If you are visiting Paris with young children who don’t necessarily want to traipse through the Louvre, you may want to make a stop instead at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature).
Located in the Marais, just steps away from said Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, it is rather a small museum that is in privately ownership. However, its collection of some rather odd stuff is just the right size to keep the interest of the little ones, and everyone else in the family.
And even though it is a private museum, it has still received the label “Musée de France”, which is granted by the Ministry of Culture.
The museum was founded in 1964 by a couple of wealthy married industrialists who made their fortune in tapestry and rugs. As such, you can see tapestries with hunting and animal motifs on the walls, in this rather luxurious hotel particulier (private mansion), right in the heart of Paris.
The two buildings that were connected together to form the museum are Hôtel de Guénégaud (built in 1655) and the Hôtel de Mongelas (built in 1707).
I will admit, part of the fun of walking through the Musée de la Chasse et Nature is actually just admiring the buildings where the nobility and bourgeoisie used to live.
In typical Parisian fashion, the main entrance gates lead to an inner courtyard, where that horse and carriage could be parked, in order to enter the home in complete privacy.
Inside the museum, the ground floor holds temporary exhibitions that change a couple of times a year.
Upstairs the museum’s permanent collection with a variety of paintings dedicated to animals and the hunt. There are also stuffed animal collections and hunting weaponry.
The building itself is also quite impressive, having previously been two private mansions dating back to the 17th century, that were connected together in 2007.
Inside, the high ceilings and elaborate dark woodwork give the impression of being in a private smoking club. And indeed, there is still a private club that meets here, the Club de la Chasse et Nature.
There are several stuffed animals given the taxidermy treatment, from leopards and bears, to deers and beavers. Basically, it is the Jardin des Plantes on a smaller scale.
The collection of nearly 3,000 hunting-related objects and 500 engravings, also includes newer modern art exhibits in the same theme. There are also several kitch items such as ceramic dogs and a white and gold moulded fireplace with hunting scenes painted on it.
There are a lot of little things to notice, at every height level, with works of art like a glass spider and a colorful beaded egg. From a cabinets of curiosities to shelves displaying brightly colored bottles of mysterious substances, you will come away with more questions than answers. And that is not a bad thing!
Is it accessible?
Yes, there is an elevator inside and good facilities for toilets and baby changing tables. There is one small section that has a small set of stairs to access, but the rest of the Musée de la Chasse et Nature is quite accessible.
How long do you need at the museum?
The Musée de la Chasse et Nature is quite small, so I would plan to spend about an hour there. It is in the bustling Marais area, so you can combine a visit here with other sights such as the Place des Vosges which is a few 100 meters away.
If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading more about top things to do in Paris. A bientôt!