Musee Maillol- A hidden gem on the Left Bank

You’ve been to the Louvre. You’ve been to the D’Orsay. You love them, I get it. But there are SO many smaller, lesser known museums, that offer the chance to discover something new. One that Peter and I recently discovered is the Musee Maillol. www.museemaillol.com. Do you know it? It’s a 10-minute walk from the Musee D’Orsay, and an 11-minute walk from the Luxembourg Gardens. The building itself is magnificent, and the history is fascinating. In 1739, a group of nuns endowed the land to the city of Paris for a fountain to be constructed, the Fontaine des Quatres-Saisons. This fountain was built between 1739 and 1745 as a monument to the beautiful city of Paris, and, in 1862, was declared an historic monument.

This is now one of the exterior walls of the museum. In the next few decades, the nuns built a variety of small buildings around it as part of their convent. The various buildings were then sold off during the Revolution and divided into various residential units. In the 19th century, it was home for a variety of creative people, like Alfred du Musset (poet, dramatist, novelist) and Paul Jacques Aime Baudry (painter), and in the 1950’s the Prevert Brothers opened a cabaret there. A colorful past, to be sure! In 1955, Dina Vierny, who was a model and muse for Aristide Maillol, the sculptor, bought one of the residential apartments and over the next thirty years acquired the rest of the property (how did she do that? I have no idea!), with the goal of opening a museum to house Maillol’s works. In January, 1995, she succeeded and the building was opened as the Musee Maillol. (This is the courtyard that is now the Cafe Prevert)

It houses not only a selection of Maillol’s sculptures, but also the museum brings in a variety of amazing temporary exhibits.

This temporary exhibit was, in fact, a prime reason we went in June. It was a collection of Emil Buhrle. Emil Buhrle was a German-Born Swiss Industrialist who assembled his collection between 1936 and 1956. This was the first time the collection had been shown in Paris, and contains works from the 2nd half of the 19th century through the early part of the 20th century. The collection was embroiled in some controversy because thirteen pieces were acquired during World War II and subsequently were discovered to have been looted from their rightful owners. Emil Buhrle went to those families and returned those paintings, and then asked if he could purchase them back (many of which he did). An honorable thing to do. This made the collection that much more poignant for me.

In 2021, the collection will be housed permanently in Zurich at Kunstenhaus https://www.kunsthaus.ch

After an engrossing hour of perusing, we left to find a place to eat, and found an adorable cafe nearby offering delicious steak frites– The Cafe Le Flores.

I will continue to explore Paris for small, lesser-known museums to share with you!! Enjoy!

I’ve decided on my next career– translating French menus

The last time Peter and I were in Paris, we were going to see Véronique Sanson in concert at the Olympia (www.olympiahall.com) (see my blog post from February of 2015)

So, before we went to the concert, we decided to eat across the street at the Capucine Café (www.capucinecafe.com). The food is absolutely wonderful and because it’s right across the street from the Olympia, they are not shocked by people coming in at 6:30 or 7:00 for dinner before the show (for those who have been to Paris, you know that you do NOT even think about going to a restaurant for dinner, normally, before 8:30 at the earliest).

Since Peter doesn’t speak as much French as I do, we got menus in both French and English. And it was amazing to see the things NOT on the English version that were on the French version.

IMG_3391 IMG_3394Here are the two menus and note that on the English one, there are three “Starters” and on the French one, there are four “Entrées” which is the same category. Now why is one left off? And it’s a delicious one too– Duck Tartare with artichoke and pistachio and Beet Carpaccio. Wouldn’t you be intrigued to try that?? In the main courses, you have the same thing. The first one on the French menu is Scallops “à la provençale” with mashed potatoes. Again, sounds delicious so why is it not on the English menu?

I had the “Bar entier” which means a whole European bass which was incredible. It was grilled with Fennel butter and anchovy paste and served with mashed pumpkin with hazelnuts. It was on the English menu, but listed as “whithing” and says it’s cooked with bacon and tomatoes (no evidence of either in the French description or what I was served (see photo below).

IMG_3389So I have decided that this is to be my next job. I need to move to Paris and work with restaurants translating their daily specials. I don’t want any more English speakers missing out on potentially delicious dining experiences!

To help me in the endeavor, since menu vocabulary can be quite specialized, Peter and I went to the bookstore Gibert Jeune, located at the Place St. Michel, and look what we found!

IMG_3523Dictionaries, from French to English and English to French, for restaurant and culinary terms! I’m now all set to start my next life adventure. Anyone want to volunteer as my able assistant and fellow taster???