Quai de Conti with view on Pont Neuf and Henri IV statue
Art and culture

An art lover’s guide to Paris

October 18, 2022

Art historian Marta-Volga de Minteguiaga-Guezala is a lifelong fan of Paris and its abundance of outstanding art. Discover her love of the city, favourite museums and admiration for Monet’s revolutionary masterpieces.
Vue sur le Jardin des Tuileries à Paris

What makes Paris so special?

Everything about Paris fascinates me. I’ve lived here all my life and yet every day it still inspires and intrigues me in equal measure. I became an art historian and an official French guide so I can spend my days researching the city and sharing my love of Paris with others. There are more than 200 museums and around 1000 art galleries across the city, so for me it’s the ultimate place to be.

What do you love most about the city?

I’m always amazed when I see Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the city’s many gardens  everything here is so beautiful. The many diverse areas, from medieval streets to modern districts. Paris is picturesque when it’s sunny, magical when it’s snowing, and at night it sparkles – no wonder it’s known as the City of Light. Above all, it’s full of history and art – my two favourite things.

Vue sur la Tour Eiffel, encadrée par de la verdure, à Paris
Photo d'un tableau de Claude Monet peint en 1876, appelé Les Tuileries
© CLAUDE MONET, LES TUILERIES - Oil on canvas 1876 - Image courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

What do you admire about Monet?

I’m thrilled to be guiding Le Meurice’s Monet – Revolutionary Brushstrokes tours, as I’m a huge fan of his work. I admire his unique way of looking at the world and determination to do things differently. Monet was working at a time of great change in the art world, and was fearless in his pursuit of finding his own way. Cézanne used to say, “Monet is only an eye, but my God, what an eye!” Paintings came alive in his hands. His unique approach and strong personality still allow us to instantly recognise his work today.

What makes the Monet tour so enjoyable?

Guests love hearing about the man behind the art. Learning his personal story, the issues he faced, and his revolutionary approach makes people look at his paintings in a new light. It’s great when I meet someone who has always loved a particular painting, but appreciate it even more once they know the story behind it.

Black and white photo of the French painter Claude Monet, taken in 1920 in his studio in Giverny, standing in front of some of his Lily waters paintings
© PORTRAIT OF CLAUDE MONET IN HIS GIVERNY STUDIO, 1920 - Image courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
Photo d'une salle d'exposidu Musée d'Orsay
© Sophie Boegly

What’s your favourite museum in Paris?

My favourite is Musée d’Orsay for its focus on 19th century art, especially the decorative art section. I also love everything about the Louvre, it’s so much more than people give it credit for. It’s like a giant encyclopaedia filled with a vast array of treasures. The Mesopotamian department alone is well worth a visit. The Pompidou is another place where I take regular tours, highlighting its exceptional collection of modern and contemporary art.

Any lesser-known museums you recommend?

There are many small lesser-known museums in Paris. I thoroughly recommend visiting Musée Rodin, Musée Gustave Moreau and Musée Jean-Jacques Henner, which, prior to becoming museums, were all studios of the artists they now represent.

Photo of Rodin Museum's façade seen under a blue sky with green cone trees in front, in Paris
Photo de la Pyramide du Louvre, à Paris

Where do you like to eat in Paris?

Le Café Marly at the Louvre is a regular haunt of mine. The Louvre is such a vast museum that I never need an excuse to visit its pretty courtyard café overlooking the famous pyramid entrance. Café Ruc, at the convenient crossroads of the Louvre, the Palais Royal garden, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Fashion Museum, is another place where I regularly dine. Le Fumoir has a lovely Art Deco feel and is perfect for any time of day, while La Santa Carne near Place de la Bastille does great steaks and the walls are lined with vibrant art.

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

That’s a very tough question, as I would love to own a lot of pieces. The famously unfinished ‘The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne’ by Leonardo da Vinci immediately springs to mind, but also any painting by Vermeer, Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse. Every time I stand in front of Monet’s Water Lilies series at Musée de l’Orangerie, I think how wonderful it would be to have these at home. I guess the ideal scenario would be to have my own museum!

Photo des Nymphéas de Claude Monet, exposés au Musée de L'Orangerie à Paris
© Sophie Crépy
Photo of a painting by Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, depicting a scene along the Seine
© Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection

What artwork are you still longing to see?

A painting by Seurat called, ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’. This painting depicts a scene along the Seine and it changed the face of modern art at the end of the 19th century. The painting is in Chicago, so maybe I’ll have to organise a trip there. The idyllic image along the riverbank shows so many beautiful details, but nothing beats standing right in front of an actual painting rather than a reproduced image in a book.

If Marta-Volga de Minteguiaga-Guezala’s passion for art has piqued your interest, consider joining her on one of our bespoke Monet – Revolutionary Brushstrokes walking tours from Le Meurice.

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