5 Paris Museums Perfect for Children

Every family vacation is never complete until the kids get to visit Disneyland or the Jardin d’Acclimatation along Bois de Boulogne. Although the city is overrun with plenty of gardens and memorable landmarks, many families still find it difficult to find child-friendly destinations within the city’s inner districts.

If your travel itinerary is too brief for a day trip to Disneyland Paris, these 5 Paris museums for children should make good alternatives.

Musée de la Contrefaçon (Museum of Counterfeits)

No one likes counterfeits, but when they’re posed right next to their real counterpart in a wide museum, these counterfeits can be pretty entertaining for teens and children of all ages. The first museum in our list may not be your usual children-themed museum but the Museum of Counterfeits still makes for an interesting stopover if you want your kids to see how forgers have tried, time and again, to make clones of Louis Vuitton bags, expensive colognes, and even expensive children’s toys from cheap material.

How good are your kids’ eyes for identifying fakes from the real deal? Test their detective skills at the Musée de la Contrefaçon at 16 Rue de la Faisanderie, 75116.

Musée de la Contrefaçon

Musée des Arts Forains

A real children’s museum, Forains features the private collection of Jean-Paul Favand, a child at heart. Musée des Arts Forains is composed of three rooms each featuring a unique set of funfare objects: the Venetian Lounges, where you can find automatons performing an Italian opera and where you can ride a merry-go-round, the Theatre of Marvels, where you can find amazing pieces from the Belle Epoque, and Fairground Art Museum, where you can find 19th century games and exhibits.

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic)

Also known as the Académie de la Magie, the Museum of Magic is a private museum located in 11 Rue saint Paul, 75004. It is situated next to the Museum of Automata so if your children find the magical props to be a little less convincing, their next door neighbor exhibits automatons from the 17th to the early 21st century. The museum is only open in the afternoons and an admission fee is charged from both adults and children.

Musée de la Magie

Musee des Arts Decoratifs

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs is not exactly a child’s museum either, but we know kids are easily entertained by visually appealing exhibits. If your children prefer something more inclined towards architecture and design, schedule a family trip to Musee des Arts Decoratifs in 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001.

Oftentimes, the museum management invites designers and artists from all corners of the globe to showcase their work here. Before securing your tickets, make sure to check the exhibit schedule. Who knows, you might just get to meet the biggest names in the arts and design industry.

Musee des Arts Decoratifs

Musée de la Poupée

If you have little girls in your family who love dolls, the Doll Museum just might be the perfect museum to add to your travel itinerary. The museums at Musee de la Poupee are mostly vintage, porcelain dolls– they are extremely rare, extremely valuable, and amazingly beautiful and life-like. It took real artists to create these dolls although they may look like simple toys.

You can visit Musée de la Poupée at 22 rue Beaubourg, 75003.

Musée de la Poupée

Part 2 – Updated! The Mega-List of the Oldest Places in Paris

Comite Champs Elysees

It’s a fact that Paris is filled with tons of surprises but these landmarks and buildings, which have stood on the same spot for hundreds of years will leave you with your jaw wide open in amazement.

If you are looking for history, a great story to share with friends and family back home, or perhaps an experience you will never forget, visit the oldest landmarks in Paris. Many of these landmarks are older than you– some are even older than Paris itself!

Oldest Cafe or RestaurantCafé Procope in 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006

Cafe Procope first opened its doors to patrons in 1686, making it the oldest restaurant in Paris that has never closed*. If you do the math mentally, Cafe Procope is exactly 327 years old.

Le Cafe Procope

The man behind Cafe Procope was the Sicilian chef, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. Although Cafe Procope is a fine dining restaurant today, it started out as a coffeehouse serving light meals and coffee made from exotic beans. To add to the exotic ambiance, the waiters of Cafe Procope served esteemed clientele who were mostly nobles and artists in Armenian clothing.

You can find Cafe Procope in along the 6th district, right in front of Comédie-Française, also another interesting landmark to visit.

Oldest Pastry Shop: La Maison Stohrer in 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002

Now 283 years old, La Maison Stohrer has never moved from its original address in rue Montorgueil. That’s what you call dedication!

