor and eclecticism which opens up contemporary art and renders it more accessible.” Read, You will not see any stuffy old portraits here!
Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize winning architect, designed the glass and steel building specifically for the Cartier Foundation. On the garden side, it is kind of like a layer cake with a terrace on top. And from the street side it is reflective panels of glass. You can even take an architectural tour to learn more about the space, see the specially designed furniture and even see some of the offices.
And, get outside to survey the Theatrum Botanicum, the foundation’s garden designed by Lothar Baumgarten. It is described as a work in progress. Even though it may seem wild, it is a natural oasis that is a counter point to the rigor of the architecture.
6. Fondation Louis Vuitton (Louis Vuitton Foundation)
Another new and important arts space, the Fondation Louis Vuitton (FVL), is dedicated to promoting art and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Only a little west of Paris proper, the overwhelmingly popular destination is in the Bois de Boulogne. Frank Gehry designed the architecturally significant structure and it is an artwork itself.
When it opened in 2014, FVL was an immediate hit with the public. FVL is a private collection that, “comprises a constantly evolving body of work that naturally falls into four categories: Contemplative, Pop, Expressionist, Music & Sound.”
Be ready to have your senses overloaded while visiting FVL. If you want to get ready, all of the pieces in the collection can be seen on the website. And, you can see the multiple exhibitions displayed at any one time from artists from all corners of the globe.
7. Musée Carnavalet
Paris Map from 1576 by Dalbera
In the Marais, two architectural gems of townhouses are joined together creating a museum that tells the history of Paris. One townhouse was built in the 1550s; the second in 1688. Together they make up the extraordinary Musée Carnavalet showcasing the history of Paris.
One hundred rooms are chock-a-block with art, objects, furniture and displays. Plus, the gardens outside are charming and beautiful examples of the French know-how with plants. From the ancient history of the Parisii, all the way to the 20th century, see the history of the City of Light unfold in this elegant museum.
It is closed for renovation until the end of 2019.
8. Musée de Cluny, Musée National du Moyen Âge (Cluny Museum, National Museum of the Middle Ages)
Roman baths in the middle of Paris? You bet. What about medieval treasures including the most enigmatic tapestries in the world? The Cluny Museum is the place for you.
The ancient Roman baths of Lutetia (the Roman name of Paris) date from the 1st or 2nd century AD. They include a giant cold room (frigidarium), hot rooms (caldarium) and a gym or wrestling room (palestra). It is amazing to be walking along boulevard St. Germain or boulevard St. Michel and gaze across a lawn and see interesting brick and stone work walls with massive Roman arches. And, they are conjoined with a 15th century Gothic mansion that was home to the abbots of Cluny.
Inside this turreted medieval showplace you can find medieval and Renaissance works of art. Amazing objects including statuary, furniture, architectural elements, religious icons, mosaics and tapestries. A group of maybe the most famous tapestries are displayed here.
The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame à la Licorne) tapestries are in a room by themselves and it is breathtaking to see these marvelous art works at one time. First, they are huge. Second, they are intricately detailed, full of symbolism and gorgeous. Third, they were woven around 1500 to represent the five senses. The sixth tapestry shows the lady in front of a tent with a banner containing the words, “à mon seul désir”. It is this tapestry that is the subject of much discussion as to what that phrase means. Literally, the words translate as, “to my only desire.” And, what do those words with those images mean? Take a look for yourself and make your own determination.
Such intrigue in the Middle Ages! Like many of the other lesser known museums in this article, the Cluny is a manageable size and great for an hour or two visit.
9. Musée Jacquemart-André
Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475), Saint Georges and the Dragon
This house museum was designed with the intention of showcasing the owners’ art collection. Edouard André began passionately collecting art in the 1860s. And, soon, he needed a place to display it. So what else does one wealthy art collector do? He commissioned a mansion on Boulevard Hausmann in the 8th arrondissement.
Little did he know that he would one day meet his collecting match in Nélie Jacquemart. They married and spent 13 years together in a collecting frenzy. Even after Edouard died in 1893, she spent the rest of her life collecting art. And, eventually turning the house into the museum we see today, the Musée Jacquemart-André.
Along with notable sculptures, paintings, decorative objects, carpets and a plethora of art treasures, it includes medieval masterpieces by Botticelli, Donatello, Bellini and Mantegna. Also, it has a café under a Tiepolo fresco.
10. Musée Nissim de Camondo
Nissim de Camondo kitchen
Count Moïse de Camondo’s express intention was “to recreate an eighteenth-century artistic residence.” And, that is what he did. Fully preserved as it was originally built between 1911 and 1914. It is mansion in the style of the Petit Trianon of Versailles. But, with all the modern conveniences of the most advanced houses of the time. (Check out the kitchen.) And, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is maintained as if it were still a private home.
