January is when you start of the new year by resolving to thow out papers and sort through files you haven’t looked through since (would you believe 1998). So I came across Sarah Turnbull’s article:
“Masterpieces on a manageable scale” written for Qantas Inflight Magazine ‘The Australian Way’, March 1998. Since then Sarah Turnbull is well known for her delectable take on living the Parisian dream: Almost French.
I’m glad I saved this article – even if it’s taken me a few years to get around to reading it!
Turnbull comes to the conclusion that when it comes to museums in Paris, bigger is not necessarily better – or the best choice for visitors -depending on your time frame and your stamina. Here were the her top choices for museums that may not share the same notoriety as the ‘biggies’ but may leave you indelible impressions:
1. Jacquemart Andre. 8eme. 158 Blvd. Haussmann. Metro: Miromesnil. Turnbull reminds us in her description of this private townhouse turned museum that the former owners Edouard Andre and Nelie Jacquemart harbored several Rembrandts and Van Dycks in their trove. Even though I have visited the Jacquemart Andre museum, after reading Turnball’s inventory of its paintings and sculpture, it makes me want to go back again for second look.
This holds true also for another of her choices.
2. Nissim Cammondo Museum also in the 8eme at 63, rue Monceau. Metro: Villiers. In this museum, you feel either as if you’ve been invited to a friend’s very rich relative’s home for afternoon chocolate. It was a wealthy family, the Cammondos who lived here and left behind their home as a memorial to their son, an aviator, who was killed during World War 1.
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3. The Rodin Museum. 77, rue de Varenne. Metro: Varenne. I agree with Turnbull that the Rodin museum is a can’t miss, but you must choose your time to visit carefully. In the summer months, the Rodin museum does get a lot of traffic. If you come in the summer or fall, plan on spending more time in the garden where you can enjoy Rodin’s sculpture in a leafy green framework. Save the inside for a day when there are fewer visitors i.e. wait till the winter months.
4. The Eugene Delacroix Museum, 6 rue de Furstenberg, 6eme. Metro: St. Germain des Pres. Okay, if you’re a Delacroix fan, this is fine, but after one visit, I can’t say I was really impressed with this museum. Maybe it’s the fact that as Turnbull mentions, none of his most celebrated works can be found here. For me, it is more exciting to see his mural at St. Sulpice (the first chapel on your right when you enter St. Sulpice). His work needs to be seen spanning walls or splashed across ceilings. His working conditions were claustrophic in comparison to his vision. But it is true the Furstenberg square is a quiet respite from Blvd St. Germain. Have a sandwich on the square and enjoy the view the way Delacroix did.
Turnbull also includes:
The Maillol Museum, 61 rue de Grenelle, 7eme, Metro: Rue du Bac.
The Bourdelle Museum, 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, Metro: Falguiere
and last, but not least,
The Musee d’Erotisme, Blvd. de Clichy, Metro: Blanche or Pigalle
Of these three museums, I’ve gone to the Musee d’Erotisme which is definitely worth the price of admission – if only to be reminded that nothing’s new under the sun. Some things just never get boring – no matter HOW many times.
Although I have yet to visit the Maillol Museum, in a way every time we walk through the Tuileries, it’s a mini museum visit since Maillol statues fan out from the Carrousel du Louvre entrance to the gardens. Although I haven’t been able to find any copies of Turnbull’s story on the internet (to provide you with a link) the next best thing might be reading her book Almost French – or if you clean out your file cabinets you, too, may have an old copy of the Australian Way.