Here are some essential sights for lovers of jewelry and precious stones, among the places open for free visits during the 36th European Heritage Days.
THE EUROPEAN HERITAGE DAYS – RIVE DROITE
1. Hôtel de Nocé, 1st arrondissement
Boucheron was one of the first to move into Place Vendôme, in 1893. A tour of the newly renovated private mansion housing the historic store also includes access to areas usually closed to the public, like the design studio and the apartment reserved for top customers on the top floor. The pièce de résistance: the bathtub, with a stunning view of the square and its famous column.
2. Bucherer, 2nd arrondissement
Bucherer (the Swiss watchmaker and jeweler, also owner of the largest watch brand store in Paris) offers talks on the history of timepiece-making and a workshop on assembling and dismantling a movement, as well as an activity around colored stones.
3. Musée du Parfum Fragonard, 9th arrondissement
This remarkable collection of antique bottles retraces the history of perfume from Ancient Egypt to the 20th century. Some items, made of gold, silver or precious stones, seem more like jewelry.
Free guided tour specially organized for the European Heritage Days. On registration.
4. Musée de la Vie Romantique, 9th arrondissement
Lying in a peaceful spot, this museum (housed in the former studio of the artist Ary Scheffer) is one of the most charming in Paris, with its paved courtyard and flower garden. Dedicated to the history of early 19th century artistic and literary life, it contains fascinating objects that include some of George Sand‘s jewelry.
Free admission and animations.
THE EUROPEAN HERITAGE DAYS – RIVE GAUCHE
5. The Hôtel de Vendôme Paris-Tech, 5th arrondissement
The Galerie des Minéraux contains one of the world’s top five collections of minerals, with around 100,000 samples and several showcases with precious stones that once embellished the Crown Jewels. This magnificent 100- meter- long gallery features large bay windows looking onto the glasshouses of the Jardin du Luxembourg.
6. Musée de l’Armée at the Hôtel des Invalides, 7th arrondissement
An incredible variety of works and objects (from the Middle Ages to 1945) includes the collar of Napoleon I’s Légion d’Honneur, rings carved by soldiers in the trenches and superb military uniform decorations. The highlight is the spectacular collection of suits of armor, including Francis I’s, with its relief decoration highlighted with damascene work.
Free admission and animations.
7. Musée de la Légion d’Honneur et des Ordres de Chevalerie, 7th arrondissement
This world-famous museum contains over 5,000 objets d’art and insignia from all over the world, dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. After a tour of the building, the Hôtel de Salm, the speaker follows on with “Decorations through the prism of jewelry.” Many of them, like the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Sun of Persia, are chased or inlaid with precious stones.
Free admission. Saturday 21 September 3:00 and 5:00 PM / Sunday 22 September 11:30 AM, 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
Duration: 30 mn.
8. La Monnaie de Paris, 6th arrondissement
During the European Heritage Days, the Paris Mint enables visitors to learn something of its history, know-how and collections of coins, decorations and medals. You can also attend an engraving workshop. For the occasion, it is also opening its Pessac factory, one of the highest-security in France, as it mints euros and various foreign currencies.
9. Musée de Cluny, 5th arrondissement
Apart from the famous “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries, the Musée de Cluny contains some magnificent gold and silver work. Not to be missed; the oldest extant golden rose made by the Sienese goldsmith Minucchio in 1330, and several gold votive crowns given to the Church by the Visigoths in the 7th century. They were discovered in Guarrazar, near Toledo, in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the Colmar Treasure is currently on show at the Met Cloisters in New-York…
Free admission. Talks, concerts and workshops.
10. Sorbonne – Faculty of Science and Engineering, 5th arrondissement
Created in 1809, the mineral collection of the UPMC (Pierre & Marie Curie University) is one of the oldest in France. Displayed in dim lighting, the showcases contain 1,500 of the 16,000 minerals in the collection, mainly classified by chemical formula. Some specimens are genuine miracles of Nature, like the double mesolite and the Moroccan gypsum.
Free admission and workshops.
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