Can you imagine living in this place?
It is an elegant way to spend an hour or two. Perusing the objects, imagining life at that time – or in the 18th century, looking out to the Parc Monceau. Nearly all of the objects are from the second half of the 18th century (1750-1799) from the periods of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Masterpieces by the most superb craftsmen of the time. Incredibly beautiful, refined to the last detail. Carpets, paintings, furniture and all kinds of objects tastefully fill the rooms.
Now, the museum has a restaurant in the former parking area. So, take your time to explore this mansion.
Along with Beauty Comes a Sad History
However, it is a sad history that provides this beauty. Nissim de Camondo, the son of Count Moïse de Camondo and his wife Countess Irene, joined the French Army when World War I began. He became a pilot and died in air combat in 1917. At the Count’s death in 1935, he left the mansion and its contents to in honor of his son to create a museum. Later, Nissim’s sister, Béatrice, along with her two children and ex-husband died in Auschwitz.
11. Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet (Guimet Museum)
Just down the hill from where visitors gasp at the Eiffel Tower, the Guimet Museum houses France’s national Asian art museum. Like most of the capitol’s museums, the building is impressive and imposing.
But, the more than 45,000 objects within are even more spectacular. Masterpieces from the Asian world fill the space. Musée Guimet holds the largest collection of Asian objects outside of Asia. Originally, the collection was in Lyon, from where Émile Guilmet hailed. But, later, moved to Paris.
Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, India, Thailand, Indonesia and even more near Eastern cultures are represented. Monsieur Guimet traveled extensively and collected voraciously. That is what you can do as an industrialist.
12. Musée Cernuschi; Musée des Arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris (Cernuschi Museum)
Photo by Guillaume Jacquet, Cernuschi Museum 20060812 138, CC BY-SA 3.0
In 1871, Henri Cernuschi began a 28 month tour of Asia. On that voyage to the East, he collected around 5,000 pieces of art and artifacts from great Asian civilizations. All of these were shipped back to Paris and they form the core of this extensive collection. Imagine that trip!
Han and Wei funerary statutes, Sung porcelain, bronze Buddhas, terracotta works. When visiting Kyoto and Nara, he had to have special permission and was only allowed to enter by sedan chair. When he returned to Paris after the tour, he built a mansion to house his collection.
Also, Cernuschi acquired some incredible vintage photos of Asia in the 19th century that are fascinating to see. Before he died, Cernuschi left his home and collection to the City of Paris. The Cernuschi Museum opened in 1898.
Practically around the corner from the Musée Nissim de Camondo. Also on the Parc Monceau.
Originally built for the International Exhibition of Arts and Technology of 1937, the name came from the street it was on – the Quai de Tokio. Currently, the street is named, Avenue de New York. This grand building is now home to a modern art museum and to Europe’s largest center of contemporary art.
On one side, you will find the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris). Furniture, painting, art objects, carpets, furniture and statuary from the beginning of the 20th century laze around the building. Nothing is too cramped or squished in this museum. The rooms are expansive with soaring ceilings.
Along with works by Picasso, Modigliani, Derain, Chagall and other major artists from the period, two exceptional works are here. One is Raoul Dufy’s, “La Fée électricité,” illustrating man’s harnessing and using electricity. The mural is in a room by itself, deservedly. The other is Henri Matisse’s, “La Danse.” This installation on an entire wall of an exhibition space of the palais can be breathtaking.
And, on the other side, the Palais de Tokyo. The contemporary art space only shows temporary exhibitions of emerging art from all over the world. Read – it can be challenging to comprehend the depth of the artist’s work at a glance. On the other hand, it is open until Midnight every day except Tuesday. So, go after dinner if you need a walk.
A little of the description from its website, “A rebellious wasteland with the air of a Palace, an anti-museum in permanent transformation, Palais de Tokyo has kept Paris full of life and on its toes since 2002. At once convivial and challenging, generous and cutting edge, inviting and radical, poetic and transgressive, it is a space to learn, to experience, to feel, and to live – a space from which the unexpected springs forth.” Go see what can inspire such a description.
Check out the gift shop at the Palais de Tokyo for cool journals as souvenirs for students back home. And, take a picture in the photo booth, called, “Foto Automat.” Look for it and pose for the camera.
14. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
Musée du Quai Branly
In 2006, the Musée du quai Branly opened to great fanfare. Finally, France had its wish of a museum dedicated to non-European societies and to presenting the objects formerly seen as ethnographic in an artistic setting.
