A must-see in Paris : visit the Musée Carnavalet !

A must-see in Paris : visit the Musée Carnavalet !

Paris is full of museums, and it's sometimes hard to choose which one to visit, especially when you're only staying for a few days. So we're going to make it easy for you by suggesting that you visit the Musée Carnavalet : the museum that traces the history of Paris !

It is the oldest museum in the capital. The Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris first opened its doors to the public on 25 February 1880, in the Hôtel particulier des Ligneris - known as the Carnavalet, built in the middle of the 16th century and from which it took its name - located in the Marais district, rue de Sévigné in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. Since its creation more than 150 years ago, the museum has retraced the history of the capital from prehistory to the present day. 

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The neighbouring Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau was then annexed to the museum in 1989, extending considerably its surface area. The next major renovation only began in 2016, and the museum reopenned in 2021 ! The museum has been listed as a Monument Historique since 1846, and has been part of the Plan de Sauvegarde et de Mise en Valeur du Marais since 1965.

Initially, the collections are made up of authentic objects that once belonged to a famous person. They include Napoleon I's campaign kit, Emile Zola's bedroom and Marcel Proust's personal belongings. At the same time, thousands of archaeological pieces, paintings and photographs completed the collections, which are now organised into 10 departments containing more than 640,000 works.

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Some of the must-see attractions include :

  • The Oath of the Jeu de Paume, painted by Jacques-Louis David
  • The head of a statue from the Lutetia Arena
  • Voltaire's mortuary chair
  • An authentic letter from the Marquise de Sévigné, who lived in the mansion at the end of the 17th century
  • A caricature of the Three Orders dating from the French Revolution, which many pupils now study in their history books
  • A shoe supposedly belonging to Queen Marie-Antoinette

A veritable showcase of Paris's past, it promises to be an emotionally-charged visit for anyone who loves the capital and its history.

Cover picture :  Carnavalet stair / R. O. Flinn - visuelhunt.com
Text : Elodie Lécadieu