My son complained, “Mom, why do we have to go to a place with ugly LV bags and sewing clothes?”
“Son,” I replied, “the Louis Vuitton Foundation is an art museum.”
Located just outside of the city of Paris / Neuilly in a garden of wonderful children, newly erected building is the latest fashionable destination to go on weekends for busy Parisians.
“Did you see the building? OMG, it’s amazing!”
Ok, I admit, the structure is pure Frank Gehry, the master of grandiose projects. You immediately see the Guggenheim Lisbon, the Disney Concert Hall, and the Weatherhead School in Cleveland, mixed with a little of the opera house in Sydney. The effect is to stir the petals, leaves and soaring transparency.
The day we visited last week was dull and gray and foggy and cold, and the museum was hardly visible until you walk up to it. The color of the sky was almost the same as the light walls on rooftops. At the corner of 10 minutes walk from the nearest subway station, the arrival on the building is quite surprising. It fills your view as a boat soaring sky – a spaceship?
The long double line to enter was somewhat explained when we found out that the museum was only open for lunch (noon) this particular Friday, and many visitors arrived at the reasonable hour of 11:00 , assuming that it would be open, silly them. We came in late lucky.
Not much to see.
I must say that what we saw was chic but not overwhelming. The surprise was to discover how very little to see. The building is finished and ready, the staff is uniformed and trained, but many rooms and galleries are still closed and empty, with no indication of when something will happen. A repeat of the violin recital was held in the auditorium. The Modigliani sculpures were the most beautiful things I saw that day.
The only auditorium opening video clip showed the Steve McQueen of Kanye West, which both my son and I do not care. We are not sitting. The really nice feature of the Foundation is its outdoor terraces, multiple and at different levels. Facing all possible directions, the views from here are some of the best in the city, after those at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
A remarkable spectacle of a ground outside is the business district of Paris, La Défense, with the only skyscraper to be seen in the capital. The distance you can see the whole panorama spread hundreds of large structures encompassing view, located at the end of the corridor to reach the Concorde square to the Grande Arche, through the Arc de Triomphe monument and Champs-Elysees avenue .
Our visit was over in about an hour, which was faster than stay in the outside lane. The restaurant in the lobby has an amazing display of giant white origami fish hovering above diners – another subtle reference to the work of the architect who likes to use giant fish, as in sculpture he created in Spain.
The 12 glass mat forming the structure reflected in several adjacent ponds, even without sun. But water areas are not likely to remain clean for a long time – for now, they are bleach-perfect. Some coins wishing solitary probably will soon be buried in more.
Flexible arches and semi-transparent features of the building are again a testimony to the genius of the architect Frank Gehry, although my son remarked that he seemed already very familiar – the truth comes from the mouths of children, no?
The surrounding garden.
The Jardin d’Acclimation where the Foundation is located is where children grow Parisians when the sun peaks for a few minutes. The place offers all kinds of fun things to do, eating, watching, pet, touch and admire. Children s and oh-ah-s fill the air and draw smiles when the weather cooperates, which it was not last week. The garden was pretty empty, the temperature in the mid 40s.
The garden has a kiddies zoo, a massive aviary, Tchou-Tchou train rides and canoeing on the lake, a small farm, a riding school, a vegetable garden, a fitness area and a “beach” with loungers . Everything in the dreamworld of a child is presented here. Gloomy weather is not a good time to visit though. The entrance fee is included if you visited the Foundation and out through the garden.
The garden and its new museum are found in the Bois de Boulogne, on the border of Paris / Neuilly -the suburb of Neuilly; technically the the Zoo and the Foundation shall be located in Neuilly, as they are outside of the device, the official automobile loop that runs around Paris and defines its territory. But the Parisians must have wanted this park be theirs. Metro Station to the museum is actually located on the Neuilly side.
Why Louis Vuitton?
Requisitioned by billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the merger of Champagne and sewing). Arnault is a collector of art, including Picasso, Klein and Warhol. The Foundation project began in 2006 and was immediately sense that the place would be called Louis Vuitton.
Just as the American Airlines Arena in Miami has no plans inside, or the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, which also shows no cars in it, the Louis Vuitton Foundation no bags inside. In summary, the new museum is a welcome addition to the long list of art venues in Paris, but the outside is much more spectacular than the inside, which is the case for many masterpieces Frank Gerhy.
Now if you plan to go, make sure to visit the website and follow the instructions. It’s almost like a hunting game where they give you clues on how to find where and how to get to it. The hours are also indicated there, but not very clear at all. So here’s a little help from me to you.
Address: Avenue of Mahatma Gandhi, 75016 Paris; Tel 33-1-4069-9600.
Hours (read carefully): 11-8 Mon + Wed + Thur; 11-11 Friday; 10-8 Sat + Sun These hours vary during school holidays, and some holidays – such as May 1 (Labour Day in France), where the museum will be closed – better check in advance of your visit.
Metro: Line 1 – Stop Les Sablons. There is also a private $ 1 shuttle from the metro station Etoile, for those who do not want to walk the walk.
The Foundation is closed on Tuesdays.
Registration fee: 5 to 14 euros depending on your age (or $ 5.29 to $ 14.82); the dollar is almost at euro today. Free for disabled visitors and a companion.