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The carriage museum at Versailles

I’m not at all interested in cars – apart from a one time exception made for a beautiful vintage Morris Minor my father and grandfather gave me for my 21st birthday! However the carriage museum which opened recently in Versailles turned out to be a unexpectedly fascinating visit. Housed in the royal stables just opposte the palace, this new museum is free to visit, and allows us a glimpse into another, often overlooked aspect of life at the royal courts, something that I had never even thought about. It’s home to spectacular carriages, golden sedan chairs, magnificent harnesses for the horses and even sleighs used by the ladies to ride around the gardens in winter, including an amazing one with a carved wooden base shaped like a turtle.

If you have some extra time at Versailles, and spending at least a whole day at the palace and in the city is really worth it, a visit to this museum is a treat. And if you’re lucky, you may even get to see the beautiful horses of the Academy of Equestrian Arts practising outside.

Grandes_Ecuries Versailles

  • Les Grandes Ecuries, avenue Rockefeller, 78000 Versailles

Take the RER C to Versailles Chateau, or train from St Lazare to Versailles rive Droite, then it’s a short walk.

Website (in English)

Link to map

 

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Balenciaga at the Musée Bourdelle

The Musée Bourdelle is currently hosting a beautiful exhibition curated by the Palais Galleria. The spectacular monumental sculptures of Bourdelle are juxtaposed with the fine details of Balenciaga haute couture, all the more striking as all the dresses and hats featured are black, inviting us to look more closely at the depth and the details, as we do with the sculptures.

I have been planning on visiting the Musée Bourdelle for a while, and this gave me the perfect excuse. The museum is set in the sculptor’s 19th century studio and appartments in Montparnasse, and was extended in 1992 by architect Christian de Portzamparc. The studio and museum is set around a sculpture garden and a leafy and peaceful courtyard which existed already when Antoine Bourdelle lived and worked there.

Antoine Bourdelle worked with Rodin, setting up a free sculpture school in Montparnasse in 1900. He later broke away from Rodin, and found fame from 1910 onwards. The museum is home to a wonderful range of his work, from huge bronze and marble figures to smaller works in plaster, as well as photographs and drawings.

Alongsidehis work, in the light of the artist’s studio, the Balenciaga dresses appear as sculptures themselves. The different tonalities of black on velvet, satin, wool and feathers suddenly become apparent, and the setting allows us to examine the creativity and work of both artists in ways that we may not have done otherwise.

The exhibition L’Oeuvre Noir runs until July 16, but even after it ends I would highly recommend a visit to this wonderful museum.

  • Musée Bourdelle. 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris. metro: Montparnasse or Falguière

Open daily 10:00 – 18:00 except Mondays

Website (in English)

link to map

JR and the disappearing Louvre pyramid

French street artist JR has an installation currently at the Louvre which is surprising to say the least, and lends itself perfectly to the grey days we are having at the moment. He has made the famous glass pyramid disappear.

JR Louvre pyramid, Paris

The pyramid was designed by Chinese-American architect I M Pei and unveiled in 1989 to general criticism and controversy in Paris (as it has to be said are most of the major architectural developments in this city, starting with the Eiffel Tower)! Now instead of seeing the pyramid itself, probably the most photographed part of the structure of the Louvre, we see what has been hiding behind it, the section of the building that has been largely ignored for all these years.

JR Louvre Pyramid - Paris

Instead of snapping selfies, visitors are invited to look at their surroundings in a different way, and to spend more time deciding which is the best viewpoint for their photo to allow the pyramid to completely disappear (the sides slope, so you have to be in just the right place to ensure it looks flat). By removing the pyramid, JR takes the Louvre back to its original state, yet his digital photography work is resolutely modern, and reminds us that the pyramid itself is too.

At the Louvre until June 27th 2016.

JR’s website (in English)

 

The Orangerie Museum

The Orangerie is one of my favourite museums in Paris. I’ve often heard it described as a jewel-like museum. It’s just the right size, not too crowded, is home to a collection of beautiful works, and regularly puts on fascinating temporary exhibitions. It’s one of those museums you can go to again and again and never get tired of.

The Orangerie was built in 1852 to house the orange trees of the Tuileries gardens that surround it, with a glass facade facing south across the Seine river. It was then put to various other uses, as a concert hall, an exam room or to house soldiers on leave from the trenches during WWI, and was not modified until the 1920’s when Monet donated his water lily paintings with very specific instructions for how he wanted them displayed. It has since been modified again, adding the Post-Impressionist Walter-Guillaume collection, and was fully restored in 2006, demolishing the upper level and moving the Walter-Guillaume collection into a newly developed lower level so that the Nympheas could once again be seen how Monet intended, their aspect changing with the changes in the natural daylight that floods in from outside.

Probably the most spectacular section of the museum are the rooms dedicated to eight giant paintings of Monet’s Nympheas – each is 2m by 6m. The paintings were donated by Monet in 1922 and are shown exactly as he wanted them to be, on curved walls in two simple oval shaped rooms full of natural, diffused light that allow the works to surround you on all sides. They have actually been glued to the walls, and stayed in the museum throughout WWII and all the renovation works.

However don’t just go for the water lilies. Don’t miss the Walter-Guillaume collection downstairs, featuring works by Cezanne, Renoir, Utrillo, Matisse, Picasso and Soutine, amongst others. This newest level is also full of natural light, and the Soutine collection is said to be the best in Paris.

The museum also puts on regularly changing temporary exhibitions which are included in the ticket price, the current one is dedicated to Guillaume Apollinaire.

Make sure you buy a ticket online before you go as lines can get long.

  • Musée de l’Orangerie, Jardin des Tuileries, 75001 Paris. metro: Concorde

Open daily except Tuesdays 9:00 – 18:00

Museum website (in English)

Monet at the Musée Marmottan

Lovers of Monet should make sure to include a visit to the Musée Marmottan in the 16th arrondissement. Much less famous than the Musée d’Orsay or the Orangerie (which houses his Nympheas), this discreet museum is in fact home to the largest collection of Monet’s paintings in the world. Monet’s son Michel donated his entire collection to the Museum in 1966, and even though only around 10% of it is on show at any one time, it’s spectacular. In 1940 the museum had already received a donation of Impressioniist works, including ‘Impression Soleil Levant’, Monet’s painting which gave the movement it’s name.

The collection is housed in a magnificent ‘hotel particulier’ or Parisian mansion, which is partly furnished and also home to the world’s leading collection of paintings by Berthe Morisot, the first female Impressionist painter, and a wonderful collection of illuminations. The museum also shows temporary exhibitions, and you can buy a ticket that also includes entrance to Giverny – Monet’s incredible garden in Normandy, to see the real life inspiration for the beautiful works housed here.

(Photos are not allowed inside the museum).

  • Musée Marmottan, 2 rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris.  metro: La Muette

Open daily 10:00 – 18:00 except Mondays, open until 21:00 Thursdays

Musée Marmottan website (in English)

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Fashion at the Pierre Cardin Museum

Tucked away in a courtyard on the edge of the Marais is a fascinating and beautiful collection of clothes and furniture designed by Pierre Cardin. Set over 3 floors , this incredible collection traces his career from 1953 to the present day, and is a must see for anybody who is interested in fashion and design.

The collection is arranged chronologically, the 1950’s to 1970’s on the ground floor and the 1980’s and 1990’s downstairs, with the upstairs section showing evening and party wear and a room  dedicated to accessories – hats, sunglasses, jewellery, gloves and shoes. I particularly loved the futuristic pieces from his pret-a- porter collections of the 1960’s and 70’s with their the clean lines and bright colours.

The first couturier to show a pret-a-porter collection inspired by haute couture, Pierre Cardin caused a scandal with his collection in 1959 which made designer clothes available in a department store for the first time. He continued to experiment over the next 60 years, and as you follow his career and work through the museum it’s hard not to be taken aback by the imagination, creativity and craftsmanship on show.

I discovered that in the 1970’s he also designed and made furniture, and some of his beautiful pieces are also on show here.

I loved this museum and its amazing collection. The life and work of Pierre Cardin is fascinating, and the glimpse into his world that you get here certainly makes me want to see more.

  • Musée Pierre Cardin, 5 rue Saint Merri, 75004 Paris. metro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville

Open Wed/Thurs/Fri 11:00 – 18:00, Saturday & Sunday 13:00 – 18:00

Pierre Cardin Website (in English)

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Mallet Stevens at the Musée Mendjisky

For fans of Robert Mallet Stevens, I can highly recommend a visit to the Musée Mendjisky in the 15th arrondissement. The museum opened in 2014 in the former workshop of the master glass maker Louis Barillet, designed and built by Mallet Stevens in 1932. Later the studios of Maurice Mendjisky and his son Serge, it’s now a museum dedicated to the ‘Ecoles de Paris’, 2 generations of artists who made Paris the artistic capital of the world from 1900 – 1960.

