It’s difficult to describe the Arts et Métiers museum succinctly; inventions, technology, an amazing building, breathtaking staging bordering on the surreal (suspensed airplanes, cars 10 metres from the ground in a converted church…). Each time we go, we come across something new there, and we really wanted to share our experience of the place with you.
You could probably call us regulars, but even after three or four visits there are still new things to discover at the Arts et Métiers museum. It’s a huge place, spread over a few buildings and many floors, with some rooms almost hidden, some incredible stuff on display and a subject matter that transforms the rather dry subject of technology and inventions into something fascinating.
Let’s start with the setting itself, as it’s pretty incredible. Climb the stairs to the upper levels and you’ll be met with modern, graphic lines……or monumental, carved stone (with an airplane hanging from the ceiling!)…You’ll go from wood-lined rooms nestled under the rooftops……to gigantic rooms filled with odd machines……and just when you think you’ve seen it all…Whoever had the idea for all that must be a genius! Hopefully we agree that the Arts et Métiers museum is a pretty stunning place. But what exactly is on display there? It’ s a difficult question to answer in a few words, because there’s such diversity. We started upstairs in an area that showcases works by apprentices in the Compagnons du tour de France program, which allows trainees to go round France gleaning special knowledge form the best craftsmen we have to offer. The results are astonishingly accomplished and detailed.Next, we saw (in random order) scientific instruments……the progression of techniques in glasswork, pottery, metalwork……wood and its use in both furniture and model for architectural projects……then architecture and engineering…After that, printing, photography, sound, the moving image…And there’s more! We loved this vintage sewing machine with mother of pearl (they don’t make them like this any more), and the cute toaster and its clever system that turns four slices round at a time with one central button, so they all toast on both sides.You’ll also see the first computers, space exploration vehicles, the evolution on all sorts of modes of transport (the super-fast TGV train, cars, bikes, planes…), musical instruments, automats, Foucault’s pendulum, and a lot, lot more.
We think that getting the audioguide is pretty essential. It costs just 5€ and has several useful features, like offering a 1h visit with thirty objects explained, or 2 ½ hours and 75 objects, or just roam free and get info on any of 175 objets throughout the museum. There’s over 6 hours of audio to listen to in all! And when you’ve finished all that, you’ll probably welcome a hot drink or food in the café/restaurant. They have a courtyard terrace during the warm weather, and it’s rather lovely.
Oh, and if you’re stuck to your seat and you mouse, try the virtual visit with 360° views. It’s pretty amazing too!
In all, we took about 150 photos (!) that you can check out in our gallery below. Click the play button, followed by the four little arrows bottom right to go into fullscreen mode. Isn’t technology great?!
The Arts et Métiers museum (here) is open every day except Mondays from 10am – 6pm (9.30pm Thursdays). Closed 1st May and Xmas Day.
Admission: 6.50€ / 4.50€ but free for everyone on the 1st Sundays of the month and after 6pm Thursdays!
Official site: www.arts-et-metiers.net