A Day in Paris with my Daughter and the Nissim Camondo Museum

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My daughter Black Cat is a jet-setter. She works in New York where she lives with her Flying Dutchman and goes to places such as Bogota in Columbia for the long week-end. She’s back in France for a very short time to attend a wedding near Avignon. With less than two days in Paris, where she lived for many years and still has a wide circle of friends, she is giving me a whole day of her time, which I appreciate.

6.45 am in Blois train station

6.45 am in Blois train station

I take the 6.56 am train from Blois. I’m surprised at how many passengers there are but it’s the only direct train that gets to Paris before 11 am and it also stops briefly in Orléans. It’s bright and sunny and 12°C. Jean Michel takes my jacket from me just before I board the train because it is going to be 28°C by the end of the day!

View of Austerlitz train station and bridge from the opposite side of the Seine

View of Austerlitz train station and bridge from the opposite side of the Seine

The journey takes 1 hr 23 mins. At Gare d’Austerlitz station, I start heading for Boulevard Henri IV which is 20 minutes away on foot. My iPhone says to turn left and walk along the river to the next bridge but I decide to take the closest bridge and walk down the other side of the Seine. There’s a lovely view of the station.

On the bike path! Great view of Notre Dame though

On the bike path! Great view of Notre Dame though

I cross over and turn left. Suddenly I realise I’m on a bike path next to a freeway and there is no way I can go right at the next bridge. The iPhone was right. Hmm. I have a great view of Notre Dame but am stuck on the bike path. I see that there are breaks in the freeway traffic from time to time and eventually find a metal fence I can climb over during a lull. I scoot across and heave a sigh of relief.

Black Cat, always very photogenic

Black Cat, always very photogenic

I soon meet up with Black Cat and it’s so wonderful to see her after six months, even though we often talk on Skype. I suggest we go to Carette’s on Place des Vosges for breakfast. We’re so busy talking that I don’t realise I’ve taken her to the wrong café! We get up hastily before we give our order and walk further round the square to Carette. We’re able to sit outside and take our time catching up.

Flowers in the arcades around Place des Vosges

Flowers in the arcades around Place des Vosges

We eventually decide to head for the Nissim Camondo museum which I’ve already visited many years ago but after reading a post by Carolyn Barnabo on her My Sydney Paris Life blog, I’ve been wanting to go back. Black Cat has never been there. We have a long history of visiting galleries and museums together. We started when she was about 3. I used to limit our visits to one hour maximum and always take her to a select café afterwards.  She now works as a marketing manager for a prestigious art institute.

La Bastille

La Bastille

We take the bus in the wrong direction but the driver suggests we get out at Bastille and take another bus as ours has been rerouted because the King of Spain is visiting. We’re not sure what the connection is but we follow his instructions and arrive at Gare Saint Lazare. We start walking towards the museum which is next to Parc Monceau.

The entrance to Parc Monceau - we're not the only ones around!

The entrance to Parc Monceau – we’re not the only ones around!

This is the first time I’ve walked any distance since my last bout of flu and I need a break. I ask what we’ll do about lunch and we decide to buy sandwiches and sit in the park. We see a Kayser bakery with a huge queue outside which amuses Black Cat. There is one in New York where you can go and buy baguettes and croissants but she says they aren’t that wonderful. We find a less popular bakery with a smaller line.

Ruins in Parc Monceau while we're having our lunch

Ruins in Parc Monceau while we’re having our lunch

The park is absolutely full but we find a shady bench opposite an old ruin and I hear all about her trip to Bogota. There is a lovely old town apparently and she also visited a salt cathedral, one of three in the world !

One of the main squares in Bogota

One of the main squares in Bogota

We head off for the museum and when we get there, there’s not a soul in sight ! Black Cat gets in free because of her art institute card while I pay 9 euros. We are both given audio guides. We sit down and read Carolyn’s post to get an overall idea before beginning the visit.

The classical façade of the Nissim Camondo museum

The classical façade of the Nissim Camondo museum

Very briefly, Moïse de Camondo, who built the house in 1911-1912 and named it in honour of his son Nissim who died in the first world war, was a wealthy Jew from Constantinople born in 1860. He was not interested in the family banking business but in art and particularly that of the 18th century. He spent his life collecting the wonderful pieces that are in the museum today.

The house is still as it was during Moise's lifetime

The house is still as it was during Moise’s lifetime

His much younger wife ran off with the manager of the family stables, leaving him with his son Nissim and daughter Béatrice. After Nissim was killed, Béatrice devoted herself to her father and when she married  Léon Reinach, also from a family of distinguished Jewish bankers and intellectuals, they both lived in the family house.

One of the upstairs rooms with its windows overlooking the park

One of the upstairs rooms with its windows overlooking the park

They had two children, Fanny, born in 1920 and Bertrand, born in 1923, after which they moved into their own home, not far away. Moïse became an increasing recluse and devoted himself entirely to his collection. When he died in 1935, Béatrice executed his will to the letter and the house became an annex of the decorative arts museum the next year.

The tassels on the curtains are exquisite

The tassels on the curtains are exquisite

Béatrice was not overly concerned with the situation of the Jews during World War II!. After all, her brother had died for France and her father had bequeathed his house and all his art collections to the state. She was also a French citizen.

More tassels!

More tassels!

