Institut du monde arabe

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I won’t be surprising anybody when I say that Paris is a multicultural and cosmopolitan city. But there are certain little corners of Paris that will truly transport you elsewhere, and you may not even know that they exist.

For instance, if you get off the metro at Louis Blanc up in the North-East, before long you’ll find yourself in an Indian wonderland, brimming with restaurants, grocery stores and overflowing Bollywood film shops. Further south, the ill-frequented 13th arrondissement boasts a vibrant, unofficial Chinatown. If you’re looking for Korean cuisine, head to Dupleix metro in the 15th arrondissement. Russian? The 17th. Vietnamese? Belleville. All these spots are wonderfully diverse and provide a refreshing counter to mainstream French culture, all in the heart of Paris.

But my favourite cultural enclave is tucked away in the quieter, south-eastern streets of the 5th arrondissement, far away from the bustle of the Latin Quarter. In these picturesque corners of the city, you’ll find some of Paris’ finest Moroccan and Arabic offerings.

A stone’s throw from the metro-marketplace Place Monge lies the stunning Mosquée de Paris. The mosque space itself is reserved for prayer, but the site also houses a heavenly hammam, replete with turquoise mosaics, hot and cold stone pools, massage and a chamber where you lounge on giant floor cushions and sip sweet mint tea. Even if the spa is not your thing, stop by the terrace café for the same mint tea served in kaleidoscopic Moroccan glasses and delicate honey pastries rolled in dates and pistachios.

The Mosquée de Paris is viewed by many as the Arab and Islamic cultural heart of Paris, but it is far from the only Arab institution in the area. For within walking distance lies a sparkling modern glass structure, housing the library, tea house, bookshop, meeting space and of course museum which form the Institut du monde arabe (Institute of the Arab World).

The museum’s focus is vast, presenting myriad elements of Arabic cultural, social and religious history and tradition. The Middle East, North Africa and other geographical hubs are all lovingly represented. In the modern, sunny glass space directly overlooking the Seine, you’ll find intricate manuscripts, gilt jewellery, stone sculptures, traditional dress and historical accounts of life in the Arab world. There is even a traditional hammam section for the addicts among us (i.e. me).

Arab culture and Islamic practise are a prominent part of contemporary, postcolonial French society. Yet they are so often maligned and misunderstood. The Institut du monde arabe presents the finest of this rich and beautiful world with elegance and pride.

Xx La muséophile

Institut du monde arabe

1 rue des Fossés Saint Bernard, 75005 (métro Jussieu)

Museum homepage

Full price: 8 euros

Reduced price: 4-6 euros
Opening hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 10am to 6pm

Fridays: 10am to 9.30pm

Weekends and public holidays: 10am to 7pm

Closed Mondays

Fondation Le Corbusier

Tags

, , , ,

At the start of every semester, during that unavoidable ‘get to know you’ part of the first lesson, I ask my new students why they are taking French. Some get nervous and say something like “the language sounds nice” or “I don’t know” (that’s ok; I can work with a blank slate). Others cite French food, fashion, cinema, music or just “Paris” as motivations for learning the language. Some want to travel or do an exchange in Europe, Québec or North Africa. Usually foreshadowing a straight-A record, some students say they plan to work in international law or diplomacy and want to learn another UN language (gracious, I did not have my career plan together like that when I was 18).

I like hearing these diverse reasons for studying French, and learning a little about the group of strangers sitting in front of me. There are no wrong answers, but some are more entertaining than others. For example, earlier this year one student exclaimed “French architecture is the awesomest”.

“French architecture is the awesomest.” Not a word, but yes. Yes, French architecture is the awesomest.

lesmuseesdeparis- fondatinon le corbusier- french door

All that romantic grandeur; the sweeping staircases, sloping iron roofs studded with tiny chambre de bonne windows, boldly-painted street doors, scrolled detailing, secluded courtyards, quaint shuttered windows.

