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A Trip To

8 Hours in Paris

To celebrate our latest flurry of launched, I booked myself a ticket in the Eurostar sale to go to Paris to spend the day at the Louvre! Having only visited once when I was inter-railing aged 18 (...all I went in to see was the Mona Lisa then looked for the nearest bar), I have been wanting to visit again for years. I fully intended to spend the entire day there, exploring all the lesser known galleries, as I did with The Met earlier this year.

However, disaster struck. As I was boarding the Eurostar in the morning, I just thought I would check what time the Louvre would open, only to discover... it was closed! Who knew Tuesday was Paris's museum closing day (not me, that's for sure!).

So thanks to this wonderful community, you all helped scramble to make an alternative plan for me through Instagram and I managed to squeeze in so much, whilst actually not feeling too rushed! So, before I show you all the inspiring pieces I saw (there are a lot), here is my actual timings from the day incase any of you are also planning a Paris day from London - this is what we fit in without feeling rushed.

  • 9:45 - Arrive in Paris and take the Metro to Oberkampf
  • 10:15 - Coffee in the roof-top cafe at the Musee Picasso
  • 10:45 - Head into the Musee Picasso
  • 12:30 - Lunch at Bouillon Republique (perfect spot as the food was good but they also got us in and out quickly with 2-courses!)
  • 13:30 - Metro down to Saint-Michel
  • 14:00 - Musee Cluny
  • 15:00 - Walk along the Seine to the Louvre
  • 15:30 - Musee les Arts Decoratifs
  • 16:30 - Glass of wine and people watching at Le Musset
  • 17:15 - Back to Gare du Nord
  • 18:15 - Train home

I have been to Paris quite a few times before for longer stints, so have visited the major galleries like the Musee d'Orsay, Pompidou etc before but they are of course also wonderful. So below are a list of maybe some lesser known places which either I have been to and would recommend, or that came via my Instagram community based on an interest in textiles and world art:

  • Haberdashery shops - Ultramod and La Drougerie
  • Musee Jaquemart-Andre
  • Musee Nissim de Camondo (MAJOR recommend from me on this one - truly wonderful)
  • Fondation Giacommeti
  • Palais Galliera
  • Hôtel de la Marine
  • Musee Carnavalet
  • Sainte Chapelle
  • LE19M
  • Musee du Quai Branly (honestly this one is absolutely top of my list for a next trip)
  • Musee Louis Vuitton (specifically looking at the exhibitions they have on)

Right, with those logistics points out of the way, let's get into why I went to Paris at all... the hunt for inspiration! If you are an artist, maker or exploring your creativity, its important to fill your cup up with inspiration every now and then. If you spend too long in your own world, eventually ideas dry up. So a trip like this for me is all about finding new ideas, new ways of working, new colour palettes to explore. It's about being totally open-minded and just photographing anything that takes my fancy - something I wrote a lot about here.

So what you'll see here are all the pieces that caught my eye, this is a personal tour of the galleries and museum, not an extensive tour. Take for example the Musee Picasso... personally I haven't yet been inspired by surrealism or cubism whereas, I adore Picasso's use of line - therefore my selections largely focus around his etchings. But the gallery has an huge collection which covers all his different periods of work. The same will apply to the other museums also - this is what caught my eye, but what may catch your eye there could be completely different.

Underneath all pictures, wherever possible, I have included the caption the museum presented alongside. This is so you can look into the piece in more detail and go down a rabbit hole (take pilgrims badges for example which I can tell are going to be my next rabbit hole). If there isn't a caption, it's because I couldn't find one alongside it in the museum. For the first section, if the artist isn't named, then it's Picasso.

Here we go...

P.S. I really recommend looking at this article on a desktop computer rather than a phone

Stop 1 | Musée Picasso
Top tip... The roof terrace cafe here was perfect and empty
Étude pour Trois femmes à la fontaine: tête de la femme de droite. Fontainebleau, été 1921
Jeune guerrier grec, Paris, 30 décembre 1933, Eau-forte sur cuivre
Minotaure embrassant une femme, Boisgeloup, 4 août 1934, Monotype sur cuivre
Guerre et Paix, Vallauris, 5 octobre 1951, Encre sur papier
Le Meurtre, Boisgeloup, 7 juillet 1934, Crayon graphite sur carton
Detail from above
Detail from below
Minotaure au javelot, Paris, 25 janvier 1934, Encre de Chine sur contreplaqué
This series of 66 etchings was first excerpted by the artist from Suite 347 (1968) to illustrate La Célestine - a fifteenth-century Spanish tragicomedy by Fernando de Rojas republished by the Crommelynck brothers in 1971. Sorry for the terrible photo - as a huge fan of etching and very recently doing a course in it, I was fascinated to see the process involved.
In one room they presented a tiny portion of Picasso's own reference materials. The only thing better than looking at the work of an artist you admire, is looking at the things which inspired them. So I loved seeing these!

