Our new series – Address Book, will take you all around the art world, one week at a time.
To start us off, we’re exploring The big French five that characterize L’Hexagone’s exquisite City of Lights. From sphinxes and selfies to galleries and gardens, it’s time to explore the creators, curators, viewers and subjects of some of the world’s finest art.
1. The Louvre
We’re starting off strong with one of the world’s most iconic museums. Wiggling through the hordes of tourists snapping selfies with the Mona Lisa can sometimes prove a test of patience, but this iconic art address still undoubtedly deserves attention. A former royal palace situated just off the picturesque banks of the Seine, the Louvre houses superb pieces from Egyptian antiquities to the best art of 19th century France. Sculpture highlights include the famous Grecian Aphrodite sculpture known as Venus de Milo and Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, paintings to see range from Vermeer and Rembrandt to da Vinci and Chardin, and you can even head to the Pavillion d’horloge (Clock Pavillion) to be transported back to the castle that once served as the building’s sole purpose.
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
2. Le Musée d’Orsay
Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and Cezanne’s work decorate the rooms of this light-filled, immense former train station that now stands as the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. With painted, primarily French masterpieces from the 19th and early 20th centuries, an impressive photography collection and immersive displays of furniture and decorative arts, this destination should be circled, underlined and highlighted in every visitor’s address book.
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
3. Palais de Tokyo
Pulling Paris into the modern age, the East Wing of the Palais de Tokyo is home to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, a comprehensive collection of French contemporary art and creation. It includes permanent collections featuring artists such as Picasso and Matisse, as well as frequent temporary exhibitions and installations. With exterior architecture that stands out for being markedly more sober than the grand atriums or fancy skylights found in the Grand Palais or Musée d’Orsay, this museum is a palace for the new age, a statement for a modern city with a rich past.
Address: 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris
4. Centre Georges Pompidou
Speaking of statements, it would be impossible to look past the controversial design of Paris’s Centre Pompidou, located in the heart of the Beaubourg area. Despite its characterization as a ‘monster’ by Le Figaro newspaper upon its 1977 construction, architect Richard Rogers (who formed part of the design team) was honoured with the Pritzker Prize in 2007. Hindsight proved that, as noted by The New York Times, the Centre Pompidou ‘revolutionised museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.’ Also a winner of the Pritzker Prize is Tadao Ando, whose architectural achievement is currently being celebrated in a dedicated exhibition in the museum. With all this in mind, the Centre Pompidou’s tubes, cubes, and spectacular top-level view of Paris awaits.
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris
5. Musée Rodin
Rounding out the famous five is the Musée Rodin. The majestic home of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures – with The Thinker as its undeniable centerpiece – receives elevated must-see status for its lovely spread of statues into the museum’s stunning garden. Admire the shape of The Kiss, recoil at The Gates of Hell and ponder all the art your Paris Address Book has led you to this week – we have just the spot for it…
Address: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
Bonus: Day Trip
Look no further than the town of Giverny to visit Monet’s Garden – of Monet’s Garden, that is. Catch the train from Saint-Lazare station in Paris and you’ll be there in under an hour, ready to walk quaint streets, marvel at the charming house Claude Monet called home, and head to his garden to stop and smell the roses.