Couple "Quirky" Paris Questions

Old Sep 12th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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Couple "Quirky" Paris Questions

(I apologize in advance... I think I know the answer to both questions below, but wanted to get confirmation and possibly open the floor for other responses...)

Doing some last minute research, and have a couple quick questions for Mom & Dad's visit to Paris at the end of the month:

1. I'm looking for museums in Paris that would be a little more quirky and/or intimate in addition to the big names. When she & I were in London, one of Mom's favorite places was Sir John Soane's Museum, so if you happen to be familiar with that house, that's the ideal I'm thinking of. Would something like Carnavalet (hope that's right) that I've seen mentioned fit the "quirky" category, or any other suggestions?

2. In a similar vein, I know Mom will be obsessing the whole trip about finding just the right gift for everyone she's ever met. Most shopping guides seem to put a big stress on clothes/fashion, leather goods, and/or expensive stuff. Are there areas that would be best for "quirkier" (for lack of a better word) local souvenirs that don't cost an arm and a leg? I know the Marais is usually mentioned as the place to shop, but haven't gotten a feel for whether it fits the bill in this case...

Thanks for any help!
Jen526 is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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Jen526 - No need to worry - Paris is a shoppers delight for the wealthy and us, the tourist!
I found great gifts in a little shop in The Palais Royal - small musical boxes that play French tunes like "La vie en rose, I love Paris, Sous le ciel Paris, Lili Marlene, and my favourite, the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise".
These gifts have brought joy to Grandma, children and friends.
The variety is huge and goes from cheap little wind-aways to expensive wind-up ones in lovely boxes. I liked the little round see-through perpex ones with gold trim the best!
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Arts-et-Metiers museum fills the bill for sure.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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Musée des arts et métiers- [ Translate this page ]Le site officiel du musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Author: PalenQ
Date: 02/27/2007
I recently revisited one of my favorite Paris museums, the Museum National des Arts et Metiers. I had been to the museum a few times before but not recently and it remains a delightful collection that is testimony to the great French role in scientic and engineering history. Plus the museum is in the walls of an ancient monastery, where it was started by the abbot in 1794. The building's old wooden floors lovingly creak as one walks around.
The antique-looking museum environs hosts a treasure-trove of old machines and scientific tools...some 80,000 objects and 15,000 designs (according to its web site:
The museum's piece-de-resistance is no doubt Focault's original pendulum, which perpetually swings around in the center of the old church of the monastery.
When Focault swung his pendulum in public at the Panteon centuries ago, proving the previously heretical idea that the Earth rotated around the sun and not other way around, it of course created a huge stir in the scientific and religious communities. Huge crowds flocked to the Pantheon to see the pendulum prove this. (There is a Focoult Pendulum swinging in Pantheon today but i think it's a copy of the one in Arts-et-Metiers but maybe it's the other way around?)
Anyway a neat old museum that could delight even the most science- or engineering-blase types and one i hope to return to again and again.
Nearby, attached to the roof, are two old French airplanes that were seminal in aviation development.
The runner-up to Focault's Pendulum as a museum highlight is Lavosier's old laboratory, kept in its original state that the so-called (by the museum) father of modern chemisty had it when he worked in it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:24 AM
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It's always nice to buy inexpensive gifts in the area of condiments (mustards, jams) and bath products (soaps, bath mitts)... Maybe some of the long narrow scarves that people wear in cooler weather, sometimes multiple scarves twisted together..

I don't think Carnavalet is 'quirky' - it's the history of Paris up to ? 18th century? Art, furnishings, some primitive artifacts, etc. Pretty little garden, too.

"Quirky" for me would be the Musee de l'Erotisme, but I don't think she'd like it

A more intimate setting that is very nice is the <b>Musee Jacquemart-Andre</b> near the <b>Parc Monceau</b> (beautiful!).

