The “Museum of Romantic Life”
(Le Musée de la Vie Romantique)
and another amazing/secret place in Paris
At the beginning of the 19th Century a large number of writers and artists settled in the 9th arrondissement, an area that they dubbed “Little Athens”. The house of portrait painter Ary Scheffer – now the Musée de la Vie Romantique – was visited by the stars of the time such as Chopin, Liszt, Dickens… and writer George Sand, to whom the museum is now partially dedicated.
photos : JasonW
Tucked away at the end of a long paved alley at 16 de la rue Chaptal there’s something quite rare in Paris: a detached two-storey house with its own garden, a real haven of peace. Built in 1830 for Ary Scheffer, he added two artist workshops and a glasshouse, sculpted the garden and lived there for thirty years until his death. The building and ground were then bought by his daughter before finally being donated to the State in 1957. Nos linked to the Musée Carnavalet (the Paris history museum), the Paris council currently looks after the place, and entrance is free.
Over two small storeys, the museum exposes the personal effects of George Sand in a décor designed by Jacques Garcia (who also designed the décor of the Hôtel Costes for example), recreating the ambiance of the ‘romantic life’ that the artists of the time strived for. As soon as you enter, the thick curtains and carpets give the place a warm, cosy feel…
On the ground floor, writer George Sand’s memorabilia is displayed: portraits, furniture and jewellery from the 18th and 19th Centuries, bequeathed by her granddaughter Aurore Lauth-Sand…
…ans upstairs there are paintings by Ary Scheffer, shown with other pieces of art by his peers. The setting and dense wallpaper are charming…
In the entrance, don’t miss the family tree that shows that George Sand was related to the king of Poland and even Louis XVI!
You should also know that during the warm weather, starting in May, the Musée de la Vie Romantique organises a Sunday brunch where you can enjoy a hearty (not to say, copious) meal in the beautiful setting of the garden.
So, let’s go back donw the long alley to the street. Rue Chaptal still has another semi-secret place to be seen..
We had vaguely heard about a public library in the street that is housed in a beautiful building, but after finding he discrete sign for it at 26 rue Chaptal nothing prepared us for what the building we were about to discover. Open since about a year ago, the Bibliothèque Chaptal is in a large Paris townhouse. The garden and entrance give a hint of the splendour awaiting inside…
And yet, coming across the main room is still an amazing surprise. Large, high and bright – thanks to a glass ceiling, the original frescoes, gold leaf and fireplace have been preserved. It’s as extraordinary as it is calm…
Entrance is obviously free, so don’t be shy about going in and looking round. The other floors are voluntarily ultra-modern, but the main room is really worth seeing. And with the Musée de la Vie Romantique just a few doors down, you have two great reasons for checking out this timeless area!
The Musée de la Vie Romantique is at 16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris. Métro Pigalle (lines 2 & 12). Open every day from 10am – 6pm except Mondays and public holidays. Free entrance for the permanent exhibition. Entrance for temporary exhibitions can vary from 3.30€ to 9€. More information (in French): www.vie-romantique.paris.fr
The Bibliothèque Chaptal is at 26 rue Chaptal. Closed Sundays and Monday. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 – 7pm, Wednesday from 10am – 7pm and Saturday from 10am – 6pm