Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Carnavalet Museum - A Hidden Gem in Paris

Paris Carnavalet Museum Plaque

Legendary attractions become famous for a reason, but Paris has a multitude of sights that you might enjoy as much as the Louvre or Eiffel Tower, if not more. Here is one you should definitely make time for.

6 Reasons to Visit a Museum You’ve Never Heard Of

Although technically a museum about the history of Paris, the Musee Carnavalet is more accurately described as an exhibition of Parisian style throughout the ages. 

Not only is it the oldest of the municipal museums, but with close to 600,000 exhibits, it has the largest overall number of collections in the city of Paris. Yet it is rarely, if ever, mentioned in lists of mandatory attractions in and around the City of Light. 

It should be, though, and here are 6 reasons why.

Paris Carnavalet Museum Front Room
1. It’s uncrowded. After braving the hordes at Versailles and the Louvre, a surplus of breathing room is always welcome. Of course, it goes without saying that there needs to be something interesting to look at. The Carnavalet is far from disappointing in that regard.

Paris Carnavalet Museum Art Nouveau Room

2. You get to see original French Art Nouveau décor up

Paris Carnavalet Museum Art Nouveau Furnishings
close and personal, in all its colorful glory. Quite frankly, it’s worth going just for that.

Paris Carnavalet Museum Crib3. There seem to be at least as many whimsical elements as historical artifacts. Yes, there is a crib fit for a prince – the son of Napoleon III, as a matter of fact. 

Paris Carnavalet Museum Bust Albert Brasseur
But there is also a lovely bust of comedic actor Albert Brasseur...

Paris Carnavalet Museum Black Cat...a home décor item suitable for an American Halloween...

Paris Carnavalet Museum Big Foot sculpture
...and an inexplicably huge foot. There is an even bigger statue of only part of a foot (mostly just the toes?!) at the Correr Museum in Venice, which is another unknown favorite that deserves more exposure. 

But what is up with these gigantic single foot statues? This existence of a hitherto unknown artistic foot fetish category is completely baffling.

Paris Carnavalet Museum Antique floorplan4. Floor Plan Porn! Original floor plans of original buildings are the absolute best clues to how people co-existed during times of a complex multi-level class system. 

They are a very rare find, but there are several hanging on the walls of the Carnavalet, and they provide an endlessly fascinating glimpse into the past.

Paris Carnavalet Museum Exterior sculpture

5. Beautiful and peaceful courtyard. After an exquisitely lingering examination of the exhibits within, you may be loath to make an abrupt re-entry into the modern world. 

Paris Carnavalet Museum Exterior courtyard

The Carnavalet gardens offer seating with statuary, greenery and marvelous architecture to gaze upon, providing a lovely environment for decompression…though you may still never really want to leave.

6. Oh, and it’s free. So you can go as often as you like, even just zip in and out to look at favorites on a whim. 

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