But French architecture is not stuck in the 19th century. Some of the most inventive, forward-thinking architecture to come out of France is much more modern. Perhaps one of the greatest masters of 20th century architecture was the Swiss-born, French-nationalised Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known by the pseudonym Le Corbusier.

lesmuseesdeparis- fondation le corbusier- museum exterior

The Fondation Le Corbusier, a cluster of semi-detached modernist houses designed by Le Corbusier in the 1920s, is hidden away down a quiet 16th arrondissement laneway. The small but spacious houses are all unexpected curves, splashes of strategic colour and a clever play between light and space. The buildings feel very contemporary, considering they are almost a century old.

lesmuseesdeparis- fondation le corbusier- room

Perhaps ‘museum’ isn’t even the right word for the Fondation Le Corbusier, as stepping across the threshold feels like stepping into a very fashionable retro couple’s living quarters. Le Corbusier’s geometric designs and futuristic touches still speak to people today; I laughed and laughed when I read a recent interview in which Kanye West credited a “Le Corbusier lamp” as inspiring his recent album. But I think I understand where that endlessly hyperbolic fool was coming from. The creative modernity of Le Corbusier’s style feels somehow cutting-edge and timeless all at once.

As a wise man once said, French architecture is the awesomest.

Xx La muséophile

Fondation Le Corbusier
10 square du Docteur Blanche, 75016 (métro Jasmin or Michel-Ange Auteuil)

Museum homepage

Full price: 8 euros
Reduced price: 5 euros
Opening hours:
Monday: 1.30pm to 6pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm
Closed Sunday

Palais de Tokyo

Tags

, , , , ,

One of the things I like most about contemporary and installation art is how it reaches across boundaries; out of the canvas, off the wall, into so many of our senses. The most engaging contemporary works are interactive, unexpected and even disconcerting. They draw you out of your comfort zone, challenge your preconceptions and engage you in unusual ways. The Palais de Tokyo, a meandering modern and contemporary art space standing side-to-side with the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris near Trocadéro, is brimming with this kind of provocative art.

lesmuseesdeparis palais de tokyo 7

Across its temporary and permanent collections, the Palais de Tokyo is beautifully immersive and multi-sensorial. Stepping into the museum’s lofty opening room, l’Américain and I were faced with a grand piano, classical music flowing from its unmanned keys, as delicate silver shavings drifted down from above, across the open lid and onto the floor.

lesmuseesdeparis palais de tokyo 5

Wandering further into the museum, we entered a cavernous, dark room, strung with clusters of pearly light bulbs reminiscent of Golden Age cinema fixtures, which abruptly flicked on and off, flooding random corners of the blackened room with light. The room was simultaneously unsettling and mesmerising and we found ourselves standing there in silence for a long time.

lesmuseesdeparis palais de tokyo 6

For a while, I couldn’t put my finger on what felt so different about the Palais de Tokyo, compared with similar contemporary art spaces I’d visited before. But when we came across a giant rotating bookshelf, part way between a door and a wall, which provided the only entrance into an enclosed room, I realised what that difference was. Here and there throughout the museum were spots that felt… just a little bit… dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong; I am sure the Palais de Tokyo has its priorities in order and is up to scratch with all the interminable safety codes they must be held to. And as a big sister of young children, a frequent traveller and a teacher, I am a total safety fiend.

But, in true dedication to the engaging, the unsettling and the disconcerting of contemporary art, the Palais de Tokyo felt even more engaging, unsettling and disconcerting than your average museum. That rotating bookshelf, which was manned only by visitors and unsupervised by staff, could easily squish someone coming through the other side. Indeed, l’Américain and I both remarked uneasily on the risk. But the experience of stepping gingerly through the heavy, improvised door mimicked how you might feel discovering a real rotating bookshelf, in a dark mansion, opening into a secret chamber. And the haunting, shadowy stairwell leading from one transfixing room to the next made us feel like we were exploring something extraordinary, rather than traipsing through just another white cube. The Palais is even open until midnight if you truly wish to draw yourself away from the typical museum experience.

If you want to be challenged, to break down the boundary between yourself and the space around you, to be immersed in art rather than distanced from it, then head to the enthralling Palais de Tokyo. Just, please, watch your step.

Xx La muséophile

Le Palais de Tokyo
13 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 (métro Iéna or Alma-Marceau)

Museum homepage

Full price: 10 euros
Reduced price: 8 euros
Opening hours:
Wednesday to Monday: midday to midnight
Closed Tuesday

 

Mémorial de la Shoah

Tags

, , , , ,

There’s no denying that France has a long and varied history; I’m constantly learning a new chapter of its story. But sadly French history isn’t all revolutions, empires and left-wing student rebellions in the Paris streets. For there is no sugar coating the role French forces played in collaborating with their Nazi occupiers during the Second World War.