Mallet Stevens designed the atelier as both a work space and a home for his friend Barillet. They knew each other well, and in 1929 when Mallet Stevens formed the Union of Modern Artists, Barillet was a member, as were Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé. The atelier has 4 floors which can be used as workshops or exhibition space, the most impressive being the main studio – with a double height ceiling and mezzanine level it’s flooded with light from a window that takes up almost all of the facade.

 

The beautiful stained glass windows both exterior and interior were designed by Barillet (he also worked with Mallet Stevens on the glass in the rue Mallet Stevens in the 16th arrondissement), as are the floor mosaics. The members of the Union of Modern Artists believed in a ‘total art’, where spaces would incorporate all disciplines.

Downstairs there is a permanent exhibition of the works of Maurice and Serge Mendjisky, and the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and performances. It also has a small but excellent bookshop for those interested in life and art in Paris in the 20th century.

  • Musée Mendjisky, 15 Square Vergennes, 75015 Paris. metro: Vaugirard

NOTE! The Musée Mendjisky will close its doors on December 31 2016, due to lack of visitors. The future of the building is still uncertain.

Website (in French)

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Renzo Piano at the Fondation Jerome Seydoux

Walk past on a grey day and you could almost not notice it. Perhaps you might look up and see the facade sculpted by Rodin while he was still a student. Take a step back, and suddenly you notice it, a glass creature discreetly peeping up over the rooftops. The old cinema, Le Rodin, has taken on a new form and a new life in the hands of Renzo Piano.

Fondation Pathé-Paris-Renzo Piano

This beautiful building, opened in late 2014, is now home to all of the non-film archives of Pathé, and also has a small cinema where they project silent films which students from the Conservatoire accompany live on the piano. You can visit the lobby, gardens and any temporary exhibitions, or buy a ticket for a film showing, but if you want to see the entire building you need to book a guided tour (Saturdays at 12:00 and in French).

Fondation Jerome Seydoux-Renzo Piano-Paris

The guided tour allows you to visit the incredible office space housed in the top of the building, and also gives you a much better understanding of the project – the origins and complexities of the enclosed site that led to the organic form of the building, and the visions and work of both Renzo Piano and Jerome Seydoux (the current President of Pathé). Renzo Piano saw a magic lantern, rising above the Parisian rooftops. His architect partners speak of a ‘creature’ – it made me think of the giant worm in Murakami’s Super Frog Saves Tokyo, although a much more benevolent version!

On the first floor there is currently fascinating exhibition of cameras and projectors, along with some of the original posters from the archives.

Even if the full guided tour is not for you, do look up, and then go in and enjoy this incredible building.

Open Tues – Fri 13:00-19:00 and Saturdays 11:30-19:00

To book a place on a guided tour email: accueil@fondationpathe.com

Website (in French)

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Atelier Brancusi

The Pompidou Centre is one of the iconic building in Paris – love it or hate it, you certainly can’t miss it. However it’s easy to miss the much more discreet building just next to it. Designed by Renzo Piano, the Atelier Brancusi is almost invisible, yet this fascinating space is another of those tiny hidden museums that is well worth a visit.

Atelier Brancusi, Paris

Constantin Brancusi came to Paris from Romania in 1904, and from 1915 worked in a studio in the 15th arrondissement. Considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, he was one of the pioneers of  the modernist movement, arriving Paris at a moment when the art world here was effervescent with new ideas. His friends included the leading figures of the artistic and intellectual scene in Paris at the time: Picasso, Modigliani, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Guillaume Apollinaire and Ezra Pound.

In these studios he produced most of his work, and many of these works he arranged in the studio space, often in groups.  The studio and the arrangement of the sculptures in relation to the space and to the other works surrounding them became integral to each sculpture. So much so that he often refused to sell them, if he did he would replace them with plaster casts.

In 1956 he bequeathed his studio and its entire contents to the French state, on condition that it would be reconstructed exactly as it was on the day of his death. Renzo Piano designed the current space, where we can see not only his sculptures, but tools, sketches, furniture and his library. Here we can view his work as he wished it to be viewed, and comprehend it as he wished it to be understood.

