Le Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris

Le Musée Nissim de Camondo in the north west 8th arrondissement of Paris: one of many smaller museums to visit in Paris when you feel like being away from the crowds.  If you want to know more about the end of the 19th century high society then there is really only one way to go about it.  The single most defining attribute of the wealthy Parisien is his hôtel particulier.  His private mansion which is his castle, his home, his signature. This is where family life, social and business affairs are conducted.

The hôtels particuliers of Paris are an unique concept, they define you and your family.  A 19th century mansion build by the newly rich is not the same as an 17th century Hôtel Sully in the Marais, nor are all the 19th century mansions alike depending on their owners desire to focus on their modernity, show off their immense wealth, their political power and or their art collections.

The home of Moïse de Camondo was built as a modern accommodation with all the comforts the time period could offer and the efficiency a high society family with a large servant staff needed. Yet is was also tailor-made to host Moïse de Camondo’s impressive and already famous 18th decorative art collection which heavily focused on the most refined furniture. Moïse de Camondo donated his house to the French State in honour of his son Nissim de Camondo who died during WWI.

But one does not need to be amateur of 18th century to enjoy this exceptionally well preserved mansion that is now part of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on rue de Rivoli next to the Louvre.  You will be able to walk through the house from kitchens to the private apartments, hear about the life of masters and servants (yes, Upstairs Downstairs comes to mind!), the ways of the rich and powerful, the ever delicate position of the members of the Jewish community, of the powerful attraction of the “Siècle des Lumières” (the Age of Enlightenment) on the European 19th century mind and learn more about an important chapter in the history of France’s luxury industry.

Don’t miss a stroll in the nearby Parc Monceau where André-Jacques Garnerin left from in a balloon in 1797 to be the first ever the first parachute jumper. Parc Monceau is the only 19th century park laid out by Baron Haussmann made of pre-existing park. If you feel like spoiling yourself, have lunch in the elegant Le Camondo restaurant (38€ for a three course meal) next to the museum.

 

Flavia Claes