Between 1940 and 1944, the valiant Resistance movement notwithstanding, French forces, under Nazi instruction, were complicit in the persecution, arrest and eventual death of over 77,000 French Jewish people, not to mention thousands of Roma and other minorities.

lesmuseesdeparis- memorialdelashoah- exterior

The Holocaust, or la Shoah, remains arguably the darkest period in French (and global) history, and the chilling stone plaques outside Paris schools and homes, marking where Jewish men, women and children were rounded up to be sent to concentration camps, are a harrowing reminder of the reality and ubiquity of such events in Occupied France.

lesmuseesdeparis- memorialdelashoah- murdesnoms

70 years on, the scars of the Holocaust are still very real. Which is one of the reasons the understated, tranquil Mémorial de la Shoah (Holocaust Memorial Museum), located in the historically Jewish quarter of the Marais, is such an important Paris museum.

lesmuseesdeparis- memorialdelashoah- interiordocumentation

The memorial is wrought from smooth stone and opens onto a sedate, sculptured courtyard engraved with the names of those lost. The museum’s interior is lowly lit and very quiet, filled with information about, and commemoration of, the victims of the atrocities. Like most, I was already aware of the key facts of the Holocaust. I didn’t visit so much to learn as to reflect. And this is what the Mémorial de la Shoah does best: evoking the horrifying spectre of the Shoah without spectacle, violence or sensationalism, but with honesty, openness and respect.

Xx La muséophile

Le Mémorial de la Shoah
17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 75004 (métro Pont Marie or Saint-Paul)

Museum homepage
Museum entry: free

Opening hours:
Sunday to Wednesday, Friday: 10am to 6.00pm
Thursday: 10am to 10pm
Closed Saturday

Note: the site also houses a Jewish history bookshop and the world-class Centre de documentation juive contemporaine (Centre for Contemporary Jewish Documentation).

Musée Zadkine

Tags

, , , , ,

There’s nothing quite like Parisian architecture. The sloping, lavender-blue rooftops, the intricate iron balcony railings, the cobblestone courtyards, the monumental, ceiling-high front doors bedecked with carved brass knockers.

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- paris architecture

Quite often, Parisian streets are a jumble of vastly different architectural styles: the quintessential Haussmannien apartment buildings pressed up against medieval stone structures or crisp, Lecorbusier-inspired C20th blocks. Disparate centuries stand side-by-side throughout Paris, and yet the conflicting styles of Parisian architecture just seem to work. Perhaps it is because, with the exception of the skyscraping monstrosity of the Tour Montparnasse (curse thee, heinous monolith!), it’s all so pretty.

I’m endlessly admiring of Paris architecture, but it’s not often that I’m surprised by it. Yet surprised I was when I ventured down a calm, private lane in the prim sixth arrondissement, on the quiet side of the Luxembourg Gardens, to visit the musée Zadkine.

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- garden

Nestled amongst the standard six-storey buildings lay a modest one-storey creation, all natural wood, white spaces and glass. At first I couldn’t put my finger on what the lovely little building reminded me of. Then I realised: it was like my home. My beloved, modern family home in the outer-Melbourne eucalypts, my favourite house in the world, all lofty beams, giant windows and open spaces. A little slice of my Australian world lay hidden down this centuries-old Parisian laneway.

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- exterior

The museum’s collection, which was entirely new to me, combined beautifully with these relaxed, modern surrounds. Ossip Zadkine, a Belarusian sculptor active in Paris from 1910, a member of the Cubist movement, favoured the same natural materials as the architecture that now surrounds his work. His robust, earthy depictions of nude forms, at once gentle and powerful, are hewn from gnarled wood, clay and smooth stone.

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- 'jeune fille' 1967

Ossip Zadkine, ‘Jeune fille’, 1967

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- ‘Nu accoudé’, 1955

Ossip Zadkine, ‘Nu accoudé’, 1955

Zadkine’s sculpted portraiture, so human and yet verging so closely on the geometrical, are a celebratory blend of humanity and nature, a blending which struck me most in the sleek, towering figures scattered throughout the surprisingly wild museum garden.

lesmuseesdeparis- zadkine- garden sculpture

Part of what I love most about my family home is how close it feels to nature. To my surprise, the musée Zadkine and its hulking Cubist sculptures, in the heart of a bustling world city, made me feel the exact same way.