Another of his most famous works, Le Baiser, can be seen in Montparnasse Cemetery, which is also where he is buried.

  • Atelier Brancusi, Piazza in front of the Centre Pompidou (rue Rambuteau side)

Open daily 2-6pm, except Tuesdays and May 1.  Free entrance.

Yves Saint Laurent at the Fondation Pierre Bergé

The Fondation Pierre Bergé is home to an incredible collection of the works of Yves Saint Laurent: 5,000 garments, 15,000 haute couture accessories and over 50,000 drawings, all carefully conserved in museum conditions. Housed at the mythical address of their couture house – 5 avenue Marceau – it organises temporary exhibitions dedicated to fashion and art.

Currently on show until 19 July is St Laurent’s 1971 ‘Liberation’ collection, which caused a scandal at the time, referencing back to France under the German occupation in WWII, but which was to become a huge influence on fashion in general, blurring the lines between haute couture and pret à porter and making retro style fashionable for the first time.

The exhibition is small, but fascinating, documenting also the laborious process of creating a collection. Exhibitions change regularly so be sure to check out their website to see what is currently on.

You can also visit Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, this visit is only available as a guided group tour and you need to book well in advance. I can highly recommend both!

Photos not allowed inside the exhibition or the studio.

Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge

The Fondation Pierre Bergé and the Palais Galliera have a partnership, bring your ticket from one of the current exhibitions to the other and you’ll get a reduction on the entry price.

  • Fondation Pierre Bergé, 3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris. metro: Alma Marceau

Open daily except Mondays and public holidays, 10:00 – 18:00

Fondation Pierre Bergé

The Fashion Museum at the Palais Galliera

The beautiful Palais Galliera is home to the Fashion Museum of Paris. Their collection is outstanding, but due to the fragile nature of the pieces they are stored in the dark to protect them, and only temporary exhibitions are shown in the museum. This however allows them to focus on one theme, one period or one designer – currently there is a wonderful exhibition of clothes by Jeanne Lanvin which Alber Elbaz, the current artistic director of Lanvin, has collaborated closely on.

Check out their excellent website for current and upcoming exhibitions. The museum is closed between exhibitions. I can highly recommend the current Lanvin exhibition, the pieces are incredibly beautiful, and the chance to see such workmanship up close is a real treat. Photos of course are not allowed inside in order to preserve the delicate clothes.

  • Palais Galliera, 10 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016 Paris. métro: Iena

Palais Galliera

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The Montmartre Museum

Today I visited one of the most charming museums in the city, in one of the most charming areas of the city – Montmartre (if you avoid the tourist traps around the Sacré Coeur and the Place du Tertre then Montmartre is gorgeous). The Montmartre Museum was created in 1960 in the oldest building on the Montmartre hill, and has recently been completely refurbished and the gardens redesigned.

Set in two buildings that have been homes and studios to the likes of Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Suzanne Valado and her son Maurice Utrillo, it’s now home to a collection of artworks that tell the story of the artistic life of Montmartre – its cabarets, studios, cafés and those who frequented them. The caretakers lodge was also home to Pere Tanguy; artists such as Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh would get their art supplies at his shop nearby. If they couldn’t afford to pay him they would give him one of their paintings instead.

You are also treated to an up close and very beautiful view of the Montmartre vineyard (yes they still grow grapes there, and the wine is made in the cellars of the town hall, another post to follow on that!)

Montmartre Museum: Paris

 

And finally you can visit Utrillo’s studio, which has been reconstructed as it was when he lived there until 1926 with his mother Suzanne Valadon.

There is a lovely café in the gardens (closed for a few weeks for refurbishment but due to reopen shortly). The Montmartre Museum is not only a fascinating visit, but also a haven of peace and quiet beauty away from the crowds nearby.

  • Musée de Montmartre, 12 rue Cortot, 75018 Paris. metro: Lamarck Caulaincourt or Abesses

Open daily 10:00 – 18:00.

The Montmartre Museum

Jean Cocteau’s house and chapel in Milly la Foret

For fans of Jean Cocteau, or just those looking for a day out of the city, I recommend a trip to Milly la Foret. This lovely little town 50km south of Paris is where Jean Cocteau bought a house in 1947 with Jean Marais, living between there and Paris until his death in 1963. Several rooms have been restored exactly as they were during his life, and the upstairs has been transformed into a small museum, showing pictures, writings, portraits of him by Man Ray, Andy Warhol and others, as well as posters and excerpts from his films.

