Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Paris In July: Four Smaller Museums

There's no shortage of museums in Paris. Many are a brand unto themselves: The Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Carnavelet, to name several. They attract large numbers and long lines and while their offerings are splendid and perhaps not to be missed, sometimes a smaller, more "doable" museum is just the ticket.

These four examples are all targeted to special interests but even the general tourist might find something new and intriguing during a visit.

Maison de Victor Hugo

One of the most delightful things about the Victor Hugo museum is that it is located in one of my personal favorite of Parisian spots, the Place des Vosges. Pick up your baguette and cheese or some other delightful delicacy from the boulangerie and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds before visiting this small and fascinating museum, one of the former homes of Victor Hugo, whose works include "Les Misserables" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The museum combines both the characteristics of a typical museum -- exhibits of letters, paintings and books, all telling a story of the writer -- with his rooms and furnishings. Along the way, with the well-written audio tour, one learns about his personal life as husband, father, lover and statesman.

Certainly the fact that his funeral brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets indicates his popularity at the time. That popularity has lingered on stages and film screens around the world.

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme (Museum of Art and of Jewish History)

 This small museum is located in the Marais, about eight blocks north of BHV and Hotel deVille on Rue du Temple, just past Rue Rambuteau. No photos were allowed within, which is a pity because both the exhibition on the day of my visit and the permanent collection were fascinating.

Included you will find not only the scheduled special exhibit but items and artifacts pertaining to the lives of Jews in Paris throughout the city's history and the history of Jewish communities in France, Europe and North Africa. Included is work by Chagall and Modigliani and the archives of the Dreyfus affair. I found particularly poignant an exterior wall of names from those who were victims of the Holocaust.

Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra National de Paris (Opera Garnier)

Many visit the Paris Opera to walk down its grand staircases and see the magnificent auditorium with its Chagall ceiling. Of course, this is a wonderful experience but for the opera and ballet fan, the museum itself is a lovely treat.

This includes the library and archives of the Paris opera along with numerous related museum exhibits and paintings related to the topic. You'll see costumes, scene design models and renderings, books and musical scores. (Check with the library about access to these materials on days when the museum is closed). Special exhibits may highlight a special occasion or composer. (An exhibit about Jules Massinet was featured during our visit.)

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

This fourth is not really a museum, but it is a powerful place to visit to those who feel a strong connection to the Holocaust. It is a memorial, a place of contemplation, of memory.

Located behind Notre Dame, underground on the Seine, this is a memorial to the 200,000 people who were deported from Vichy to concentration camps during World War II. Stark, simple, poignant, it is a compelling reminder of the damage to humanity when a dictator or political group feels that a civilization and group of people must be eliminated, simply for who they are and what they believe. (If one is looking at the east end of Ile de la Citie from the Seine, you will see a small, barred window on the point of the island. This is the only light from outside that enters the memorial.)

Narrow and claustrophobic, the memorial includes inscriptions as well as ashes from the crematoriums. The crystal room (you view it from the end) has 200,000 lighted crystals for those deported from France in World War II. It is not everyone's cup of tea. But I found it incredibly moving.

And, given the state of things in the Middle East these days, it may well hit all too close to home.

In General

There are many other small museums in this remarkable city. They highlight specific artists, dolls and toys, arts and crafts, advertising -- there might be a museum for any topic! Check to see if the ones you want to visit are included on the museum pass for discounts and by-passing lines.

This post is part of "Paris In July." For more posts related to books, travel, movies and more from France, visit THIS LINK. 

Tamara may post participants on her sidebar or in the post at the top of her blog which is Thyme for Tea.One way or the other you'll find boatloads of French fun!


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Jeanie, PARIS in its entire existence is a museum! When I was there, it was the tail end of my residence in France; my husband met up with me in the South and after we exhausted that, our trip to Paris was wondrous but we were so tired. But what I did see only whetted my appetite for more, and the good thing is is that you can always hope to find something old, ancient but NEW to you each time you go to PARIS.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Ah, a Paris post! This makes my heart happy! I have been to the 1st and 4th museum on this list, but not the others. There are so many museums to see in Paris! I went to quite a few on my first 2 trips but during my last trip, I only went to the last museum on this list, and only because I accidentally stumbled upon it while walking around.