Le Maison Stohrer

I’ve written about La Maison Stohrer before, as a pastry shop where tourists can get fine Parisian treats, but if you want to visit a historical landmark, La Maison Stohrer also makes for the perfect candidate. Although La Maison Stohrer no longer serves pastries for the king, you can still find delights fit for royalty when you visit their only shop at the second district.

The variety of dishes at Stohrer have also expanded over the years. They now serve breakfast, double as a bakery and do catering for receptions and parties.

Oldest Wine Shop: Caves Auge in 116, Boulevard Hausmann, 75008

Caves Auge is what many call a mecca for wine enthusiasts. Outside, wine distributors offer free wine tasting, and inside the shop, you can find the widest selection of spirits and brews.

Caves Auge

This wine shop has been serving enthusiasts for about 163 years. It first opened its doors in 1850 and has since been giving free drinks and serving Beaujolais Nouveau every November.  When you get to the shop and its closed, try to check the website for their calendar of activities.

Oldest Candy Shop: A la Mère de Famille in 35, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 75009

If you find yourself standing outside of A la Mère de Famille during a stroll around the city, rest assured, your sweet tooth led you to the doors of this 252-year old candy shop, or confectionery.

A la Mère de Famille

A la Mère de Famille has been operating in the same spot, in the same building and street since 1761. If that’s not a clear example of dedication and longevity, I don’t know what is! The shop started out a bit like La Maison Stohrer, a place where you can find pastries and Debauve & Gallais, Paris’ oldest chocolate shop (see below), but it has since evolved from making sweet bread and chocolate into candies, candied sweets, and basically, anything with a hefty sugar content.

Oldest Chocolate Shop: Debauve & Gallais in 30 rue des Sts-Pères, 75007

Like La Maison Stohrer, Debauve & Gallais, founded in 1800, supplied the royal house of France with freshly made, chocolate creations: cakes, cupcakes, candies, bread, filling– you name it, Debauve & Gallais delivered.

Debauve & Gallais

But today, Debauve & Gallais no longer serves royals exclusively. Anyone with a craving for something bittersweet is welcome to their shop at 30 Rue des Saints-Pères. They have built quite a fan base among popular personalities, but anyone who loves chocolate (and who doesn’t!?) has a place here, in Debauve & Gallais.

Oldest Department Store: Le Bon Marché in 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007

It’s no wonder why Parisians are so fashionable. Their oldest department store has been in business, selling the best and most fashionable effects, since 1838.

Le Bon Marche

It’s hard to miss Le Bon Marche. It is not only a department store today, but also a landmark which tourists frequent to find souvenirs and other trinkets. Le Bon Marche has gained quite a status in Paris– many visit it for its great deals (coincidentally, “Le Bon Marche” translates to “a good deal” in French) and for the historical feel which still emanates from the building, 175 years after it opened.

Le Bon Marche operated from a smaller building in 1838, but Louis Auguste Boileau later commissioned the construction of the 4th storey building we see today in 1867.

Oldest Covered Market: Enfants Rouges Covered Market in 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003

Open since 1615, the Enfants Rouges Covered Market is, and has always been, the best source for exotic food you can eat on the go, fresh vegetables, and simple snacks. The regular vendors include a sandwich stand, small stalls for Thai and Moroccan food, and of course, France’s pride and joy, crepes.

Les Enfants Rouges

It’s not hard to miss the market: it is located between a narrow street, despite being called a “covered market” and the only indicator you’ve reached it is when you see a sign like the one above. There are plenty of food markets in Paris, this just happens to be the oldest, and perhaps, the most popular; no trip to Paris is ever complete without a visit through here. Whether you’re here to taste the food or just to see more of the lively Marais district, include Enfants Rouges Covered Market in your list of places to visit.

Oldest Fresh Market: Marché Maubert in Place Maubert in Saint-Germain, 75006

It is not clear when Marche Maubert exactly opened but loyal patrons say it has been around since the Medieval Ages. You could say Marche Maubert is lucky– one of the many reasons why it has stuck around for so long even after the Hausmann buildings overhauling of the entire city is because of its location.

Marché Maubert

Source: Elizabeth Olson Porter

There are so many things you can find  in Marche Maubert: from fresh flowers, to fresh fruits, to fresh meat and veggies. As the oldest fresh market, the name is a dead giveaway that most of the produce found here come straight from someone’s backyard garden.