The house is set in beautiful gardens by a small river close to the centre of the town. A short walk away is the 12th century chapel of St Blaise des Simples. Once part of a community housing and treating lepers, this small building is all that remains. Saint Blaise was reputed to have treated the sick with medicinal plants, or ‘simples’, and the chapel is surrounded by a small botanical garden growing such plants. But the most interesting aspect of the chapel nowadays is that Jean Cocteau entirely decorated the inside in 1959, and is now buried there.

Cocteau depicted these medicinal plants on the walls of the chapel, along with a scene representing the resurrection, and designed the stained glass windows too. The chapel is tiny and very beautiful, a commentary read by Jean Marais is played over a speaker, and if you can manage to be inside when nobody else is, it’s quite magical.

  • Maison Jean Cocteau and La Chapelle Sainte Blaise des Simples, 91490 Milly La Foret

Maison Jean Cocteau

Chapelle St Blaise des Simples

Both websites are only in French. We drove and it took under an hour from Paris. Otherwise you can take the RER D to Maisse which takes 1 hour 15 minutes and is 6km from Milly. If you want a taxi from there you need to order it in advance. Milly Tourist Office (taxi numbers) or if you’re feeling energetic you can take your bicycle on the RER!

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The Picasso Museum

I have just re-discovered one of the most incredible museums in the city. The Picasso Museum re-opened a few months ago after 5 years of renovations. Set in the historic district of the Marais, housed in a spectacular ‘hotel particular’  or town mansion – the Hotel Salé, built in 1660 – the new Picasso Museum completely took my breath away. Visiting this museum is a delight – each room producing more and more treasures, each work set in a magnificent, light and airy space. The collection is comprehensive and is arranged in thematic and chronological order, enabling the visitor to follow and better understand the development of Picasso’s art. Despite the amazing collection of works, the museum is not overwhelming, it still feels small and intimate. I haven’t felt so excited by a museum in a long time, and can’t wait to go back and take friends and family with me.

As with all the museums in Paris, watch out for the huge lines! Buy a timed entry ticket on the internet, or be prepared to wait (although the lines are well managed and move pretty fast). If you’re hungry afterwards there is a pretty café on the roof, otherwise pop round the corner to one of my favourites, the Swedish Institute Café, and then enjoy a stroll around the beautiful Marais afterwards.

  • Musée Picasso, Hotel Salé, 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris. metro: St Paul

Open Tuesday – Friday 11.30 – 18:00. Saturday and Sunday 09:30 – 18:00

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The Musée Rodin in Meudon

The Musée Rodin is one of my favorite museums in Paris, and I just discovered that Rodin had a house and studio where he lived and worked just on the outskirts of Paris, in Meudon. He is also buried there with his companion Rose Beuret, in the gardens under a sculpture of The Thinker, and it’s a wonderful place to get a more intimate view of the life and work of this great artist.

Here we can see the house, ‘La Villa des Brillants’, bought by Rodin at an auction in 1895, and with his studio still attached. He later added the front of the Chateau d’Issy to the lower end of the garden, which he saved from demolition (it had been burned during the Paris Commune of 1871), creating a place where he would entertain friends, models, collectors and fellow artists. Around the house at the time were also several other smaller houses and workshops where some of the 50 people working for him lived and worked.

Next to the house is a gallery style museum, built in 1931, and filled with plaster casts of many of Rodin’s famous works. It gives a great insight into the work and process that went into producing his great masterpieces.

The house and museum are surrounded by gardens with wonderful views over the city.  There’s also a gallery space next to the house for temporary exhibitions, currently showing a fascinating exhibition of photos of sculptors in at work by Robert Doisneau. If you’re a fan of Rodin, this is a wonderful place to come and feel much closer to the man and his work.

