Gourmet Fair

Paris, from Antiquity to Eternity

The Galerie Choiseul of the Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris Photo ©Antoine Mercusot. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Armchair Traveling with The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France —It’s hard to imagine that people once made their way in and around Paris on a wooden dugout canoe, but they did. That was back in the time before Lutetia and the Romans, and even before the age of the ancient Celtic tribe of the Parisii who ruled the waves of the Seine circa third century B.C. The Neolithic dugout canoe, 6,000 years young, made of one single piece of wood, was used for fishing and transporting merchandise and people around what was far from a town back in the Neolithic period and one of their intriguing vessels is visible in the Musée Carnavalet-Histoire de Paris, the museum devoted to the history of Paris from its beginnings to the present.

Lay-out of the city of Paris in the 17th century. Giovanni-Maria Tamburini, Plan de Paris,huile sur toile grand format (152 x 203 cm) daté de 1632-1641. ©Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The museum, located in two vast private mansions in the Marais district underwent an extensive four-year renovation and the result is a wonder of clarity and a brilliant testimony to a city of eternity that was born in Prehistoric times as well as Antiquity and continues to invite and innovate to this day. It re-opened last May after the third confinement offering a venue both old and new to ambulate in once again. So if you can’t be in Paris quite just yet, in the meantime, The Gourmet Gazette brings the museum with its fascinating history of Paris to you.

The Neolithic dugout canoe used in Paris 6,000 years ago. Pirogue monoxyle,collections du Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris ©Pierre Antoine. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The museum offers an extensive journey from the farther shores of the Parisii tribe and the Gallo-Roman period through to the medieval period, one of important building ages in Paris that saw the construction of Notre-Dame and the Conciergerie Palace on the city’s islands to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Revolution and beyond. Cultural and art movements are revealed as well as the history of Paris through objects, paintings and actual period decors. Some 3,800 works, all restored to perfection, are on display in the two mansions of Le Carnavalet and the Le Peletier Saint-Fargeau that form the elegant backdrop for the museum.

The Music Room with Harp. Salon de musique,Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris ©Pierre Antoine . Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The journey begins in the arched cellars of the building, a dynamic aspect of the building that was discovered during the renovations and which are one of the oldest parts of the structure and today they house the collections from the Neolithic period to Antiquity as well as the rich medieval period and the Renaissance. The journey through the museum is chronological and various treasures are revealed along the way like the Art Nouveau decor for the jewelry house of Fouquet fashioned by Alphonse Mucha and the bedroom of Marcel Proust replete with his bed, the one in which he presumedly wrote In Search of Lost Time, previously entitled in English Remembrance of Things Past.

The decor of the Parisian jewelry house of Fouquet by Alphonse Mucha. Bijouterie Fouquet, Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris ©Pierre Antoine. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Along the way the vast common rooms of the mansion can be admired from the monumental staircases to the reception and ball rooms. Period rooms, a music room replete with harp and a space devoted to a city within a city, Montmartre, are all on the agenda. A favorite room, the entrance room in fact, is the one filled with sign posts from the 16th to the 20th centuries of Parisian shops depicting the activity taking place inside. Don’t miss the black cat of the Chat noir cabaret.

The sign for the black cat cabaret by Adolphe-Léon Willette, circa 1881. Adolphe-Léon Willette (1857-1926), Enseigne du cabaret Le Chat Noir.Vers 1881Tôle peinte découpée H 130 cm, L 96 cm. ©Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

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