Musée Carnavalet

This is the part where my blog turns into the internet equivalent of sitting though someone’s boring vacation photos. At least you always have the option of going somewhere else.

Today was going to be an exploration of the Third Arrondisement, but that turned out to be too ambitious. And it was raining. It rains a lot here in December, or to be more precise, it drizzles. Everything is wet all the time. Today though was actual rain.


That building on the right is the oldest private home in Paris. L’Auberge Nicolas Flamal built in 1407. The ground floor is a restaurant. To look at it, I would have expected it to be unaffordable, but it’s not. Pricey, but not absurdly so.


First stop this morning, La Musée Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris. It contains almost exclusively paintings, though there are a few artifacts here and there.

Though ostensibly a museum of the history of Paris, the bulk of the collection only goes back to about the sixteenth century, or would if all the galleries were open. (There is a gallery of middle ages stuff, but like the banks here, the various galleries in the museum will just close for a few hours in the middle of the day. The rest remain open – they just clear out a section of the museum and cordon it off with a sign that says closed 12h45-14h30, or some such. When I was there the middle ages one was closed until later. At any rate, there’s a whole museum of the middle ages on the left bank that I’ll get around to eventually.) At present, the 16th and 17th galleries are under renovation, so that really only leaves the 18th and 19th centuries. And the galleries covering the French Revolution are likewise closed. But France managed to cram enough history into the nineteenth century—three republics, two empires, the last of the Bourbon monarchies and the short-lived one of  Orleans, various uprisings and revolutions and a war with Prussia—that there’s no want of subject matter.


Oddly, the museum begins with an assortment of old signage from various shops – locksmiths, bakeries, wine merchants, hat-makers, etc. Three or four large rooms of signage. Most quite intricately carved in wood or wrought in iron. Very nice.


Henri IV, the first king of the House of Bourbon, graces one of the courtyards.


Then there’s a lot of this sort of stuff – chandeliers and mirrors and gilded moulding. There’s also, as already mentioned, a ton of paintings, some 2600 of them allegedly, though I didn’t really take many photos. A lot of them are available on the Carnevalet website, should you care to see them.


Marcel Proust’s furniture. Evidently he did his writing in bed. En recherche du temps perdu was written in that bed on the right. That’s his father in the portrait above the desk.

Nice museum. A bit heavy on portraiture, but well worth a visit. And its free.

Following the Carnavalet, an unsuccessful attempt to find a moderately priced restaurant with available seating anywhere in Le Marais, and the the house of Victor Hugo. Next post.


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