I have a love affair with Paris. (I know, I am not alone when I say this...)
To me, Paris is a living work of art. One walk through its maze of streets reveals ornate monuments, beautiful fountains, and famous statues at every turn. When it comes to museums, there’s truly something for everybody. While the Louve and Musee D'Orsay are must-see stops on your visit, there’s a host of under-the-radar museums that are fascinating in their own right.
Here's my list of the most memorable. From hip to quirky, adding these five artsy spots to your itinerary will give you something to remember—and talk about--for years to come.
The Most Charming Museum Nobody Visits: Musee de la Vie Romantique; 9th Arrondissement. The Museum of Romantic Life—and what a romantic life it is! Housed in an 1830s home set back from the street, this eccentric collection includes memorabilia from the romance-period writer George Sand, the paintings of Ary Scheffer, and a (a slightly odd) plaster cast of composer Chopin’s elegant little hand. Free admission, a cozy garden, and an adorable café make this a destination for Parisians and tourists alike. http://www.paris.fr/loisirs/musees-expos/musee-de-la-vie-romantique/p5851
The Strangest Museum: Also in the 9th Arrondissement is Musee Gustav Moreau. Part genius, part madman, this artist drew and painted huge canvases of haunting images from the mesmerizingly beautiful to the somewhat deranged. The art is so densely packed on the salmon-colored walls of his once Art Deco home that it’s almost overwhelming at times. A stop by this museum is one you won’t soon forget. www.musee-moreau.fr/
The Techno-Gadget Lover’s Museum: Musée des Arts et Métiers. Housed in an abandoned Priory and Abbey in the 3rd arrondissement (I bet you’ll love this place for the architecture alone), this museum is a fascinating collection of 300-plus years of scientific instruments and odd inventions. From a pair of 1860s binoculars to mechanical calculators to the first European cars and TVs, hit this curious place and you’ll discover the answer to the pesky question, “what did we do before the iphone?” http://www.arts-et-metiers.net/?lang=ang
The Quirkiest Museum: The Museum of Dolls, or Musee de la Poupee. (3rd Arrondissement). In addition to what looks conspicuously like an anatomically correct Tin Man, here you’ll find case after case of French dolls from the 1700s through to the present. Though for me it was the temporary exhibit that packed the most punch. The History of Fashion as told through Barbie and Ken dolls. From Adam and Eve (AKA naked Barbie and Ken with fig-leaves) to a swashbuckling King Louis XIV to “Jackie Kennedy” in a 1960s Chanel suit. I’ll be talking about this one for quite a while. www.museedelapoupeeparis.com/
The Most Fearless Tourist Attraction: The Catacombs, or Les Catacombes de Paris (14th Arrondissement). While it’s not exactly museum, it’s definitely home to some interesting artifacts. This quarry turned underground cemetery houses the artfully piled femurs and skulls of six million Parisians. But first having to climb down a narrow 63 foot spiral staircase, then walk through a claustrophobic nearly-mile-long corridor (to the sound of a slow but constant drip of water from the ceiling), I am not sure if it’s a monument or simply a test of your temerity. You win either way, because if you can handle it, it’s very cool. www.catacombes-de-paris.fr/english.htm
Let me know how you like them!