FROM THE VERY MINUTE I ENTERED THE RECEPTION AREA, I witnessed excited visitors gasping out aloud and hurriedly pulling out their cameras as if it would vanish before their eyes, myself included.
I waited for a minute or two, allowing for the visitors who arrived at the same time as me to rush off to the next opulent room in awe.
The parquetry flooring creaking under my feet, I note the rich red clothed walls, a sparkling chandelier above, twin indigo blue vases with gold trim flanking a sculptured bust on an ornate side table and fine art gracing the walls.
Left standing alone, I was able to soak up the breathtaking surroundings, in the grand old mansion and former residence of Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart.
Unlike the sophisticated socialite guests of Edouard and Nélie, I wasn’t delivered to the steps of the mansion by a horse drawn carriage, instead, my chauffeur was the metro driver on line 13.
He continued his route and left me to walk the short distance from Miromesnil Metro stop to Musée Jacquemart-Andre in the rain.
Edouard Andre was heir to a banking family and Nélie Jacquemart was a young portrait painter when they met.
He hired the young woman to paint his portrait and later they married. Initially a marriage of convenience but later fell in love.
The childless couple both shared a passion for art and spent all their years together travelling Europe and Asia collecting their vast collection.
When Nélie died, she bequeathed their home and it’s contents to the city of Paris, honouring her husband’s wishes.
Now their former home is the Musée Jacquemart-Andre.
The townhouse or mansion located in what was the village of Monceau, in the outskirts of Paris, later became part of Paris’ huge urban development instigated by Napoleon III and entrusted to Baron Haussmann.
Edouard André bought a plot on the newly developed, Boulevard Haussmann and within just 6 years had built a mansion inspired by the beautiful Palais Garnier, the famous Parisian Opera House.
IN 1875, HE OPENED HIS RESIDENCE WITH A BALL, millionaires and dignitaries attended. Articles appeared in society newspapers, praising its opulence and beauty.
Unlike other mansions, this mansion was set back from the street, to allow for a circular driveway which enabled horse and carriages to arrive, drop off their guests and continue back out on to the street, as to not cause congestion in front of the mansion.
They entertained their guests in their State Apartments, consisting of grand chandeliers, famous works of art, magnificent furniture and artefacts from around the world.
When they welcomed a smaller gathering a wall between the reception area and state apartment rooms, was cranked up through the floor by their servants, to enable a more intimate setting and disappear into the floor for their grand balls.
The winter garden, (left) – a room with exotic plants and a glass ceiling – which was a fashionable room to have at this time, was a place where the ladies could seek refuge from the crowds.
Positioned at the end of the apartments and the base of the Winter Garden, is The Grand Marble Staircase, extending up to an open oval space, with mirrors to reflect all its opulent beauty.
Because, the city of Paris responded to the former owner’s wishes, to preserve the home and it’s collection, the sumptuous museum, offers you a glimpse into bourgeois life in the 1800’s and allows you to imagine what it might have been like to be an honoured guest in their magnificent home.
Musée Jacquemart-André is my favourite small museum in Paris and I highly recommend it!
The original dining room with a fresco ceiling and sumptuous surrounds serves lunch and afternoon tea.
Sitting under the watchful eye of Madame Jacquemart’s bust, in fine surrounds, you can enjoy a delicious salad, topped off with a glass of wine and then pour over the dessert trolley.
Self serve lockers in the cloak room, enables you to leave behind any items you don’t want to carry around and a very informative audio guide, included in the price of the ticket adds to the experience.
I love poking around former residences of the bourgeois and Musée Jacquemart-Andre is one of the finest you will see in Paris.
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Explore more of Paris’ wonderful museums :
- Musée Jacquemart-AndréI love poking around former residences of the bourgeois and Musée Jacquemart-Andre is one of the finest you will see in Paris.
- Maison de Victor HugoNestled in a corner of Place des Vosges, is the former home of famous author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame; Victor Hugo.
- Musée Nissim de CamondoA splendidly elegant mansion and former home of the Camondo's with an evocative, unforgettably tragic family history.
- Musée des Arts ForainsTransport yourself back in time. Ride spectacular antique carousels, play ancient fair-ground games and admire colourful memorabilia.
- Musée de la Vie RomantiqueTucked away behind an unassuming green gate, you will discover this enchanting hôtel particulier. An absolute delight.
- Fondation Louis VuittonNothing short of spectacular, offering panoramic views and modern art, this new museum is sure to become another Paris icon.
- Petit PalaisNot as small as its name suggests. Elaborate ceiling murals, magnificent mosaics, grand staircases a pretty garden café and it is free.
- Muséum national d’histoire naturelleThis museum would have to be the most dramatic and stylishly arranged natural history museum in the world. Be dazzled in awe ....
- Musée Cognacq-JayThis stunning home of Samaritaine Department store founder, Ernest Cognacq-Jay and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, includes Fragonard, Rembrandt, Cézanne ...
- Musée de la Chasse et de la NatureThis wonderfully, quirky, informative, interactive museum, doesn't take itself too seriously. Exploring the history of hunting.
- Musée BourdelleFormer home and studio of the artist; Antoine Bourdelle, who was famous for his monumental public statues and friezes, is an exceptional free museum.
- Musée ZadkineThe small sun drenched former home of Ossip Zadkine allow light to bounce off African influenced work, giving the museum a quiet sense of calm and elegance.
- Musée RodinThe newly renovated mansion and former home of the artist, has an equally rich and inspiring history as Monsieur Auguste Rodin himself and then there are the gardens.
- Maison La Roche – Foundation Le CorbusierAt the end of a leafy private lane is an iconic tribute to the architect of modern architecture.
- Musée CarnavaletLocated in the heart of the Marais, this museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. Boasting 600,000 pieces, ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.
- Palais de TokyoContemporary and cutting edge exhibitions of modern art, a very chic restaurant, late night openings until 12am and a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Musée d’OrsayThe former railway station, sitting on the left bank of the Seine, has the largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist art in the world.