Paris’ Museum of the History of Medicine

Step right up and see the fantastic world of…medieval and historical medical instruments and artifacts? Absolutely! The Museum of the History of Medicine, or Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine, is creepy – but the fantastic kind of creepy! This museum is nestled on a tiny little street named Rue de l’Ecole de Médecine in the heart of Paris. It’s actually housed upstairs in a giant university building, and can be hard to miss, but just follow the signs pointing the way once inside the university.

Once inside, you’ll be greeted with what seems to be a beautiful little museum – that is until you peer into the glass encasements. Behind the glass you’ll find a wonderfully creepy and weird display of old medicinal and surgical instruments and pieces – some of which seem more like they were used for torture than medicine. Take a look below at some of the pictures below to get an idea, but keep in mind that a picture hardly does them justice:

Medieval Doctor's Mask - This was worn specifically during the Black Plague epidemic and was thought to ward off the Plague and keep the doctor's safe.

Medieval Hand Powered Chain Saw - Ummm, scary?

Medieval Hearing Aid - Okay, not very creepy, but could you imagine using a shell as a hearing aid?

Not pictured here, but there’s even a table made completely out of human tissue, organs, a foot, and ears that was made and given to Napoleon. Yuck! In short, definitely make sure to add the Museum of the History of Medicine to your museum circuit while in Paris. You’ll also be happy to know, it’s only €3.50 a head. Inexpensive fun!

Visit the museum’s website for more information: http://www.parisdescartes.fr/fre/CULTURE/Musees/Musee-d-Histoire-de-la-Medecine

Not into creepy museums? Check out what the Louvre has going on here.

 

 

The Holy Chapel

Sainte-Chapelle, which means Holy Chapel, is a gorgeous gothic-style church located in the heart of Paris on Ile de la Cite. King Louis IX commissioned the church to be built in 1239, and it was completed in 1248 and is the last remaining building of the Capetian Royal Palace. The original intention of its construction was to be a treasury for a collection of holy relics owned by King Louis IX. Included in this collection was the crown of thorns, a piece of the “true cross”, and 30 other odd pieces.

The chapel played an important role during the reign on King Louis, as it was not only used as a place of worship, but also played an important political role by displaying the King’s artistic and architectural abilities, thus contributing to his position as the highest powered monarch in western Christian kingdoms. A large reason that the Sainte-Chapelle was considered such a triumph, and a point King Louis was sure to point out, was its major resemblance to Chalemagne’s temple. Another unique aspect the king enjoyed was the ability to quickly and secretly travel from his palace into the Sainte-Chapelle.

Throughout the years, and especially during the French Revolution, there was significant damage done to the chapel. Some of the relics were also lost or moved elsewhere, such as to the Notre Dame de Paris. Between 1803 and 1855 restorations began, however, and were considered exemplary in their careful execution under the lead of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

The Sainte-Chappelle is considered a true masterpiece of its time and is one of the greatest examples of “Rayonnant”, or gothic architectural style, the world has ever witnessed. The stained glass featured in the chapel is regarded as some of the most beautiful in existence. Only about two-thirds of the stained glass you see today is original, but the replacements pieces are expertly crafted.

So remarkable is the chapel, that in 1323 a local scholar Jean de Jandun, paid tribute to the building he considered one of the most beautiful ever built in his writing ”Tractus de laudibus Parisius”. His excerpt about the Sainte-Chapelle is as follows: “That most beautiful of chapels, the chapel of the king, most decently situated within the walls of the king’s house, enjoys a complete and indissoluble structure of the most solid stone. The most excellent colors of the pictures, the precious gilding of the images, the beautiful transparence of the ruddy windows on all sides, the most beautiful cloths of the altars, the wondrous merits of the sanctuary, the figures of the reliquaries externally adorned with dazzling gems, bestow such a hyperbolic beauty on that house of prayer, that, in going into it below, one understandably believes oneself, as if rapt to heaven, to enter one of the best chambers of Paradise.”

Today, you can visit the Sainte-Chapelle, located near the metro station Cite in the heart of Paris. Admission for individuals is about €5.50, and group tours are about €4.50 per person.

Paris Opera

The Paris Opera, founded in 1669 by Louis XIV, is a cornerstone of Paris’s long history of being a giant in the arts and music community. Originally, the idea for the French opera was that of Pierre Perrin’s, whose intention when presenting it to the king was to debunk the common thinking at the time that the French language was “unmusical”. This false idea has certainly been tossed aside over the years, as not only do some of the most beautiful opera’s take place here, but the classical ballet as it is known today rose out of the Paris Opera.

The Palais Garnier (shown above) is mainly used to host the Paris Ballet, and is more widely known than any other opera establishment in the world. Decorated with the best marble, gorgeous columns, chandeliers, and bronze busts of notable composers, the Palais Garnier is the revered in the architectural community. It’s actually the setting for one of the most famous novels of all time – The Phantom of the Opera, which was eventually turned into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Paris Opera Library-Museum is also here.

The Opera Bastille, an opera house built in 1989 with a more modern design, is home to the Opera national de Paris currently. Here you can experience classical French opera and concerts performed by only the most talented musicians, singers, and performers .You can view the line-up for this year’s performances here. You’ll find the line-up for this season to be phenomenal, featuring Operas written by classical musician greats such as Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, and much more.

Paris in March 2012

Paris in springtime – plenty to see, do, and eat. There’s also no small amount of local activities and unique Parisian events you can experience during March. Here’s our list of local happenings this month you should check out while in Paris.

