Sunday morning dawned grey and damp. Mark was in Texas, where it was gorgeous, and Martha was at a friend’s. While on a long walk with le chien I realized that it was the first Sunday of the month, which in Paris means that all the museums are free. I can’t say that the admission prices have kept me out of the museums thus far- the weather has just been too good to stay inside for long. But hey, if the city was going to pay my way on a rainy day, I was there.
I left the house by 10:30 for Le Musee Carnavalet, which is dedicated to the history of Paris and its inhabitants (says so right on its visitor’s guide). Turns out that this museum is always free, but the special exhibit I really wanted to see there was still 7 euros. I’ll never figure out Paris Rules, but fortunately I’m OK with being always slightly confused.
The first two rooms of the museum totally knocked me out. They were full of gorgeous, amazing signs from shops that were in Paris from the 16th to the 20th centuries. I walked around those rooms, slack-jawed, for a long time. Here are the pictures I took.
This last sign is one of my favorites and is from a legendary cabaret in Montmartre, Chat Noir Cabaret, that was a favorite of artists at the end of the 19th century.
I can’t wait to go back to this museum because I couldn’t take in all these signs in one visit. Also, the rooms on the French Revolution were closed on Sunday (huh?) , and because I just finished a big book on Marie Antoinette, I really wanted to see them. I sure hope that wasn’t the only cold, rainy, day we will have this winter.
The special exhibit was entitled The People of Paris in the 19th Century, and it was beautifully organized and quite extensive. Photographs, drawings, cartoons, paintings, documents, and artifacts were all used to portray the daily life of Parisians from the end of the French Revolution to the First World War. The exhibit was organized into 6 sections: People and Places (the changing topography and demographics of Paris), At Work (occupations from unskilled to highly skilled), Living In Paris (living conditions, clothing, leisure activities, ), Honore Daumier ( lithographs portraying the working class), The Poor (abandoned children, hospital care, and life in the slums), and Looming Fears (the ruling classes’ fear of the workers). It was a wonderful exhibit, and I only wished for a guide (live or audio) because all of the descriptions were in French.
I took only one photo in this exhibit, and it was of the little wooden box where babies who couldn’t be cared for were left. So sad. I assume it turned so that the opening could be closed.
I hope you enjoyed your tour. Stay tuned for future photos from this fascinating and free (!) museum.