Dreaming of strolling around Le Marais or Montmartre and feasting your eyes on fine art? Susie Marquis shares her pick of the must-see major art exhibitions on show in the French capital until January 2022, and six of the best luxury apartments to rent in Paris…
When it comes to getting your fix of fine art, few cities can compete with the choice of galleries in Paris. If you’re based in England and longing to take a trip abroad that doesn’t involve too much stress, I highly recommend a holiday in Paris and taking the Eurostar. Eager to return to this magical city, I finally took the plunge just last week, traveling both ways with Eurostar, and was pleasantly surprised at how relatively easy it was. For a start, at both ends of the trip, there weren’t huge queues, and all the red tape required is laid out clearly on the Eurostar website. The best plus was that all the checks and forms required are only done at your departure, and when you arrive in Paris (or back to London), you can just walk straight through without having to be checked again. It was a wonderful break and just being out walking in beautiful Paris lifted the spirits.
Situated just a three-minute walk from the Sacré Coeur, the charming Musée de Montmartre in rue Cortot has a fascinating history and was originally a meeting place for artists, including Auguste Renoir and Raoul Dufy. The current exhibition here is a tribute to the latter who moved from rue Cortot to nearby 5 impasse Guelma in 1911, where a great number of his masterpieces were produced, some of which are featured in the exhibition. The 5 impasse Guelma property was also shared at various times by artists Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo, Gino Severini, and Georges Braque.
Since 2011, with new management, the museum has been restored, and the exhibition space extended, but it still retains its historic atmosphere and charm. I loved this small, intimate exhibition, and highly recommend a visit to the Musée de Montmartre generally. There's also a permanent exhibition representing the generation of artists who came to Montmartre in the early years of the 20th century. Visitors can also enjoy the Renoir gardens, which overlook Montmartre’s vineyards.
The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at weekends. The three gardens which surround the museum are also accessible with your entrance ticket. Tickets can also be bought for a guided tour of the Renoir Gardens and/or a guided vineyard and museum visit.
Musée de Montmartre,12 rue Cortot, 75018. Until January 2, 2022.
For a totally different experience, I also returned to the Atelier des Lumières, where I had enjoyed two previous exhibitions. A huge space within a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement, the Atelier des Lumières is known for its unique immersive exhibitions, where you can choose to wander around, or just sit on one of the few seats (or on the floor) and watch Dali’s famous illuminated moving images on the 10-metre-high walls.
The first 40 minutes of the exhibition are focused on Dali, featuring enormous surrealist landscapes of his paintings, to the sounds of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. It is followed by a shorter 10-minute exhibition and tribute to Gaudí, who was one of Dalí’s sources of inspiration. His modernist buildings, now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are displayed here as huge, brightly coloured buildings. The current exhibition is a unique, impressive, and inspiring art experience!
Atelier des Lumières,38 rue Saint Maur 75 011. Until January 2, 2022.
The Musée Carnavalet in the heart of the Marais re-opened on May 29, 2021, after over four years of renovations, and offers the perfect excuse to hone up on the history of the French capital. Created in 1880, it’s one of the oldest museums in Paris. Beautifully laid out in over 100 rooms, the permanent collection here traces the history of Paris, dating from the prehistoric period to the present day. The museum also hosts a series of temporary exhibits highlighting various periods and aspects of Parisian history. Moreover, entrance here is free of charge.
Musée Carnavalet, 23, rue de Sévigné, 75003.
For its first exhibition after reopening, the Musée Carnavalet is teaming up with the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation to highlight the importance of Paris in the life and work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the greatest French photographers of the 20th century. The exhibition explores the links forged by the artist with Paris, where he has lived and worked. As well as exploring the shops on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, after our visit to the Musée Carnavalet, we had lunch at Grand Coeur restaurant (41 rue du Temple), just 10 minutes walk from the museum – and highly recommend it!
Temporary exhibition at the Musée Carnavalet. Until Sunday, October 31, 2021.
Picasso – Rodin Exhibitions
The Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin have teamed up to produce a unique double-exhibition about Picasso and Rodin, focusing on the bonds between the two artists in their own Parisian museums. The exhibition displays comparisons of the expressionist works of Rodin (1840-1917) and the cubist works of Picasso (1881-1973), which each had a profound and lasting impact on the art of their time and that of the generations to come. The exhibition does not aim to show what Picasso borrowed from Rodin, but rather to explore how elements of Rodin’s oeuvre merged with periods in Picasso’s artistic career. This two-part exhibition, featuring over 500 works, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, archival documents, and photographs, offers a new take on the intensely creative careers of two pioneering artists.
Musée National Picasso, 5, rue de Thorigny, 75003 and Musée Rodin, 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007. Until January 2, 2022).
Recommended apartments to rent in Paris
Situated opposite the Musée d'Orsay, the stunning three-bedroom Musée d’Orsayapartment is located on the Left Bank, just across the river from the Tuileries Gardens and Louvre Museum – and within easy reach of many wonderful boutiques, bars, cafés, and restaurants.
Chic one-bedroom apartment Rue de Sévigné is perfect for a couple wanting to be at the heart of the beautiful and historic Marais neighbourhood, with its delightful old buildings. The Marais is also home to the beautiful Place des Vosges, and many museums, including the Picasso and Carnavalet Museums.
Pont Marie is a charming two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment on the idyllic Ile Saint Louis. You’ll be within an easy walk from the Marais area on the Right Bank. The Île de la Cité, with the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral, is just a few minutes' walk away, and the St. Germain area is also close by.
Situated in an authentic Marais location, with its picturesque narrow streets, dating back to the 17th century, the two-bedroom apartment Rue Elzévir is just steps from the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, which stretches from near the Pompidou Centre to the Place des Vosges, and lined with numerous fashion boutiques, cafés and restaurants. You’ll also be just a short walk from both the Musée Picasso and the Musée Carnavalet.
Apartment Bon Marché, a newly renovated ground floor three-bedroom apartment in a quiet street just behind the gardens of Matignon (the residence of the Prime Minister), is a short stroll away from the famous department store, the Bon Marché. It’s also close to the luxury food hall at La Grande Épicerie at the Bon Marché, and a great choice of boutiques and restaurants, as well as the Rodin Museum.
A stunning four-bedroom apartment situated directly on the gardens of the historic Palais Royal, Palais Royal Gardens is just a short walk across the beautiful gardens to the Louvre Museum, St. Germain, Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Gardens and Place Vendome. The apartment is in an elegant Parisian building that is part of the original Palais Royal, dating back to the 17th century.
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