eco travel: les musées et jardins de paris

green spaces + art places

“art place” is my seussian way of saying that holy ground known to my mind + heart as the art museum. museums have always felt like a safe haven where i am ensconced in centuries of creative energy + uncensored, raw emotion. albrecht durer, the 15th century painter + printmaker of the renaissance period, was my greatest influence as an artist, and i’ve carried his works + his self-portraits in my mind, having admired them in books for many years. my first time seeing an original painting by durer was at the louvre museum. it was in this moment that i realized that seeing a masterpiece in person is indeed a gift + one of life’s simple pleasures.

one of my best friends recently asked me about my favorite museums in paris, thus i was inspired to compose this post about one of my favorite topics of all: paris art museums + their sister gardens, gorgeous green spaces seemingly found in each + every far-reaching corner of paris.

here today, part one: 7 art museums along with my favorite green spaces in paris + just beyond. stay tuned for part two!

the louvre

the museum: the louvre museum is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in paris. the louvre was originally built as a fortress in 1190, but was reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace. it was opened as a museum in august 1793. masterpieces from history’s greatest artists abound here. visitors flock to see leonardo da vinci’s mona lisa, painted in 1503, but tucked into the lower level is my personal favorite 16th century art piece by albrecht durer.

the garden: jardin des tuileries is an expansive garden created in 1564 upon the commission of queen catherine de medici and opened to the public in 1677. hosting a living labyrinth, its green walls of shrubbery reaching skyward; fountains reflecting the colors of the season; and sculptures by the most prominent artists of the era. 5 min by foot // free garden entry

the address: rue de rivoli, 75001 paris

musée d’orsay

the museum: musée d'orsay is housed in the former gare d'orsay, a beaux-arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. the museum holds mainly french art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. a prodigious collection of impressionist artwork from degas to monet.

the garden: jardin luxembourg is a meticulously manicured garden, a magical maze of flowers + 106 sculptures, covering 25 hectares {62 acres} of beautifully landscaped flower gardens + thickets of centuries-old trees. this urban oasis was developed upon the initiative of queen marie de medici in 1612.

there are apple orchards, games and activities for adults + little ones, a large pond where children sail miniature boats, and benches + chairs galore for readers, people watchers, lovers + visitors alike. a popular spot for runners + strollers. *remember, no stepping or sunning on the grass in the main areas, there’s a lovely special section reserved for picnickers and those getting their earthing fix in! 10 min by bus/20 min by foot // free garden entry

the address: 1 rue de la légion d'honneur, 75007 paris

versailles palace + gardens

the museum: the palace of versailles is located southwest of paris. an opulent chateau once employing 10,000 people, it was the royal residence of france from 1682, under louis XIV, until the start of the french revolution in 1789, under louis XVI.

louis XIV ruled france for 72 years, and in that time transformed versailles by encompassing louis XIII's chateau with a palace that contained north and south wings, as well as nearby buildings housing ministries. versailles is a spectacle to behold, saturated in art + adornment. every room, every wall + every furnishing is steeped in fine detail + splendid colors.

the garden: i’ve never experienced a garden like this: with it’s groves, fountains, sculptures, an orangerie + a lake for rowing. add to that the grandeur of classical music playing, sounding from little caches or seemingly from the tree branches themselves, and it feels as though you’ve stepped into a film with the most sumptuous soundtrack. in 1661 louis XIV entrusted andré le nôtre with the creation and renovation of the gardens of versailles, with renowned artists engaged to create stories via masterful sculptures and thousands of workers employed to cultivate this lush wonderland. work on the gardens lasted over 40 years and must be replanted every 100 years. located on the grounds // admission fee {garden fee is separate from palace admission fee}

the address: place d'armes, 78000 versailles

musée rodin

the museum: the musée rodin, housed in an 18th-century mansion in paris, is a museum that was opened in 1919, primarily dedicated to the works of the french sculptor auguste rodin. rodin’s pioneering work in modern sculpture linked traditional art with modern art. find the work of brilliant female artist camille claudel here as well. if you like smaller museums, with their hushed, serene rooms + ample space to take in the artwork, then this museum will surely top your list as well.

the garden: this secret garden, with its canopy of leafy trees, is home to some of rodin’s finest works, including the thinker. stroll beneath the open sky while reliving history via the carefully-crafted sculptures telling the stories of heroes + laymen. remember: do not touch the statues {i learned this the hard way, gulp}. located on the grounds // garden entry included in museum admission fee

the address: 77 rue de varenne, 75007 paris

musée bourdelle

the museum: when i told one of my french friends that this petite museum, with a menagerie of blossoming gardens, bulging statues + free admission, was one of my favorites, he asked, “who is bourdelle?” a lesser known artist + an incredibly gifted sculptor, antoine bourdelle worked as an assistant to augustine rodin while building his own career.

bourdelle was instrumental in bringing the world of beaux-arts into the new world of modern art. the musée bourdelle is the artist’s former home + studio where you can now see where his artwork was created and you can step through history as you step through his airy, sun-drenched working area.

the garden: bourdelle’s work space looks out onto a charming garden offering over-sized hydrangea bushes; this voluminous flower is the perfect backdrop + compliment to his sky-reaching sculptures. stroll all the way through to the very reaches of the gardens to find a beautiful, bronze rendering of joan of arc. located on the grounds // free garden entry + free museum entry

the address: 18, rue antoine bourdelle, 75015, paris

musée petit palais

the museum: the petit palais is an art museum in the 8th arrondissement across from the grand palais. built for the 1900 exposition universelle, it now houses the city of paris museum of fine arts. lesser known, hence less crowded, this intimate museum allows visitors to view masterpieces of painting + sculpture in four wings built around a semi-circular garden.