Jean Nouvel designed the building that sits in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower along the Seine. One whole side is covered in a living wall of greenery. As you enter, a clear cylinder of storage is packed with treasures that beckon visitors to crane their necks to see more of what is inside.
And, storage they must have by the boxcar. The museum is home to more than 300,000 works from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. ” Located on the banks of the River Seine, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac aims to promote the Arts and Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, at the crossroads of multiple cultural, religious and historical influences. As a space for scientific and artistic dialog, the museum offers a cultural program of exhibits, performances, lectures, workshops and screenings.”
Although the lighting could be a little brighter so you are not in fear of tripping, the experience is a must.
15. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
From my friend, Lynn – One of the great finds on this past Paris trip was the small museum, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. It is in two buildings. The 17th c. Hôtel de Guénégaud and the next door 18th c. Hôtel de Mongelas. It is unlike any museum I have ever been in. It is set up like an “imaginary residence of a hunter and collector.” You wander through rooms dedicated to individual animals, such as the wild boar room.
There you learn how important the boar was for its flesh and how dangerous the animal is. There are examples of boar teeth, prints, paintings and even drawers with scat. The way it’s presented is novel and intense and not just a stuffed boar hanging on the wall. It is as much about art as it is about hunting. This is true for every room.
Lynn’s description made me put this on my list of must-see places! Taxidermy included, but, from what it seems, much more as well.
As of January, 2019, the Musée du Louvre opens its doors for free to all visitors on the first Saturday night of each month! That’s right – for free – from 6:00pm to 8:45pm.
Louvre to Open First Saturday Night Each Month with Free Admission
Attempting to attract more first-time locals to visit, the Louvre adds the first Saturday of each month to its free admission line up. As the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre has no problem attracting visitors. But, it wants more locals to visit as well.
With this exciting news out of Paris, the Louvre adds more time for locals and visitors from all over the world to visit the Louvre without paying the price of admission. Right now, a full-price admission ticket is 17 euros. For a family of 4, that price could keep away many families working full time jobs and trying to make ends meet. So, to try to get more locals in the doors, it has opened on an additional night. That is good fortune for visitors, too!
In the past, the Louvre opened on the first Sunday of each month with free admission, trying to draw in the locals. But, after reviewing data on visitors coming at that increasingly popular free day, the museum lacked an increase in locals. It appears that more and more international visitors are taking advantage of the 12 free Sundays each year. Who doesn’t want a free entry?
One goal of the Louvre is to engage locals. Saturday night seems like an obvious gateway to reach suburban locals wanting a night out. Louvre officials hope that this additional free time does the job and entices young adults and families from outside Paris proper to take advantage of the world’s most-visited museum. In addition to being free, the museum is hosting a board game area and a reading corner – all trying to lure young families in the door!
Bonus for You!
Of course, for non-local visitors, it is a boon as well. Night visits are an extraordinary way to see the massive royal palace and its dumbfounding treasures. Along with looking out of the windows into the night sky of the city, fewer people visit at night. You may wind up in a gallery with entire rooms to yourself. Admire the art with only your family and friends. Climb the worn marble stairs alone. Wander through the vast space and imagine the kings and queens that were there before you.
Musée du Louvre
Hours: Open Wednesday – Sunday from 9am to 6pm Night opening until 9:45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays Night opening until 8:45pm on FIRST Saturday of the month beginning January 2019 CLOSED TUESDAYS CLOSED: on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, May 8 and December 25. Arrondissement: 1st Nearest Métro: Two stops serve the Louvre. Exiting at Louvre-Rivoli, you will be at the eastern-most end of the Louvre. Exiting at Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre, you will be closer to the pyramid entrance and very close to the entrance at the Passage de Richelieu (if they will let you in) and the entrance through the Carousel de Louvre – kind of underground shopping area that leads you to the main entrance under the pyramid. Nourishment: Food and drink options available inside the Louvre in various locations – enjoy a baguette sandwich overlooking the entrance while watching the people come down the stairs under the pyramid! Official website: https://www.louvre.fr/en/ Suggested time to visit: In the evenings on the days it is open late
You may also be interested in one of the lesser known museums in Paris, such as Musée Picasso Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet or Musée Rodin. See the article on “15 Lesser-Known Museums in Paris” for more details here.
Here Are Some Cultural Highlights Coming to Paris Soon
The upcoming fall and winter Parisian cultural season is the prime time for visitors who love visual and performing arts. Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world and each year it puts on a show for locals and visitors. There is no need to understand French to enjoy paintings and listen to music. However, drama can be a little daunting. But, if you love to attend plays, by all means, enjoy the scenery and the acting.
