Musee Carnevalet, Marias District of Paris #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel buttonAfter lunch on our last free day in Paris, Rebecca and I headed for the Musee Carnevalet in the Marais District of Paris. We found the museum, located in the oldest Renaissance townhouse in the Marais. The logis in the main courtyard has decorative bas-reliefs ofthe four seasons. The statue is of Louis XIV.

Carnevalet logisI’d hoped to do some research specific to the French Revolution, but when we got there we learned that the rooms we needed were closed. In fact, the entire museum was scheduled to close the next day for extensive renovations. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed, but glad we’d made it to the museum at all. The ground floor gallery had some items of interest, including old shop signs and models of Paris in the early years of the 20th century. I loved the 19th century apothecary shopfront. I apologize for the quality of some of these photos. It’s hard to get a good shot when a display is behind glass.

This model shows the Ile de la Cite. You can see Notre Dame on the right.

Model of Ile de la Cite

Model of Ile de la Cite

We were able to look at some of the period rooms on the first floor which is reached via an impressive staircase with a huge mural on the wall above. It always amazes me to see these old homes built on such a grand scale. The Carnevalet was built from 1547-1549 as a residence. Later it became a pension during the early 19th century but was purchased by the government in 1866 and converted to a museum.

muralI loved this blue room. It reminded me of the Regency Room at the Geffrye Museum in London.

blue roomNot sure I’d want to sleep in this bed. It looks a little on the short side! Though I have been told that people used to sleep sitting up rather than lying flat like a corpse. Tempting fate, I suppose.
old bedThe courtyard and garden were very pretty.

Something interesting happened on our walk back to Place de la Bastile. I’d been listening to French language lesson before we left, and I hadn’t been able to make much use of it. Then a French woman stopped us and asked, in French, if we knew where Hotel de Sully was. We’d just passed it on our walk, so I answered her in very simple French. “Oui,” I said, pointing down and across the street. “C’est la bas a droit.” After she left, Rebecca said to me, “I can’t believe you did that.” Have to say, I was pretty proud of myself.

Believe it or not, our day wasn’t finished, but I’ll go into that next time.


Walking the #Marais District, #Paris #history

Tuesday Travel button

Place de la Bastille

Place de la Bastille

For our last free day in Paris, Rebecca and I had decided to walk the Marais District, another of the historic sections of Paris. But first, we met our Gate 1 tour director in the lobby of the hotel and picked up our badges and lanyards for the tour of Northern France.

We took a cab to Place de la Bastille, a bit of a let-down as there is no trace left of the old castle and prison and the obelisk in the center of the place was enclosed in scaffolding for restoration. We then followed the walking tour in Rick Steves’s Paris guidebook. We passed this lovely Temple of the Visitation at 17 Rue Saint-Antoine and I had to take a photo. The temple was built between 1632-34 and is a smaller version of the Pantheon in Rome. The revolutionaries pillaged the church at the end of the 18th century, and later it became a Protestant church for a brief time.

Temple of the Visitation

Temple of the Visitation

This is a lovely old neighborhood with a mixture of buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. I was esp. interested in the older buildings, as I’d been told this was a good place for my middle class heroine to live in my French Revolution story. I could see Anne-Marie living in this area, perhaps in one of the small, older homes above a bakery or another type of shop.

The walk suggested strolling through the courtyard of the Hotel de Sully, a former aristocratic home, now the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Center of National Monuments) to get to the Place des Vosges. As it turned out, the Duchess’s apartments were open to the public that Sunday, and as you can see in this photo, there was quite a line of people waiting to get in.

Entry to Hotel de Sully

We didn’t have time to wait so we found another route to the Place de Vosges, a lovely large square surrounded by 17th century buildings called pavilions with galleries below. Originally, Place Royale, the square was built between 1605 and 1612 by Louis XIII. It was originally intended as a center for artisans, thus the galleries on the ground floor with living quarters above. Louis XIII donated the land but insisted on a costly, highly decorative style, appealing to rich investors.

So instead of bourgeois pavilions, the surrounding buildings became aristocratic town homes, and I suspect that the galleries were converted to carriage houses and stables. They are of the right size and shape to accommodate a carriage.

However, the open air central square has always been open to everyone, regardless of class. I loved this spot, finding it a haven of peace and quiet, esp. compared to the crowds we encountered the previous day around Notre Dame. A scene immediately came to me of Anne-Marie meeting her love interest in the Place des Vosges.

In exploring this area, we discovered the rear of Hotel de Sully and took pictures of the house, garden and orangery.

By this time, we got hungry and went looking for a restaurant where we dined al fresco, in the Parisian sidewalk cafe tradition. Our afternoon tour continues with next week’s installment of Tuesday Travels. It’s fun to revisit my travels on the blog.


Much of the information in this post came from a guidebook I picked up called The Marais, a special issue of Connaissance des Arts.