the garden: this lush inner courtyard garden is a quiet + calming retreat in a bustling milieu. the tranquil incorporation of a green space within this urban institution is both welcome + unexpected. a charming outdoor cafe can be found adjacent to the museum + garden. located on the grounds // garden entry included in museum admission fee

the address: avenue winston churchill, 75008 paris

musée albert-kahn

the museum: the musée albert-kahn, located just outside paris city limits in boulogne-billancourt, is made up of four hectares of gardens {or ten acres}, joining together bucolic landscapes of various traditions including an english garden, a japanese garden and a french garden. the museum includes historic photographs and film collection by the banker and philanthropist albert kahn.

kahn was known for initiating the archives of the planet, a vast photographical project spanning 22 years, in which photographers + explorers were enlisted to venture out into the world to capture the spirit of cultures around the globe. it resulted in a collection of 72,000 color photographs and 183,000 meters of film.

the garden: the garden beautifully reflects the care, efforts + diligence set forth by kahn in creating a space for people to come together and explore our commonalities, our love for nature + the beauty of green spaces. located on the grounds // garden entry included in museum admission fee

the address: 10 rue du port, 92100 boulogne-billancourt

join me this month, eco boys + girls, as i continue to explore the magnificent art places + green spaces in paris via my simple pleasures posts! until next time, stay green dear hearts!

simple pleasures: plus d'expériences, more experiments

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

faire la route: traveling + roadtripping is one of my favorite ways to experience life + to experiment with life. the word expérience in french has two meanings: 1. to encounter, to adventure and 2. to try, to experiment. i love that this one word looks at our ability to both try + to do as one: it holds hope + possibilities within it. 

i've been reading about pacifist + author bertha von suttner. suttner was the first female recipient of the nobel peace prize, and the author of inventory of the soul and the controversial anti-war novel lay down your arms.  from countess to house cleaner to renowned author and leader in the international peace movement, suttner had many life experiences. 

i'm inspired by the strength that galvanizes each of us towards our passions, whether it's promoting peace on a large scale or living a peaceful life each day, touching the lives of those in small corners of the world. i hope you're all experiencing life as you envision it in your minds + hearts. 

simple pleasures: jardin médicinal, a healing garden

The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.
— Thomas More

each saturday i bring you two images, a photocentric journey of the simple things in life that bring me great pleasure {art, architecture + alleyways; fountains, flora + fauna; parks, people + plant-powered cafes}: i like to think of it as a peek into the inner workings of my mind {like being john malkovich only sans the low ceilings + exorbitant fee}. today we enter through the gates of "god's garden" in the city of troyes via seven simple images. 

the garden of medicinal plants: the hôtel dieu le comte was a renowned hospital from the 12th century to the 19th century. the medicinal garden, known as an herbularium, was created within the interior courtyard of hôtel dieu le comte in 2009: a robust healing plant garden typical of the physiognomy of the gardens of the middle ages. here lie 85 species + 1,200 medicinal plants distributed in 34 beds, planted in chestnut casings. throughout history, medicinal plants were considered magical because of their healing powers and were traditionally grown in monasteries, abbeys, hospitals + clinics. today, i still consider plants to be magical for their curative + preventative properties. 

take a walk through this remarkable garden, a magical mystery tour if you will:

i read that the garden is interactive, visitors can read about the plants and touch the plants; i don't know if they meant that one could use the garden as their personal buffet, but i did have a little taste of some of these magical herbs including the peppermint, rosemary, chamomile, lavender; i'm officially inspired to grow my own indoor herb garden, here i go: beyond the basil!

simple pleasures: marées changeantes, changing tides

Let life happen to you. believe me: life is in the right, always.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

numéro neuf: the changing colors of the seasons are singing out from every flower, leaf + tree, and i'm reminded of the many life changes that unspool before us throughout our lives and each new season. i'm currently reading the words of bohemian-austrian poet + novelist rainer maria rilke including "letter number nine" from letters to a young poet, the publication of his correspondence to and by writer franz xaver kappus. as life unfurls before us, the following words of guidance are quite sagacious. here is the full letter:

Furuborg, Jonsered, in Sweden

November 4, 1904

My dear Mr. Kappus,

During this time that has passed without a letter, I have been partly traveling, partly so busy that I couldn't write. And even today writing is difficult for me, because I have already had to write so many letters that my hand is tired. If I could dictate, I would have much more to say to you, but as it is, please accept these few words as an answer to your long letter.

I think of you often, dear Mr. Kappus, and with such concentrated good wishes that somehow they ought to help you. Whether my letters really are a help, I often doubt. Don't say, "Yes, they are." Just accept them calmly and without many thanks, and let us wait for what wants to come.

There is probably no point in my going into your questions now; for what I could say about your tendency to doubt or about your inability to bring your outer and inner lives into harmony or about all the other things that oppress you-: is just what I have already said: just the wish that you may find in yourself enough patience to endure and enough simplicity to have faith; that you may gain more and more confidence in what is difficult and in your solitude among other people. And as for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.

And about feelings: All feelings that concentrate you and lift you up are pure; only that feeling is impure which grasps just one side of your being and thus distorts you. Everything you can think of as you face your childhood, is good. Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn't intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom. Do you understand what I mean?

And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrassed, perhaps also protesting. But don't give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers - perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life.

That is all, dear Mr. Kappus, that I am able to tell you today. But I am sending you, along with this letter, the reprint of a small poem that has just appeared in the Prague German Labor. In it I speak to you further of life and death and of how both are great and glorious.


Rainer Maria Rilke