The Musée Bourdelle – a well-hidden treasure
While some of Niels Hansen Jacobsen's pieces are already on show at the Musée d'Orsay and Petit Palais, this is the very first exhibition devoted entirely to the artist in Paris. To admire this one-of-a-kind event, make your way to the Musée Bourdelle, named after the French sculptor who lived there. These two men, contemporaries of each other, had something in common: they tirelessly worked, chiselled and moulded their materials to breathe life into incredibly expressive and skilful works. The exhibition reveals Hansen Jacobsen's strange and poetic figures, some with a disturbing dreamlike quality, born of the myths of Nordic folklore and inspired by the tales of Hans Christian Andersen. The Little Mermaid, The Autumn Mask, The Troll, The Shadow, Death and the Mother… So many works emitting a presence that literally fills every corner of the room. The venue, as much Bourdelle's workshop as his home, provides the perfect setting to showcase these creations.
Far from the imposing buildings of Paris, this museum, opened in 1949, is tucked away in the 15th arrondissement, under the protective shadow of the Montparnasse Tower. It is only revealed to those in the know or to curious passers-by who dare to cross the threshold. So, go through the gate in the fence and step inside this oasis of peace, a beautiful interior garden overflowing with charm and poetry. Stroll past Hansen Jacobsen's sculptures and ceramics and wander around the garden filled with Bourdelle's works, including the very powerful Hercules the Archer and the Monument to General Alvéar. It all started during Bourdelle's lifetime, when he moved here in 1885 to live and work. An architect, sculptor and painter, he was at the heart of artistic Paris in the 1920s, rubbing shoulders with the greats such as Rodin – who would become his master and friend - and Giacometti who he instructed in the art of sculpture.
“The strange tales of Niels Hansen Jacobsen: a Dane in Paris” from 29 January to 31 May 2020
18 rue Antoine Bourdelle
+33 (0)1 49 54 73 73
Closed on Mondays
Discovering the soul of the Montparnasse quarter
A wealth of talent can also be found in the Chemin du Montparnasse, a stone's throw from Bourdelle's home. Matisse, Picasso, Apollinaire, Utrillo, Brancusi, Modigliani, Cocteau and many more met here, bonded together and gave life to their artistic ambitions. Today, this inconspicuous alleyway, overrun with wisteria and Virginia creeper, pursues its artistic destiny. Painters', sculptors' and photographers' workshops continue to set up there, while in 2016, the city council opened Villa Vassilieff, a new cultural space dedicated to contemporary art.
After this wonderfully poetic interlude in the heart of Paris, head back to the Montparnasse Tower and treat yourself to some delicious buckwheat crepes washed down with a cup of cider in the aptly named Crêperie de Pontivy. While the area is famous for its artistic past, it is no less famous for its creperies: people from Brittany, the birthplace of crepes, arrived here by train in their droves in the 19th century and made it their home. What a way to round off your voyage of discovery in this iconic quarter of Paris!
Crêperie de Pontivy
29 avenue du Maine
+33 (0)1 42 22 17 42