If you happen to be in Paris on a public holiday and you can’t seem to find a single shop or museum open, here’s a hidden treasure we discovered along the Boulevard Haussman.
It’s the Musee Jacquemart Andre! Open 365 days a year which is a real rarity in the City of Lights.
I was really quite excited about going – I had read up in advance about their supposedly very pretty tea salon and delicious patisseries. The history of the museum was also something so different – it was actually the home of well to do Parisian Edouard Andre, who was also a lover of art, beauty and form. He was married to painter Nelie Jacquemart, and together they hosted the rich, the famous, and the talented. Their home and the art displayed in it was a reflection of exquisite good taste and raved about in high society of the time.
Nelie eventually bequeathed the mansion to the Institut de France, which converted the home into a museum in 1913.
We started off by having lunch in the museum’s Cafe, which was originally the Jacquemart-Andre’s dining room.
It was a beautiful room with wall to wall paintings on all sides and a frescoed ceiling. It felt almost like a travesty to be having cake in the room – like we should be doing something serious like studying those paintings instead. (Cheap thrills)
Hungry people !
The menu was very limited. So I went for a very Parisian quiche lunch (again) and K had their lunch special, which was roast chicken in a foie gras sauce with potatoes dauphinoise.
Really yummy and a great light midday meal ! My quiche was sundried tomatoes and ham I think – surprisingly light and very moreish. I really appreciated that they served it freshly baked – it was so recent out of the oven that I could see that when it was sliced, the edges fell apart – if cut cold the wedge would have been a lot more solid and the quiche significantly stodgier.
I also liked the salad – I have an aversion to bitter greens, and I have no idea why the salad greens with rocket in SG always taste so bitter – all the side salads we had in Paris were sweet, fresh, and if bitter, only in a complex, palatable way.
K’s chicken was .. very rich. The foie gras sauce was almost too much. I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would cook foie gras into a sauce but apparently it is very common in Paris were duck livers are plentiful and reasonably priced. I was looking at that tempting leg of chicken and the calorie counter in my head was off the charts. It was appropriately rich for winter, though – comfortingly hefty, the meat tender and devoid of any pungent meat taste that comes with defrostingl. Unfortunately it was also a tad under cooked.
The potatoes, on the other hand, were perfect. I marvelled at the thinly sliced layers, the light cream sauce holding the entire thing together, the crusty golden brown top. I will attempt this at home soon.
K has been bugging me to blog about our lunch at the Musee for very long. And here’s why:
At the Musee, my husband K, conoisseur of fine breads and fruit tarts, found The One.
The One True Fruit Tart, that is.
My husband is not a man prone to dramatics. But he swooned when he saw that raspberry custard tart in all its splendour, sitting on the clear glass display case.
We sat down, and every ten minutes he sneaked glances at the cake display to make sure it didn’t sell out. The minute I finished my food, he hustled me over to the cakes, demanded that I take a picture, and asked for a slice of the tart.
Well, K must surely be able to tell from it’s looks that it was awesome, because it was.
The raspberries were deliciously sweet and dry, with just a hint of tanginess on the tongue. The custard was smooth, just a touch above a mousse and below a solid egg custard, wonderfully wobbly and milky sweet. The sugar tart base was just perfect too – crunchy but not crumbly, buttery, and very addictive.
I only got two mouthfuls of that divine tart. I ordered the mille feuille for variety but found myself looking longingly at K’s tart, only to find all my approaching advances with a fork rebuffed brusquely with a glare and some over the table fork kung-fu.
This had never happened before. I had been demoted to being one level below a fruit tart in my husband’s short list of priorities (Fruit Tart, Libby, Benjy, MCM bag)
The mille feuille was good, although not mindblowing like the tart. It had the same glorious custard in between crunchy flaky layers. I skipped the marzipan top, though. Too cloyingly sweet.
Rubbing our bellies, we then started our museum tour. At this point of the trip, I think the both of us desperately need some personal space. 24/7 is no joke.
So armed with our own individual audio guides, we explored the Musee.
I really fell in love with the home. It’s no Vatican Museum, but I loved how all the art works had been carefully and painstakingly curated by Nelie Jacquemart for the purpose of filling her home with things of beauty and things that made her smile. I marvelled at her impeccable taste and the airy, high ceilings. I dreamed of what it would be like to live in a house like that, a piece of art on it’s own.
Most of all, I felt a connection – from one houseproud gal to another, over the generations. It was oddly moving to see how Nelie put her own personal touches all over the house – saving it from becoming just a showpiece and making it something so her, and strangely intimate.
K really enjoyed the Musee’s Winter Gardens. It was so odd to spot tropical ferns and potted plants which wouldn’t look out of place outside any Singaporean building but ‘exotic’ in this country. The sleek curves gave the garden a distinct appearance of a sanctuary completely different from the rest of the house.
I didn’t get to take many photos because I was so intrigued by the place and was glued to my audio guide. All the more reason for you guys to check this place out for yourselves ! 🙂
Navy blue dress with a cream peter pan collar
Navy blue Snidel peplum wool cardigan
Celine purse with Santa Duffy
Dark brown wool leggins
Kitten heeled Repettos
158 Boulevard Haussmann 75008 Paris, France
More Paris adventures to come !