Letter from France: June 2012
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned traveller, France will steal your heart. Each month, Frederic – our French correspondent – gives us the low-down on what to see and do across the channel
Special one day events
June 30: The Grand Costumed and Masked Ball of Versailles
On June 30 from 12 midnight to dawn, the Orangerie of Versailles’ Palace will host the most fabulous costumed ball under the supervision of world famous choreographer Bianca Li. Elegant costume and mask are strictly mandatory.
Orangerie du Château de Versailles, Les Yvelines-78
July 14: Picnic in the Park at Chateau de Versailles
On French National Day, The Palace of Versailles will host a unique Republican picnic in its park, on the banks of the Grand Canal. Don’t forget the ‘white’ dress code. Entrance to the park is through the Queen’s gate and is free.
Versailles, Les Yvelines-78, Château de Versailles
Until June 25: Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece
Working for more than 20 years on his painting The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci left us not only many preparatory drawings, sketches and studies but also influenced contemporary artists like Degas, Max Ernst or Eugene Delacroix.
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Until June 25: Arles, Record of the Rhône, 20 years of underwater excavations
A major archeological event, the bust of Caesar found underwater in 2007 in Arles is shown together with the only other identified statue identified as Julius Caesar from the Museo di Antichi in Turin. Numerous rare Roman artefacts are on display including statues, bronzes, jewels, amphorae, lamps… A jump of 2000 years in the past to the Roman time in Provence.
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Until July 1: Degas and the Nude
An exhibition devoted to Edgar Degas’ Nudes. Degas the famous painter of dancers and horses, worked throughout his life on nudes using all techniques from sculpture, painting, drawing and finally the most important feature of his work, his pastels: a technique in which he is forever, the great master.
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Until July 8: La berline de Napoleon, the Mystery of Waterloo loot
The result of an incredible treasure hunt to bring together all the personal belongings of Emperor Napoleon, that have been looted on the night of Waterloo defeat, and which were scattered through Europe where they disappeared until recently. That includes all the personal medals of the Emperor, hidden in the cellars of the Moscow Historic Museum until 2000.
Paris, Musée de la Légion d’honneur
Until July 15: Kabuki, Japanese theatre costumes
The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent presents an exhibition devoted to traditional Japanese theatre costumes, the Kabuki, that is played only by male actors. Extravagant, extremely colourful and richly designed, each costume belongs to only one character, and offers to the spectators important indications about the personality, the status and even the sex of the character.
Paris, Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
Until July 15: Cima de Conegliano, a master of the Venetian Renaissance
As a master Venetian painter, he was famous already in his time, late 15th and early 16th century, for his perfection in depicting human faces and expressions, as well as in wide-open landscapes with a great accuracy in details and a perfect light. He became a great master in a new technique, oil painting.
Paris, Musée du Luxembourg
Until July 15: Artemisia
In the early 17th century Artemisia Gentileschi was one of very few women-painters, and was the only one who received celebrity and glory while she lived. Thus she was able to live from her own art. This exhibition is a tribute to the perfection of her works and also to the strong willpower she had in a world where women were treated as second class.
Paris, Musée Maillol
Until July 15: Lacquer Dreams, The Japan of Shibata Zeshin
Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891) the renowned master in laquerware, lived at the junction of Edo Period and Meiji Period, and in this time of growing modernity, he created and developed new lacquer techniques that fitted with the extreme sensibility and delicacy of his drawing.
Paris, Musée Cernushi
Until July 23: The Twilight of the Pharaons, Masterpieces of the last Egyptian Dynasties
The best masterpieces from Pharaonic Egypt during 10 centuries until the last dynasty, the Ptolemaic’s one, display inside the fabulous setting of the town house sheltering the Jacquemart-André Museum.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André
Until July 30: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Bivouac
An illustration of the current state of the work of the two designers, who last September appeared at the London Design Festival, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Metz, Moselle-57, Centre Pompidou-Metz
Until July 30: Histoire de l’Atelier Brancusi
A reconstitution of the Paris workshop where Brancusi, a famous modern sculptor, lived and worked.