Foire du Trone

If giant amusement parks are your thing, this is a must-visit. Held on the lawns of the Pelouse de Reuilly, this fair begins at the end of March and runs until the end of May. It actually dates all the way back to A.D. 957 from when farmers and merchants gathered to trade their goods. Acrobats, ferris wheels, fire eaters, carousels, and much more make this a pretty entertaining hotspot for a few months.

Banlieues Bleues

A jazz festival taking place between March 16th and April 13th that features an assortment of telented musicians from around the world. You won’t want to miss these smooth sounds!

Dancing Through Life

This is a wonderful exhibition that is being held at The Centre Georges Pompidou. It will feature influences shared between dancing and visual arts. Held through April 2nd, seeing the comparison of art and dance is a truly unique experience everyone can enjoy this spring!

Trompe l’oeil

Directly translated into “Tricking the Eye”, this is a show that opened in February of this year and runs until November of 2013. This exhibit has over 400 paintings, sculptures, and textiles that were crafted specifically to trick the eye. It’s being held at the Paris Arts Decoratifs museum.

Festival of the Imagination

Held on the boulevard Raspail and running from March 19th – June 17th, you can come explore cultural revolutions from the world over expressed in dance, music, and traditional displays. This is truly a unique festival for Paris, and anywhere for that matter. Something you won’t want to miss!

Salon Vivre aurement bio et nature 2012 trade show

Paris’s “go green” trade show! This is held at the Parc floral de Paris from March 16th thru March 19th.

La Bonheur Show

Presented by the Lido revue, this is a show that consists of 4 scenes: “La Femme” celebrating women and love, “Paris je t’aime” celebrating Parisian fashion and nightlife, “L’Inde Legendaire” celebrates Shiva and Indian culture, and “Reves d’etoiles” celebrating classic film and cabaret. Catch dinner while watching this unique Parisian show happening from January 1st through March 31st in the Chams-Elysees/Louvre district.

Tim Burton at the Cinematheque Francaise

Tim Burton lovers won’t want to miss this! Held March 7th through August 5th, this is an interesting look at this beloved filmmaker and director’s work through the years. Over 700 drawings, sculptures, models, film excerpts, and costumes featured!

Experience “The Davinci Code” at the Louvre

Its been established that The Louvre is a definite stop on your Parisian vacation. It houses great masterpieces such as The Mona Lisa, The Venus de Milo, and The Odalisque, among many others. But did you know that you can take an hour and a half “thematic trail” following the footsteps taken by the characters in the book and movie “The Davinci Code”? On the tour you will be shown key artifacts from the story and given explanations of how they tied in with Dan Brown’s story, along with some embellishments being cleared up.

Your guided tour begins under the Pyramid, and from there it will wind through the halls and rooms of The Louvre painting the well-known and loved book and movie in a new light for visitors. Along the way you can expect to see:

  • The Hera of Samos
  • The staircase of the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Arago Medallion
  • The Mona Lisa
  • The Red Rooms
  • The Inverted Pyramid
  • The Death of the Virgin
  • The Salon Carre, and much more!

Visit the Louvre’s website, www.louvre.fr, before your trip and purchase your tickets and see further details. You can purchase a 2 day pass for only €39 per person. Along with catching one of “The Davinci Code” guided tours during your visit, you can also see other featured exhibitions, see lectures, view films and see live performances. If you plan your trip soon, you may even catch the “New Frontier: American Art Enters the Louvre” exhibition that is displaying from January 14, 2012 until April 16, 2012.

Louvre Museum

The Louvre, originally a palace but now one of the largest and most visited museums in the world, is a must-visit for anyone with a slight interest in art. Some of the museum’s most famous works of art are the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo.

Originally a royal palace, the Louvre became a public museum at the end of the 18th century. It is located in the 1st arrondissement, in the heart of Paris.

Venus of Milo, Louvre Museum, Paris

Venus of Milo
There are about 35.000 objects on display, spread out over three wings of the former palace. The museum has a diverse collection ranging from the antiquity up to the mid 19th century. A large part of the collection consists of European paintings and sculptures. Other rooms contain Roman, Egyptian, Greek and Oriental art. There is also a section with ‘Objects d’Art’, where objects such as clocks, furniture, china and tapestries are displayed.

Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of Milo, the Nike of Samothrake, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and of course Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

History of the Louvre
Musée du Louvre

Louvre seen from across the Seine
The Louvre was created in several phases. Originally built as a 12th century fortress, it was converted into a royal palace in the 14th century.

Its current appearance goes back to the 15th century, when the original fortress was demolished and the wing along the Seine river was built. The palace was extended during the 16th century by architect Pierre Lescot, who expanded the palace into a complex with two courtyards. A decade later Catharina de Medici added the Tuileries palace to the west of the Louvre. Construction on the Louvre was halted for some time when king Louis XIV decided to move to the Versailles Palace.

In the 19th century, during the Second Empire, the Louvre was expanded again with the addition of the Richelieu wing.

East Wing, Louvre Museum

East Wing
The Louvre now had four symmetric wings surrounding a large courtyard. This would not last long, as the Communards burned the Tuileries palace in 1871, opening up the west side of the palace.

The collection of the Louvre Museum was first established in the 16th century by King Francis I. One of the works of art he purchased was the now famous Mona Lisa painting. The collection grew steadily thanks to donations and purchases by the kings. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the private royal collection opened to the public.

Louvre Pyramid

Louvre Pyramid

The most recent addition to the Louvre was the construction of the glass pyramid, which functions as the museum’s main entrance. The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect I.M. Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to come in on the underground floor.

The modern addition originally received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the classical design of the surrounding buildings, but today it is generally accepted as a clever solution which has given the museum a spacious central entrance without the need to touch the historic patrimony.