Paris Asiatique

Posted on September 12, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Musée Guimet


Aside from the Japanese gardens in Albert Kahn's museum and gardens, there are many other places in Paris for Asian culture enthusiasts because the French have always had a passion/interest in Asian arts and culture, much more so than the English. Although London is a multicultural city with many great museums, it does not have museums that are dedicated to Asian arts only, but there are two of them in Paris!

The most well-known of the two is Musée Guimet ( 6, place d'Iéna, 75016), which has one of the largest collections of Asian art outside Asia. Founded in 1879 by an industrialist, Émile Étienne Guimet, the museum's collection is splendid and you would need a good few hours to wander and examine the vast historical artifacts and art work spanning over five millenniums and covers the entire region including Afghanistan and central Asia. This museum is not to be missed!


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Musée Guimet


Just round the corner from the museum, the museum has a hidden annexe called Galeries du Panthéon Bouddhique/ The Panthéon Bouddhique (19 Avenue d'Iéna). The gallery is located within a former private mansion of banker Alfred Heidelbach (1851–1922), built in 1913 by René Sergent. The entire gallery is dedicated to Buddhist art, with over 250 works from Japan and some from China gathered in 1876 by Émile Étienne Guimet.

To mark the museum's 10th anniversary in 2001, a Japanese pavilion was added in the garden where tea ceremony would be performed. This is probably one of the most tranquil spots in the city, and if you don't have the time to visit the Japanese gardens at the Albert Kahn's museum and gardens, then this garden would be ideal if you want to spend some time to reflect or even meditate.


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Galeries du Panthéon Bouddhique and its Japanese garden


For a long time, I have wanted to visit UNESCO's Headquarters ( 7 Place Fontenoy 75007) partly to see the architecture and excellent art collection (including Angel of Nagasaki and works by Le Corbusier, Joan Miro and Henry Moore etc ). But the highlights here are the Japanese garden, Garden of Peace created by Japanese-American the acclaimed artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1958, and the 'Meditation space' designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Unfortunately, a group tour ( 30 mins long) of the building and garden must be made well in advance via email and I was never organised enough to do so, hence I will have to leave this for my next trip.





The second museum dedicated to Asian art is Musée Cernuschi ( 7 avenue Vélasquez 75008) next to Parc Monceau. The museum was founded in 1898 by Henri Cernuschi (1821–1896) and is located in the small mansion which used to be his home. The permanent collection here is mostly ancient Chinese, while others are from Japan and Korea, including a large prominent Buddha of Meguro, a Japanese bronze from the 18th century, collected by Cernuschi.

The museum also some contemporary collection by Asian artists and temporary Asian art exhibitions are held in the galleries on the ground floor. This museum is now one of the 14 City of Paris museums and offers free admission ( another gem is the Musée Zadkine near Jardin du Luxemburg). There many wonderful museums in Paris, but this one is a must if you are interested in Asian art.


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 Musée Cernuschi


If you are looking for the most unusual and beautiful cinema in Paris, then you must visit the Cinéma Étoile Pagode/ La Pagoda ( 57 bis, rue de Babylone, 75007). This dance-hall turned independent cinema is replica of an antique Japanese pagoda designed by architect Alexandre Marcel in 1896. It was built as a gift from Monsieur Morin, owner of Le Bon Marché department store to his wife probably to save a failing marriage, though it didn't work because she left him a year later for his associate ( so I guess a beautiful cinema is not enough to save a marriage).

The cinema officially opened in 1931 and has screened many premieres including Jean Cocteau's Testament d’Orphée in 1959 and from films The New Wave directors. The cinema was saved from demolition in the 1970s, and now you can still enjoy watching films in the two screening rooms including the exuberant 'Japanese room', or have tea/cocktails in the tranquil and leafy Japanese garden.


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Cinéma Étoile Pagode 


Interestingly, there is another pagoda near Parc Monceau, and it is simply called The Pagoda/ La Maison Loo ( 48 rue de Courcelles, 75008). Originally constructed as a hôtel particulier in the French Louis Philippe style, the building was bought in 1925 by Mr. Ching Tsai Loo (1880-1957), a celebrated collector and dealer of Chinese and Asian art and antiques.

With the help of prominent architect Fernand Bloch (1864-1945), the building was transformed into the Pagoda, aiming to be build a cultural bridge between France and China. It is now a private museum, offering exhibitions and shows throughout the year.


A Japanese Zen rock garden at the entrance of Maison Européenne de la Photographie


Last but not least, Maison de la culture du Japon /Japanese cultural centre ( 101 bis, quai Branly 75015) is a good venue for those who love the Japanese culture. This massive glass building near the Eiffel Tower has a concert hall, theatre, cinema, exhibition area, library and a pavilion dedicated to tea tradition. There is also an interesting bookshop on the ground floor that sells books related to Japanese arts and culture as well as stationery.


This post was posted in Exhibitions, Travel, Paris, Buddhism & meditation, Art, Anything Japanese, Gardens & parks, Asian art and was tagged with paris, Chinese art, gardens, Japanese art, Asian art, Buddhist art