Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paris -- Maxim's Museum: A Little-known Treasure

At a friend's suggestion, we recently took a tour of Maxim's and it's attached museum. There were only three of us on the 2:00 tour given in perfect English by an amazingly well-informed and engaging guide, so we could linger over things that particularly caught our attention.

Maxim's, located at 3 rue Royale since the 1890s, is more than an iconic restaurant. It is the spot where everyone who counted in Paris appeared and where the famed courtesans became some of the richest women in France. The décor, which you will recall from Gigi and, more recently, Midnight in Paris, is OVER THE TOP, but in a nice way. Every inch is decorated, and all the period details have been retained.

Seeing Maxim's empty is a treat, as you can see. It is eminently photogenic.

Various views of Maxim's
In addition to the public rooms, upstairs in what used to be the private rooms is a museum containing the very fine Art Nouveau collection of Pierre Cardin, who is the present owner of Maxim's. The presentation of the items in the collection is most interesting, and echoes the period in which the object were created. Here are just a few of them:

Gaudi chairs
Bedroom by Gallé
Rare Tiffany lamp
Bedroom by well, I forget
Pierre Cardin is 94, and owns Maxim's personally. It is not clear what will happen to the place when he dies. While the physical premises are protected, it could become anything, even a clothing boutique. So we are going to go there for dinner on our next trip to Paris, while it still will be Maxim's. The food is apparently competently prepared but in a 1950s time warp. Still, . . ..

Maxim's is not the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay, and thus is not for the first-time (or even second-time) visitor to Paris. However, if you have done the major sites and are looking for a visual ice cream sundae, Maxim's is well worth the trip.

Bobby Jay

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