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Paris Sights

Musée Carnavalet

  • 23 rue de Sévigné Map It
  • Marais
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 02/19/2014

Fodor's Review

If it has to do with Parisian history, it's here. A fascinating hodgepodge of artifacts and art, the collection ranges from the prehistoric canoes used by Parisii tribes to the furniture of the cork-lined bedroom where Marcel Proust labored over his evocative novels. Thanks to scores of paintings, nowhere else in Paris can you get such a precise picture of the city's evolution through the ages. The museum fills two adjacent mansions, the Hôtel Le Peletier de St-Fargeau

and the Hôtel Carnavalet. The latter is a Renaissance jewel that in the mid-1600s became the home of writer Madame de Sévigné. Throughout her long life, Sévigné wrote hundreds of frank and funny letters to her daughter, giving an incomparable view of both public and private life during the time of Louis XIV. The museum offers a glimpse into her world, but the collection covers far more than just the 17th century. The exhibits on the Revolution are especially interesting, with scale models of guillotines and a replica of the Bastille prison carved from one of its stones. Louis XVI's prison cell is reconstructed along with mementos of his life, even medallions containing locks of his family's hair. Other impressive interiors are reconstructed from the Middle Ages through the Rococo period and into Art Nouveau—showstoppers include the Fouquet jewelry shop and the Café de Paris's original furnishings. The sculpted garden at 16 rue des Francs Bourgeois is open from April to the end of October. Extensive renovations, begun in 2013, may be ongoing; be prepared for room closures.

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Sight Information


23 rue de Sévigné, Paris, 75004, France

Map It



Sight Details:

  • Free; around €7 for temporary exhibitions
  • Tues.–Sun. 10–6; closed Mon.

Updated 02/19/2014


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Fodorite Reviews

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Nov 9, 2008

Enjoyable historic museum

A very enjoyable museum showing the history of Paris. Contains paintings, furniture and other applied art work, whole rooms, and other artifacts. Worth a visit.

By Mercier

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Aug 22, 2008

A Human-sized Museum

I love this museum from the basement with its display of early Paris and Roman artefacts. It's been a few years since I've been - I love the selection of artworks too and usually find one I adore. One I always recommend to fellow travellers and then follow up with a rest in the Place des Vosges.

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Jul 20, 2008

fabulous garden

I recently went to the Geffreye Museum in London (interior decor through the ages in the UK) so this caught my eye. Like the Museum of Photography, its not a must-see museum (like the Louvre or d'Orsay) and over the summer the French Revolution and 20th Century rooms are closed - very disappointing! - but the building and gardens made up for it. You can see the garden from the main street, which gives it its oasis-like quality. And its free, which

is an added bonus if you fancy a quick cultural fix between Marais-cafe hopping, but don't fancy a long queue or hefty entrance fee.

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Jul 18, 2008

Nice look at old Paris

This museum is in two lovely old mansions with a beautful courtyard right in the Marais. The collection is very large and gives a great look into Paris through the ages. My only disappointment was the French Revlution rooms were closed when I was there

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