Paris Travel Planning, Art, Culture & more - Sign up for the free Newsletter
French Fashion – Walking Tour and Map to Find the Best Designers

French Fashion – Walking Tour and Map to Find the Best Designers

French Fashion and a Self-Guided Walking Tour

As a fashion leader, Paris offers an ideal fashion itinerary: fashion shows, quaint and beautiful streets for vintage shopping, headquarters of leading luxury brands, and museums on design.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent
5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris, France
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris exhibits the couturier’s body of work here on the premises of his former haute couture house.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD) ranges from shoes to home design. Watch the website and museum news for fashion exhibits. A separate museum, Musée de la mode et du textile, is now a department of this museum. Extensive resources including decorative arts, documentation center, photo library, Carrousel Workshops (for children and adults), shop and restaurant. Other locations: Site Monceau (63 Rue de Monceau) and Site Raspail (266 Boulevard Raspail).
Musée Galliera
10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75116 Paris, France
The museum is currently in renovation and plans to reopen by the end of 2019. One of the objectives is to double the area of the museum.
Champs-Élysées
Avenue Des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
This fabulous boulevard is home to many brands and great for walking and window-shopping. Guerlain has a location here.
Rue Saint-Honoré
Rue Saint-Honoré, 75000 Paris, France
Walk the Saint-Honoré. You will find many upscale boutiques and brands including: Guerlain, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Hermès, Gucci, Goyard, Omega, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Mulberry, Longchamp, Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, and Emporio Armani.
Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
Window shopping around Place Vendôme. The area is renowned for its fashionable hotels (such as the Ritz) and fashion designers.
The Triangle d’Or
Avenue Montaigne, Paris, France
Considered by many to be the center of the world's finest haute couture shops. Located at the intersection of Avenue Montaigne, Avenue George V and Rue François 1er. Brands include: Louis Vuitton (LVMH), Prada, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more. Incredible to look in the windows at how beautifully designed a store can be.
Galeries Lafayette
40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris, France
Upscale French department store with 10 floors in the main store. Fashion for the home, men, women, food, views and much more. Most luxury brands are here including Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Tag Heuer, Sonia Rykiel, and Lancôme. Fashion shows are open to the public on most Friday afternoons in Galeries Lafayette. Buy tickets in advance and check your confirmation emails for the exact location and time. More info here: https://haussmann.galerieslafayette.com/en/events/original-fashion-shows/
Printemps
64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
One of the Grands Magasins of Paris. Focus on beauty, lifestyle, fashion, accessories, and men's wear. Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari and other luxury designers and brands.
Le Bon Marché
24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France
Le Bon Marché is a luxury department store in Paris selling a wide range of high-end goods.
Les Halles
75001 Paris, France
A modern shopping mall built largely underground and directly connected to the massive RER and métro transit hub of Châtelet-Les-Halles.
Le Marais
Rue Tournelles 75003 Paris, France
A fashionable district with many hip and luxury boutiques, restaurants and bistros. Some of the best streets for fashion include: Rue de Rivoli, Rue Tournelles, Boulevard Beaumarchais, Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue de la Verrerie. More on Le Marais: https://pariswithscott.com/vintage-clothes-in-the-marais/
Vintage
10 Rue de Crussol, 75011 Paris, France
Vintage clothing in Paris. Check out the website gallery.
Christian Dior
25 Rue Royale, 75008 Paris, France
French luxury goods, commonly known as Dior.

More Details on Paris Fashion

Galeries Lafayette and Printemps

To get a better feel for the Grand Magasins of Paris – huge department stores for one-stop luxury shopping, check out this recent post.

More on Shopping in Le Marais

The Marais has always been a favorite area for shopping, cafes, and French culture. Check out this recent post on shopping for Vintage Clothes in the Marais.

You are OUR LADY – Notre-Dame de Paris

You are OUR LADY – Notre-Dame de Paris

No words can describe the most heartfelt loss. But, within no time, the world is showing its profound love of Notre-Dame de Paris – the internationally adored symbol of Paris. It is extremely encouraging that so many offers of help to rebuild have been made so quickly.  OUR LADY is destined to be around for at least another 850 years.  Merci Dieu!