Xx La muséophile

Le Musée Zadkine
100 bis rue d’Assas, 75006 (métro Notre-Dame des Champs, Vavin)

Museum homepage

Reduced rate: 5 euros
Full rate: 7 euros

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6.00pm
Closed Monday

Musée de la chasse et de la nature (Hunting and Nature)

Tags

, , , , ,

Despite my penchant for peter pan collars and pretty stationery, and to the bemusement of my friends and family, I love horror. Be it literature, film or television, I’m all about the sinister, the gory and the macabre.

I love zombies and vampires. I’ll take a horror movie over a romantic comedy any day. My bookshelf is filled with Gothic novels, my knowledge of Tarantino dialogue is hard to beat and my students tease me for my unbridled excitement every time there’s a new episode of True Detective, Hannibal or The Walking Dead to get home to.

Needless to say, as a horror-loving PhD cinema student, there isn’t much that shocks me anymore. But I was certainly taken aback by what I saw on my recent visit to the Musée de la chasse et de la nature (the Hunting and Nature Museum).

lesmuseesdeparis-chasse et nature- 1

I’d expected some stately oil paintings of gentlemen galloping on horseback, preceded by their faithful hounds. I’d expected a smattering of tasteful taxidermy and maybe a few shotguns behind glass. That is not what I found.

Le Musée de la chasse et de la nature is a decadent mahogany and velvet shrine to the weird, wonderful and worrying of nature. Sure, there’s plenty of information about the history of French hunting. But this is tucked in among arrays of skulls, cabinets of curiosities, haunting antler chandeliers and some rather horrifying contemporary art installations (think deer transformed into bagpipes).

lesmuseedeparis- chasse et nature- 2

Part of the museum’s grim atmosphere is due to the dark halls in which it is contained (it reminds me of how I used to imagine Thornfield Hall). But many of the museum’s installations themselves are so quirky they’re downright disturbing. I enjoyed standing face to face with a stuffed polar bear, his head grazing the ceiling. But I didn’t stay long in the trophy room, fitted out with a mechanical boar’s head that snarls and grunts every few minutes.

lesmuseesdeparis- chasse et nature- 3

I never thought I’d say this about a nature museum, but if you’re easily offended by the gruesome, this may not be the place for you. But if, like me, you have a fascination with the darker side of things, it’s well worth the visit. Parts of the museum are a little over the top, to be sure. But the museum captures quite artistically the dark truth of hunting: transforming the living into the dead, the natural into the unnatural, the beautiful into the grotesque. Much like a horror movie, come to think of it.

Xx La muséophile

Le Musée de la chasse et de la nature
62 rue des Archives, 75003 (métro Rambuteau)

Museum homepage

Reduced rate: 6 euros
Full rate: 8 euros

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 11am to 6.00pm
Closed Monday

Musée Baccarat Crystal Museum

Tags

, , , , ,

Looking back on the fairy tales and children’s stories I loved when I was little, I’m starting to realise that what I thought were sweet stories of happiness and destiny were really rather morbid.

How was I not disturbed by Belle’s imprisonment in a fortress by an aggressive, talking beast? Why did I find Alice’s adventures quirky and whimsical when she was actually threatened, misled, tormented and abandoned by an array of cold-hearted creatures, not to mention subjected to terrifying bodily distortions? For goodness sake, how is being physically cut from the belly of a hyper-intelligent and manipulative wolf a happy ending? And have you ever read Hans Christian Anderson’s original Little Mermaid? It is truly the stuff of nightmares.

Les Musees de Paris- Paris Museums- Baccarat chandelier room

So what is it that draws children to classic tales? Clearly their good person-bad person portrayal of humankind is deeply problematic. Not to mention the depiction of marriage as the be-all-and-end-all for any respectable young lady. Of course, with many recent children’s films (from Shrek to Brave to Frozen) we are starting to see some truly admirable heroines. But the fact remains that thinly veiled horror stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Hansel and Gretel are still successfully packaged as tantalising fantasy for children.

Les Musees de Paris- Paris Museums- Baccarat

For me, I think it has a lot to do with aesthetics. I’m still a sucker for the contrast of a red velvet cape on white snow. I’m all about the shadows of a Gothic hall illuminated by flickering candlelight. I still feel the awesome pull of an ancient and beautiful concealed object, made terrible by some unspeakable magic power. This is how tales like Beauty and the Beast cast their spell over me.

