When you’ve lived in Paris for a little while, when the city starts to feels less like a holiday destination and more like a second home, you develop connections with small and unexpected things. It might be a particular metro station with an understated deco style that makes you feel as though you’re being transported back in time. It might be a specific boulangerie that looks like any of the hundreds of other corner bakeries in the city, but where they make the most perfectly fluffy, sugar crystal-encrusted chouquettes imaginable. It might be an unassuming brasserie near home where you routinely stop for a coffee, picking the same corner seat with the street view every time. I might be a tiny little second-hand bookshop, sporting its fair share of dust, where you find a 2-Euro paperback gem every time you rummage through its shelves. Or perhaps it’s a street.
In the way that many Parisians keep a carnet d’adresses, a personally-curated little notebook of shopping, dining or other destinations they love and recommend, I have a carnet de rues. Readers have heard me wax lyrical about the rue Saint-Dominique, the rue Cler and the rue Vieille du Temple before. But today, I’m turning my attention to the rue de Grenelle and its chic museum treasures.
Running perpendicular to the equally-gorgeous Saint Germain street, la rue du Bac, one minute’s walk from the metro stop of the same name, the rue de Grenelle holds a special place in my Paris memories. It was there that I shacked up with a dear Aussie friend for a week, when I first moved to Paris by myself in early 2011. I may not have pleasant memories of the frantic experience of trying to find somewhere to live, but my friend’s lovely apartment, with its exposed beams and view onto a tranquil courtyard, was a quiet haven during those rushed and stressful hunting days. Even after I found my own little stomping ground in the 15th arrondissement, I returned often to la copine australienne’s rue de Grenelle flat, to eat cheese, drink wine and share stories about our Paris lives.
But the rue de Grenelle isn’t just special for my personal memories. For this narrow, impossibly-pretty street is also home to a brilliant museum: le Musée Maillol. Its entrance tucked back from the street in a gravel courtyard, the Maillol is a compact but charming museum and temporary exhibition space. There, you will find a rotating calendar of cultural treasures. When I first visited, a Renaissance art exhibition was showing. It also boasts an excellent permanent collection, with works by Aristide Maillol himself, an accomplished modernist sculptor, and a number of other beautiful pieces from artists like Cézanne, Matisse, Degas and others.
Open to all kinds of cultural and artistic shows, the Maillol reflects what I love so much about Paris: its elegance, its cultural richness and its many changing faces. Which, in my opinion, makes the rue de Grenelle a very worthy entry in my carnet de rues, indeed.