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Museums and art galleries in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Odéon and the Latin Quarter


Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Ensba)

Art Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The city's most prestigious fine arts school resides in what remains of the 17th-century Couvent des Petits-Augustins, the 18th-century Hôtel de Chimay, some 19th-century additions and some chunks of assorted French châteaux that were moved here after the Revolution (when the buildings briefly served as a museum of French monuments, before becoming the art school in 1816). The entrance is on quai Malaquais.

Espace Fondation EDF

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Rennes-Sèvres

This former electric substation was constructed in 1910 under the guidance of architect Paul Friesé, known for his numerous industrial-style buildings around Paris. Reconverted by EDF, the building has been used for exhibitions since 1990. The subjects reflect the various patronages received by EDF and often deal with the environment, urbanism or sustainable development.


Galerie Kamel Mennour

Art Galleries 6e arrondissement

After bursting on to the St-Germain art scene with shows by fashion photography crossovers David LaChapelle and Ellen von Unwerth and filmmaker Larry Clark, and introducing emerging artists Kader Attia and Adel Abdessemed, Mennour has confirmed his presence on the gallery scene with a move to these grand new premises in a hôtel particulier. Recent shows by an impressive cross-generational stable have included Daniel Buren, Claude Lévêque, France's representative at the 2009 Venice Biennale, and Huang Yong-Ping.

Collège des Bernardins

Museums Art and design Jussieu

Cistercian monks and young intellectuals from the University of Paris were trained here for several centuries. But times change and after the French Revolution the Collège des Bernardins became in turn a prison, a warehouse, then a fire station and police barracks. It was only in 2001 that the Parisian Diocese bought back this pearl of Gothic architecture, turning it into a place of dialogue, culture and contemplation. The sublime 13th century edifice, just steps from the Boulevard Saint-Germain, was completley renovated and opened its doors to the public in 2008. Contemporary art exhibitions, concerts, performances, debates, conferences, sociology courses and theology courses now take place behind the old stone façade, and the place can again fulfil its pedagogical, social and spiritual vocation.


Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine

Museums Saint-Michel

The history of medicine is the subject of the medical faculty collection. There are ancient Egyptian embalming tools, a 1960s electrocardiograph and a gruesome array of saws used for amputations. You'll also find the instruments of Dr Antommarchi, who performed the autopsy on Napoleon, and the scalpel of Dr Félix, who operated on Louis XIV.

Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits

Museums History 6e arrondissement

More than 2,000 documents and letters give an insight into the lives of the great and the good, from Magritte to Mozart. Einstein arrives at the theory of relativity on notes scattered in authentic disorder, Baudelaire complains about his money problems in a letter to his mother, and HMS Northumberland's log-book records the day Napoleon boarded the ship to be taken to St Helena.


Musée National du Luxembourg

Museums Art and design Odéon

When it opened in 1750, this small museum was the first public gallery in France. Its current stewardship by the national museums and the French Senate has brought imaginative touches and some impressive coups, from Matisse collages to Arcimboldo portraits, Cranach and Cézanne, passing by Titian and Veronese. Book ahead to avoid queues.

Musée de Minéralogie

Museums Quartier latin

If mineralogy seems like an obscure science to you, it’s well worth unravelling some of its mysteries at this surprising museum. Founded in 1783, the museum exhibits tens of thousands of minerals from around the world: thorianite from Madagascar, brazilianite from Brazil or even Francevillite from Gabon. Rocks, minerals, gemstones and other meteorites are classed according to their magmatic, scientific or chemical origin. This museum comes complete with a creaking parquet floor and a main hall with a charming view over the verdant Jardin du Luxembourg.


Musée Maillol

Museums Art and design 7e arrondissement

Dina Vierny was 15 when she met Aristide Maillol (in the mid-1930s) and became his principal model for the next decade, idealised in such sculptures as Spring, Air and Harmony. In 1995 she opened this delightful museum, exhibiting Maillol's drawings, engravings, pastels, tapestry panels, ceramics and early Nabis-related paintings, as well as the sculptures and terracottas that epitomise his calm, modern classicism.Vierny also set up a Maillol Museum in the Pyrenean village of Banyuls-sur-Mer. This Paris venue also has works by Picasso, Rodin, Gauguin, Degas and Cézanne, a whole room of Matisse drawings, rare Surrealist documents and works by naïve artists.Vierny has also championed Kandinsky and Ilya Kabakov, whose Communal Kitchen installation recreates the atmosphere of Soviet domesticity. Monographic exhibitions are devoted to modern and contemporary artists. Last year saw a fascinating exhibition of death's heads from Caravaggio to Damien Hirst.

Musée National du Moyen Age - Thermes de Cluny

Museums Art and design Quartier latin

The national museum of medieval art is best known for the beautiful, allegorical Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle, but it also has important collections of medieval sculpture and enamels. There is also a worthy programme of medieval concerts in which troubadours reflect the museum's collection and occasional 45- minute heures musicales in a similar style. The building itself, commonly known as Cluny, is also a rare example of 15th-century secular Gothic architecture, with its foliate Gothic doorways, hexagonal staircase jutting out of the façade and vaulted chapel. It was built from 1485 to 1498 - on top of a Gallo-Roman baths complex. The baths, built in characteristic Roman bands of stone and brick masonry, are the finest Roman remains in Paris. The vaulted frigidarium (cold bath), tepidarium (warm bath), caldarium (hot bath) and part of the hypocaust heating system are all still visible. A themed garden fronts the whole complex. Recent acquisitions include the illuminated manuscript L'Ascension du Christ from the Abbey of Cluny, dating back to the 12th century, and the 16th-century triptych Assomption de la Vierge by Adrien Isenbrant of Bruges.

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