On the trail of

From Paris to Provence, won­der­ful new art ex­pe­ri­ences abound

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Europe - TONY PER­ROT­TET

THE most thrilling new artis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence in Paris starts with some­thing very old. Edouard Manet’s Le de­je­uner sur l’herbe and its de­pic­tion of a nude woman re­clin­ing with male friends at a pic­nic scan­dalised Parisians when it was first dis­played al­most 150 years ago. But it has been given a new lease of life.

It is the first im­age to be seen upon en­ter­ing the Im­pres­sion­ist gallery in the Musee d’Or­say af­ter a re­cent $27 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion. In the re­vamped set­ting, Manet’s im­age seems as fresh and star­tling as it must have been upon its un­veil­ing in 1863.

Since it opened 25 years ago in the con­verted beauxarts Or­say rail­way sta­tion, the mu­seum has been renowned for its un­ri­valled col­lec­tion of French masters. The re­design of the Im­pres­sion­ist gallery tries to re-cre­ate the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of a 19th-cen­tury Parisian home. New light­ing tech­niques have been devel­oped to sug­gest gen­tle sun­light and the colour of the walls changed from a bland white to a rich, slate grey, which al­lows the Im­pres­sion­ist brush­work and clar­ity of light to really pop.

The re­vamped Or­say is part of an ex­cit­ing wave of ex­pan­sion in the French art world. A string of bold mu­se­ums has opened, while old favourites have been given a new lease of life. While in Paris, con­tinue in a belle epoque vein by vis­it­ing the Bac­carat Mu­seum, where a glit­ter­ing an­tique crys­tal col­lec­tion is housed in a man­sion re­designed by Philippe Starck.

Nearby, in the shadow of the Eif­fel Tower, the sump­tu­ous 1896 res­i­dence of French im­pe­rial prince Roland Bon­a­parte, grand-nephew of the em­peror Napoleon, has been de­clared a mon­u­ment his­torique and re­opened as the Shangri-La Paris. Step back in time with high tea in the ho­tel’s grand sa­lon, sur­rounded by enor­mous oil paint­ings and shim­mer­ing mar­ble.

The south of France has long at­tracted artists with its gen­tle cli­mate and its pierc­ingly clear light. No sooner had the first train lines been built from Paris to the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.