I'll have to check out posts others are doing as part of this post series!!

shoreacres said...

What a lovely post. I tend toward small in most things. Large stores, big restaurants, huge events with even larger crowds -- they're just too much. I'd rather shop in a boutique, buy from a small local bakery, and take my museums and such in smaller chunks.

Of course, it's always possible to break a "big" city down into neighborhoods, or a special focus. For me, at least, it helps to keep from being overwhelmed by that embarassment of riches that such places provide.

A lovely post -- and it is July, isn't it!

21 Wits said...

What a wonderful post, it's almost as good as being there too. Lovely pictures.

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, I enjoyed them all.
When I was in Paris for 2 weeks in 1969, I visited the Louvre, which wasn't crowded at all. There were no long lines. I guess it's because it was in November and quite cold and rainy.

Gwen said...

fabulous photos! Who doesn't love Paris?!

~*~Patty S said...

Thank you for this brilliant museum sampler and more dear Jeanie!
Paris anytime seems oh so tempting to me.
Happy July to you.

Arti said...

Definitely will explore Paris 'off the beaten tracks' the next time i go there, although I don't think not many tracks are hidden and not been trodden upon in Pairs. But for the common tourist from North America, these are definitely great ideas apart from the long line-ups at the Louvre and Museé d'Orsay. Your recommendations and photos are most helpful. Thanks for a wonderful Paris in July post. I'm re-watching My Old Lady and will write up a review hopefully before I leave town again. ;)

Barb said...

Enjoyed your museum tour, Jeanie. Hope you're having fun at the lake!

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

I love the home of Victor Hugo & have been many times. In fact I have been to all but the second one I must do that next time. You are so right about the smaller museums of Paris. It is so much fun to explore them!

Victoria Zigler said...

The museums are one of the reasons I'd love to visit Paris one day.

Mae Travels said...

Your choice of interesting museums is really great! Paris has so much to offer that visitors often end up only seeing the big, famous, crowded ones. And these are indeed remarkable (the Louvre, Orsay, Pompidou, Picasso, Cluny, and maybe one or two other giants). As you demonstrate... so many others. and so little time!

Nadia said...

I loved your post and the photos you included. Makes me almost feel as if I were there. I would definitely love the Hugo museum - looks amazing! I just love that you posted on these museums that no one else seems to ever mention - thanks so much!

Marilyn Miller said...

Thanks for the museum tips. Planning on a couple days in Paris next May this post gets me thinking what I might want to see.

Bellezza said...

Yours is the first Paris in July post I've read, and I loved every photo! Though I've been to Paris (and other parts of France) quite often in my life, I've not seen all the museums you showed us, and I especially didn't know of the one about the deportation. So your post was beautiful, and informative, as always.

Unknown said...

"The Marmalade Gypsy" has been included in our Sites To See #447. Be assured that we hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

cj Schlottman said...

Hello, my blog was also added to Sites to See #447. I'm reading as many of the others as I can, and I'm delighted to find you! I love Paris, everything about it. One of my favorite small museums is Musee Marmottan Monet. It's tucked away at 2, rue Louis Boilly in the 16th arrondissement. It's certainly worth finding!

Molly said...

I LOVE the museum pass - and while I have yet to visit the museums you have showcased here, it is all the more reason to return to my beloved Paris! Thank you for the great suggestions.

Linda said...

Fascinating post. Thank you so much for sharing.

Louise said...

Fabulous post! What a great kickoff for Paris in July. And I fully agree that the small museums add something special to every Paris visit. I've been to three of your four highlighted museums- I haven't had the chance to see the Jewish Museum yet. I love the Opera Garnier, it is one of my very favourite places to go in Paris- I've been many times and will go each time I go to Paris.

Brona said...

I do so hope I get to Paris again one day to visit all these wonderful
Museums Paris in July-er's are highlighter.

The Hugo house and holocaust memorials sound particularly interesting.

Tamara said...

We loved the Victor Hugo Gallery but haven't been to la maison. Thank you for mentioning it here. We've been to the others except the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, I think that these two are musts for the next trip...

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Thank you for sharing these museums with us, Jeanie. It's a powerful experience to just see photos from the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation.

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