As more news comes out, hopefully much of Notre-Dame de Paris remains intact.  Recent news states the grand organ was not destroyed.

So Many Opportunities to Help Notre-Dame de Paris!

Here are a few:

The Fondation du Patrimonie (French Heritage Foundation) is accepting donations of any size. All donations will only be used for the rebuilding of Notre-Dame de Paris. Click here to make a donation.  (It is very easy and for the national organization for protecting France’s heritage.  PariswithScott.com just made a donation to the Fondation du Patrimonie in about 2 minutes.)

On April 26, Universal Music France will release a Decca Records album of sacred music performed by Jessye Norman, Cecilia Bartoli, Roberto Alagna, and others.  Proceeds will go to the Fondation du Patrimonie for the rebuilding of Notre-Dame de Paris. 

Monnaie de Paris announced that it is donating revenue from the sale of its commemorative coin that marks the 850th anniversary of Notre-Dame de Paris, take a look here.

As for any donation, please only donate to verified organizations that do not use your money to market to others for donations.

Official website for Notre-Dame de Paris.

Read about Notre-Dame de Paris on Paris with Scott.

 

Citroën and Champagne – Private Paris in Distinguished Luxury

Citroën and Champagne – Private Paris in Distinguished Luxury

A private ride around Paris in a vintage Citroën DS is a definite splurge.  But, what an intimate and unique way to greet the City of Light!  It is like stepping into a time machine for a luxurious cruise on the streets.  All the while, having a soft-spoken and knowledgeable driver answering questions and gently pointing out the amazing monuments that suddenly appear around each corner.

Schedule Your Own Private Paris Excursion

Originally, we were looking at other types of Citroëns, but decided they were too small.  Luckily, I stumbled onto Guillaume Dazin’s website.  There, in amazing color photos, was a breathtaking Citroën DS!  The DS is one of my dream cars!

Guillaume in the Goddess

Guillaume whizzing around Place Vendôme in the Goddess!

On his website, Guillaume has photos of his specially built 1973 Citroën DS 21 Pallas Limousine Convertible.  “DS” is pronounced in French like the word, “Déesse.”  And, “déesse” means “goddess.”  (Those clever French marketers.)  And, it is indeed a goddess!  In 2015, the French people voted it their favorite car.  Also, in 2009, an international jury voted it the “Most Beautiful Car of All Time.”  Take a look and see if you agree that it is a goddess.

Immediately, I wrote Guillaume in English asking about a reservation.  Soon, I received a reply email in English.  The Goddess was available!

Via email, we set up a date and time for our first night in Paris.  Something easy to do that does not require lots of mind power after the long flight and potential jet lag!  Guillaume texted me once we arrived in Paris and we also exchanged text messages reconfirming the arrangements after arriving at the hotel.  Since Guillaume and I arranged everything well in advance, these kinds of reassurances and attentiveness are details that really make for a stress-free trip.

An Evening Cruise in a Classic Citroën Sipping Champagne

Citroen DS in front of the Grand Palais

At 6:30pm, Guillaume and his Goddess arrived in front of the hotel.  After introducing ourselves, and laughing at our great adventure, and giving the Goddess her due admiration, we hopped in.  From there, it was pure luxury.  The seats are so plush that they cradle you.  We waited to pop the Champagne, so Guillaume started her up, put her in gear and off we went.  It was as if riding on air in a great pampering recliner!  Guillaume explained that the DS is equipped with hydro-pneumatic suspension.  To the lay person, that means the car is kind of floating along on air!!!  Extraordinary.  (If you want to know more, Guillaume loves his DS, knows its history, is an engineer in automotive design by profession, and can explain everything in great detail.)

We had all been to Paris before, so we requested a leisurely ride to sip Champagne and admire the most beautiful city in the world.  Although Guillaume is fine with you requesting certain destinations, we left the decisions to him.  First, he drove us down by the river side to see the back of Notre-Dame de Paris.  Snow was still on the cobblestones, the wind was brisk, and across the river, Notre-Dame de Paris glowed under the night sky.

