La Monnaie de Paris: More than a Museum!

La Monnaie de Paris reopened last autumn after six years of conversion work. The renovation plan led by the French architect Philippe Prost had to take up four challenges: open up the place onto the city and the world; perpetuate its original purpose, striking coins; make its traditional know-how and treasures known; let the public admire the beautiful architecture of an historic building. It is a great success!

Thanks to the magnificent restoration of the premises one cannot visit the Monnaie de Paris today without immersing oneself in the French history, traditions and know-how. And the temporary exhibitions of modern art which are taking place there create the link with the present and give the whole a timeless nature. One leaves the Monnaie de Paris amazed by the French ‘art de vivre’: Not to be missed, whether you are a Parisian or a tourist in Paris!

Firstly the surroundings and the architecture…

Monnaie de Paris - The renovation by Philippe Prost
Monnaie de Paris – The renovation by Philippe Prost

The Palace of the 11 Conti was built in 18th century and has been housing since that time the manufacture or the making of coins and medals. It is a huge and very elegant building with two main entrances. The most majestic is located on 11 Quai de Conti between the Pont-Neuf and the Pont des Arts. It allows to enter the ‘Cour d’Honneur’ with in the end of it the historic heart of the place: the workshop of ‘Grand Monnayage’. The second entrance is on the Rue de Guénégaud next to the new bright souvenir shop -located in former workshops- and to the tea-room Bloom… whose terrace in the lovely ‘Cour de la Méridienne’ is for sure a very pleasant place where to have a drink by fine weather.

Monnaie de Paris-Cour des fonderies
Monnaie de Paris – Cour des fonderies

Inside one discovers several buildings and wanders through several inner yards, each one more charming than the last and with suggestive names: Cour de la Méridienne, Cour des Fonderies, Cour des Remises, Cour de l’Or. When the renovation is completely over, one will also be able to take advantage of an inner garden at the back!

Monnaie de Paris - 11 Conti - The main room
Monnaie de Paris – 11 Conti – The main exhibition room

As far as visits are concerned the Monnaie de Paris offers two different spaces. The first one is permanent: the 11 Conti. It recounts one thousand years of history of the making of coins and emphasizes the fifteen art craft works still taking place there. The exhibition design is very beautiful and educational. The collections are integrated into the workshops themselves, which makes the visit more lively, even if one cannot see the craftmen at work as the working hours are not the same as the opening hours of the museum. But one can imagine…

In the largest exhibition room, which is also the main one, one can experiment in a very educational manner different ways of striking, engraving or reducing coins. I have also appreciated the numerous videos in which each craftman tells his specific work: so lively and informative! One can see Didier the reducer, Stéphane who works in specialized coining…

The following rooms show successively: the creations of the Monnaie de Paris -trophies, medals, rare coins, jewels-; some treasures whose exhibition is set as if one were in the strongroom of a bank; different types of collections; and finally the uses of currency through ages. In any room the explanations are great and translated in English and most of the time also in Spanish.

Women House - Louise Bourgeois - Femme Maison 1994
Women House – Louise Bourgeois – Femme Maison 1994

The second space of the Monnaie de Paris shows temporary exhibitions and is intended to exhibit only modern art. The exhibition taking place at the moment, Women House, is really worth the visit. It tells how the domestic space has been for a long time a prison for women, a space of domination of the female body; but also how it has been turned into a space of creation by female artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. All the works exhibited are from female artists, including the famous Niki de Saint Phalle or Louise Bourgeois. I have also noticed that most of the visitors are women…

The exhibition starts with a striking video of Johanna Demetrakas which is a tribute to the original exhibition ‘Womanhouse’ that took place in Los Angeles in 1972 and launched the movement of women’s emancipation in art. Do not miss it!

Then 17 rooms illustrate 8 themes, from ‘Desperate housewives’ to ‘Woman-House’ through ‘Une chambre à soi’ referring to Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, or ‘Une maison de poupée’ in reference to Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Doll’s house’.

The works, a mix of photographies, videos, paintings, sculptures or wider installations are all exhibited with much care. The colour of the walls varies from one room to the next, from yellow to dark grey. The exhibition lies on two floors. The rooms downstairs are small and without windows: they illustrate perfectly the domestic space as a prison. While the rooms upstairs are much wider and brighter and emphasize more and more the emancipation of women through artistic creation.

Women House - Room 5 - Empreintes
Women House – Room 5 – Empreintes

One can admire the beautiful decoration of some rooms upstairs, their wooden or black and white tiled floors, their period architectural features… without forgetting the amazing views on the Seine from the large windows.

The highlight of the exhibition is the Spider, by Louise Bourgeois, which stands in the middle of the ‘Grand Salon’ of the palace…

… As far as inside is concerned. Indeed the exhibition goes on outside with some other major artworks such as Nana Maison II, by Niki de Saint Phalle, that everybody can admire in the ‘Cour d’honneur’ while entering the museum. But my favourite is The Teapot, by Joana Vasconcelos, in the ‘Cour de la Méridienne’… So amazing at night when the shadow of the sculpture gets drawn on the enlightened ground!

Monnaie de Paris - Cour de la Meridienne - The Teapot - Joana Vasconcelos
Monnaie de Paris – Cour de la Meridienne – The Teapot – Joana Vasconcelos
Monnaie de Paris - Cour de la Meridienne
Monnaie de Paris – Cour de la Meridienne

Women House ends on 28 January 2018. The next modern art exhibition will be a retrospective of Subodh Gupta, a major contemporary Indian artist, and will start on 13 April 2018.

Before ending I must tell for the wealthiest that the Monnaie de Paris is also the place where to find the three-star Parisian Retaurant of the Chef Guy Savoy. Its entrance is located on the opposite side of the ‘Grand Salon’ on top of the ‘Grand Escalier’. You will be welcomed by the motto of the Chef: ‘La cuisine est l’art de transformer instantanément en joie des produits chargés d’histoire’ (Cooking is the art to turn instantaneously into joy produce with a lot of history). An absolutely unique and unforgettable experience… for those who can afford it.

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog

Practical information: Monnaie de Paris – 11 Quai de Conti ou 2 rue de Guénégaud 75006 Paris – Tuesday till Sunday: 11am-7pm (9pm on Thursdays-and Wednesdays from 31 January 2018) – Exhibition Women House: Until 28 January 2018



Paris Plages by Night: So Romantic!

In 2002 the Mayor of Paris had the crazy thought to convert the banks of the Seine into sandy beaches during the summer: Paris Plages was born! The operation was so successful that it has been repeated every year, which makes local people and tourists very happy. Indeed what could be more magical than having a drink on a deckchair on a beach along the Seine with a view on Notre Dame. During the day Paris Plages is very lively and attracts many families with children and groups of friends; but not only: one can also meet single persons sitting on a deckchair with a book. The atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly.

This year I got the idea of going there at night rather than during the day or in the evening after work… and I can highly recommend it. I have walked at the water’s edge from one end of Paris Plages to the other on the Voie George Pompidou. And I have much enjoyed the amazing views on every bridge, from the Pont des Arts to the Pont Marie, and on every monument, from the closest -as Notre Dame- to the most faraway -as the Eiffel Tower.

View on the EIffel Tower from Paris Plages
Paris Plages : View on the Pont Neuf and the Eiffel Tower in the background

At 10pm the Eiffel Tower starts sparkling…

Paris Plages by night- The Eiffel Tower in the background
Paris Plages by night- The Eiffel Tower in the background

… and all the bridges are beautifully lit up. In front of us, the Pont Notre Dame:

Paris Plages by Night - The Pont Notre Dame
Paris Plages by Night – The Pont Notre Dame

One goes on strolling on the river banks, highly secured:

Late walkers on Paris Plages
Late walkers on Paris Plages

It looks like we are elsewhere considering all the palm trees:

Paris Plages : a palm tree in front of the Pont Notre Dame
Paris Plages : a palm tree in front of the Pont Notre Dame

Many river cruise boats are passing by…

Paris Plages- A river cruise boat under the Pont Notre Dame
Paris Plages- A river cruise boat under the Pont Notre Dame

… and their passengers admire the beautiful views on the top of the towers of Notre Dame, just like us:

Paris Plages-Beautiful view on the towers of Notre Dame
Paris Plages-Beautiful view on the towers of Notre Dame

A little further one goes past six areas for playing boules, located between the Pont Louis Philippe and the Pont Marie. This is one of the most popular activities of Paris Plages during the day… but so quiet at night:

Paris Plages - One of the six areas for playing boules
Paris Plages – One of the six areas for playing boules

It is now 10.30pm and we have to leave the water’s edge. Back to the street level we cross the Seine on the Pont Marie and then on the Pont de la Tournelle from which the view on Notre Dame is just amazing!

Paris Plages-View on Notre Dame from the Pont de la Tournelle
Paris Plages-View on Notre Dame from the Pont de la Tournelle

I have been surprised by the peace and quiet of the place and was expecting more liveliness and a more festive atmosphere. I went there on a weeknight and shortly before the closing… and of course all the activities were already closed: beach games for children, areas for playing boules, table football,… as well as the pop-up libraries. Only the ice-cream makers and the riverside cafés were still open.

If you prefer a more festive and lively atmosphere you have better choose a Friday or Saturday night. Indeed on those two nights Paris Plages closes at midnight instead of 10pm during the week.

And to make the most of it one can also visit the two other areas where Paris Plages is taking place: The Bassin de la Villette, in the North East of Paris, which offers beaches and activities on both banks and on the water as well ; and the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, close to the Seine, where four beach volleyball courts have been set.

Enjoy the summer in Paris with Paris Plages! I will be back in a month with new posts as I am leaving the city for a couple of weeks holiday. See you soon!

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris B&B –

Practical information: Paris Plages 2016-Voie Georges Pompidou, on the right bank, from the Pont des Arts to the Pont Sully 75004, until 4 September- Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville 75004, until 21 August- Bassin de la Villette 75019, until 21 August 2016

The Best Of Paris by Night: On the Pont des Arts

Last Thursday my husband and I went for a walk to the Pont des Arts so as to enjoy the very special atmosphere of this pedestrian bridge at night and to take pictures of the amazing views on Paris one can admire from there.

The walk from the Rue Lacépède took about twenty five minutes through the Quartier latin. We had dinner in a good and very welcoming Italian restaurant just before arriving to the Ponts des Arts in the rue Mazarine, Amore & Gelosia: the Calamari fritti were excellent ; the pasta were good too and generously served ; and the waitresses were smiling and thoughtful!

We left the restaurant at night and kept walking towards the Seine. A few meters further in the rue Mazarine we noticed another restaurant with a pleasant outdoor terrace which could have been another nice place where to have dinner: it is called the Bistro Mazarin and is located at the corner of rue Mazarine and rue Jacques Callot. We have not tasted the food but it seems to be a traditional French Bistro and the terrace looks really great!

Pont des Arts-Paris-Rue Mazarine
Pont des Arts – Paris – Bistro Rue Mazarine

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