museum Archives - Paris with Scott
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.

 

Paris 2019 – Free Admission to the Louvre on the First Saturday Night of Every Month

Paris 2019 – Free Admission to the Louvre on the First Saturday Night of Every Month

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!

Past Efforts

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 websitehttps://www.louvre.fr/en/
Suggested time to visit:  In the evenings on the days it is open late

 

Tricentennial of New Orleans

Tricentennial of New Orleans

The year 2018 has been a year-long celebration of the Tricentennial of New Orleans, obviously a French city from its beginning.  Through its 300 years, it abounds with history from war, malaria, floods, fires, the birth of the cocktail and much of Mardi Gras.
 

The Founding of New Orleans

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (photo) of the French Mississippi Company.  The outpost at a curve in the river was named for the Philippe II, Duke of Orléans.  And, the colony of La Louisiane was named for King Louis XIV when René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle claimed all the waters drained by the Mississippi for France in 1682.
 

Celebrate the Tricentennial of New Orleans

Cabildo
 
As a fitting end to the Tricentennial celebrations, a final grand costume ball will be held in New Orleans on Saturday, December 1, 2018, at the Cabildo.  The invitations specify the attire as “period costume reminiscent of Don Almonester’s era (late 18th century), or the era of the Baroness (early 19th century through 1850s).”
 
The Cabildo is a fitting venue for the grand costume ball.  In its antique rooms, the Louisiana Purchase was finalized and the Louisiana Territory became part of the United States of America in 1803.  Out of its windows you can see Jackson Square and the two flanking red brick buildings from the 1840s that were built by the Baroness Pontalba.
 

Baroness Pontalba

Baroness Pontalba
 
If you do not remember much about her, here is a short version of famous Baroness.
 
Micaela Leonarda Antonia de Almonester Rojas y de la Ronde, Baroness de Pontalba was born in 1795 in New Orleans and died in Paris in 1874.  Her father was from Spain, Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas.  Don Almonester created a fortune from his political dealings from the Cabildo.
 
Besides being the richest woman in New Orleans, she probably had one of the most interesting lives of anyone from New Orleans.  She designed and constructed the twin buildings.  The Baroness wore pants and climbed ladders while overseeing every detail of the work.  Even the iron work bears her initials, “AP” for Almonaster Pontalba.  The buildings are so important to the United States, they were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
 
Pontalba Building
 

Deep and Long-Lasting Connections

While in New Orleans, the Baroness was also shot repeatedly by her father-in-law before he killed himself.  For years, he and her husband had been trying unsuccessfully to wrest control of her fortune from her.  She survived the gunshots suffering mangled fingers that blocked the bullets from killing her.  Eventually she moved permanently to Paris to a grand house she commissioned.
 
And, by grand, it is really grand.  Baroness Pontabla’s former mansion, the Hôtel de Pontalba, is now the United States Embassy.  It is right off the Place de la Concorde on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.  Look for American armed service members patrolling outside.  Needless to say, nothing shabby about the Baroness.
 
Hotel de Pontalba Paris
 
If you want to know more about her, read the fascinating and engrossing story of the real Baroness in the late Dr. Christine Vella’s Pulitzer-Prize nominated book, Intimate Enemies. You can find it here on Amazon:

History Comes Alive

 
Back to the Tricentennial celebration of the French city, New Orleans.  Along with the costume ball, you can join in a lunch celebrating the Tricentennial on Friday, November 30, 2018.  At the lunch, attendees will have a chance to meet Charles-Edouard and Isabelle, Baron and Baroness de Pontalba of Château Mont-l’Évêque.  Charles-Edouard is a direct descendant of Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba.
 
 
Also at the lunch, Pontalba family historian Pierre de Pontalba will talk about his family’s legacy.  And, Louisiana State Museum guest exhibition curator, Randolph Delehanty, PhD, will give remarks and be available for questions for the new exhibit, The Baroness de Pontalba and the Rise of Jackson Square.
 
 
Want to attend any of these festive events?  Get more information here.  Or, check out the Louisiana Museum Foundation site.
 
 
This is one example of finding Paris everywhere and anywhere!  Paris exerts her influence far and wide.  What part of your local history has connections to Paris?
 
