Ooo La La, Paris, the city of love, lights and museums. With gems like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie it is easy to overlook the other fabulous 130 odd museums and monuments on offer.
Last visit to Paris I challenged myself to discover 5 gorgeous alternatives where travellers can experience Paris at its best and also escape the tourist mayhem. Here is what I found:
1. Le Grande Musée du Parfum
France is widely renowned as a fragrance capital and what better way to kick off your Parisian adventure than with an experience around the sense of smell. Set inside a beautiful private mansion (formerly home to Christian Lacroix’s maison de couture), this is one of the first scent-centric attraction of its kind in the world. Be prepared to be taken on a multi-sensory journey through the history and science of scent and perfume making, featuring a host of hi-tech graphics, videos and sound and smell installations. Find out how smell is linked to memory, and in the process your nose will be in for a treat starting with the woody pungency of kyphi and ending in evocative smells – cinnamon, citrus, rose and all things nice.
73 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore
2. Musée National du Moyen Age (Cluny Museum)
This lovely intimate medieval museum (often known simply as Cluny) is appropriately housed in a gothic town house complete with foliate Gothic doorways, hexagonal staircase and a vaulted chapel. Its built atop the substantial remains of a Roman bath complex so you get to experience two periods of history for the price of one. The museum’s jewel in the crown is the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle, revered for the enigmatic allegorical symbolism and its scrumptious colours. What makes it even more special is that you can get up close and spend as long as you want admiring what is truly one of the classic artworks of medieval France. Other treasurers include carved capitals, alabasters and altarpieces, enamel caskets and fragile secular items like combs and leather shows. The grounds mimic medieval aromatic and medicinal gardens, providing a pleasant escape from the hustle and bushel of Paris.
6 place Paul-Painlevé, 75005 Paris
3. Musée Marmottan- Monet
Paris and Monet go hand in hand, and if you are a fan then do not miss this unassuming, museum tucked away in an old Parisian mansion on the city’s posh western edge. There is a wonderful array of Empire furniture and the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet, most of them donated by the artist’s family. Among the paintings are Monet’s impressions, Soleil Levant which gave its name to impressionism. Other impressionist painters are also on display including Pissarro, Renoir, Manet and Degas. A real joy, made all the more enjoyable by being able to spend time with the paintings without being jostled by crowds.
2 rue Louis-Boilly, 75016 Paris
It’s not particularly well known and many Parisians have not even been there but Sainte- Chapelle is hands down my favourite church in Paris. It is tucked away in the middle of the court of the Palais de Justice, currently home to courtrooms and court registries. As a result, you have to go through security checks and have your bag checked before you can entre.
Originally Sainte Chappelle was the private church of the French kings and it is nothing short of magical. The upper chapel dominated by a huge glass mosaic is particularly mesmerising. The light shines through the panes illuminating more than a thousand scenes from the Bible in rich and vibrant colours.
8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001
5. Musee Jacqemart-Andre
This lesser known gem on the Paris art scene sweeps you back to La Belle Époque, a time of parties and finesse. The art is breath-taking and includes sculptures, paintings and murals. There almost a voyeuristic element to the visit, like you’ve popped in while the owners are away and you’ve been given carte blanche to wander at will, even into the couple’s private apartments and their celebrated winter garden, a grand marble courtyard filed with exotic potted plants. And afterwards, stop for tea and cake at the lovely tea salon or even a table on the terrace, and imagine if this was yours …..
158 Boulevard Haussmann 75008
If your feet are itching to explore Paris then give us an ahoy at http://travelyourway.com.au/contact-us/. We’d love to help you plan your stay.
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