Are you one of those people who likes to visit a city and come back with tales of the weirdest and most wonderful things you’ve discovered from your travels? Well if you are, your habits will die hard in Paris. Among the masterpieces and priceless art hung in galleries and museums of the City of Light, Paris is also a great place to discover the out-of-the-ordinary.
From strange sewer mechanics, to deformed growths, rodent-themed décor and much more, there really is something for every kind of interest.
Not one for the squeamish, the Musée Dupuytren is one of the most freaky yet fascinating museums of its kind. Within this weird and wonderful world of the embalmed and preserved, you can walk through aisles and rooms lined with bottles and jars containing some of the most disturbingly malformed creatures from animals to humans. The museum itself dates back to 1835 when it was set up by a celebrated surgeon who wanted somewhere he could show off his science and the specimens he had collected. Today, some of the collections date right back to the 17th century and the museum also holds an impressive library, wax models and photography on display.
A visit to the Musée des Égouts de Paris, or the Paris Sewer Museum, should not be missed when you’re in Paris. Take a break from tourist traps and go off-piste and underground to explore this subterranean network of sewers. One of the most fascinating things about these ancient sewers is not only the fact that you’ll discover a system of tunnels and gothic arches that span over 2,100km across Paris, but you’ll discover The Ball which was used to clean the sewers. Imagine a large cannon ball which pushed waters though the tunnels as a cleaning and purifying mechanism… that was the height of sophistication. Its not worth thinking about with today’s standards of hygiene!
You can’t escape the wonderful art on show in Paris, and nor should you. We invite you to look a little closer at some of the more bizarre but beautiful. One of the best museums and galleries to discover something out-of-the-ordinary is at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, the Museum of Hunting and Nature. Open your eyes and your mind to the creations behind these doors. Have you ever seen a gorilla in shoes before? Or a rooster with horns? No, and you probably won’t again. This museum is crazy and chaotic and it makes you question whether the exhibits are a whimsical creation, or whether there is some truth or history to them after all…
Rats are pretty high on the list of social enemies. From full blown phobias to spreading diseases there are a number of reasons why people don’t like these street-dwelling vermin. However, if you’d like to conquer your fear and see where these creatures end up then a visit to Julien Aurouze and Co, Paris’ iconic pest controllers, might be quite therapeutic. This shop, which dates back to 1872, is so famous it was featured in the fun-loving family film, Ratatouille. Nestled in central Paris on Rue de Rivoli, you can’t miss it thanks to its shop windows hung with rats strung by their tails. If you can stomach it, its definitely worth a look for its unique décor alone!
You’ve probably already seen the Mona Lisa, and the Liberty Leading the People, but you can’t leave the Louvre without a cheeky peak, pardon the pun, at Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters Paintings. Noone really knows what this picture is meant to represent and indeed, why the subjects are so intimate with each other and its anonymity just adds to the mystery. See if you can answer another of Paris’ weird and wonderful art works; the chained monkey at Musée de Cluny has been a source of debate for many years. We challenge you to try and work them out…
Across the river, opposite the Notre Dame lies the Museum Carnavalet. It’s one of Paris’ most important museums, telling the story of the city from its founding. Set over two stunning 16th century mansions, this museum is decorated with the four seasons; has a verdant courtyard and a wealth of collections, from paintings, to sculptures on show. But what’s arguably most interesting are the smaller, more obscure collections, such as Napoleons toiletries, the personal effects of Marie Antoinette and a lock of hair from Robespierre. Should these collectables interest you, there is much much more on show.
It would be a crime to have a blinkered view of what Paris has to offer. As a city so rich in culture and heritage, there is so much to be discovered from its past – and sometimes the more obscure it is, the better insight you get. Whether it be through scientific experiments, bizarre animal fancies, curious collectables or inexplicable art; don’t miss out on the weird and wonderful Paris!
November 10, 2017 by Paris Pass blogger
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