Guillaume helped each of us out.  The car is so beautiful each of us was afraid we would break something if we pushed or pulled too hard. We soon learned how to maneuver in and out of the goddess and we stood in the snow admiring the view.  Guillaume popped the Champagne, poured it in our crystal flutes and all was right with the world!

Guillaume pouring Champagne

Guillaume pouring a beautiful bottle of Champagne – in the Goddess!!!

City of Lights on Air

From there, Guillaume drove us around and stopped anywhere we asked, he took pictures of us and we took selfies with him.  It was easy to relax right away because he is such a good and cautious driver.  Guillaume answered any questions we had and he provided little tidbits of information.  Like, the Concorde Bridge was built with stone from the Bastille prison.  And, the obelisk in the center of the Place de la Concorde is the oldest monument in Paris and it was a gift from the people of Egypt.  Plus, rather than the giant Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon wanted a statue of an elephant the same size as the current arch!  Wouldn’t that be amazing!!

As we floated along, people honked and waved, rolled down the window and asked about the car, and generally ogled the goddess!  Guillaume drove us to a great spot to see the Eiffel Tower and an incredible Art Deco building.  He took all around Place Vendome, up the Avenue Champs-Elysees, and eventually dropped us off at our restaurant for dinner.  Our 2 hours flew by as we rode in style around the streets of Paris sipping Champagne.

It was a memorable evening, with a wonderful host, in a fabulous car. (In the warmer months, he lowers the top – can’t wait to go back and try that version!) A perfect night.

Citroen DS Open Top

The Goddess with her top down.

Private Paris in Distinguished Luxury – Citroën and Champagne

To read more about Guillaume’s Goddess or request a booking:

Guillaume Dazin
Paris Heritage Tours
Websitehttps://www.parisheritagetours.com
Tel+33 6 95 10 93 40
Email[email protected] 

Inrap and “Tromelin, the Island of Forgotten Slaves”

Inrap and “Tromelin, the Island of Forgotten Slaves”

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.

Inrap

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.

The Utile

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.

Tromelin

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 Exhibition

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.

Information

“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).

Palais Chaillot; Museum of Man; Inrap Exhibition

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.

Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Each trip to Paris brings new insights into traveling.  Both for traveling in general and for traveling specifically to Paris.  This recent January trip was perfect!  How could it not be?  It is Paris, after all.

We were greeted with snow, then with rain on and off for a few days.  The nights were chilly with low clouds, but then the sun shone through at times making the city sparkle.  Generally, the weather does not affect my enjoyment of Paris, but it does determine how to pack and how to plan.

In addition to all of the information on traveling to Paris on this site, such as this packing list, here are a few recent observations.  Also, a little tattle on myself for not following my own suggestions!

Work on Paris Sidewalk
Interesting observation – work on the sidewalk.

Map and Guidebook for Traveling

I forgot a map of Paris!!!  And, a guidebook.  I always bring them.  Not this time.  I completely forgot them while I was trying to get the dog to camp before starting to pack (so she wouldn’t be stressed).  I always pack the night before or the day of the flight (not suggested), but I have always done it that way.  As the trip approaches, I usually make a pile of things to put in my suitcase.  But this time, I just forgot a map and guidebook.  It is on the list I use to pack – but I misplaced my list the day before leaving!  Not a good idea.  Keep your list for packing with your suitcase!

Hotel Choices

In Paris, we stayed in a more reasonably priced hotel so that we could splurge on a few specials.  Like the day trip to the Normandy D-Day Beaches, a show at the Lido, a food tour of the Marais, and of course, a special ride with Champagne in Guillaume’s Citroën DS!!

Taxis and Ride Hailing Services

G7 is a taxi service in Paris.  A little while back, I downloaded the G7 app.  It was terrific.  It is quick and easy to enter the destination.  Meaning no fumbling with using the wrong number in French or mispronouncing street names – all while the taxi driver speaks faster and faster French to you.  Besides, it explained, in English, what kind of car was coming with contact information.  Then, I could see the car on its way with an estimated time of arrival and more.  Just like popular ride sharing apps.

