In preparation for our design sojourn to Maison & Objet in January we’ve combed through the best places to stay and play in Paris. To complement the days spent at Maison & Objet, we’ve curated the key locations to live like a local, the must-visit arts and design outposts and of course where to get a taste of that signature Parisian chic style.
We’ll save the trouble and assume you’ve already visited the Louvre, Paris’s best known museum. If not, try visiting on the later-opening days to avoid the crowds, or first thing in the morning, or avoid the most touristy areas (Mona Lisa can wait). We suggest heading straight to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Rohan and Marsan wings of the Louvre instead. With the mission statement “to keep alive in France the culture of the arts which seek to make useful things beautiful” it is a comprehensive dip into France’s contemporary design history, industry and culture.
From pieces going back all the way to the 13th century to works across the Art Nouveau, Art Déco and modern movements, the collection includes furniture, tableware, carpets and even a series of ‘period rooms’ where notable French personalities throughout time have been recreated down to the tiniest detail.
Musée d’Orsay is another must, if for its architecture alone. Housed in a Beaux-Arts building that was a railway station in its previous life, the museum is a treasure trove of impressionist art – the largest in the world, in fact. You’ll want to set a good few hours aside to take in the wealth of works from greats like Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Van Gogh – just to name a few. The beauty of the museum should make it easy for you to justify – all the grand proportions and sprawling marble make it very easy to get lost in this space.
The Centre Pompidou was certainly divisive on its opening with its bold industrial style and exoskeleton stylings – but it’s certainly proved itself an integral part of the city’s cultural scene since then. Home to a vast public library, a centre for music and acoustic research and the Musée National d’Art Moderne (the largest modern art museum in Europe) it is a hive of creative energy.
Take a more relaxed turn with the Musée Rodin, a stately private mansion cum gallery and collection of all things Auguste Rodin. The famous sculptor donated his complete collection on the proviso his former workshop, the Hôtel Biron became a museum. Consequently you’ll be able to wander through the Parisian rocaille architecture as you take in famous works like The Thinker or Rodin’s own personal art collection (including works from many famous impressionist artists). We recommend heading on a day warm enough to get outside and explore the extensive manicured gardens.
Another famous artist with an archive of their own, the Musée National Picasso is a comprehensive look into the life and work of Picasso. In his old stomping ground of the Marais, discover pieces for every period of Picasso’s life – and let us tell you, his artistic evolution is something to inspire. As with the Musée Rodin, the museum also houses Picasso’s personal art collection.
If you’re well acquainted with the greats of the Parisian gallery scene, why not head somewhere a little more contemporary. The Galerie Chantal Crousel has developed a strong reputation for showing early-career contemporary artists. With alumni that includes Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer and Richard Prince it’s clear she has an eye for the next big thing – why not get ahead of it too?
Stare up at the arresting, futuristic Frank Gehry design of the Foundation Louis Vuitton and you’ll get a taste of where the French gallery scene is heading. The cultural centre is sponsored by LVMH but run as a seperate non-profit entity, intended as a symbol of LVMH’s passion for arts and culture. The collection features key works owned by LVMH as well as commissioned pieces by Ellsworth Kelly, Olafur Eliasson and Adrián Villar Rojas, making for a thoroughly sensory experience as an intriguing addition to the Paris museum scene.