Considering it’s located smack bang in the middle of one of the city’s most resplendent spots, just inside the Tuileries gardens and next to the Place de la Concorde, le Musée du jeu de paume is refreshingly understated amidst the glitz and monuments.
Taking its name from the hilariously complicated precedent to modern tennis, “royal tennis”, and from the Serment du jeu de paume which kickstarted the Revolution, it is perhaps surprising that the museum is dedicated not to revolutionary history, nor to fancy bourgeois sports, but to the art of photography.
The museum is an airy, minimalist space and displays only temporary exhibits. When I visited in June 2011, the key collection shown was a retrospective on the beautiful and sensitive work of South African photographer Santu Mofokeng.
Santu Mofokeng, Chinese Temple, Ho Chi Minh City, 1998
While I would never in my right mind advise anybody to see another museum on the same day as the neighbouring giant Le Louvre (a labyrinth that demands a lifetime to fathom), there are plenty of other spots close by that would make for a great museum afternoon. From the Jeu de paume, amble across the gardens to the Orangerie for some Monet waterlilies* then, if you’re feeling ambitious, on to the Musée de la mode et textile et des arts décoratifs (the Fashion and Decorative Arts Museums) on the rue de Rivoli. Photography, Impressionism and Design? Sublime.