G7 app
G7 App gives the love to Paris travelers.

One of my friends tried Uber and it was a 30 minute wait.  Same when I tried it.  In the past it has worked well, but not so great this time.  Do not know the reasons why, but it is great to have options.  Also, if you link the G7 app to a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee, even better.   (Lyft is not in Paris yet.)

Paris Métro

The Métro is always easy and super-efficient transport.  As you work your way through the underground maze, make sure to look for the signs leading you in the right direction at each intersection.  And, double check yourself each time.  I missed a sign at one cross path, but Jennifer caught it.  Of course, it wouldn’t have been terrible, but catching the right one saved time and kept us on track to our next destination.

Metro Chatelet Station
Fast and efficient transport.

Read more on getting around in Paris here.

Map App

Without my hard copy of a map, I used a map application on my phone a couple of times.  I needed to confirm we were going in the correct direction.  (I felt like I was cheating, but it was pretty useful!)

Credit Cards

Although I advised my bank that I would be in France ahead of time, I still got a fraud call after using my debit card.  Plus, I wasted time and had a lot of aggravation talking to a fraud person who was not really connected to my local bank.  The big banks did not have these problems.  And of course, American Express already knows you are there (somehow??) and knows you are spending money – so no problems with AmEx.

Poncho in Your Satchel

It rained on this visit, but it is Paris, so who really cares?  I had ponchos in my satchel for everyone.  One time it was really raining hard by Parisian standards so I broke out the ponchos.  BUT, make sure the poncho in the little bitty sack from the drugstore is big enough to fit over you!!!  Each of us had on a coat, some with sweaters underneath, and I was carrying my satchel.  None of the ponchos fit over me.  Another was so flimsy, and the wind was so strong, that it was constantly being turned inside out!  Anyway, I was glad to have a little cover, but will be restocking with a little higher quality and checking the sizes before purchasing more.

Hiking Boots – Who Knew?

I was very happy that I brought lightweight, waterproof, hiking boots.  I have never thought of bringing hiking  boots to Paris before.  But, it is lots of walking, sometimes on cobblestones, sometimes in the rain, and sometimes with a little slush on the ground.  They were excellent.  I even wore them when it wasn’t raining.  So, I was very happy to have them.

Paris cobblestones
Look what hiking boots can be good for….

Walk a Mile

Jennifer left her iPhone connected to internet service the entire time.  And, if it is correct, we walked 7-8 miles each day.  I was really surprised by that number!  If it was a long way to dinner, we took a taxi.  Most of this was really just walking in the day from Métro stops and in and around neighborhoods and a few museums.  No wonder Parisians are fit looking!  

Now, THIS is an Observation

Kohei Nawa, Throne
Absolutely off-the-hook-incredible. An eye-popper that is perfectly suited for the Louvre and I.M. Pei’s Pyramid. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.
Kohei Nawa, Throne; at night
At night it glistens. Lusciousness. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.

And, one more….

Kohei Nawa, Throne; from the window of the Louvre
Cannot get enough of this. From the windows of the Louvre, no less.

Know When to Rest ‘Em

Everyone else took a rest in the afternoon, but I went to see more and walk around more.  I have a hard time sitting still in Paris.  However, the important part of this is that they NEEDED a rest so that the rest of their day would be enjoyable.  IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHEN TO REST.  On this trip, I was fortunate to need only about 15 minutes with my feet up before changing clothes for dinner.  And, for all the places we ate dinner, I wore jeans, collared shirt and a sports jacket.  Also, an outer coat and scarf for traveling to and from dinner.

Louvre Museum Shop Moved

louvre-book-store

The Louvre moved its ticket stations from right under the pyramid into the space where the gift shop used to be.  Now, the museum shop is on the same underground level as before, but two parts, one either side of the wide hall leading to the inverted pyramid.  It still has all of the great books, interesting gifts and walls of post cards.

