This being my third trip to Paris, I wanted to do things that tourists don’t typically do. I was lucky enough to be meeting up with friends who live two hours away in the Loire Valley, so they had some cool ideas. I also turned to a cool website I found to help me out as well, Messy Nessy Chic which has a number of offbeat ideas.
The first place we went was the Musée Nassim de Camondo which I called the rich banker’s mansion. What a cool place that is! Not many tourists were there when we went. I’m not sure many people know about it. It’s located in the 8th arrondissement with the closest metro stations being Villiers and Monceau. We got off at Villiers and walked through the gorgeous park, Parc Monceau, to get to the mansion.
Before I left for this vacation a number of my friends were a bit worried due to all the problems they’ve been having with terrorists. Let me tell you this; I’ve never seen so many police officers walking around to date. And I live in New York City! I felt very safe. Every museum I entered has a security checkpoint, like at the airports, even some of the department stores I went in checked my purse.
That being said, we had a little security check before we were allowed to enter the driveway area of the mansion. On entering, the front of the mansion brought back memories of the Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles.
Once inside, you go to the left and pay the fee of 9 euros. (See, it’s a bargain! More tourists should see this place.) The audio guide is even included. I wouldn’t pass that up. It was nice to have to hear about the specific pieces of art and furniture in the rooms. It was also great to get the backstory on how the house became a museum.
It’s a sad story, actually. I’m going to give the two minute synopsis of the life of the Comte, but you can to go this wikipedia page to find out more details.
Moïse de Camondo was a Jewish banker who was obsessed with 18th century French furniture and artwork, which is seen throughout the mansion. He and his wife had two children, Nissim, the boy and Béatrice, the girl. When Moïse and his wife divorced, the children stayed with him. Nassim joined the French army to fight in WW1. Unfortunately, he was killed. The audio guide reads some letters Nissim wrote to his father while in the army that are heart wrenching.
After Nissim’s death, Moïse withdrew from society, his job, and held elaborate dinners for his foodie friends. (See, they had foodies even back then!)
When he died in 1935, he donated the house to the French government in honor of his son.
However, during all this time his daughter Béatrice was still alive. I wonder what she thought of all this. I guess it didn’t hit her that hard. The very sad story of the Camondo family ends with Béatrice and her family dying in Auschwitz during WW2, ending the family line.
Of course, even after knowing this sad history, a tourist is still able to enjoy the mansion and appreciate what Moïse de Camondo was able to accomplish in the house.
There were not a ton of other tourists in the house, but we were there before lunchtime. I would try to hit it then. It might become crowded after lunch, because more people were going in as we left. It’s still not going to be a madhouse like the Louvre or the Museé de Orsay. Check out the rest of the pics from my visit below and let me know what you think. If you’ve been there, leave a comment and let me know how you found out about it and if you loved it!