Paris off the beaten track! Visit any or all of these wonderful, wacky, off the tourist track museums and learn something new about this old-favorite city.
The Counterfeit museum
Can you tell the real thing from a fake? Here’s a chance to find out. Located in a beautiful ornate townhouse in the heart of the 16th, the Counterfeit Museum houses over 500 examples of the most incredible variety of fake stuff! The building once housed a rich American heiress, but after it was damaged during WWII Gaston-Louis Vuitton bought it in 1950. He gave it to the Union of Manufacturers which protects commercial creations. The museum opened shortly thereafter to help educate the public. Fakes are displayed beside the original… Chanel bags, Louboutin shoes and even Bic pens. Scariest of all are the drugs and cosmetics. These fakes can kill.
The Sewer Museum
What to do with all that waste? A question Paris has been struggling to answer since 1370 when Hugues Aubriot built a 300 metre sewer under Montmartre. Louis XIV ordered more sewer construction, as did Napoleon. But it wasn’t until 1850 that things got serious. A complete system for bringing fresh water and removing all kinds of waste was designed by Eugene Belgrand. A technological miracle which quickly became the stuff of legend, think Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera, as well as a tourist attraction. Sadly, you can no longer take a boat ride along a sewage stream. You can visit the Paris Sewer Museum. A great, slightly smelly underground walk through shockingly large and clean passages providing a fascinating history of underground Paris. Quiet and cool it is wonderful respite from the above ground hustle and heat.
A bit hard to find. On the Pont d’Alma, across from 93 quai d’Orsay. Look for little white kiosk, buy tickets there and then walk down a flight of stairs.
The Vampire Museum
Not technically in Paris, this odd tiny museum is worth the trouble to get to. Jacques Sirgent, the owner of this private space, is the main attraction. He knows everything there is to know about vampires. He has built a fascinating, jumbled collection of memorabilia, books, tat and artifacts housed in his grandfather’s old workshop in his 1880 built family home. Movie posters, a 19th century vampire killing kit and autographs of every movie Dracula are among the highlights. Jacques is happy to tell you all about everything in perfect English making a convincing argument why vampires may not actually be bad. I learned that throughout history people have drunk blood because water was so polluted and deadly.
By appointment only. I booked via email: email@example.com
The Magic Museum/Museum of Automation
A small double museum (though you can choose to only go to one side) in the vaults under the 16th century house of the Marquis de Sade. Yes, the guy who gave his name to sadism. The Magic Museum opened in 1993 by award winning magician George Proust to share his collection of magical accessories from the 17th and 18th century. He hoped people would see the art behind the trickery and learn a bit about the history. I had no idea the first book of magic was written to educate people who feared witchcraft. The Museum of Automation is filled with wonderfully bizarre motion toys most of which work upon the press of a button. They date from the 19th century to the present. Some are funny, some are a bit naughty and some are incredibly clever. I found them all enchanting.