musée rodin paris

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The Musée Rodin in Paris is situated in the seventh arrondissement in a stunning mansion, surrounded by three acres of gardens. I made it a point to see it during my last trip, and was joined by my family who drove in from the Loire Valley. It had been pouring rain prior to our visit, and as soon as we arrived the clouds parted and the blue skies and sun returned. I’ve said it before but will say it again – the weather in Paris can be so temperamental, especially in the spring. However, it was such a gift that day – the gardens were gleaming and the combination of these huge lilies and the dewdrops took my breath away. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Rodin’s work, the mansion (known as the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin once resided), gardens, and unique perspective of the nearby Les Invalides will make it worth your while.

 

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musée picasso paris

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The Musée Picasso was high on my list during my last trip to Paris, and it didn’t disappoint. Between the amazing collection and the breathtaking architecture, I was in heaven. The museum underwent an extensive renovation that lasted five years, despite the intended closure of two years. It was worth the wait, in my opinion…the 17th century mansion in the Marais is as equally stunning as Picasso’s work, in my opinion. I must admit, as an interior designer, I’m a bit biased – the mansion had me at hello with it’s commanding gates and Baroque architecture. Formerly the Hôtel Salé, it has a rich and fascinating history, as almost everything in Paris does. Inside, the collection is staggering (it’s the largest in the world) – with pieces spanning his entire career. The range is impressive, encompassing works from every medium he explored.

 

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My preferences tend to be his sculptural works from the 1930’s-1960’s, with an exception to my favorite Picasso piece. It always amazes me how art can be so specific to an era, and yet timeless. In 1955 the artist moved to Cannes, where he hunted for pieces of old furniture, branches, and lumber scraps which he would incorporate in the only multi-figured sculptural ensemble of his career (shown above). I was extremely attracted to the mid-century modern feel of it, in addition to the minimalism. I was also naturally drawn to the beautiful view of the courtyard through the wavy glass.

 

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There was so much design porn here I couldn’t even capture it all – it took my breath away. The museum was quite busy, so all of the architectural shots I attempted were thwarted by entranced visitors. I did however wait (15 minutes or so) for one “money shot”, and I’m glad I did. Some things are just worth waiting for, especially when you’re somewhere so special. This image makes me think about all the elegant inhabitants of the mansion over the centuries, and what it would be like to call this home. If only walls could talk, the stories they would tell here.

 

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Musée Picasso | 5 Rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris

abbaye de fleury

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Abbaye de Fleury is a very special place for me. I’m not religious, but I find myself at this historic church every time I visit France. My brother introduced me to it upon my first visit to his town, Sully Sur Loire, as it is minutes away. It had me at Fleury. Founded in 640 (yes you read that correctly), this Benedictine monastery is incredibly peaceful and humbling…it captivates me. I’m sharing excerpts of my experiences there, via my travel journal…the full story is on steller.

germigny des prés

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I will always be amazed by the history that surrounds you in Europe. In the Loire for instance, this 9th century church is only a short drive from my brother’s house. While I’m not religious, visiting ancient structures delights me, regardless of their purpose, and this one seemed too good to miss. Dating all the way back to 806 (yes, that’s right), the highlight of Germigny des Prés is it’s well-preserved mosaic. Found on the apse ceiling, it is the only surviving Byzantine mosaic in France. Even more fascinating, in my opinion, is that it was discovered in the mid 19th century under layers of plaster!

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arc de triomphe

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My favorite monument…up close and personal. I could walk around it for hours, studying each and every relief. My favorite one, pictured above, features Napoleon, crowned by the goddess of Victory. The neoclassical masterpiece was constructed over thirty years, and inaugurated in 1836. I love it for many reasons…the architecture, the grandeur, the location, and one of the best views in Paris! It is a must-see, much more so than the lovely lady Eiffel.