Saturday, May 21, 2022

What’s New in Paris, France: Artsy & Cool Things To See & Do

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Bourse de Commerce
(photo: JCarnegie)

Now that it seems COVID-safe to venture out of the house again, you’ll be amazed at all the wonderful venues in Paris that have recently been created and/or renovated:
Pinault Collection

Bourse de Commerce, 2 Rue de Viarmes;
1st arrondissement, Metro: Rivoli or Les Halles (Closed Tuesdays; Fee)

The Pinault Collection is housed in the unbelievably-magnificent Bourse de Commerce, an 18th-century, glass-domed, round, neoclassical building, reminiscent of Rome’s Pantheon. It’s located in the center of Paris in the revamped Les Halles district, near the Pompidou Centre and the Louvre.
François Pinault--founder of the global luxury group Kering which includes Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, and the owner of Christie’s auction house—has been a passionate, contemporary art collector for more than 40 years. That collection is now 10,000 diverse works by some 400 artists, both emerging and well-known including Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, and Antonio Obá.
For the past 20 years, Pinault has wanted to establish a museum in Paris to share this impressive collection with the public. The Bourse de Commerce is the
Bourse de Commerce
(photo: JCarnegie)
perfect place. The building, a former commodities exchange, has been beautifully-renovated by the fantastic, Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The Bourse is an artwork in itself with its glorious rotunda and resplendent, glass cupola. Beneath the dome, restored, 19th-century frescoes depict global trade of the past (spices and slaves). This is in contrast to the “woke,” cutting-edge artworks in the galleries below, many by Black artists.
In addition to groovy paintings and sculptures, there’s a gallery dedicated to photography. On the top floor, there’s a ritzy restaurant, Halle aux Grains. If you can’t afford that, there’s a free “water maker” that even dispenses seltzer. Also at this spot, there are chairs and benches where you can recoup and a balcony from which to admire the rotunda below. In addition to the changing exhibits and artwork on display, there are concerts, films & lectures at the museum. Pinault, a self-made billionaire, is one high-school dropout with great taste!

Hôtel de la Marine
2 place de la Concorde;
8th arrondissement, Metro: Concorde (Open: Daily, late-night Fridays; Fee)

Located on the Place de la Concorde, the newly-renovated Hôtel de la Marine (Palace of the Navy) is not only drop-dead gorgeous, it’s also really fun to visit thanks to the extremely-entertaining Audio-Guide.
(photo: Courtesy Hôtel de la Marine)

Originally built in the 18th century by King Louis XV’s top architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, it has been stunningly-renovated. The building was first the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the institution in charge of royal furnishings. Hence, there were storage areas, workshops for restorations and repairs, and a gallery, open to the public, that displayed the crown jewels and other finery. Also, the Intendant in charge, a prestigious position, had a lavish apartment here. First, Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu (1767-84), then Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray (1784-92) lived in the palace.
During the French Revolution, the Naval ministry moved in and stayed for about 200 years. Thus, it became the Hôtel de la Marine. Now, the building’s original, magnificent decor by Jacques Gondouin has been restored to its former splendor by interior designers Joseph Achkar & Michel Charrière, along with some 200 fine craftsmen, under the auspices of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
(photo: Courtesy Hôtel de la Marine)

After all this painstaking-restoration work, the palace is open as a museum that takes you back to the Garde-Meuble glory days of the late 18th century when Intendant de Ville d’Avray was in residence. The playfully-amusing Audio-Guide, “The Confidant,” has the de Ville d’Avray’s maid and valet show you around the palace, pointing out important furnishings that they have to dust or fix, along with some tidbits of gossip. Even the master and mistress of the house chime in. It’s a wonderful way to learn about the history of this magnificent monument. Before leaving, be sure to step out on the “loggia,” the long balcony that overlooks the Place de la Concorde with a view of the Obelisk and the Eiffel Tower. Afterwards, if you need refreshments, there are two fancy restaurants, Café Lapérouse & Mimosa, in the lovely courtyard.

Musée Carnavalet
23 Rue de Sévigné;
3rd arrondissement, Metro: Chemin Vert or Saint Paul (Closed Mondays; Free; fee for special exhibits)
(photo: Antoine Mercusot/Chatillon Architects)

After a major, five-year renovation, this fascinating history museum—that I’ve always encouraged people to visit (5 Not-To-Be-Missed Museums in Paris)—has finally reopened its doors. 
The Musée Carnavalet first opened in 1880 in a magnificent, 16th-century mansion in the Marais district. Over time, the museum expanded into the adjoining mansion and acquired thousands of artifacts, but it was never revamped since it opened. Now, Paris’ captivating history unfolds along the museum’s new, chronological layout: Prehistory, Antiquity and the Middle Ages; Paris from 1547 to the 18th Century; The French Revolution to the Early-19th Century; The Late-19th Century to Today.
Musée Carnavalet
(photo: Antoine Mercusot/Chatillon Architects)
Peek into gloriously-decorated Paris parlors of yore, walk into Art Nouveau designed shops of the past, and admire historical relics such as Voltaires writing chair and Marcel Proust’s famous cork-lined bedroom. All this plus everything from Marie-Antoinette’s shoe to a prehistoric canoe. For refreshments, a restaurant has been added, opening onto the glorious, courtyard gardens.

Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that many places require: Tickets purchased in advance for a particular day/time.

La Samaritaine
Rue du Pont Neuf/9 Rue de la Monnaie;
1st arrondissement; Metro: Pont Neuf
(photo: JCarnegie)

Opened in 1870, La Samaritaine was a department store for the masses. Its slogan: “On trouve tout à la Samaritaine!” (One can find everything at La Samaritaine). But, due to a number of modern-day factors, it was forced to close in 2005. For almost 20 years, the beautiful, department store buildings, right on the Seine river by the Pont Neuf bridge, sat empty. Now, there’s good and bad news:
The luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH has renovated and preserved the store’s architecture and fabulous, Art Nouveau features and fixtures. But, now, its goods are only affordable to the ultra-wealthy. There’s a selection of women’s and men’s designer, fashion brands including accessories, jewelry and watches, top-of-the-line beauty products and perfumes, and items for the home. Also, Personal Shopping services and a spa as well as eateries and fancy-food shops.
(photo: JCarnegie)
 But, browsing is free! You can admire the stunning façade, then go to the top floor to swoon in front of the painstakingly-restored, iconic peacock fresco beneath the Art Nouveau glass roof. The Voyage restaurant is there, if you can afford it. If not, another option is a Guided Tour; find out more about La Samaritaine’s history and the stunning architecture for a nominal fee (in French & English).

Le Tout-Paris - Hotel Cheval Blanc Paris
8 Quai du Louvre;
1st arrondissement; Metro: Pont Neuf

Part of the former La Samaritaine store, facing the Seine river, has been converted into a 5-star hotel, Cheval Blanc Paris. LVMH selected French architect Édouard François to execute the makeover while American architect/designer Peter Marino handled the snazzy, interior design. There are 72 guest suites, a spa & swimming pool, and a few eateries. While most people will not be able to afford to stay here, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy a drink or a meal at the terrific Le Tout-Paris, on the top floor, with a great terrace and splendid views of “tout Paris” (all of Paris)! The kitchen is run by chef William Béquin and even the hot chocolate is the best you’ll ever taste.
Le Tout-Paris @wearecontents

Visiting France: While the COVID situation may be under control at the moment, travel requirements might change in the future. Be sure to check the French Foreign Ministry’s site for all the latest, constantly-changing requirements before traveling. 
COVID Tests in France: Should it become necessary again to provide a test for entry back home, or you just want to make sure all you have is a cold, most pharmacies offer rapid-result, antigen tests without an appointment; results in about 15 minutes (Fee: currently around 25 Euros). PCR tests can be done at some pharmacies and clinics, but require an appointment; results in about 24 hours (Fee: currently around 50 Euros).

No comments:

Post a Comment