You’d never guess it was there… Behind a wrought iron gate, at the end of a long leafy ruelle, you’ll find La Musee de la Vie Romantique, one of Paris’ quaintest museums.
I’ve made it no secret that one of my favourite areas to explore in Paris is Montmartre. Wandering around the cobble-lined alleys, and getting lost in the quirky architecture that differs from the rest of the city, you can easily find yourself lost in the district for a couple of hours.
Oh, and that’s not to mention all of the unusual and small house museums dotted around the area. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself wandering around one such museum, La Musee de la Vie Romantique, a small museum in Paris that’s well worth checking out if you’re ever in the Montmartre/ Pigalle area.
A history of La Musee de la Vie Romantique
If you’re ever in the Montmartre area, then it’s definitely worth spending an hour or two checking out this small house museum, otherwise translated as ‘The Museum of Romantic Life‘ (or Museum of Romantics) in English. A pretty villa, covered in vines and at the base of Montmartre Hill, the cute residence was once the home of Ary Scheffer.
The Dutch-born painter was a close friend of King Louis-Philippe, George Sand and was even a neighbour of famous composer Frédéric François Chopin. Not a bad guest list for your Friday night dinner party! The main Pavillion was constructed in 1830 and has not changed much since it was first built. The house has been a museum since 1982 and is housed over several floors.
Here, you can see paintings by Ary Acheffer himself, as well as personal objects which once belonged to George Sand. The way the museum has been preserved means that you get a real feeling for what life must have been like in 19th-Century Paris and aside from the occasional lightbulb, the museum is like stepping back in time…
How to visit the Museum of Romantics (Musée de la Vie Romantique)
When I first tried to find 16 Rue Chaptal, closest metro station Pigalle, it took me a few attempts to locate the narrow passageway to reach the museum! It’s pretty well hidden on a typical Haussmann street, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Once you’re at the end of the leafy walk, a clearing much larger than you would anticipate for this area of Paris is visible and the full museum is on display. There is a courtyard, two artists’ workshops, and even a small garden for you to peruse. Admission is free but special/ temporary exhibitions are charged. There is also a small café/ brasserie serving snacks, drinks, and lunches.
The museum is open daily. (Apart from a Monday, when it’s closed!) If you want to explore more of the area on a local level, then I highly recommend taking this free and self-guided Montmartre walking tour.
Things to see close to Musée de la Vie Romantique
Admire Villa Platanes: Close to the Moulin Rouge and private, this pretty little street can simply be peeked at through the wrought-iron metal bars that close the street off from the rest of Paris.
Villa Leandre: If you’re looking for a pretty 1920s street inspired by English architecture, then you should wander along the private Villa Leandre. All leafy façades and pastel houses, one particularly humorous spot is that on No. 10, someone has erected a ‘Downing Street sign’!
L’Objet Qui Parle: Much of Paris is great for vintage shopping, and the 18th arrondissement is no exception. One of the quirkiest antique stores in the area is l’Objet qui Parle. Literally translated as the ‘talking object’ once inside you’re never sure as to what you’ll discover next.