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New Year's Resolution: Visit Paris's Smaller Museums

If you only have a few days in Paris, you might only have the opportunity to visit one or two museums at the most. If it’s your first trip to Paris, the ‘can’t miss’ museums like the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay or the Rodin Museum may be at the top of your list, but if you have the luxury of a few extra days in Paris, there are dozens of smaller museums well worth the detour.
My New Year’s resolution is to visit some of those museums I’ve been ‘meaning to visit’, the ones I intend to visited when the leaky ceiling was finally fixed.
The variety of museums is boundless ranging from The ‘Musee de Contrefacon’ the ‘Counterfeit Museum’ to the Smoker’s Museum, the Wine Museum and the Erotic Museum.
I like little museums. Private museums often are the inspiration of one person’s passion. Passion for an object leads to collecting. And collecting eventually leads to the desire to share one’s treasure with others. The museum becomes an extension of one’s personality – so visiting a private museum is something like taking a walk through another person’s soul.
No matter how banal or mundane a subject may seem at first glance, one person’s passion turns the banal into a myriad of facets. Show me a boring museum and I’ll bet the museum was mandated out of obligation and managed out of obligation. In order for a museum to thrill its visitors, a museum must be born from one person or one group’s passion.
The Counterfeit or Forgery museum was inaugurated in 1951 and conceived by the Manufacturing Union to combat ‘knock offs’. Clearly, the business in fabricating ‘knock offs’ has multiplied since the museums inception – all the more reason to learn something about the multiple ways you can get fooled into buying a phoney designer handbag.
According to the counterfeit specialists, there are three ways you can limit your chances of getting stuck with a knock-off. Don’t expect to buy a designer handbag at an outdoor market. If the price is too good to be true, that’s because it isn’t the real thing. The final detail is to check out the packaging. A luxury product will have luxury packaging. Make sure all the components are there to know you have the real thing. The most sure-proof way to know you’ve bought an original Chanel, for example, is to buy it direct from the authorized Chanel boutique. If you’re in Paris, this is easy. By the way, there’s another good reason to buy the real product and not a ‘knock-off’. Carrying a counterfeit handbag around Paris – is actually illegal. You could end up being fined. More European cities are enforcing this law, especially Venice.I asked the tourist bureau what the fine would be for wandering around Paris with your ‘knock-off’ Louis Vuitton handbag – they never answered me on that one. But as soon as I find out – I’ll let you know.
Counterfeiting is not a new art – it goes back to the days of the Romans. Just about everything that one covets – diamonds, rubies, sapphires, currency, famous paintings, have been the challenge for counterfeiters. In a world where it’s often difficult to separate the gold from the gilt, it never hurts to equip yourself with a little knowledge.
The Musee de la Contrefacon
16 Rue de la Faisanderie
Metro: Dauphine
RER: Hoche
75116 Paris
Tel. 01 56 26 14 00
Entrance fee: 2.50 Euros
Free admission for journalists and kids under 12.
Open Tuesday through Sunday 2 pm to 5:30 pm
Closed Mondays.
Guided group tours available on reservation.