New Paris Museum: Hôtel de la Marine

Paris had a surge of new museum openings and reopenings in 2021, including La Bourse de Commerce, a former stock exchange converted into a museum to display the private art collection of billionaire fashion mogul Francois Pinault. 

Hôtel de la Marine on the north end of the historic Place de la Concorde was constructed in 1757, ordered by King Louis XV, to which the square was originally named. A stunning limestone gem, the neoclassical style building has a dozen soaring columns on the second floor and an impressive inner courtyard. It was named Garde de Meuble and its sole purpose was to store and display the king’s extensive furniture collection. Over 500 pieces of furniture were on display and part of the building was opened as a museum, along with a library, horse stables, and a chapel. In the height of the French Revolution in 1791, the Garde-Meuble was taken over by the revolutionaries and converted into the naval academy of France, where it remained for over 200 years. The naval academy relocated to another part of Paris in 2015 and the building was relegated to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, a government organization that restores, preserves and manages over 150 historic properties throughout France, including chateaux, churches, fortresses and gardens. 

Hôtel de la Marine

In one of its most significant and most expensive undertakings, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux spent over three years renovating and restoring the original caretakers’ apartments on two floors of the building at the cost of 130 million euros. A major part of the budget was used to painstakingly restore the furniture, replace the extravagant draperies and silk wallcoverings, and reupholster the furniture with silk, brocade and damask fabrics as close to the original as possible. Forty firms were consulted for the restoration. 

Arriving at the museum you are given a headset, where you can select your language; the approximately 75-minute tour brings you through each room with a detailed and entertaining description of its history, furniture and décor.

Hôtel de la Marine

In the inner courtyard by the entrance are two restaurants. Café Laperouse Concorde is an outpost of the restaurant Laperouse on the Left Bank, famously known for its private dining salons. A combination café and tea salon, Café Laperouse serves a casual menu of main course salads, croques, quiches, and hamburgers, pastries and desserts in an elegant setting. There’s also a breakfast menu with a breakfast pastry basket, house made granola and egg dishes. 

On the opposite side of the courtyard is the more formal restaurant, Mimosa. Multi-Michelin star chef Jean-François Piège has created a menu inspired by the Mediterranean-style cuisine of the Cote d’Azur in the south of France. 

Hôtel de la Marine

The Centre des Monuments Nationaux has spent over three years renovating and restoring the building.

Both establishments have outdoor terraces in the courtyard. 

Directly across the street from the Hôtel de la Marine is an identical building, which was the palace of François Félix de Crillon, a noble who lived there until 1791, and in 1909 it became the five-star Hôtel de Crillon. 

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