During the Années Folles the house at 6, Impasse de la Défense sheltered a ballroom, a cabaret and a ‘love hotel’ where the bawdy crowds of the 18th arrondissement came to shake their stuff to the airs of the accordion. Then, in the aftermath of WW2, the dance hall became one of the biggest betting shops in France, and it wasn’t until 2006 that the City of Paris gave this den of debauchery and gambling a new lease of life as a reflection, exhibition, production and dialogue space for documentary. Through its exhibitions, performances, debates, screenings and ambitious education programme, the BAL puts a huge effort into recording 'reality' in all its complexity, altering preconceptions, sketching history through the present and multiplying visual approaches. Under the direction of Raymond Depardon, this independent initiative interrogates the historical, political and social stakes of documentary through contemporary imagery, problematising a world saturated by the visual and protecting it from the ravages of a culture of distraction.
At the back of a garden, this 17th-century manor displays the history of the hilltop, with rooms devoted to composer Gustave Charpentier and a tribute to the Lapin Agile cabaret, with original Toulouse-Lautrec posters. There are paintings by Suzanne Valadon, who had a studio above the entrance pavilion, as did Renoir, Raoul Dufy and Valadon's son Maurice Utrillo.
Seven floors of erotic art and artefacts amassed by collectors Alain Plumey and Joseph Khalifa. The first three run from first-century Peruvian phallic pottery through Etruscan fertility symbols to Yoni sculptures from Nepal; the fourth gives a history of Paris brothels; and the recently refurbished top floors host exhibitions of modern erotic art.
This wonderful museum combines the small private apartment of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-98) with the vast gallery he built to display his work - set out as a museum by the painter himself, and opened in 1903. Downstairs shows his obsessive collector's nature with family portraits, Grand Tour souvenirs and a boudoir devoted to the object of his unrequited love, Alexandrine Dureux.Upstairs is Moreau's fantasy realm, which plunders Greek mythology and biblical scenes for canvases filled with writhing maidens, trance-like visages, mystical beasts and strange plants. Don't miss the trippy masterpiece Jupiter et Sémélé on the second floor.Printed on boards that you can carry around the museum are the artist's lengthy, rhetorical and mad commentaries.
Set in an apartment where Piaf lived at the age of 18, when she sang on the streets of Ménilmontant, this tiny museum consists of two red-painted rooms crammed with letters, pictures, framed discs and objects belonging to the singer.Curator Bernard Marchois doesn't speak English. It helps, therefore, to have seen the Marion Cotillard film before you go, to allow you to piece together the scrapbook of Piaf's highly mythologised life. The museum's real treasures are two letters, one a chatty number written on her 28th birthday, and another more passionate pen to actor Robert Dalban.These - and the well-worn, human-sized teddy bear cuddling a tiny monkey soft toy - are the only clues to the real Piaf, the greatest singer the nation has ever known.
When Dutch artist Ary Scheffer lived in this small villa, the area teemed with composers, writers and artists. Aurore Dupin, Baronne Dudevant (George Sand) was a guest at Scheffer's soirées, along with great names such as Chopin and Liszt. The museum is devoted to Sand, although the watercolours, lockets, jewels and plastercast of her right arm that she left behind reveal little of her ideas or affairs.