If you’re looking for a very Parisian museum to explore a bit of the history of Paris, then you might want to pop in for a visit at the Carnavalet Museum. Within walking distance from The Centre Pompidou and the Jewish area, it’s set in two joint Parisian mansions, going back thousands of years and walking you through the evolution of France and Paris till this very day. There’s quite alot to see, but English is rather limited. If you’re overwhelmed with museums like these, especially after seeing a few other excellent museums throughout Paris, then a good way to tackle this would be to briefly walk around the rooms and sip it all in, focusing on the mansions and the occasional interesting bit here and there, rather than trying to cover it all. It’s not a museum I’d consider a must, especially given all the other exceptional museums in Paris, but if you’re lingering for long, staying in the area, and looking to get to know Paris a bit better, then this might be a pleasant way to explore for a few hours.
From the official website:
Behind this somewhat mysterious name is hidden one of the capital’s most genuinely Parisian museums. The oldest of the municipal museums tells the story of Paris from a bygone era (a prehistoric dugout canoe dating from 4600 BC) to the present day, in all its immense variety. Although it is essentially a history museum, the musée Carnavalet is nevertheless an art gallery exhibiting mostly original works in keeping with the spirit of the genius of Paris.
In a remarkable architectural setting (twotown houses in the Marais district) the story of Paris unfolds in one hundred rooms or so and also colourful gardens, that are the home to some thousand thriving plant species. As visitors wander through re-creations of rooms in styles ranging from the 17th to the 20th century, they can follow developments in Parisian interior design, immerse themselves in revolutionary history from the French Revolution to the Paris Commune, and also enter into the private lives of famous Parisians, imagining for example, the Marquise de Sévigné at her Chinese laquerwork desk penning her famous letters, or even Marcel Proust in his bedroom, dividing his time between his brass bed and his little table covered in pens, ink and notebooks… The presence of works of art, the bond created with famous people from varied intellectual, political and artistic backgrounds in the capital and also the emotional impact of the historical scenes are what make this history museum so original and contribute to the unique atmosphere which it conveys of the City of Light down the centuries.
Art collection and history aside, I just enjoyed walking around this wonderful house and absorbing the lifestyle …
The Jewish area around the museum is also very pleasant – Le Marais. Combine this with some good Falafel at Rue des Rosiers and the Jewish museum nearby – Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme.