If the addition of two new museums on the Right Bank over the past decade were not enough (that is to say: the Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in 2014 and the Pinault Collection launched at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021), a third new entrant to the cultural scene was unveiled at the much-awaited opening of the Hôtel de la Marine in early 2022. For most of the previous 200 years, this corner of the Place de la Concorde was popular with fans of sailors dressed in smart, freshly-pressed uniforms (often with bright red bobbins on their hats) as the impressive 18th century Hôtel was, as its name indicates, home to the French naval ministry. Today visitors’ heads will immediately be turned by the impressive restoration of this architectural gem originally opened after 20 years construction in 1774 as part of the Place de la Concorde’s development directed by Louis XV (and originally called the Place Louis XV with an equine statue of the monarch in Roman garb at the centre, before being subsequently renamed the Place de la Révolution in 1792 and finally settling under its current name in 1795). The main attraction of the restored Hôtel de la Marine today is the previously peripatetic works known as the Al Thani collection, an exquisitely curated assembly of 100 artworks and sculptures spanning 4,000 years of semi-divine creation. Having entered into a long-term partnership with France’s Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the Al Thani Collection has found a permanent home here and the first gallery you enter sets the scene nicely, with a glittering display of hanging lights creating a unique effect. (Of note also are the state-of-the-art headsets that automatically activate an atmospheric audio commentary based on your exact location as you walk around.) In addition to the impressive Al Thani collection, the restored reception rooms that once housed the King of France’s furniture collection are part of the tour, and a walk along the exterior first floor terrace overlooking the Place de la Concorde is alone worth the visit. If the breeze coming off the nearby Seine (or indeed memories of the sea air) stir your appetite, the new venue comes with a couple of upmarket dining options, with the chic Café Lapérouse directly off the Place de la Concorde and the even more chic Mimosa by Jean-François Piège in the main courtyard, accessible also from the side entrance on the rue Royale.
Hôtel de la Marine, 2 Place de la Concorde, 75008. Tel: 01 87 05 30 30.