Along with the art being exhibited and performed, the buildings housing these shows and performances are worth exploring and admiring in their own right. The cultural opportunities in Paris are pretty much endless. But, here are a few highlights from the upcoming fall and winter Parisian cultural season.
National Picasso Museum Paris (Musée National Picasso-Paris)
Picasso Masterpieces! is a new exhibit in the newly re-opened museum. Out of his extraordinarily prolific career, the museum investigates what it means to be a masterpiece. Some of the pieces are exhibited for the first time in Paris.
Picasso. Blue and Rose. In collaboration with the Picasso Museum, the Musée d’Orsay is exhibiting paintings, sculptures and drawings in a show of his work from 1900-1906. The works are arranged showing the artist’s development into the blue and rose periods. Extraordinary works from when Pablo Picasso was very young.
Orsay through the Eyes of Julian Schnabel. For its first show of contemporary art, the Musée d’Orsay chose Julian Schnabel to interpret the collection. The filmmaker and painter includes works from the museum’s collection and also presents some of his own paintings.
Photo by Ron Clausen
Magnificent Venice!, Miró and Michael Jackson. The Grand Palais is staging exhibitions this fall and winter season that should entice people with a variety of tastes. Magnificent Venice! explores Europe and the arts in the 18th century. While, Miró displays nearly 150 works by the surrealist Spanish master, Joan Miró. Also, an exhibition on Michael Jackson subtitled, “On the Wall”. It explores the cultural impact of Michael Jackson. Who is in for some MJ?
Paris Photo. The annual international photography exhibition in the great hall of the Grand Palais. Most noteworthy works from well-known masters as well as up and coming stars are shown by galleries from all over the world. Get ready to be overwhelmed by photographs and see the magnificent glass ceiling.
The City of Paris’ fine art museum has a few exhibitions that may attract a more focused group of admirers. Jean Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) Builder of Fantasy, shows the complete collection of several hundred drawings by the artist, for the first time. Another show features the work of the Belgian artist, Fernad Khnopff (1858-1921) The Master of Enigma. Surprises await those who venture into the Petit Palais.
Under the pyramid in the Louvre, a contemporary art installation sure to blow you away. Kohei Nawa’s Throne, is a monumental gilded work combing modern technology and ancient symbols.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Along with its permanent collection, visit this museum for the amazing building and shows on Zao Wou-Ki and Ron Amir. The huge rooms are just the place for these artists who produce over-size work. Zao Wou-Ki paints and draws huge images. And, this collection of Amir’s large format color photos provide insight into the living conditions of refugees from Sudan and Eritrea.
Opéra National de Paris
Mid-September begins the opera season in Paris. Productions are being staged at the Opéra Basitlle and the Palais Garnier that include repertory works of Tristan und Isolde, La Traviata, and l’Elisir d’Amore. And, new productions this fall and winter include Les Huguenots, Bérénice, Il Primo Omicidio and Les Troyens. And, on December 30 and 31st, the Paris Opera will begin a celebration of its 350th year. Yes, 350th! The Paris Opera was begun by Louis XIV in 1669.
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Verdi’s La Traviata is the main opera production this fall. And, the beautiful theater which opened in with the performance of Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring. Imagine being there then! Chamber Orchestra of Paris also performs in this space with a variety of scheduled appearances. The theater also schedules vocal recitals, concert productions of operas, classic and contemporary dance and even Sunday Morning concerts!
The Paris Orchestra (Orchestra de Paris) performs symphonic works in its new home, the organic and innovative Philharmonie de Paris in the Parc de la Villette. Works by Beethoven, Britten, Berlioz and the rest of the alphabet of composers of grand music.
Palais Opera Ballet
Over at the Palais Garnier, dance lovers can visit the fabled opera house which is a venue for the Paris Opera Ballet. See Decadance, Tribute to Jerome Robbins, Cinderella and even an interesting succession of Goecke/Lidberg/Cherkaoui. This last is a work that displays dance and theater by three very different choreographers. No French language skills needed to enjoy the ballet.
Coinciding with Picasso. Blue and Rose and Picasso Masterpiece!, the Théâtre du Châtelet will present Picasso Circus in the Musée d’Orsay for people to learn about circus acts, meet performers and see demonstrations.
Théâtre de la Ville
Sambasô, Divine Dance is a riveting “ritual dance … performed by three generations of the Nomura family of actors who glorify and revolutionize the “kyôgen” tradition.” Stage design by the renown photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. The Théâtre de la Ville is closed for renovations, but its events are being staged around town, and this one is in the Espace Cardin.
This acting troupe was formed by Louis XIV in 1680. They perform in several venues, but the luxe Salle Richelieu theater in the Palais Royal complex provides regal seating to watch dramatic performances. Tune your ear to French while watching the dramas of The Mistress of the Inn by Carlo Goldoni, Lucrezia Borgia by Victor Hugo, or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Others Worth Investigating
Of course – organ concerts in magnificent churches!
And, for even more performing art events, take a look at these:
Are you thinking Paris is too far away for the weekend? Then head to New York City to explore exhibits on French gardens and Versailles. That’s right, through the end of July, go see Paris in New York City! Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence and Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789. Both mounted in the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and full of treasures from France.
Exhibition #1 – Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence
In Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, The Met, “explores horticultural developments that reshaped the landscape of France and grounded innovative movements—artistic and green—in an era that gave rise to Naturalism, Impressionism, and Art Nouveau.” All of these artistic movements are well-represented through works presented in this exhibition.
Past urbanites are no different from today’s. People living in developed cities flock to gardens and parks to be outdoors, enjoy the air, stretch out in the wide open space and delight in the beauty of nature. To illustrate this love of gardens, the exhibition features a wide range. Sections include Parks for the Public, Revival of Floral Still Life, Portrait in the Garden and Private Gardens.
Exhibits of Ceramics, Drawings and Paintings to Photography
Choosing works from its extensive holdings, The Met displays drawings, etchings, paintings, glassware, ceramics and even early photographs. Although the objects show gardens and parks in other parts of France, the majority is focused on Paris and surrounding areas. Garden lovers will delight in seeing works depicting Fontainebleau, Parc Monceau, Bagatelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, Tuileries, Versailles, along with many other well-known and even less well-known gardens.
Love still life paintings of flowers and garden scenes? Then this exhibition is for you. Works by heavy hitters like, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, August Renoir, Eugène Atget, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt and many more hang from the walls.
Do 18th century Sèvres porcelain vases with garden scenes painted on them get you going? What about Art Nouveau glass with elegant flower designs in the glass? Do you enjoy the details of garden plans and garden furnishings? Then this is exhibit is also for you! They are all there in cases and on the walls. Really, anyone who is at all interested in gardens in Paris and in France would enjoy this exhibition.
Even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue.
Exhibition #2 – Visitors to Versailles
In Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789, The Met, “highlights the experiences of travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, to 1789, when the royal family was forced to leave the palace and return to Paris.” The objects demonstrating this experience range from souvenirs for the visitors to gifts to the royalty and what the visitors wore and saw.
Sections of the exhibit include, Incognito and Private Visitors, To See the King, Getting Dressed for Court, the Gardens and Going to Versailles. The dedicated rooms in the museum present men’s suits and hunting clothes, women’s court dresses, riding habits, shoes, ball gowns and fans, sculpture, tapestries, rugs, miniature portraits in diamond surrounds, hats, swords, military outfits, furniture, porcelain and objects of art. Also, very interestingly, paintings of visitors.
And, it is convenient that the garden exhibit in another section of the museum is on at a similar time. Gardens at the palace were a major part of court life. You will see multiple illustrations of gardens. Royalty wanted to be outside too. Versailles had unending garden delights for royalty and visitors.
Everything is Over the Top, In a Good Way
Like Versailles itself, nearly everything on display is over the top. Many things are gilded, handmade items have the most intricate detailing, master craftsmen used precious stones and rare and exotic materials – it is all here. Just take a look at a set of ivory buttons decorated with scenes of Versailles and the gardens – talk about limited edition. The description explains that the buttons, “intended for a man’s coat may have appealed to tourists.” Of course, they would! Fascinating. And, beautiful.
Along with many items focused on the multiple kings called by the name, “Louis,” Marie Antoinette figures in the exhibition. Likewise, multiple objects depict the visitors to Versailles. For example, a Tunisian ambassador, several Asian dignitaries, and would be Americans, like, Benjamin Franklin! Paintings of Ben and even some of his clothes are on display. From 1776 until 1785, Benjamin Franklin was the representative to France of the American colonies that revolted against England. He was at the French court all the time.
Adding to master works from The Met’s holdings, more than 50 lenders, including the Château de Versailles, offered works to the show.
Don’t miss the statue of a monkey riding a goat!
Like Exhibition #1, even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue. On the cover is an illustration of the gardens of Versailles and visitors enjoying their time in the landscape.
Praise for the exhibition: ” A fascinating window into how the court would have appeared to foreigners and day trippers alike…. ” -Artnet
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