Paris, Centre Pompidou
Until August 19: Victor Hugo, Arcs-en-Ciel au Noir (Dark Side of Rainbows)
In the Parisian Victor Hugo’s house, an exhibition of 80 black and white drawings chosen by Annie Le Brun from the unique collection of drawings by Victor Hugo himself. Some of them are presented to public for the first time.
Paris, Maison de Victor Hugo (Victor Hugo’s House in Paris)
Until September 9: Les Séductions du Palais (Attractions of Palate)
Mainly issued from collections of the National Museum of China and also from the Guimet Museum in Paris, various artefacts show the parallel evolution of cooking and crockery all along the Chinese history, giving the world one of the finest ‘cuisine’ and in the same time so many pieces of art to be used for cooking and consuming food.
Paris, Musée du Quai Branly
Until September 9: Modigliani, Soutine, the Adventure of Montparnasse
Jonas Netter was one of the most important collector of the 20th century, who discovered Modigliani and Soutine, buying dozens of their works as from Utrillo and others painters of Montparnasse group. This fabulous collection, protected by Jonas Netter’s heirs, is now presented to public for the first time since 70 years.
Until October 21: Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, International Garden Festival
This year the theme of the 28th edition of the International Garden Festival is ‘Gardens of Delight, Gardens of Delirium’. 21 amazing projects selected by the jury offer a wide overview of horticultural landscapes creation by designers from all over the world. A visit of the castle itself is not to be missed.
Loire-et-Cher 41, Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire
Until 10 November 2013: Roulez Carosses!
A loan from the Palace of Versailles, to the museum of St Vaast Abbey in Arras, shows for the first time the best pieces of French royal and imperial horse-drawn carriages along with numerous artefacts belonging to their use, plus a few paintings of important events during which they were used.
Arras, Pas-de-Calais – 59, Musée-Abbaye St Vaast
Until 3 March 2013: Rodin, the Flesh and the Marble
Partially in renovation, the Rodin’s museum exhibits 50 marble sculptures by Rodin, highlighting the extreme quality of the sculptor’s work, especially the Rodin’s virtuosity to give life to marble bodies.
Paris, Musée Rodin
New and permanent
Museum Jean Cocteau-Collection Severin Wunderman, in Menton, Alpes Maritimes
The largest in the world and a must-to-see collection of the works of Jean Cocteau, given to the town of Menton, by the private collector Severin Wunderman.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes-06, Musée Jean Cocteau
Alésia MuseoParc, Alise-Sainte -Reine, Côte d’Or
Right in the centre of the battlefield of Alesia that saw the final battle of Gauls’ War with Julius Caesar’s victory against Vercingetorix, stands the new circular building of the Alesia MuseoParc. Inside, lots of interactive explanations, a realistic and astonishing movie of the battle on a seven metre screen, and outside, an amazing life-size reconstruction of the Caesar double fortifications, help visitors to understand one of the biggest battle of Roman times.
Alise-Sainte-Reine, Côte-d’Or-21, MuséoParc d’Alésia
Museum d’Ennery, Paris
Mrs Clemence d’Ennery offered to France in 1894 her fabulous collection of more than 7.000 Chinese and Japanese artworks under strict conditions including presentation of all these pieces inside her own house that she had designed as a personal orientalist museum. Closed for years for security reasons, the museum recently reopened offering to jump back to the time when the irruption of Far East Asian Art influenced European collectors and artists. (Important notice: reservation is mandatory)
Paris, Musée d’Ennery
Museum Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moser, Alsace
In the small village where during 90 years were produced a large part of the creations of René Lalique, a great artist of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, hundred of his works are displayed highlighting his incredible genius as jeweller and glassmaker. This very modern museum, hidden on the flank of a small green valley, is a perfect case for Lalique’s jewels, perfume bottles, tableware, vases, lights, crystal and drawings.
Wingen-sur Moser, Bas Rhin-67, Alsace, Musée Lalique
Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, Tarn
Inside the fabulous Palais de la Berbie, the former palace of Bishops of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage, the hugest collection of pieces of art by Toulouse-Lautrec is now displayed in a new scenography offering a new reading of each facet of the artist’s work, including youth works as well as portraits of Montmartre people and scenes from the world of brothel.
Albi, Tarn-81, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec