L’HÔTEL DE LA MARINE – A TOUCH OF VERSAILLES IN THE HEART OF PARIS

Th Hotel de la Marine faces onto Place de la Concorde.

If you’ve been to Paris more than once, very likely you have been past the Hôtel de la Marine.  This is not a hotel in which you stay, but a hôtel particulier of epic proportions.  A “real” hotel, the historic, luxury Hôtel de Crillon, is adjacent.  These opulent 18th century buildings are a perfectly balanced pair facing onto Place de la Concorde.  Fortunately, during its long and illustrious life, from the reign of Louis XV through the centuries housing the Navy Ministry offices, it has never sustained damage or serious changes that would have compromised its presentation of fine French craftsmanship and as an expression of power.

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LA SAMARITAINE, AN ICONIC PARISIAN DEPARTMENT STORE REBORN

The beautifully restored Art Nouveau interior of La Samaritaine. 

La Samaritaine has finally re-emerged, like the phoenix rising, if not from the ashes, from a long hibernation of neglect and deterioration that left a gap on the city skyline between the river Seine and the busy rue de Rivoli.  Its recent re-opening was a much anticipated event.  After 16 long years of closure, renovations, and some controversy, this historic icon is the ultimate grand magasin.  Definitely a must-see on your next visit to Paris!

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A PARISIAN LANDMARK REIMAGINED: LA BOURSE DE COMMERCE–PINAULT COLLECTION

La Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection. 

Over the last two years, despite the severe COVID restrictions, Paris somehow managed to work on a number of extraordinary cultural projects, most of which have now opened.  These were not small-scale ventures by any means.  As I’ve mentioned previously, two of these were the complete refurbishment of the enormous Musée Carnavalet, now re-opened, and the massive restoration of the Grand Palais, which is still ongoing.  Last post, I looked at the new Christian Dior museum, La Galerie Dior.  This time I’ll explore a huge project, the Bourse de Commerce, and next time another: La Samaritaine department store.

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LA GALERIE DIOR – A HOMAGE TO THE ARTISTRY OF THE ‘MASTER OF DREAMS’

Poster of the 1947 Bar Suit from the ‘Corolle’ collection by Christian Dior. 

Near the top of our list of must-sees on our recent visit to Paris was the Christian Dior museum, La Galerie Dior, which I briefly mentioned in the last blog.  I had read about its official opening, just 3 weeks before we hit town.  A good friend of ours, the manager of the beautiful Zegna menswear boutique on Ave. George V, urged us to make a visit a priority, as word was spreading fast.  This was also a great sign that things in Paris had re-opened, and that COVID was well and truly behind them.  The museum is located in part of the original couture headquarters at 30 Avenue Montaigne, in a magnificent Haussmann-era stone building.

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THE MUSÉE MARMOTTAN MONET – A LITTLE-KNOWN GEM IN PARIS

‘Impression, Sunrise’ by Monet, which inspired the name of the Impressionist movement.

A description that’s often used to describe the Musée Marmottan Monet is that it’s a “hidden” gem.  Rather, I’d say it’s perhaps more overlooked than hidden, given its location in the chic Passy neighbourhood in the 16th arr. on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, beside one of the loveliest parks in Paris.  Famous for the world’s largest collection of works by Claude Monet, the museum also has works by other Impressionist painters such as Morisot, Degas, Manet, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir, Gauguin and Signac as well as over 300 masterpieces from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and First Empire period.

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