I immediately thought of this when stepping into the entrance to the Musée Baccarat, one dark, cold winter’s afternoon. Almost deserted, the museum reminded me of a castle from a fairy tale. At the time, the entrance hall was still lined with lush, pungent Christmas trees, crowded against the mirrored walls and twinkling with simple golden lights. At the end of the ground-floor passageway, a decadent crystal chandelier lay submerged in a glass tank of clear water.

Les Musees de Paris- Paris Museums- Baccarat submerged chandelier

The red carpet, studded with tiny lights, led up a swirling staircase, lit by more chandeliers, to a quiet upstairs chamber draped in velvet curtains. Stepping through the curtains, I found myself alone in a shadowy room positively brimming with crystals of all shapes and sizes. Jewellery and delicate decorations, dinnerware and trinkets, vases and tiny bottles, paperweights and vials. The museum includes only Baccarat crystal, naturally. But I wasn’t struck by any commercial or promotional leaning in the museum’s design (though I did avoid the gift shop).

Les Musees de Paris- Paris Museums- Baccarat staircase

Fairy tales, especially the way they are packaged to children, are certainly problematic. As is any commercial venture posing as a purely cultural one. Yet none of that entered my mind as I sat in that room of velvet, crystal and shadow. All I was thinking about was Belle, standing in front of that fateful rose, all awe and quietude in the face of beauty.

Xx La muséophile

Le Musée Baccarat
11 Place des États-Unis, 75116 (métro Boissière or Iéna)

Museum homepage

Reduced rate: 5 euros

Full rate: 7 euros

Opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday to Saturday: 10am to 6.30pm
Closed Tuesday and Sunday

Le Petit Palais

Tags

, , , ,

Many Paris museums work because they adopt a single point of interest and run with it. Le Musée du parfum features nothing but perfume, but it investigates the topic like nowhere else. The good people of Le Musée Clémenceau seem to think nobody on earth has ever mattered as much as Président Georges, but by the end of your visit, you’ll probably agree. Paris museums go to all manner of extremes, favouring the most precise of objects (ahem, Museum of Eyeglasses) and exploring that object, its history and its specificities, with incredible dedication. These extremes of passion are often what make Paris museums so special.

But some Paris museums are beautiful for exactly the opposite reason; for their command of the fine art of balance. Balance between light and dark, between the minute and the momentous, between tradition and modernity. Le Petit Palais is one of those museums.

Located in the regal eighth arrondissement, just off the Champs Elysées, Le Petit Palais seems oddly named: with an impressive stone façade, an elegant stairway and a huge arch framing a gilt entrance, the Petit Palais is far from little. Yet directly across the street lies the explanation for the name: le Grand Palais, an imposing exhibition hall with a lofty glass ceiling visible from any riverside point in Paris. Le Grand Palais is an airy space used for temporary exhibitions and events, and I had always assumed le Petit Palais was merely an offshoot of its big sister. But I was mistaken: le Petit Palais is in fact the home of the Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris (Fine Arts Museum of the City of Paris) and it’s certainly one of those museums to be admired for its mastery of balance.

Indeed, le Petit Palais strikes the perfect harmony in many ways. Its entrance, ceilings and glasswork are decadent, yet its openness and sparse furnishing help the space retain a subtleness and simplicity. The upper rooms, with their monumental 19th-century paintings, are all natural light, white décor and high ceilings, while the lower levels provide the perfect muted lighting, deeply-coloured walls and small rooms to complement the museum’s earlier pieces, such as the delicate icons dripping in gold leaf. The museum is large, yet surprisingly quiet. It is impressive yet humble, comprehensive yet approachable, popular yet peaceful.

But it was when reclining in the museum’s coffee room with a fellow museum-loving friend, the lush, circular garden set out before us, that le Petit Palais’ perfect balance really struck me. In a museum dedicated to Parisian fine arts, priceless artworks strung in every room, one of the key attractions was the museum’s inner courtyard, with its tangle of ferns and its turquoise pond. I liked the Petit Palais for its collection. But I loved it for its balance between interior and exterior, art and nature, order and disorder.

Xx La muséophile

Le Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 (métro Champs Elysées-Clémenceau)
Museum homepage

Free entry to permanent collections

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Closed Monday

Crypte de Notre Dame

Tags

, , , ,

Paris just wouldn’t be Paris without Notre Dame. Built 850 years ago, the cathedral is one of the oldest and most recognisable landmarks in the city. Its intricate stone facades, gothic gargoyle trimmings, elaborate stained-glass windows and lofty belltowers are world famous, and rightly so. But Notre Dame is so much more to me than its status as a world monument.

