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“Not for the Average Tourist”
Review of Musee Carnavalet

Musee Carnavalet
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US$ 37.58*
and up
Paris L'Open Tour Hop-On-Hop-Off
Ranked #86 of 1,120 things to do in Paris
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The Carnavalet Museum is dedicated to the history of Paris and its inhabitants and has collections illustrating the evolution of the city from prehistory through to the present day. A vast array of works of art, relics and models are displayed in 100 or so rooms, showing the capital at various periods in history and evoking intellectual and everyday life. Magnificent restored historical scenery creates an evocative setting for a stroll through the centuries in an enriching, delightful visitor experience.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Not for the Average Tourist”
Reviewed 2 May 2012

We actually found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. We tried communicating in French, Spanish, and German, and finally made it work in English. But we were still lost in this museum. We got a printed map, but the room numbers on the map did not match the room numbers posted on the walls of the rooms! We got the audio guides, but they only talked about a particular piece in a room and didn't give an overview. Unless you already know a lot about Paris history, this is a very frustrating museum. It's not a place to go to learn about the history. It's a place to see what you learned elsewhere come alive. My husband caught snippets of guided tours for students and said they were fascinating. Skip the audio tour and take a guided tour if you can. Some rooms close in the middle of the day. There are few placards explaining anything in any language. Our teenagers gave up and sat on benches and just waited for us. They didn't do that in any other museum we dragged them too!

Visited April 2012
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1 Thank TNFamilyTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Paris, France
Level Contributor
83 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
“Free and interesting”
Reviewed 1 May 2012

We love this museum, it is in the center of Paris in a really interesting part of town. It is free which when on a budget is essential for keeping every one happy!!! The money not spent on the museum can be used for drinks, dresses etc etc. Also it means that you can go in and out for short spurts of time if you have kids in tow or teenagers who would rather be at H&M or in the park.
It has taken us a few years to really get to grips with the place as it is so sprawling, sometimes we miss parts and then re-find them on another visit. My favorite part is the art nouveau shop which has been rebuilt in its entirety. I also love the painters bedrooms, and the old hotels which have been recreated . It seems a little disconnected with paintings of people places things higildy pigildy ,rooms and shop fronts ect ....
Often the museum is empty especially in the morning and you can pretend that you live in the house, walking through rooms as they once were, drinking in the atmosphere of an age gone by.
If in Paris this place is worth looking at if only to have the opportunity to be in a real Parisian house of time past.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank vi0let17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hampshire, UK
Level Contributor
407 reviews
209 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 174 helpful votes
“Well worth a visit”
Reviewed 26 April 2012

This is an extremely interesting museum, spread across 2 old town "grand" mansions.
There are lots of good pictures, furniture,etc., The highlight for us were the old signs used by tradespeople to advertise their wares.
This place deserves to be better known.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
Thank grafran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
238 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“What a great experience that many miss”
Reviewed 26 April 2012

Musee Carnabalet is the history of Paris in the Marais area of Paris. This musee is not known in the "top ten" and therefore missed by so many visitors. We hit it every time we are here. Located in two beautiful townhouses. It takes you through 1600's to present, with furniture, stories, and beautiful artwork of those of note in the city...do not miss

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
Thank bitler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fairbanks, AK
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Lovely Museum with Rude Staff”
Reviewed 25 April 2012

I enjoyed visiting this museum nearly twenty years ago and returned today for its excellent exhibit on the photographer Eugene Atget. I highly recommend that exhibit (which is temporary and began today, 4/25/12), which offers an extensive selection of Atget's photographs, accompanied by commentary in both French and English. I especially appreciated that the arrondissement was noted for each photograph, as that information invited comparison between the present and the past.

However, I also agree with the other reviewers who've complained here about the rude staff and the confusing layout of the permanent collections. The museum is in an old, lovely building that is interesting in its own right, but it needs better signage to make navigation less confusing. An atmosphere of confusion pervaded, and while booklets with maps were available in several languages, they did not help much. It also seemed as if the museum wanted visitors to follow a route, but 'no entry' points were not clearly marked. At one point I went up a staircase and was about to enter a gallery, only to be scolded back down the stairs by a staff person who gruffly informed me that the entrance was down below. I then climbed up another staircase, only to find myself at the very same landing from which I had just been diverted, and not stopped from entering the gallery. I'm not at all clear on what the scolding was meant to accomplish since the gallery was not closed and the first staircase not marked as forbidden.

This was not my only negative experience with the staff, however. When I was buying my ticket for the Atget exhibition, a guard approached me and insisted that I check my messenger bag. I did so, noting a 'no suitcases' sign on the wall, only to find myself in galleries with women carrying gigantic handbags and men carrying messenger bags the same size as my own. I was really not clear on why I was singled out to check my bag (which had several electronic items in it) when others were not, and I'd advise the museum to be more even-handed in asking visitors to check bags in the future.

And just to be clear: I was a very well-behaved museum visitor who spoke very polite French with all of the staff and did not do anything to invite their reactions to me. Reading some of the other comments here was a bit of a relief as it seems that rudeness is a persistent problem at this museum. It's too bad, as its collections are worthwhile for those who want to visualize the history of Paris. Entrance to the permanent collections was free; the Atget exhibition cost a very well-spent 7 euros.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank AKTravelerFAI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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