Rembrandt (1606-1669). Rembrandt appuyé. 1639. Eau-forte
Rembrandt (1606-1669). Rembrandt et Saskia. 1636. Eau-forte sur papier
Variation sur le thème des « Ménines»: visiteurs dans l'atelier. 18 février 1955. Aquatinte au sucre et grattoir sur cuivre
Henri Matisse. Cahiers d'art, numéro spécial, «Dessins de Matisse», n° 3-5, 1936
Sept mousquetaires. Mougins, 14 mai 1972. Encre sur papier
Verve, vol. vii, n° 25-26, 1951, Imprimé sur papier
Femme à l'enfant, Cannes, début 1961, Tôle découpée, pliée, assemblée et peinte

Enfant jouant avec un camion. Vallauris, 27 décembre 1953. Huile sur toile
Autoportrait. Paris, fin 1901. Huile sur toile
Trois Femmes à la fontaine. Fontainebleau, été 1921. Sanguine sur toile
Deux Femmes courant sur la plage (La Course). Dinard, été 1922. Gouache sur contreplaqué
Ceramics by Picasso
La Liseuse. Vallauris, 29 janvier 1953. Huile sur contreplaqué
La Liseuse. Vallauris, 29 janvier 1953. Huile sur contreplaqué
Picasso - I didn't catch the name for this one!
Françoise Gilot (1921-2023). La Salade, 1950. Huile sur panneau de bois
I believe this is the right caption but it wasn't completely clear... Sculpteur et son modèle avec un groupe sculpté représentant un taureau attaquant des chevaux. Paris, 31 mars 1933. Eau-forte sur cuivre
Sculpteur et modèle se regardant dans un miroir calé sur un autoportrait sculpté. Paris, 8 avril 1933. Eau-forte sur cuivre