I’m not religious at all, but I have some very fond memories of Notre Dame. Last Christmas Eve, as l’américain and I wandered through the peaceful, twinkling streets, we came upon Notre Dame in all its midnight mass glory. As we admired the cathedral from outside, we could hear the choir singing Silent Night.

Another sweet memory I have of Notre Dame was a brief moment late last year following a winter rainfall. Though I generally try not to play the tourist if I can help it, I couldn’t resist bringing out my camera, just like about thirty other people around me, when this happened:

And perhaps my most enduring connection with Notre Dame is through my old friend Victor Hugo and his classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, lavishly translated as The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In fact, when my dad and sister visited last year they found me a beautiful 19th-century edition of the book. Sublime.

I think of all these things when I think of Notre Dame. But I never associated Notre Dame with subterranean ruins. At least, not until recently.

The Crypte de Notre Dame is an underground space which remained hidden beneath the cathedral for centuries. Inside lie stone foundations, traces of the village of Lutèce that originally lay on the site before the settlement flourished into the city of Paris. The spot was discovered only in the mid-20th century, when excavators encountered it during the glamorous task of building an underground car park.

The preserved passageways, foundations and remnants of homes, streets and public baths are incredible, and accompanied by lovely old maps, models and stories about the development of the city from this most ancient and central of Paris locations.

This is neither the tourists’ Notre Dame, nor Victor Hugo’s one. It doesn’t show the classic, monumental side of Notre Dame we all know. But it’s a precious remnant of the site’s rich history. If only Hugo had been alive when they tried building that car park; I have a feeling Quasimodo would have felt quite at home in this curious, shadowy, mysterious place.

Xx La muséophile

La Crypte Archéologique du Parvis Notre Dame
7 place Jean-Paul II, Parvis Notre-Dame 75004 (métro Cité)
Museum homepage

Full rate : 6 euros
Reduced rate: 4.5 euros

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Closed Monday

Musée de la Marine

Tags

, , ,

I hate a lot of things that people love.

For one, I’m no fan of summer. I hate the heat and the humidity. I hate getting sunburned (thanks, English skin) and braving traffic in my little car, born in 1986, which has not been blessed with air conditioning since the late 90s. Fireplaces, chilly walks, pea coats, hot chocolate, woolly socks… I’m a winter girl at heart.

Another thing I simply cannot force myself to like is rides. I’ve been bungee jumping, I’d go sky diving and I’m not afraid of heights, but carnival rides make me tremble in my boots. Why on earth would anybody want to feel like they were going to be sick? Even more disturbing: why on earth would anybody want to feel like they were hurtling to their death?

Most people are baffled by my aversion to summer and rollercoasters. But what frustrates them most is my dislike, nay fear, of the sea.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a completely failed Australian. On the rare days I decide to embrace summer, I’ll happily laze at the beach and dabble in the shallows. But any water deeper than I can stand in terrifies me. Indeed, being trapped in a submarine (or having to enter one at all) is my greatest fear, after being swallowed by a sinkhole or eaten by a Great White Shark (again, sea). So it was with some trepidation that I made my way to the Musée de la Marine, or Maritime Museum, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

However, it turns out I very much enjoy the sea when I’m just learning about it and am not actually in it. The pleasant Musée de la Marine admirably covers all things seafaring. There are model ships, majestic oil paintings of ocean scenes, centuries-old compasses, tributes to famous explorers like Columbus and Laperouse, and a fair amount of navy paraphernalia. There was also a lot of material dedicated to ocean liners. While travelling on a cruise ship sounds like my own personal hell, I did love some of the memorabilia collected from the Golden Age of transatlantic travel, in particular this splendid “transatlantic suitcase”:

“Transatlantic” seems like a terribly specific purpose for a suitcase, but what do I know about such matters? I’d be too afraid to put one to use.

Xx La muséophile

Le Musée national de la Marine

17 place du Trocadéro 75016 (métro Trocadéro)

Museum homepage

Full rate : 8.5 euros
Reduced rate: 6 euros

Opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 11am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 7pm
Closed Tuesday

Wheelchair accessible

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 148 other followers