Adventures in Paris: Rodin & His Gardens

The Rodin Museum (Musée Rodin) is a peaceful spot in the heart of Paris.  We kicked off the day here and were delighted with the short, fast-moving line to get in, as well as the low entry price.  The museum is comprised of an elegant mansion—Hôtel Biron—and its surrounding grounds and gardens.  The museum is a stone’s throw from various other Paris sites, with Les Invalides (former Army hospital, now museum, and site of Napoleon’s Tomb) directly across the street.  Yet within the garden walls is a level of tranquility I have not often experienced in Paris.

It only costs 1€ to visit the grounds but it is free if you are accompanied by children!  What a pleasant surprise for us.  Since our two younger boys weren’t quite feeling up to the full museum visit, and I had visited the whole museum previously, we decided Emily would take the older boys inside while we three stayed out and explored the grounds.  Entry into the mansion-museum costs an additional 9€ for adults, but provides access to hundreds of additional works contained inside.  Emily and the big boys also chose to get audioguides for 3€, which proved to be money well-spent.  They were delighted by the quality of the guide, especially since the museum recently added a children’s version of the guide.  Same handsets, same headphones, same button-pushing process—just different commentary that was age-appropriate and interesting to our 6- and 7-year-olds, offered in English or French.

Even though the garden lawns forbid our littles’ footsteps (pelouse interdite), the gardens are generally kid-friendly.  We wandered along the hedge-trimmed pathways, enjoying The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, The Burghers of Calais, and many other works I’d studied in art history and humanities classes.  It was wonderful to see them in person and in such a lovely setting.  In the gardens on the back side of the mansion are a small pond, some fountains, some charming archways, and a large shade-tree area filled with numerous additional works by Rodin and others.

When Emily and the big brothers had finished their visit inside, lunch was beginning to beckon.  While there is a café within the gardens, and it seemed casual and appropriate for families with small children, the menu lacked the variety we were hoping for, particularly in terms of finding something that would appeal to our boys other than baguette sandwiches (from which they were needing a day off).  So we wrapped up our museum visit and headed out to the street.

Just outside the museum gates and gift shop was a friendly café, Café du Musée, which accommodated us without any problems.  The price was slightly better than the official museum café, and they had menu offerings that would work well for the whole family, including a broader selection of hot foods.  The service was surprisingly fast and the waiter was friendly in spite of our noisiness and a spilled glass of water (maybe two!).

After lunch we felt everyone had earned a bit of a treat, and the freezer in the little gas station a few doors down had just what everyone needed.  We enjoyed ice cream at the curb before heading back into the Métro (Varenne / line 13) just a few steps away.

Of all of the fine art our boys experienced while in Paris, our visit to the Rodin Museum was probably their best experience—offering both the information and the visual appeal that kept them going throughout the visit.

Neighborhood note: if you wanted to combine your Rodin visit to Rue Cler’s delightful market street, it’s manageable—probably a 15-minute walk from the museum gates to one tasty treat shop, A la Mère de la Famille., or any of a variety of produce stands, boulangeries, flower shops, or café-restaurants.  Rue Cler is equally accessible from the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower.

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