The Museums of Le Marais
29 November, 2016
When thinking of museums to visit in Paris, the first thing that springs to mind are the great temples of art, notably the Louvre, epitomised by the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, the Orsay Museum, featuring a stunning collection of Romanticism and Impressionism that will delight any art lover, and the Pompidou Centre, with one of the most comprehensive modern and contemporary art collections in the world.
However, apart from those grand institutions, Paris also has other venues where, in addition to art, you can discover the life and times of other personages associated with the city, or simply enjoy the works of private collections displayed in fabulous exhibition halls.
One of the trendiest districts of late is Le Marais, situated in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the right bank of the Seine. It boasts numerous venues where in some cases you can enjoy a different, less crowded and at once rewarding exhibition experience. Here, then, is our selection of some of the museums you should make a point of visiting while touring this colourful, cosmopolitan district.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo is the first protagonist in our selection as he is privileged to have his own museum in what is the nerve centre of Le Marais, the Place des Vosges. From 1832 to 1848, Victor Hugo lived on the third floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, where he wrote most of Les Misérables. Currently a museum, where visitors can gain greater insight into this essential figure of French literature.
Another great name, this time of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, makes up our second option. The Musée Picasso, housed in the Hôtel Salé, has a large collection of 200 paintings, 100 sculptures – this is the most prominent section in the museum – and ceramics, and 3,000 drawings and engravings covering all periods. It also features the painter’s own art collection, with works by Paul Cézanne and Henri Rousseau, among others.
What started out as a monument to the “Unknown Jewish Martyr” grew into the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, one of the largest Holocaust documentation centres in Europe. The Hebrew word shoah, which means “catastrophe”, is used to designate the Holocaust. The entrance to the building is inscribed with the names of the 76,000 Jews that were deported from France to the Nazi concentration camps.
Museum of Jewish Art and History
Situated in Le Marais is the Jewish quarter, known locally as the Pletzl (meaning “square” in Yiddish). It is worth strolling around the streets in the area and enjoying the sight of the colourful shops. While in this quarter, we recommend a visit to the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, located at 71 Rue du Temple, as it houses the Museum of Jewish Art and History, where you can learn all about the history of the Jewish communities of France, Europe and North Africa, from the Middle Ages until the present.
Housed in the Hôtel Donon, the Cognacq-Jay Museum features the 18th-century collection of artworks built up by Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Marie-Louise Jay, from 1900 to 1925. Your visit will reveal more than 1,200 works and objects collected by this couple of art collectors, the standout pieces being paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Boucher, Fragonard, Greuze and Reynolds.
Museum of Magic and Museum of Automata
The Museum of Magic reveals the secrets behind the art of magic, conjuring tricks and illusionism. On display are all manner of items used to perform magic tricks (magic wands, boxes, magic caps, etc.) and visitors are treated to live shows, too. Also housed in this building is the Museum of Automata, boasting a collection of 100 mechanical contrivances which will amaze you. Ideal for those travelling with children.
Book your Vueling to Paris, tour one of the city’s trendiest districts and venture into some of its unusual museums.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
29 November, 2016