Bordering the Parc Monceau, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is unlike most museums. Entering this impeccably-preserved early 20th-century mansion feels more like walking into an aristocrat’s private home than visiting a museum, a feeling heightened by the fact that only a handful of other visitors might be milling about.
The home features a superb collection of 18th-century French decorative artwork and furnishings, and the interiors are preserved in their original condition. You’ll no doubt go to admire the glistening gildings, the rich carpets, and the impressive plasterwork, but the tragic history of the family who called this place home might be what strikes you most during your visit.
The original owner of this elegant house was Ottoman-born banker and art collector Count Moïse de Camondo. He built the home in 1911 to accommodate his large collection of decorative art and furniture, inspired by the Petit Trianon of Versailles. While he clearly loved a classical aesthetic, he also appreciated modern amenities, as evidenced by the kitchen and bathrooms.
Following the death of his only son, Nissim, in World War I, the Count withdrew from social life and devoted himself to his collection. When he died in 1935, he donated the house and all it contained to the Musée des arts décoratifs to be turned into a museum named after his beloved son. Sadly, his last remaining heir, his daughter Beatrice, was deported with her entire family to a concentration camp during World War II. The de Camondo family died out, leaving this house and its artistic legacy as a testament to the life of a passionate collector.
After your visit, continue contemplating the bittersweet beauty of the museum during a quiet lunch next door at the Restaurant Le Camondo.