Monday, 12 December 2011

Paris Confidential Part 2

Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without discovering a new museum.  A friend had recommended that we visit 'Le Musée Nissim de Camondo' located in the 8th arrondissement on the edge of the Parc Monceau, part of the collection of museums that house France's collection of 'les arts decoratifs'. The house was built on the site of the old family home that Moise Camondo inherited from his parents in 1910 and was specifically designed to  house his growing collection of 18th century European art and decor. The architect must have been tearing his hair out as Monsieur Camondo would buy complete panelled rooms from chateaux around France that would then have to be accommodated into the design of the new house.

This was a family home but also a treasure trove of French art, furniture and decorative objects.  Moise's only son Nissim died in battle during the first World War and so Moise dedicated the rest of his life to establishing the museum in his son's memory.  Moise bequeathed the house to the French nation on his death in 1935.  The tragic story continues with  the death of Moise's daughter, her husband and children who all perished in the Nazi death camps during the second World War.

A new restaurant is also in order and I heartily recommend 'le Vin de Bellechasse' at 20 rue de Bellechasse in the 7th arrondissement (not far from Le Musée d'Orsay) for good hearty French food. Actually the same friend recommended the restaurant (practically her local) and we had a very simple steak, frites and green salad - all cooked to perfection accompanied by their house wine - a good bordeaux.  Tel: 01 47 05 11 11

The Courtyard at Merci

Having covered culture and food, I think I should be allowed to mention another shop.  I was intent on this trip to visit 'Merci' a concept store (whatever that means) that sells lovely stuff in the 3rd arrondissement.  The idea behind Merci was for owners Bernard and Marie-France Cohen who founded Bonpoint to give something back to the people of Madagascar - where Bonpoint  manufactured their clothes.  Profits from the store go to a foundation in Madagascar that helps mothers to support their children through working as seamstresses.  Merci has also teamed up with famous designers who design pieces specifically for the store and who forgo their margin in order to benefit the foundation. Clothes, books, homewares and accessories are beautifully laid out in a charming loft style building complete with a café and friendly staff .

merci 111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris tel: 01 42 77 00 33 Métro Saint Sébastien-Froissart (ligne 8)

The winter sales start a little later in France than the UK, so if you are planning a shopping trip to Paris, and want to take advantage of the sales they start on the 11th January 2012.

A bientôt, Rebecca.