Oldest Tea Shop: Mariage Fréres in 13, rue des Grands-Augustins, 75005

The oldest tea shop in Paris first opened its doors to tea lovers as far back as 1854 by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage. This once cozy tea shop located in Luxembourg has since grown into the popular gourmet tea shop it is today, serving thousands of guests every month with a wide variety of teas and flavored drink concoctions.

mariage freres

Mariage Freres

The selection of teas at Mariage Freres range from common to exotic, to French fusion. Aside from tea, you can also find tea gift sets, tea cups, and tea paraphernalia from Mariage Freres which you can take home as souvenir.  If you’re looking for something truly unique, you can also find tea-based perfumes here.

Oldest Flea Market: Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt in Porte de Clignancourt, 93400

For odd trinkets, household decor, and aluminum ware, nothing beats the (more or less) 100-year old flea market at Porte de Clignancourt. It’s right outside tourist traffic so you will not find Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt on most tour itineraries, but like Paris, it is easily accessible by bus.

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Going through Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt can be a bit confusing for first-time visitors. With around 14 smaller markets in the flea market, you will have a smorgasbord of options before you.

Oldest Church: Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres in 3 place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006

There are plenty of churches and abbeys situated around Paris and many are, to this day, considered landmarks and heritage sites for the French, but the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is just a little more special. Built under the command of a king and blessed by a Saint, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-de-Prés is the oldest church in Paris.

Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This structure is literally older than the country. Built in 990 and accomplished in the 16th century, Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Pres is one of the most popular landmarks in the city that has withstood the tests of time and history. It has served its role as a church, prison, infirmary, and even, as a weapons stockroom.

If you are a lover of all things related to science, math, and philosophy, you can pay your respects to Rene Descartes who is interred here.

Oldest Garden: Jardin des Tuileries in Louvre Museum, 75001

The heart of Paris is literally a garden. Located in the 1st arrondissement, Jardin des Tuileries is one of Paris’ most loved tourist attractions and most iconic parks in the city. It is situated between Musee du Louvre and Place de la Concorde, both of which are also historical destinations you have to visit on your first day in Paris.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden was not always just your average park. In the past, it served as a personal zoo to one of France’s monarchs and was also a location for a public circus. Things have clearly changed though and while the Tuileries Gardens no longer host animals or ferris wheels, it is still a beautiful landmark you should not miss seeing!

Oldest Zoo: Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005

What started out as a herb garden is now one of the largest, most visited zoos in Paris– and not to mention, the oldest. Originally designed as a royal herb garden, the garden became a zoo when Parisian scientists decided to house animals here, originally for research purposes. The herb garden was eventually “re-purposed” and it is now home to different birds, reptiles, and average-sized animals.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

 

Oldest Pet Cemetery: Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques in Asnières-sur-Seine, France

Le Cimetiere des chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques

Oldest Square: Place des Vosges in 14 Place des Vosges, 75004

Place des Vosges

Oldest Tree: Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani, North of Saint-Julien-le-Pauv, 75005

Locust Tree in Square René-Viviani

Oldest Fountain: Fontaine des Innocents in Place Joachim-du-Bellay, 75001

Fontaine des Innocents

Oldest Clock: Charles V Clock on the side of La ConciergerieQuai de l’Horloge

A public clock should be hard to miss, but you can’t say the same for the clock found on the wall of La Concierge. Many people have missed it while many others have mistaken it for a modern addition because of the vibrant paint job.

Charles V Clock

But what many do not know is, that the clock on La Conciergerie is actually Paris’ oldest, functional time teller. Think of London’s “Big Ben” but French.

Oldest Stone House: Auberge Nicolas Flamel in 51 rue de Montmorency, 75003

You might have heard of Nicolas Flamel before, but you

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

Oldest Bridge: Pont Neuf in Ile de la Cite

Today, it sounds ironic when someone sets a rendezvous with you on Pont Neuf and la

Pont Neuf

Oldest School: Ecole Des Mines in 60 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006

 

Ecole Des Mines

Oldest Ballet School: Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris

Oldest Passage: Passage des Panoramas in 10 rue Saint-Marc, 75009

The modern equivalent of a passage is an arcade. Stores and

Passage des Panoramas

Source: Remi Jouan

Oldest (Private or Public) Museum: Musée du Luxembourg in 19 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006

