Saturday, September 02, 2006

Museum Tourist

Last Sunday, The Cultured Traveler of the NYT included his favorite selections for Parisian museums off the beaten path. From his list, my top pick would be Musée Gustave Moreau (pictured above), but here’s my list of favorite spots with further recommendations for you. Sacre bleu, I want to return!

In Paris:
Palais Garnier is the most stunning palace and opera house in the world. Period. It is especially fun to roam around its balustraded floors and pretend the phantom of the opera is following you. Costumes from the opera are on permanent display and the grand theatre features a glorious ceiling by Chagall (shown above).
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris houses examples of most of the trends in 20th-century French and European art, from Fauvism to contemporary art with all of its various disciplines (painting, sculpture, environmental art, photography, video) and more, including Cubism, the School of Paris, Arte Povera, and Conceptual Art.

Musée Rodin is set in the Hotel Biron and its surrounding gardens complete with Le Penseur and sculptures by Rodin’s lover and a fine sculptor, Camille Claudel. This is a charming yet manageable museum for a lovely afternoon when the weather is agreeable so one can enjoy the gardens.

Easy day trips outside of Paris to Versailles and Monet’s Garden in Giverny should not be missed! (Below: Monet at work in his studio.)

On the Cote d’Azur, the big three for me are these museums below.
In Nice, two fine museums with shuttle service between the two:
The Matisse Museum is situated on the hill of Cimiez, not far from the Franciscan monastery with its Italianate gardens, the Hotel Regina where he lived, and the Gallo-Roman ruins. Matisse lived here from 1918 until 1954.

The Chagall Museum has the largest collection of his impressive body of work. On display are seventeen biblical murals and a large selection of the artist's mosaics, sculptures, tapestries, and gouache works in a lovely setting.

Jean Cocteau Museum (above) is located in the seaside resort village of Menton. Cocteau designed the mosaic flooring and the bright tiling on the four turrets. Inside are Aubusson tapestries, pottery and painting, mainly executed by him. He was such a master of many art forms- film, poetry, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and Greek, Hellenic and Etruscan designs. If you haven't seen his hypnotic film La Belle et La Bête, you should rent it at once.


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