Planning to Go to Paris Again

Planning to Go to Paris Again

After talking about it and writing about it so much, and realizing I need many more digital photos for Paris with Scott, it is time to go again.

During this whole experience, I will write entries for every part of the process – planning, going and returning.   It will be an example so that someone interested in doing the same thing can kind of see how one traveler (Scott, in particular) does it.

How the Process Begins

First, I talk with John A. and he agrees it is time to go again.  We talk in general about a time of year to go.  It is the height of summer right now and we are not going in the next month.  So what about sometime in October or November?  Cooler weather – a big bonus!

The fall is perfect because it is cooler.  Any heat at all, and even in the cold, I sweat.  It is not a problem at home because I can just keep showering, changing clothes and do all the laundry I need.  But, out of the country, not so much.  (These are important things to consider when planning a trip!  Seriously, check out the Self-Assessment in So You Want to Go to Paris.)  As a result, the fall is a great time to go again and the cooler the better for me.

How Long?

Second, I want to include a weekend since I have a full-time j-o-b and I will have to take off work for some days.  But, this will not be a two weekend and week in the middle trip.  Only long enough to recharge on Paris, escape to the most beautiful city on the earth for a few days, and get some work done for this site!  Five nights will be long enough to go again.  Of course, I want to go for much longer.  But, five nights will do.

Is the Calendar Open?

Now, I start looking at the calendar and marking out dates.  I have to take into account the LSU football schedule.  I would rather not miss the home games, so I have them all on the calendar already and it is easy to see what dates are not that great.

Then, there is Thanksgiving which kind of takes out the two weekends on either side.  And, the trip should not be too close to Thanksgiving, because there is a lot going on then.  But, I need a little time to make plans, so maybe middle to late October would be good.

Seems perfect for me, but then asked a few friends about going as well, and middle to late October didn’t really work for them.  Then, I forgot a niece is coming in town then, and… there are too many obstacles.  November is out for the friends as well.  So, I skip December because that is already busy for me and move along to 2019!!!!!  January could be the time.

To Go Again in Winter

January may not seem like a great time to go.  But the cold and the potential rain and the limited daylight is fine with me.  It is when I began six months of school there, so I think it is a great time.  Honestly, any time of the year in Paris is perfect for me.  A couple of friends say okay to January.  And, unless your team is in the playoffs for the Super Bowl, and who knows about that, it seems like the month is wide open on the calendar.

Great, January it is!  And, since the entire month is free, I start looking at airlines and hotels to see if I can find any differences in price.  In other words, maybe a discounted rate on one weekend versus another.  Also, I check some of the museums for any shows that may really entice me.  And, I check the opera schedule to see if a performance is a must see for me.

What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

First, stop and take stock when it is raining in Paris.  Try to assess how much rain it is going to be.  A whole day of rain?  Or, only a brief shower?  A deluge or a drizzle?   If it is supposed to rain all day long, then you may want to adjust your schedule.  If it is only a sprinkle, keep going full speed ahead with the day as planned.

Most importantly, take a deep breath and remember, rain is not the end of the world.  It will not ruin your vacation.  Paris does not close up when it rains.  Open top bus tours still run – put on a poncho.

If it really is going to rain all day long, see if you can find some inexpensive waterproof shoes and take an umbrella and explore.  Paris in a drizzle is one of my favorite times.  The colors seem to become saturated on buildings, trees, park benches, grass, the cars….  The gray clouds make the ancient buildings even more enticing.  The narrow streets in the Marais are even more inviting.

But, if it is raining and umbrellas are everywhere, avoid busy rush hour foot traffic.  Eyes are a precious commodity that shouldn’t be poked with umbrella tips.  Between 5:30-6:30 – to take a rest back at the hotel, or rejuvenate with coffee at a cafe.

The most logical place to go when it is raining in Paris is to visit a big museum – like the Louvre.  A big museum has exhibits, shopping, food, and drink.  And, it can be a good idea, depending on the time of year.  But, everyone else is thinking the same thing.  So the big museums will be mobbed with people trying to avoid the water.  Besides traditional museums, here are a few suggestions for things to do in Paris when it is raining.

An Unusual Museum Visit

Weren’t thinking of the Musée de la Chasse et Nature?  Well, a rainy day may change your mind.  Pull out your guidebook and look up museums.  Choose one or two that you never thought you would visit.  Take a chance.  The worst thing is that you go, take a look, leave and go back out into the rain.  However, the upside is you may see something incredible, take in important architecture and history – and have fun – while dry.

Catacombs

Nearly 70 feet below the surface, Paris has an extensive network of underground passages that were once limestone quarries.  From the late 1700s until the mid-1800s, millions of human bones were exhumed from cemeteries and moved into these subterranean quarries.  Although the official website states that the “tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems,” and “those of a nervous disposition and young children,” it is a dry place to explore an interesting part of Paris’ history.  Les Catacombes de Paris:  1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014; Métro:  Denfert-Rochereau; Closed Mondays, check the website for more details.

Sewer Museum

Engineering wonders lurk beneath all cities, but Paris displays its sewers in grand style – in a museum, no less.  When it is raining in Paris, take a tour through the tunnels that not only serve as sewers but also provide the passageways for internet and phone cables, tubes that run between post offices (like at the bank teller line) and pipes filled with drinking water.  In the past, tourists were ferried through in boats and suspended carts.  Now, admire the amazing workings on foot.  The museum also boasts a gift shop!  Musée des Égouts de Paris; Near the bridge, Pont de l’Alma, across the street from 93 quai d’Orsay, 75007; Métro: Alma-Marceau; or RER:  Pont de l’Alma.

Watch a Movie

Parisians are devoted fans of cinema.  As a result, movie theaters dot the city.  Even the avenue des Champs-Élysées is full of movie theaters.  Don’t look for a megaplex like you see in the suburbs.  These movie houses will have a sign on the street advertising the current films.  Once you pass the entrance, then you may find multiple theaters.  Many American movies are shown at the theater with French subtitles.  So, head in during a downpour and enjoy hearing your mother tongue.

Shopping at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps

Wide canopies of Printemps

Wide Canopies of Printemps where you can duck out of the rain; Photo by Minato ku, BoulHaussNoel, CC BY 3.0

These department stores feature MANY departments!  For the dedicated shopper, when it is raining in Paris, it is a shopping day in Paris.  If you do not find what you are looking for in one, walk down the street and look in the other one.  Another bonus on a rainy day is that much of the sidewalk around the two behemoths are covered.  So don’t fret too much about getting your packages wet.  Also, both have amazing architecture inside and out plus full-service cafés for eating, resting and re-loading on caffeine and hot chocolate.  Rest and retail therapy all under two roofs – barely a block away from each other.

Cooking Class

Want to learn some basics, make pastries or cook a meal while in Paris?  When it is raining may be a good time to do it.  Many places offer cooking classes for real beginners as well as advanced cooks.  A great part about taking a cooking class is that you get to eat what you cook!  And, the classes are indoors.  Start looking at options now so if it does rain, you can have a list ready to book online or ask the concierge to help you book on the day you want one.  La Cuisine Paris (or The Paris Kitchen) gets rave reviews.  Check it out here. https://lacuisineparis.com

Long Lunch at a Nice Restaurant

When it is raining in Paris, or scheduled to rain for a good chunk of mid-day, reserve a spot at a fancy restaurant.  This is your chance to take advantage of the “down” time outdoors to relish a long lunch.  All without feeling guilty about not doing other things.  Enjoy the pampering and delicious foods at reduced lunchtime prices.

Visit Parapluies Simon When It Is Raining In Paris!

parapluies simon

Forgot your umbrella?  No worries.  Make a special trip to Parapluies Simon and find a souvenir when it is raining in Paris.  This umbrella store on Boulevard St. Michel in the 6th is full of specialty rain protectors and also takes custom orders.  Find out more.

River Cruise

Yes, when it is raining in Paris, take a covered river cruise.  It can be FUN in the rain.  Even if it is pouring, you will stay dry, hear the pounding rain (no chance of hearing the tour guide on the loudspeaker), scream to hear each other and still be able to have some great views.  Plus, it will be even more memorable because you will have a fun story to tell of taking the boat in the pouring rain.

And, Last But Not Least

A friend wrote and said, “After all, Paris is the most incredibly romantic city.”  So, hang the “Do Not Disturb” (Ne Pas Déranger) sign on the doorknob outside your room and enjoy Paris in a very intimate way while the rain is falling on the window panes.