Who could fail not be in love with Paris. All those grand buildings lining the Seine, sculpted masonry over doorways with hulking brass knockers and street corners bristling with pavement cafes. As the grand dame of European cities, Paris ‘out baroques’ them all with it’s shameless ornamental architecture and beaux artistry everywhere you look. Madames with scowling scarlet lips and nails to match trip along the pavements clutching tiny dogs and drivers impatiently hoot horns as tourists dawdle along with faces turned up to face arcing gargoyles. Mostly unjust but native Parisians have long had a reputation for being snobbish and irascible.
From markets to museums what is there not to love. We came away with an armful of crusty bread and beaufort cheese from a local Latin Quarter market and visited both the Musée a la Chasse (Hunting Museum) and Musée National Picasso-Paris. Located in the Marais district, the first describes itself as a singular museum and it most certainly is. Housed in two finely restored 18th century mansions is a curious collection of artefacts and art celebrating the kindred alliance between animals and man. Paintings and taxidermy prevail but the display and diverse range of splendid flintlock muskets and rifles was absorbing. By hiking up into the modernised mansard roof, the quirkiness of the building enhances the experience. As for the second, Picasso himself would not be disappointed with this recently renovated museum for his multifarious works. Many of the artworks were donated in lieu of inheritance tax on his estate in 1973 and display Picasso’s playful nature with his adroit sense of humour.
For me, one of the best reasons to go to Paris is to refresh the underwear drawer so it’s just as well we only visit once every five years but what a sight welcomes the visitor walking into Galeries Lafayette on boulevard Haussmann and that is just the lingerie department, prepare to be overwhelmed.