  • Musée Rodin Meudon, 19 avenue Auguste Rodin, 92190 Meudon.
  • RER line C Meudon Val Fleury

Open all year Friday/Saturday/Sunday 13:00 – 18:00

Musée Rodin Meudon

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A hidden gem – the Musée Zadkine

Last weekend I discovered a tiny museum tucked away in a hidden courtyard behind the Luxembourg gardens. Former home and studios of Ossip Zadkine and his wife the painter  Valentine Prax, set a lovely garden in the heart of the 6th arrondissement, this beautiful museum houses a wonderful collection of his sculptures. A Russian born sculptor and  friend of Modigilani, Blaise Cendrars, Henry Miller and Max Jacob, Zadkine is considered one of the masters of cubism, and lived in this house for forty years from 1928. Valentine Prax bequeathed her legacy in order that it could be transformed into a museum. Here you can see his sculptures in bronze, limestone, granite, plaster and different kinds of wood, sometimes lacquered or overlaid with gold leaf. My favourite is Head of a Woman (main picture above) which used to be part of the designer Eileen Gray’s collection in her apartment in Paris.

The museum is very small and feels very intimate. Entry is free, and you don’t need long to visit it, although it really is worth spending some time there and enjoying the beauty of the artworks and the tranquility of their wonderful setting. I look forward to coming back in the summer and enjoying the peace and beauty of the gardens as well as the lovely museum. It’s the type of place I’d love to pop into whenever I’m nearby, just to spend a few moments imagining what it would be like to live and produce these beautiful works in such a wonderful place.

  • Musée Zadkine, 100 bis, rue d’Assis, 75006 Paris. métro: Vavin or Notre Dame des Champs

Free entry. Open 10:00 – 18:00 daily except Mondays and public holidays

Musée Zadkine website

The Louvre

The Louvre is one of the must-see museums in Paris, if not in the world. However it’s a daunting prospect – 403 rooms, 14.5km of corridors, 35 000 works of art on show (plus more than 400 000 more in store in the basement), huge lines outside and inside, crowds in front of the major works….

But don’t miss it. The artworks are breathtaking, the architecture awe inspiring, the pyramid delicate and beautiful. My advice? Take a guided tour, in a small group with a passionate guide. Believe me, this will totally transform your visit. A good guide will negotiate the lines, the endless corridors and the crowds for you, and bring the works of art to life. They will show you the major works housed in this amazing museum, and also introduce you to many other incredible treasures. I work with many wonderful guides, and hearing them share their knowledge of and passion for the artworks and artists is something I will never grow tired of. Even better, take a tour in the evening on a Wednesday or a Friday when the museum is open late, and enjoy the beauty of the fading light outside as the museum empties – you may even find you have some of the rooms to yourselves.

pyramid-louvre-paris

There is much, much more to the Louvre than the Mona Lisa, and even if you only spend a couple of hours there, do make sure you see more than just her.

  • Musée du Louvre, 99 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris.  métro; Palais Royal Musée du Louvre

Open daily except Tuesdays, 9:00 – 18:00. Wednesday and Friday open until 21:45

The Louvre Museum

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art is located in one wing of the Palais de Tokyo, one of the beautiful buildings that was created for the Universal Exhibiton of 1937 (the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadeo was also built for this occasion).

modern-art-museum-paris

The museum houses over 9 000 pieces of 20th century art, and is also home to temporary exhibitions, also based around 20th century movements or artists, that change regularly.

It has a beautiful oval room covered with murals painted by Raoul Dufy in 1937 called La Fée Electricité. Originally painted for the building of the Paris electricity board, it was moved to the museum in 1961.

Outside there is a large terrace that adjoins this wing of the museum to the Palais de Tokyo on the other side and overlooks the Seine. In the summer the museum restaurants put their tables out here and it’s a great place to have lunch on a nice day.

palais-de-tokyo-paris

Check out the temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent collection, currently there is a retrospective of the life and works of Sonia Delaunay which I really enjoyed.

  •  Musée d’art Moderne, 11 avenue du President Wilson, 75016 Paris. métro: Iena

Open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00, Thursday open until 22:00

Musée d’Art Moderne

The Fondation Louis Vuitton

Designed by Frank Gehry, and open since last Monday, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is already becoming one of the major buildings in Paris.

Home to a contemporary art museum covering 11 000m2, the building sits on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne and looks like a huge cloud that has come to settle in the park. Encased in over 3 600 sheets of glass, it reflects the light, the colours and the trees and people around it.

I found the building really beautiful. I didn’t go in, I just wanted to initially see the building that everyone is talking about, and will visit the gallery another day (and to book in advance on the internet to avoid the huge queue!) so that will be for another post. But even just a visit to see the outside in the fading autumn sunshine is really spectacular.

Update! I’ve since been in. Inside there is a permanent exhibition, a space for temporary exhibitions (I was there for Olafur Eliasson) and a concert hall. The building is as beautiful and exciting inside as it is outside,

Book your tickets online, it’s quick and easy and you walk straight past the long lines. Check out their website also for musical events and temporary exhibitions. There’s also a restaurant and a beautiful bookshop.

  • Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris

Open Monday, Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 to 19:00. Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 20:00. Closed Tuesdays.

Take the metro to Les Sablons and follow the signs, it’s about at 10-15 minute walk. Otherwise you can get an electric shuttle bus for 1€ from Place Charles de Gaulle, on the corner of Avenue Friedland.

Fondation Louis Vuitton website

The Musée d’Orsay

If you only have time to visit one museum whilst you are in Paris, I would recommend considering the Musée d’Orsay. Set in a beautiful Beaux-Arts former railway station, the Musée d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world, and is also home to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

Built for the World Expo of 1900, the Parisians wanted a magnificent station to welcome visitors to their city, and they certainly got one. It was not used for very long though, as the new mainline electric trains proved too long for the short platforms. One of the last trains to arrive carried returning French prisoners of war. It fell into disrepair, and was even earmarked for demolition. Saved in the 1980’s and beautifully converted into a museum, you can still get a wonderful impression of how it must have looked when it was full of steam trains.

It’s less crowded the Louvre, the museum is filled with colour and light. Here you’ll find Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Gaugin, Cézanne, Rodin, Toulouse Lautrec, to name but a very few. These artists changed the face of art forever, and their lives in the rapidly changing city of Paris are as fascinating as their works and the artistic techniques they developed (hop up to Montmartre afterwards to learn more about their lives). The artworks are rotated regularly so the paintings often change, which I really like as it means you can keep going back, which I do. There are 2 cafés and a restaurant. I could happily spend a whole day here. Even if you only have a couple of hours, it’s really worth a visit.

Open Tuesday – Thursday 9.30 – 6.00.  Late opening Thursday until 9.15pm

Buy your ticket online in advance to avoid wairing in the often long lines! Or better still, book a guided tour and have the artworks, artists and the fascinating period they lived and workd in brought to life by a passionate expert guide. It makes all the difference.

  • Musée d’Orsay. 1 rue de la Legion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris  métro: Solferino or RER Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay website

The fashion section at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a fascinating museum, covering a huge variety of decorative arts.

When I can, I like to visit sections of a museum at a time. This time I headed straight for the fashion section. It changes yearly, and is currently dedicated to Dries Van Noten and what has inspired him in his work. Alongside other designer’s pieces, the exhibition also features clips from films, photographs and pieces of furniture and music. Pieces from his collections are shown together with iconic pieces from the museum’s collection of fashion and textiles. Inside it’s dark to preserve the clothes, and their jewel like colours and details really stand out.

Dries Van Noten – Inspirations, runs until November 2nd 2014.

  • Mode et Textile – Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm, late opening Thursday until 9pm

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Rodin Museum

One of my favourite museums in Paris is the Rodin Museum. It is housed in the magnificent Hotel Biron and set in large and peaceful gardens in the 7th arrondissement. It’s also right by the Invalides, as you wander around the beautiful museum gardens you can see the gold dome peeping up behind the sculptures and clipped trees.

The garden has a small café and lots of benches and wooden deckchairs under the trees. It is also home to many of Rodin’s bronze sculptures. If you don’t have time to go into the museum, or just want to sit and enjoy the quiet, for 2€ you can spend as long as you like there.

The Hotel Biron was built in 1727. By 1905 it was falling into ruin, the once beautiful gardens overgrown, and it became a temporary residence for various artists, including Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin. From 1911 onwards Rodin took over the whole building, and in 1916 offered to donate the entire collection of his work to the state, on the condition that the Hotel Biron became the Musée Rodin.

The museum is small but houses an impressive collection of Rodin’s sculptures, as well as several works by some of his friends and contemporaries – Camille Claudel, Van Gogh, Bourdelle and John Singer Sargent. The inside of the building is as beautiful as the outside, and temporary exhibitions are also frequently held.

Open daily except Mondays.

A tip for visiting all museums in Paris, buy your ticket online before you visit. Lines can be long, particularly in summer, and an e-ticket is one of the best ways to skip them!

Rodin Museum

  • Musée Rodin, 79 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris  Metro: Varenne or Invalides