France is a land for the senses, if ever there was one. Seeing
fabled structures, hearing opera in a 2,000-year old amphitheater,
sampling fine cuisine and wine, and enjoying the scents of
flower-filled gardens or the perfumeries of Grasse are just some of
the experiences that will engage clients' senses. Here is a
sampling of some of the sights.
Most of the nation's great artists and authors have at least one
museum devoted exclusively to their work. In addition to the
expected collections devoted to fine arts, archaeology and French
culture, others showcase marionettes, horses, forgery, magic,
fairgrounds, eyeglasses, locks, even devices of torture. And of
course, wine museums abound.
The big news is that the bulk of a 15-year project to restore
and enlarge the Louvre has been completed. In December 1997, the
refurbished Denon and Sully wings in the old parts of the palace
along the Seine were inaugurated. The entire department of Egyptian
antiquities has been reorganized, resulting in a 60% increase in
exhibition space. More than 5,000 Egyptian works are displayed in
30 rooms, including the papyrus manuscript of the Book of the
Some 4,500 exhibits fill the Louvre's new Greek, Etruscan and
Roman antiquities rooms, including reliefs from the Temple of Zeus
at Olympia, which had not been on view for some time. The entire
19th-century Grande Galerie is once again accessible, highlighting
Italian paintings from the 13th to 16th centuries. The Fashion and
Textile Museum has reopened in the Rohan wing.
A complete interior reorganization is under way at the Georges
Pompidou Center, resulting in its closure until the gala reopening
scheduled for New Year's Eve 1999.
Housed in the Hotel de St. Aignan, one of the grand mansions of
Paris' Marais district, the Museum of Jewish Art and History,
slated to open this fall, will delineate the cultural and artistic
heritage of the nation's Jewish community. Also new, the European
Photography Center in the Hotel Henault de Cantorbe joins other
museums occupying this historic district's 17th-century buildings.
These include the Picasso Museum in the Hotel Sale, the Victor Hugo
House in the Place des Vosges and the Museum of the History of
Paris in the Hotel Carnavalet.
At La Villette, in the city's northern reaches, the recently
opened Museum of Music presents concerts and a collection of over
4,500 musical instruments from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Interactive terminals and other high-tech gadgets guide clients
through the history of music.
Museums Outside Paris
In Alsace, the Mulhouse Museum of Fabric Printing has been
completely restructured for the 250th anniversary of Mulhouse's
textile industry and a new museum devoted to textiles and fashion
has opened in Wesserling, 18 miles away.
In September, the Museum of the Hunt and Animal Art opened at
the Loire Valley's Chateau de Chambord. Incorporating myths and
legends, it exhibits feature paintings, tapestries and sculptures
The country's only museum devoted to one couturier, the Museum
Christian Dior, was inaugurated in June in Granville, where the
master of haute couture spent much of his youth.
A $34-million project, begun in 1991, has culminated in Lille
with the reopening of the Musee des Beaux-Arts. Gallery space has
almost doubled and a collection generally considered the most
important in France outside the Louvre is displayed to
Chateau Fort de Sedan in Champagne-Ardenne has a new interactive
audio-guide system called Historium, for self-guided tours around
this fortified castle built on seven levels.
Many sights that clients love have been spiffed up and an entire
new neighborhood awaits exploration.
The 17th-century Tuileries Gardens and the 12-acre Carrousel
Gardens, both located along the Royal Road which begins at the
Louvre, now more authentically duplicate the original design of Le
Notre, gardener to King Louis XIV.
The golden dome of Les Invalides has a new luster, while the
Palais Garnier Opera House has been renovated and features new
stage facilities. Even the sewers, part of which clients can
explore, received a $330 million face-lift.
Bercy Park, once the site of wine merchants' warehouses, boasts
a recently completed international business center, Bercy Expo. A
pedestrian bridge will connect it with a second new neighborhood,
Paris Seine Rive Gauche, housing the National Library.
Even the Champs-Elysees sports a new look. Parking has been
moved underground, allowing wider sidewalks and more trees.
Following are phone numbers for museums and attractions
mentioned throughout this guide:
Amora Mustard Factory: 33-3-80-44-44-52
European Photography Center: 33-1-44-78-75-00
Grasse: 33-4-93-36-03-56 (tourist office)
Historium at Chateau Fort de Sedan: 33-3-24-27-73-75
Lille Musee des Beaux-Arts: 33-3-20-06-78-00
Mulhouse & Wesserling museums: 33-3-89-45-68-31 (tourist
Musee du Champignon: 33-2-41-40-20-60 (tourist office)
Museum Christian Dior: 33-2-33-61-48-21
Museum of the History of Paris: 33-1-42-72-21-13
Museum of the Hunt and Animal Art: 33-2-54-50-40-18
Museum of Jewish Art and History: 33-1-40-29-94-65
Museum of Music: 33-1-44-84-44-84
Picasso Museum: 33-1-42-71-25-21
Victor Hugo House: 33-1-42-72-10-16