Thursday, January 20, 2005

Musee Carnavalet

I was looking forward to my walking tour today because we were going to Musee Carnavalet. It is one of my favorite museums. Originally, the museum was a Renaissance mansion, at one time owned by the Marquise de Sevigne. The Marquise was friendly with many people in the royal court of Louis XIV. She also wrote many letters, mostly to her daughter who lived in the south of France. These letters describe, in a personal account, major activities that went on in the royal court as well as day to day life. The eloquent letters have been complied in a book, which make interesting, but difficult reading.

Carnavalet is the museum of Paris history, housing a large collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. There is also a major collection devoted to the France's revolutionary period and our tour focused on the revolutionary rooms. Interesting tidbit from our tour guide Claude: "Bastille day" is a misnomer. The 14th of July does not celebrate the storming of the Bastille, but "Federation day" which occurred one year later in 1790 on the same day. This was a celebration that was sanctioned by the then still King Louis XVI as they were trying to establish a constitutional monarchy like Britain. Having just recently read a biography of Marie Antoinette, Carnavalet museum is a must see since you get to witness that period between the Bastille and the guillotine when the Revolution got out of control. There is a room devoted to evidence of Marie Antoinette's family's last years of life as prisoners. There is a lesson book of her son, the shaving bowl of her husband, Louis XVI, games that her children played with, and final portraits (even in jail she had a portrait painted by Alexander Kucharski). It's all very sad.

Anyone interested in Parisian (and French) history will be enthralled with this museum. I promise. Best of all, it's free entry like the other museums run by the city of Paris.)

After lunch, I coaxed some friends to join me for lunch at one of the local restaurants for a falafel lunch. Absolutely the best in town.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
11:49 PM



you sympathized with Marie Antoinette, the Austrian orgy-queen, who barely cared after her children? What? What book are you reading? Booooooooooo......

# posted by NARDAC : 12:58 AM  

As a lover of history, your description of visiting the museums of Paris is one of the many reasons why I come back to your site everyday. The way you write makes me feel I am there with you.

I've visited the "French Asylum"... in a rural part of Northeast Pennsylvania. It's where the supporters of Marie Antoinette built a "farm" where she would live if she ever got out of France!

# posted by Margie : 2:14 AM  

NARDAC, Actually this Antonia Fraser book on Marie Antoinette dispelled some of the rumors about her. I believe Ms Fraser is a well respected biographer. In the book you get a sense that M-A was a spendthrift and certainly immature and wasn't the most politically astute, but that she was a loyal wife, devoted mother and tried her best in her adopted country that hated her from the start. Regardless, I'd probably feel sad for any family that was in prison for years and finally died horrible deaths. I was particularly touched by the story of the dauphin who died basically because the guards forgot about him.
BM, I had no idea about the place in PA. I'll have to do a search on the web to find out more. Thanks.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 8:26 AM  

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