The 10 Chicest House Museums to Check Out While Visiting Paris
While every tourist who arrives in Paris knows to visit Versailles, there are plenty more historically important (and lavishly decorated) residences scattered around the City of Light that are open to visitors. Visit one of these 10 beautiful maisons, from an apartment in which Victor Hugo penned some of his most famous novels or a castle that housed generations of French kings, to a stunningly opulent mansion built for a famous art collector, and we promise you will feel right at home.
This lavish residence was built by the Belle Époque socialites Edouard Andre and Nelie Jacquemart, who spent their fortune collecting paintings by artists like Francois Boucher, Canaletto, and Rembrandt. They commissioned an enormous mansion to house their collection of paintings and decorative arts: and the sprawling home’s monumental staircase is topped with a fresco that was painted by Tiepolo, and its bedrooms and sitting rooms are filled with opulent 18th and 19th century French furniture.
Built in 1688, this massive hotel in Le Marais now houses the Museum of the History of the City of Paris. Visitors can explore the building's beautiful courtyard garden, and while few details of the original interior exist, the mansion has been filled with important historic furniture and decorative arts, from the desk upon which marcel Proust wrote In Search of Lost Time, to ornate rococo salons that were removed from some of the city’s finest houses and reconstructed inside the museum.
Musée Nissim de Camondo
Built in 1911 by a wealthy banker and inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles, this Rococo confection of a house and its contents were donated to the French government and opened as a museum in 1936. The house, which borders the exclusive Parc Monceau, looks almost exactly as it did when it was first built and visitors can stroll its salons, library, and dining room, which are filled with 18th century French art and furnishings.
Musée Victor Hugo
The author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame lived in this whimsically decorated apartment on the Places des Vosges from 1832 until 1848. The space remains much as Hugo left it and it is filled with his personal possessions and distinctive décor, including a Chinese living room and Gothic dining room. Even if you are not a Hugo fan it is worth visiting the museum just to get a glimpse inside one of the grand 17th century buildings that line the exclusive square.
Musée Cognacq Jay
Housed inside an 16th century hôtel in Le Marais, this museum contains a vast collection of 18th century art that was amassed by the founders of the Paris department store La Samaritaine. While the legendary department store has since closed, the family’s collection, which includes paintings by Francois Boucher and Canaletto, and decorative arts attributed to some of France’s finest furniture makers, remains on public view in this charming space.
The famed sculpture Auguste Rodin used this 18th century Paris hôtel as his workshop from 1908 until his death, and he bequeathed the historic mansion, along with his remaining oeuvre and his personal art collection, to the French state. The mansion was turned into a museum dedicated to Rodin's work, and today it houses casts of his famous sculptures. The property’s extensive manicured gardens are also open to visitors, and are filled with some of the artist's most iconic works.
The Apartments of Napoleon III at the Louvre
Tucked inside a remote corner of the vast Musée du Louvre, Napoleon III’s grand Second Empire apartments are open to all of the museum’s visitors (though only a few know how to find them). Located atop a sweeping grand staircase, the apartments feature a vast gilded salon filled with plush red velvet furniture and topped with an ornate frescoed ceiling, a dining room with a table long enough to seat fifty guests, and a beguiling portrait of Empress Eugenie that watches over all of her guests.
Chateau de Vincennes
First constructed during the 11th century, this castle served as the residence of a number of medieval French kings including Philipe IV, Louis X, and Charles IV. While the interiors of the castle’s 14th century tower, which is the tallest extant medieval structure in all of Europe, are rather sparse, it is remarkable to climb the building's steep staircases and get a glimpse of how the French royal family lived before the grandeur of Versailles.
Musée Eugène Delacroix
The former home of the Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, this charming apartment on a beautiful square in St. Germain contains a small backyard garden with a light-filled studio, where the artist worked from 1857, when he moved in, until his death in 1863. The museum’s collection includes many of Delacroix’s drawings and papers, along with memorabilia like his easels, palettes, and other documents.
Musée Marmottan Monet
Situated on the edge of the Bois du Bologne, this mansion was owned by the Marmottan family during the 19th century. It was later donated to the Academie des Beaux Arts, and a number of prominent collectors bequeathed their estates to the museum, amassing the largest collection of paintings by Claude Monet in the world. The house’s Empire-style interior displays this impressive collection, along with works by Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, and a number of other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.