Maybe she'd enjoy the <b>Musee Gustave Moreau</b>*, whose art is displayed in the building where he lived, and is of a rather surreal, dreamlike style. That is located in the 9th arr.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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The newest museum in Paris is pretty much a break from tradition:
kerouac is online now  
Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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Sounds like you'd enjoy the Musee Jacquemart Andre and the Musee Nissim de Camondo. Like the Sir John Soane Museum, these were private homes that are maintained just as they were when they were lived in. I highly recommend them.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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It's not &quot;quirky&quot;, but we loved the Musee Cognacq-Jay (8 Rue Elzevir, between Rues de Francs-Bourgeois and du Parc-Royal) in the Marais. We hadn't heard of it before, but happened on a brochure with a painting from the collection on the cover that really made us want to go and see it. It's the complete collection of 18th century art acquired by one couple (Ernest Cognacq and Louise Jay), with works by (among others)Fragonard, Watteau, Rembrandt, Gainsborough,La Tour, some fine furniture, porcelains,etc. After touring some of the larger museums, which, though wonderful, can also be tiring, spending time in this museum was a wonderful change of pace. When we were there, there were only a handful of people, so you could really enjoy everything at your own pace.
It's near Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, which has a lot of wonderful small shops.

We've found you can find some very nice gifts, in all price ranges, in museum shops.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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Also not quirky, but a small fine art museum in a former private villa: The Musee Marmottan Monet. Very nice impressionist collection. We had a nice lunch at Ristorante Dino, just down the street on Rue Chausee de la Muette.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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There are some &quot;quirky&quot; museums in Paris, like the Musee de l'Erotisme, but I personally don't see why John Sloane's Museum would be called quirky, so I think you just mean something smaller than a major national museum. If you want a private home, you might like visiting Balzac's home in Passy, and the HOme of Victor Hugo on Place des Vosges is interesting, I thought. I think the Musee de la Vie Romantique in the 9th is sort of quirky, but wasn't that great, so I wouldn't spend my time going there.

I don't think the Carnavalet is quirky, and even though they bill it as the History of Paris, it isn't really that, either. I don't really like it that well, although I know a lot of people do. I was expecting something really great like the History of London museum and it's nothing like that.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Check out the offerings of The Paris Quirky Museum Pass. They offer history museums of everything from cinematography to postage to coinage.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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I wouldn't count the Carnavalet. It's a fairly conventional, indeed rather old-fashioned, cases-and-paintings museum.

Unfortunately I don't have any great suggestions. Maybe the Mus&eacute;e Galliera (fashion and textiles)

or the museum of advertising:

Maybe the Cit&eacute; des Sciences and the Cit&eacute; de la Musique at La Villette areb't quite what you have in mind, but they're on my list for a future trip.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Don't forget to visit the sewers and the catacombs.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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How about the Mus&eacute;e Marmottan, one of my favorites. Not quirky, but a delight.

And I agree that museum shops tend to have wonderful, unusual gifts.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Although there are a gazillion souvenir ships throughout Paris, a specific treasure trove for inexpensive ones is near Notre Dame. If you are standing in front, looking directly at the church, take the street to the left. It is full of shops and my mother found dozens of inexpensive things for both her granchildren and girlfriends.

Specifically, we found snowglobes, scarves, soaps, tapestries, t-shirts, and little toys. Truly something for everyone and, while I know there are lots of spots for this stuff, I thought I would give you a specific spot that is easy for your parents to find.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 11:46 AM
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&lt;&lt;Specifically, we found snowglobes, scarves, soaps, tapestries, t-shirts, and little toys&gt;&gt;

and great gargoyles in various sizes.

One of my favorite small museums in Paris is: The Mus&eacute;e National du Moyen-Age Thermes de Cluny which comprises two important sites. One is a 15th century Gothic mansion containing a wide selection of medieval art, as well as a collection of original sculptures from the facade of Notre Dame. Next to the mansion are 3rd century Gallic-Roman baths, including a ``Frigidarium'' (cold room).

I also vote for the lovely Marmottan.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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You could always do your gift shopping IN the museums.I love the various selections in the gift shops and you are doing good while doing well.

There is a shop in the Marais that has a selection of items from all the various museums, but darned if I can remember where it is located right now.

If my brain begins to function anytime soon, I'llpost it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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&gt;&gt;Don't forget to visit the sewers and the catacombs.
The catacombs are on the list, actually. Not so sure about the sewers.

Thanks for all the great ideas, all! These all sound wonderful!
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