Musee du Luxembourg

Oldest Bank: Crédit Municipal de Paris in 55 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004

Crédit Municipal de Paris

Oldest Library: Bibliothéque Mazarine in 23 Quai de Conti, 75006

Bibliothéque Mazarine

Oldest Bookshop: Librairie Galignani in 224 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Librairie Galignani

Oldest Piano Shop: Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano in 85 rue Pascal Paris, 75013

Fournitures Generales Pour Le Piano

Source: Linus Magnusson

Oldest Fashion House: Lanvin in 22 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008

Many of Paris’ fashion houses started out as small stores which w

Lanvin

Oldest Kitchen Appliances Store: E. Dehillerin in 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001

E. Dehillerin

Oldest Art Store: Magasin Sennelier in 3 Quai Voltaire 75007

Magasin Sennelier

Oldest Candle Shop: Cire Trudon in 78 Rue de Seine, 75006

Candles, candles everywhere!

Cire Trudon

Oldest Cinema: Studio 28 in 10 Rue Tholoze, 75018

If Studio 28’s facade looks familiar although you’ve never seen it in person, chances are, you’ve seen Amelie a couple of times in a row.

Studio 28

Oldest Committee: Comité Champs-Élysées

Comite Champs Elysees

Source: Autoplus.fr

Time Capsules in Paris: Historical Apartments in Paris You Can Visit

Historical Apartment in Paris

Believe it or not, many of Paris most popular landmarks and tourist spots were built long before France became a republic. In fact, the Louvre was once a fortress, and later, one of the many homes of the deposed king, Louis XVI before it became what it is today: the world’s most visited museum. Some restaurants in Paris were built in the 15th century, others in the 17th and are still operating today. Le Procope, for example, is known as the city’s oldest restaurant and it first opened its doors to the public in 1686!

If you have always wanted to see how the French (or the Parisien, in particular) lived during the 16th to the early 20th century, nothing beats the idea of visiting historical mansions located across Paris.

Marthe de Florian and Her Apartment Lost in Time

Not too long ago, news came out about a stunning apartment in Paris that was left by its owner during the onset of World War II and has been untouched and undisturbed by time. In 2010, the apartment that was seemingly lost in time was re-discovered by an auditing company and was reintroduced to the world.

Among the treasures in the apartment once owned by Madame Marthe de Florian is an unknown and uncharted painting by Giovanni Boldini. Thought to be a portrait of Marthe de Florian herself, this painting was never officially listed in the list of paintings prepared by Boldini’s wife sometime in the 1890’s. It may be assumed that Mrs. Boldini herself might have never known about the painting’s existence nor of Mme de Florian’s.

CORRECTION-FRANCE-ART-AUCTIONS

Copyright Getty

The interior of Mme de Florian’s home accurately shows the interior of most 19th century apartments. Seen here are more paintings, vases, and even, plastic flowers!

239446-original1-0k31y

Taxidermy pieces were commonly found throughout Mme de Florian’s apartment. It was common to have taxidermy in one’s home back in the day; in fact, having a few as home decor was a sign of affluence. Was Mme de Florian affluent? Absolutely! She was a socialite and an actress.

Mme de Florian's Apartment

Unfortunately, Marthe de Florian’s home is not open to the public and it is owned entirely by her estate (others say it was sold). Although the exact location of her apartment is unknown, it is believed to be located in the 9th district, near Quartier Pigalle. This is a common site for luxury apartments in Paris so you can always rent one nearby!

Apparently, well-preserved 19th century apartments are quite common in Paris; if you have always wanted to visit Marthe de Florian’s apartment but can’t, there are still a few alternatives within the vicinity.

The Elegant Home of Nissim de Camondo

Not to far off from the de Florian apartment is an elegant home once owned by a French banker and his family, the affluent Camondo’s. The story behind Musée Nissim de Camondo and how it came to be can be a bit heartbreaking: the museum which you can see today was once the private home of Moise de Camondo, a French-Jewish banker who bequeathed this stunning mansion patterned after the Petit Trianon, a chateau in Versailles to his only son, Nissim de Camondo.

During the Great War, instead of leaving Paris, Lt. de Camondo joined the French army and was killed on duty, on 1917. To honor his son, Moise de Camondo turned the mansion into a museum and ordered that everything in it would be preserved in their original, pristine condition.