How, the entire family – Béatrice, Léon, Fanny and Bertrand – was arrested and interned at Drancy deportation camp in France before being taken to their deaths in Auschwitz in 1943 and 1944.

One of the bathrooms. The left door leads to the toilet which has an opaque window overlooking the park.

One of the bathrooms. The left door leads to the toilet which has an opaque window overlooking the park.

The house has been beautifully preserved and is a delight to visit. The rooms are serene and stately with windows giving onto Parc Monceau below. At the time, no expense was spared and there are a lot of “modern” conveniences such as well-appointed bathrooms and a built-in kitchen.

Beautiful enamel table

Beautiful enamel table

I am particularly taken with the tassels on the curtains, which I always find fascinating. With our audio-guides we can find out more about various objects such as the lovely and very rare enamelled desk in one of the living rooms.

The library - Moise regretted that he didn't have enough time to read (and collect) many books

The library – Moise regretted that he didn’t have enough time to read (and collect) many books

As we are about to see a short film on the Camondos, a young German art student stops to share her delight with us. “My fellow students at the Louvre kept telling me about this museum but I didn’t imagine how wonderful it would be,” she says. “It’s like being in someone’s house.” Which sums it up exactly!

The view of the Louvre from Café Diane

The view of the Louvre from Café Diane

After visiting the museum, we take another bus, this time to the Tuileries Gardens where I want to sit under the trees in my favourite Café Diane and look at the Louvre.

My favourite highly scented roses in the Palais Royal gardens

My favourite highly scented roses in the Palais Royal gardens

We head over to Bourse via the Palais Royal gardens where I lived for 8 years up until October 2014 because I want to smell and photograph a particular rose bush. I am a little bit nostalgic looking up at my previous balcony but it soon passes and we leave, as I have a train to catch and Jean Michel is waiting for me at the other end. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary.

Celebrating our wedding anniversary at Hauts de Loire restaurant

Celebrating our wedding anniversary at Hauts de Loire restaurant

We say goodbye in the metro and go our separate ways. I’m sad to end such a wonderful day with my lovely daughter.

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24 Responses to A Day in Paris with my Daughter and the Nissim Camondo Museum

  1. Beautiful shots- exquisite! Thanks for taking us along on your tour.

  2. Helen says:

    What a special day for you with your beautiful daughter and for us to see a little more of Paris.
    I recognised a few areas that you visited. Would loved to have visited Comondo Museum – what a wealthy but sad history.
    Happy Anniversary.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you Helen. The last time my daughter came was the day before we moved in October and we went to the new Louis Vuitton foundation on opening day. I still have to write up the story!

  3. Judi says:

    Lovely read – thanks for bringing more of Paris to me.The museum looks like a must see, and with such a sad history.

  4. Yve Weinberg says:

    Thankyou for your fascinating posts – just discovered your blog a week ago! We are off to France tomorrow for 3 months cycling and reading your comments just increases the anticipation. Love France! Cheers, Yve

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Three months cycling! I’m so envious. With our renovations this year we won’t be able to go on our usual month’s cycling holiday. Hopefully we’ll have a few long weekends. Enjoy your holiday.

  5. Barb Hall says:

    Thank you for a lovely post on a beautiful museum that was hitherto unknown to me. I quite understand the bittersweet occasion of meeting up with beloved daughters who live half a world away. Happy anniversary. Barb H

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you Barb. Lovely to see you. We bring them up internationally so we have to expect the result, don’t we?

  6. Jacqueline says:

    First of all Happy Anniversary!
    Having just seen the Woman in Gold and deliberately visiting the Neue Gallery in NYC two weeks ago to see the actual painting, I wondered how this beautiful house and all its belongings survived the Nazi occupation and how the Nazis did not abscond with it all? Was anything said about this in your tour? I also went to the Frick in NYC and that house reflects the same kind of ambience and aura that I imagine you felt in this museum.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      I’d have to look into it further. No mention was made of the fact that it escaped pillage but the Nazis were surprisingly respectful of a lot of Paris’ cultural buildings and by the time WW2 came, it was already a museum.
      I remember the Frick in NYC which I really enjoyed. The Cortauld Museum in London is along the same lines. I don’t know Woman in Gold. I’ll find out more about it.

  7. Love seeing you guys together an all that you got up to in Paris.
    xx

  8. Madoqua says:

    I really enjoyed going along woth you for the day. The museum looks amazing, so sad that the family lost so much.

  9. Sounds like a very fun day for the two of you. Your daughter is a younger version of you, Rosemary. She is very sweet and I bet you miss her a lot now that she is in New York.

  10. butcherbird86 says:

    I just loved reading this blog!
    I visited that museum a couple of years ago but want to go back again because now I feel I know more about it and would get more out of the visit.
    And I felt I was with you as you jaunted about the favourite places of Paris. Lovely!
    I’m so looking forward to my visit next month!

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you, Butcherbird. I certainly think you should go back and visit. You could also check out the Louis Vuitton Foundation which opened in September. The building itself is worth a visit.

  11. Jill says:

    Wonderful to read about your Paris catch up with Black Cat, Rosemary 🙂 Happy wedding anniversary too ! (Guess what..I’m a NAN!) Bisous Jill

  12. Andrea says:

    What a great day and such an interesting story about the family and museum. You were lucky to have great weather for spending the day in Paris!

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