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Arts Off The Beaten Track: Paris Museums and Galleries Worth the Detour

HiP Paris Blog - Ali Postma - Marian Goodman Gallery - DSC_2146LEADwCerith Wyn Evans at Marian Goodman Gallery – Ali Postma

As an arts lover in Paris, you’re spoilt for choice. But once you’ve ticked off all the major art museums and galleries – such as the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay – you might want to explore some of the lesser-known options in the city with the added bonus of avoiding long queues, crowds, and sometimes even entry fees. Here’s our guide to arts off the beaten track:

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The All-Rounders: Paris Museums and Galleries to Visit All Year Long

HiP Paris Blog on the museums that can be visited all year longFondation Louis Vuitton

Unless you’re like me, you probably don’t organize your holidays around art exhibitions. Which means, it can be a bit of a gamble what you might see when you finally arrive at an art gallery or museum. I find nothing more frustrating than discovering that an exhibition I would have been interested in seeing finished the day before, or starts the day after I leave. But luckily, no matter what exhibition is on, there are some museums in Paris that are worth visiting all year round. Whether it be stunning architecture or impressive permanent collections, these museums never fail to impress!

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Finding Inspiration in Paris: Exciting Alternatives to Paris’ Big Museums

At the Rodin Museum, Paris (Stephen Boisvert)

The other week, as the famed Musée D’Orsay was about to celebrate a grand re-opening after two years of renovation, museum workers went on strike. The strike ended fairly quickly, but for a few agonizing days disappointed Impressionistas were left wondering how to get their art fix in Paris.

Which brings up a good point. The Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre are not exclusive guardians of the greatest art ever, despite what your guide book tells you. Yeah, yeah, you want to see the Mona Lisa. But why not get out of the big musées and discover places you never knew you wanted to? I mean, you’re in Paris, for God’s sake. You can’t throw a pavé without hitting beautiful pieces of art. They’re not all in museums. They’re in gardens, on bridges, down hidden streets. Art is everywhere. Walk around and stumble upon it.

Sculpture by Dali (Amelia Wells)

Or if you’re looking for a little more structure, here are a few ideas:

Find Monet elsewhere in Paris. If you want to see what inspired all the lily pad umbrellas and tote bags, head over to the Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, renovated a few years ago. The enormity of Monet’s paintings alone is stunning. And just on the edge of Paris, near the Bois de Boulogne is the Musée Marmottan Monet, which houses over 100 works by Monsieur Monet.

Rodin’s “Eve”  (Rachel So)

Ever heard of Rodin? There are more than 130 art museums in Paris. So don’t just pin your trip on the two BIG ones. I was never much of a fan of Picasso until I went to the Musée National Picasso. (Sorry, that one is closed for renovations until 2013). Instead, make it a priority to see museums like ones dedicated to Auguste Rodin or Salvador Dalí, depending on your tastes. Continue Reading »

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Art Foundations: Discovering Paris’ Lesser-Known Artistic Gems

Baccarat House (Hotels Paris Rive Gauche)

Most visitors to Paris don’t know what they’re missing by not knowing the word fondation. I know I didn’t when I moved from New York. When I heard about the Yves Saint Laurent or Henri Cartier-Bresson fondations, for example, I just assumed they were boring non-profits or something. Silly girl.

Fondations are Paris’ little artistic gems. Often housed in magnificent old hotels particuliers or modern spaces designed by world-renowned architects, these “foundations” are like miniature museums, dedicated to preserving the memory and achievements of influential movers and shakers. Here are some not to be missed.

Fondation Cartier

Fondation Cartier (Tim Brown Architects’)

By far my favorite is the Fondation Cartier. The modern, airy Jean Nouvel-designed building invites the lush cedar and fig trees surrounding the building inside, and the surrounding wild gardens make for a perfect pit-stop after taking in the art. And then there’s the art. Seeing as it’s the hoighty-toighty French jeweler’s fondation, the work is nothing short of sterling. Exhibitions are really well curated, ranging from Japanese megastar Beat Takashi Kitano’s kitschy-controversial paintings to the wildly popular 2009 graffiti art exhibition to William Eggleston photographs.

261 Blvd Raspail (14th arr.). 01 42 18 56 50. Open every day, except Monday, from 11am-8pm; Tuesdays until 10pm.

Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Exhibit at Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves St. Laurent (Virginie Arnoux, Tulio Borges)

Yves Saint Laurent is a god to the French, to fashionistas and to feminists. So it only makes sense that there’s a fondation devoted to the iconic fashion designer in one of the city’s chichi-est arrondissements. Don your finest and dive deep into four decades’ worth of original sketches, accessories, haute couture and ready-to-wear. While many of the rotating exhibitions are devoted to YSL, not all of them are. Past standouts include shows by painter David Hockney, interior designer Jean-Michem Frank and American socialite Nan Kempner.

5 Avenue Marceau (16th arr). 01 44 31 64 00. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Continue Reading »

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Not the Louvre: An Alternative Guide to Paris’ Museums

One can only bear the mob encircling the Mona Lisa so many times.

In my four months living in Paris, I must have visited Mona and her Louvre museum on half a dozen occasions, mostly while touring visiting friends and family around the city’s landmark attractions. You can’t argue that the Louvre is not fabulous, but one long spin around the place is enough to hold you over for a while. Luckily, during my last stint in Paris I had time to make the rounds of Paris’ smaller, more captivating museums and am happy to share these lesser-known finds with you now.

Dig sculpture? Need a spot for a sunny afternoon picnic? The Musée Rodin is dedicated to the works of Parisian and Western art’s greatest sculptor, Auguste Rodin. The museum, located just east of Hôtel des Invalides and within view of the Eiffel Tower, consists of an indoor display in what used to be the Hôtel Biron and a sculpture garden featuring a sculpture garden, luscious green lawn, pond and an area designated for lazying on lounge chairs and taking in the day—as Parisians so commonly do. See Rodin’s most famous pieces, such as The Thinker, Balzac, and The Kiss, and be sure to pack that picnic lunch.

Musée Rodin, 79, rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris. Closed Mondays.

Monet at the Musée de l’Orangerie (Benoit Deniaud)

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