3rd arrondissement, Paris

Carnavalet Musuem, inside - the Marais
Cognacq-Jay Museum
Carnavalet Museum, Paris gate

The 3rd arrondissment is quite a mixture from the relatively poorer areas full of artisans shops in the north to the fashionable area at the edge of the Marais to the south.

Paris coat of arms on gate to Carnavalet Museum

Carnavalet Museum

On the left is one of the gates to the Carnavalet Museum, 23 rue de Sévigné, and above a close up of the City of Paris coat of arms at the top of the gate. The museum is currently run and owned by the City of paris and houses displays that are connected with the history of the city.

Access to the museum.
It is open from 10am - 6 pm every day except Mondays and some public holidays.
Entrance is free and it is well worth a visit.
The nearest metro stations are Saint-Paul on Line 1 or Chemin Vert on Line 8.
Buses are 29, 69, 76, 96.

Not only are the houses themselves beautiful, and the objects in the museum, but the gardens are exquisite, especially the knot gardens, see below. The property was acquired by the city in 1866 and opened as a museum in 1880. The photograph on the right shows the courtyard with the statue of Louis XIV.

The museum is contained in two houses. The one you see on this page was built in 1545, although the photograph below of one of the statues will attest that it has been added to since that time. In 1572 a Madame de Kemevenoy became the owner, and it is a distortion of her name that gives the house its present day name. Most of the surrounding buildings date from the 17th century. The second house dates from the 19th century.

The central statue in the entrance courtyard (see right) is of Louis XIV dressed as a Roman emperor, but with a full 17th century wig. This was one of the few statues of him to survive the revolution. On the wall behind him are relief sculptures representing the four seasons.

Caranavalet Museum courtyard with statue of Louis XiV

The knot garden in the Caranavlet Museum, Paris

Its most famous resident was undoubtedly Madame de Sévigné who leased the house in 1677 for herself and her daughter's family, and who spent the last 20 years of her life there. She owned 9 other houses in the Marais, but preferred to live in this one. She was born in 1626 in what is now known as the Place des Vosges in the 4th, but what was then called the Place Royale. Madame de Sévigné is famous for two things her "salon" and her letters. Her salon was one of the most distinguished of the day, and her letters are almost like reading a gossip column of the time. In them she touches almost every subject from the mundane to high politics and court gossip. There are many books of her letters, and some are available in English. They are perhaps one of the easiest ways of getting a true flavour of what life must have been like for the privileged of that time. She dies in 1696.

Below left is the main entrance to the museum.

Carnavalet Museum front door Carnavalet Museum statue
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