Stop 2 | Musée de Cluny

Gallery in the Musee Cluny
Casket plaques. Spain, 9th-10th centuries. Engraved and chiselled cetacean bone. Among these plaques decorated with geometrical patterns, plants or animals, seven stand out by being illustrated with stories from the life of Christ (and possibly of King Herod). All figures are simplified, and some details (like the pointed hairstyle) show the influence of al-Ándalus (a territory then under Muslim domination), adapted to a Christian style, in a geographical context most likely located in the Christian regions of the northern Iberian Peninsula.
Casket with mythological and battles scenes, casket plaque with a warrior. Constantinople, late 10th-early 11th century. Bone bas-relief (on a core of wood for the casket). About 1000, Byzantine bone carvers created caskets with secular themes inherited from classical Antiquity, especially legendary battles or circus games. This casket stands out by the quality of its sculpture and the fact that it is complete. It used to belong to Frédéric Spitzer, a major 19-century collector.
Christogram. Egypt, 5th-6th century, Wool and linen. Derived from Aiguptios in Greek and then qibt in Arabic, the word "Copt" defines the Christian civilization of Egypt, from the official birth of Christianity in Egypt (Edict of Thessalonica, 383). In artistic expression, a remarkable syncretism is revealed between pagan and Christian iconography. On the tapestries, Dionysus can be seen alongside a bowed character and the patterns of the patted cross and Chi-Rho (christogram) appear. The liturgical braid, depicting an archangel, the Visitation and Zechariah, is a rare piece of Coptic embroidery.
Sainte-Geneviève. Abbey Church, Paris: The four large Romanesque capitals on display in the centre of this room overlooked the church's nave, built around 1100. They represent cosmic and human times. The chevet was constructed some thirty years later around the reliquary-shrine of saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. Its sculpted decor, fragments of which are presented here, is an example of early Gothic art. The church was destroyed in 1807.
An oliphant. Fragmentary with animal frieze; decorated with an animal frieze, the Ascension and Saints. Southern Italy, 12th century. Elephant ivory. From the abbeys of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul of Bèze (Côte d'Or, France) and Saint-Arnoul of Metz (Moselle, France) Taking its shape from its material, an elephant tusk, the oliphant is first and foremost a horn. In the Middle Ages, oliphants were often associated with legendary facts, such as the death of the hero in the Song of Roland. The luxurious quality of this type of object made it enter church treasuries as relics. This is the case of this one in Metz (which used to be part of the collection of Frédéric Spitzer), known as the "horn of Charlemagne".
I couldn't quite tell which was the right information for this one but I think it was the following: Crosier head, known as "Crosier of Abbot Morard'.
Casket. Muslim workshop from Sicily, 12th century. Painted elephant ivory on wood core and brass. These ivory plates are decorated with peacocks, medallions and Arabic calligraphy quoting love verse from the Arabian Nights and written in a cursive script (all letters are linked together). In the midst of these decorations, horsemen are shown practicing falconry, a prized pastime in the elites of the Muslim world. Probably originated from the art production of the Norman court of Palermo, this casket used to belong to the Castellani collection.
Prophets and saints casket. Cologne, about 1200 Bone on wood core, gilded bronze. From the abbey of Saint-Yved of Braine (Aisne, France). Starting in the mid-12th century and continuing into the next, Cologne specialised in the manufacture of reliquaries decorated with small plaques sculpted in bovine bone, a widely available and inexpensive material used as a substitute for ivory. These objects, produced in series, included caskets, towers, or, as here, small châsses (shrines).
I couldn't see a sign for these but loved them as potential border motifs for painting!
Pilgrim badges and prophylaxes (to ward off disease or promote fertility), ampullae (vials), whistles and pendants and badge moulds. Europe, 13th-15th centuries Lead and tin and schist. From dredged deposits from the Seine in Paris during archaeological excavations by Arthur Forgeais in the 19th century.
I forgot to take a picture of the reference for this - so sorry! It was in the same section as the pilgrims badges!
Round medallion. Limoges, about 1200-1210. Champlevé, engraved, chiselled, enamelled and gilded copper.
Two altar plaques. Adoration of the Magi. Saint Stephen of Muret and his disciple Hugh of Lacerta Limoges, about 1190. Champlevé, engraved, chiselled, enamelled and gilded copper
Casket with the coat of arms of the Canilhac family. Christ, saints Peter and Paul; saint Michael slaying the dragon, saint Claire, Virgin and Child, Annunciation, saints (reverse and sides). Languedoc or Provence, middle of the 14th century. Champlevé, engraved, enamelled and gilded copper
Panel of tiles. Seville (Andalusia, Spain), early 16th century. Glazed ceramic. This panel is a modern arrangement of small tiles, called olambrillas, produced in Seville. They were used to cover walls and sometimes ceilings, and their distinguishing feature is a white glaze that is particular to ceramicists of the Southern Iberian Peninsula. The decor features geometric motifs, real animals (rabbit, elephant, deer, camel or pelican) and mythical creatures like a dragon.
I am afraid I couldn't find a caption for this piece - what a lovely embroidery it would make!
Like at the Alhambra. The Islamic territories of Spain (Al-Andalus) were home to major artistic centres for the production of luxurious fabrics. Originating from the East, the lampas (a fabric-making technique using at least two warps, and sometimes an additional «binding warp», and one or more wefts) was introduced to the Iberian peninsula by the Arabic civilisation. This piece, with bright colours that have been very well preserved, has host of aesthetic parallels with Spanish-Moorish art from around 1300, particularly in the decorative elements of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Lampas with geometric patterns and "Happiness and Prosperity" lettering in Kufic script Andalusia (Granada?, Spain), 14th century,
These were from a painted table top depicting crests - but I am afraid I couldn't find the information on the table itself.
Targe. Maltese Cross and roses. Germanic countries, last quarter of the 15th century Wood, paint. This small targe was used in "courtesy" jousting (a joust à plaisance, as opposed to joust à outrance, or grudge matches, where opponents could fight to the death), or even during simple demonstrations. During jousting, it would be held to the left armpit, protecting it while marking the target on which the opponent should break his lance.
I am afraid I couldn't find information on either of these two tapestries
Five reverse sides of dishes. Manises (Valencia, Spain), 2d half of the 15th century Ceramic with metallic lustre. Artists in Valencian workshops paid particular attention to the underside of their works painted in metallic lustre on an ecru ground.

To end on some of the worst photos on the internet of the pièce de résistance of the Musée Cluny - The Lady and The Unicorn tapestries. These hangings are absolutely stunning in person and the colours magnificent - just imagine how strong the colours must have been at the time. These deserve an article all to themselves, so watch this space.

Stop 3 | Musée des Arts Decoratifs

Now onto something totally different. This museum has an incredible and wide range of decorative arts objects from across Europe dating back as far as the 13th Century. The collection predominantly is French in origin, covering French tableware, furniture, carpets etc. What I was most taken with though were the room set-ups. You wander through little worlds from different periods. So I don't want to give a spoiler on this one for those who will visit. Therefore here are just a handful of pictures showing the work that has gone into creating these displays.

That's everything. Now do remember, if you visit Paris... check the museum opening days!