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

table - Les Arts Décoratifs -  Jean-Marie del Moral

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

800px-Musée_Nissim_de_Camondo_-_Grand_Bureau

Copyright Wikimedia

You can visit Musee Nissim de Camonodo at 63, rue de Monceau, 75008. It is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The admission fee for adults is €7.50 and €5.50 for children. For more information: www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

Studio of Antoine Bourdelle

Preserved homes turned into museums are a common theme here in Paris. For many deceased sculptors and masters of art, their homes or rented studios in Paris are often transformed by the local government and turned into public landmarks: the studio of Antoine Bourdelle is one perfect example of this practice.

Musée Bourdelle is now an art museum but from 1885 to 1929 (44 years!), it served as Bourdelle’s own workshop. After his death, the Bourdelle estate bequeathed the workshop to the government, rebuilt the building where the studio is now located, and was expanded by several architects in the 1960s. A great portion of the museum is not vintage or historical, but if you join the educational tour that occurs here regularly, you will be given a chance to see Bourdelle’s studio.

In fact, Bourdeller’s workshop has not changed. Here is Bourdelle in his workshop in an undated picture…

Bourdelle's studio

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

And here is the workshop today, complete with the parquet floors and all of Bourdelle’s unfinished work:

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

But of course, not all sculptors and painters have the honor of having their former homes turned into shrines (of sorts) and a memorial that houses their work; and most definitely, not all homes of renowned individuals in Paris were turned into public attractions.

The memory of the singer and actress Edith Piaf, for example, lives on in the letters and pictures which are stored in an apartment owned by an author and biographer in the 11th arrondissement.

Musee Edith Piaf

Despite being a private museum run by the Friends of Édith Piaf Association, tourists flock the pied-a-terre-turned museum to see fan letters, decor, vinyl souvenirs, and pictures which were given to and owned by Edith Piaf. If you are a fan of the ‘La vie en Rose’ songstress, you may need to reserve before visiting the museum.

Musee Edith Piaf

Not all historical homes today are used to host French masterpieces. If you want to see how Asians in Paris lived in the early 20th century, this unusual building in the 8th district should be the perfect example.

Mr. Loo’s Almost-Forgotten Pagoda in Champs-Elysees

It’s hard to miss this red building with oriental external features as you walk the entire stretch of Champs-Elysees. The Pagoda Paris, as it is known today, was once the home of Mr. Ching Tsai Loo who emigrated from China in the 1900’s. The building served as Mr. Loo’s workplace, office, and residence, but when he died in 1957, the Pagoda closed down only to reopen 50 years later!

Pagode Paris

An unknown private investigator now owns Pagoda Paris, but instead of demolishing the structure or using it for other purposes, Pagoda Paris is now one of many Chinese museums in France.

Pagode Paris

Copyright PagodaParis.com

Pagode Paris

Copyright PagodaParis.com

There are plenty of historical mansions in Paris which you can visit; some for free, others with a fee. Many of these historical mansions have been preserved in their original condition with the intention to teach the later centuries about life in the past.

While we are in the topic of time capsules, there is one mansion outside Paris, in particular, which was built for this very purpose.

Mantin Mansion in Moulins, Central France

Also known as the Mantin Mansion, this kingly home was once owned by the Mantin family. Its last known owner, Louis Mantin, bequeathed the property to the local government and explicitly stated in his will that his home was to become a museum 100 years after his death. Louis Mantin had no children or a wife when he died; perhaps leaving the home to the government seemed like a very smart decision.

The mansion is not without its quirks and odd features. Like most affluent families, Mantin had a wide collection of taxidermy. Seen here is a piece unofficially named as “Dueling Frogs” and it is one of the most popular and unusual pieces found in Mantin’s collection.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Although Louis Mantin lived in the 18th century, he did own plenty of 15th century pieces, as well as a painting of a French noble who is believed to have lived in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

french-time-capsule-mansion-maison-mantin-chandelier_32081_600x450

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Looking to stay in mansions and apartments in Paris that look as good as these? Our Champs Elysees – Faubourg Saint Honore II apartment located in the 8th district has all the makings of an elegant French home. A well-preserved spiral staircase,  a common attribute of 17th century buildings, leads you straight to the front door of this pied-a-terre. Book today!