Angelina on rue de Rivoli

Anghelina on rue de Rivoli

Angelina has an outpost on the rue de Rivoli, next door to Hotel Le Meurice. The line was about 75 people long waiting to get in on a drizzly and cold afternoon.  (Hint:  Go to Café de Flore, instead.  Or try practically any café with seating and you may be surprised by the hot chocolate.)

Stand Up Cafés Disappearing?

Cafés where one stands at the bar and orders coffee and a croissant in the morning seem to be fewer and farther between. Don’t know for sure, but we were having trouble finding them so we could duck in quickly for a shot of espresso.  Will have to research more on this and be more observant.  Maybe it is only the tourist areas that are filled with to-go shops.

Walk and Drink and Eat

Meanwhile on the streets of Paris, more and more Parisians seem to be walking around with cups of coffee in their hands.  Quelle horreur!  That is so un-Parisian to walk on the street and drink coffee.  And, certainly completely unacceptable to eat while walking.  Neither of these used to ever be seen.

Exercise Fanatics – In Style

Exercise in Style
Look – there is one down at the bottom right.
All the others were so fast they ran out of the photo.

Another interesting observation is that more and more joggers are all over the place – another sight that used to never be seen.  They thought I was from the moon when I jogged in the mornings back in the 90s.  Of course, Parisians have on matching running outfits (not just shorts and t-shirts) so they look good while jogging.  The runners are everywhere, especially through the gardens and along the quais of the Seine.

January = Fashion Weeks

No wonder the hotels were not at a deep discount in January.  Paris Fashion Week, both womens’ and mens’ are in January.  Back-to-back.  And, mens fashion week was happening when we were there.  Another time to put on the calendar to check before booking.

Organ Concerts

Saint Severin Grand Organ
Grand Organ at Saint-Séverin.

Organ concerts at historic churches are an absolute must.  They only last an hour and you don’t have to stay for the whole thing. They are a great opportunity to see magnificent architecture, and the sound from the organs can rattle your bones and the rafters.  I saw/heard them at Saint-Sulpice, Saint Séverin and Saint Eustache.  (I wrote more on awe-inspiring churches here.)

All incredible, but Saint Eustache may be a little more fun because the keyboard is on the ground floor.  That means you can see the organist perform while listening to the music.  At the others, the keyboard and the organist are way up by the pipes.  At the end of the performance, they kind of peep out from the organ for their final applause.  Choir organs, which are also beautiful, are played during many church services.  But do not mistake them for the grand organs.  The grand organs are the ones where you see the massive pipes above the main doors to the church.

Jet Lag

For jet lag, I kind of tried the “not eating on the flights” way of thinking.  On the way to Paris, the meal on the plane leaving Atlanta was at about the time I would normally have dinner, so I ate.  I did not eat again until lunch in Paris at Cafe Nouvelle Saint Marie.  On the way back, I ate a baguette sandwich at the airport terminal that I had bought near the hotel.  Then, not again until dinner in Atlanta.  Generally, my jetlag is really bad coming back from Paris.  But this time, it was practically non-existent.  Will try the not eating on flights again in a few months and report back.

A Few More Visual Observations

Postcard wall at Picasso Museum
Wall of postcards at the Picasso Museum; don’t forget the ones you left at home.
Sainte-Chapelle door locks on the interior
Door locks on Sainte-Chapelle – keeping the faithful in?
Samothrace Winged Victory from Afar
And, YES, Audrey, Paris IS ALWAYS a good idea!

 

 

15 Lesser-Known Museums in Paris

15 Lesser-Known Museums in Paris

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

Musee 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

Monet: Impression, soleil levant

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

Musée Rodin

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

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)

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Photo by Ninara from Helsinki, Finland, Paris 4Y1A3706 (19695496530), CC BY 2.0

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

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)

Lady and the unicorn tapestries, Cluny Museum

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

musee jacquemart-andre

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

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)

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)

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.

13.  Palais de Tokyo – Two Museums in One

 Two museums in one. Photo by Guilhem Vellut from Paris, France, Palais de Tokyo @ Paris (31361278606), CC BY 2.0.

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.

One Museum

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.

Two Museum

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

Musee du Quai Branly

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.