The brand Louis Vuitton is well known for its bags and fashion, but probably less known for its involvement with the arts. Yet the Louis Vuitton Foundation, housed in a shiny Frank Gehry building on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, is one of my favorite places to spend the day immersing myself in art and architecture.
It all starts with a shuttle ride from Avenue de Friedland, just by the Arc de Triomphe. You’ll have to show your ticket for an exhibition or buy one on the shuttle to get a ticket to ride. Then, the Louis Vuitton-scarfed driver (perks of the job) will take you around the crazy Etoile roundabout, down Avenue Foch, and drop you off just outside the Fondation. The short ride is certainly worth the €1 each way – it’s quite a walk from the not-so-nearby metro stations.
Once you arrive, take a few minutes to walk around the exterior of the building before joining the line – you know the saying that an exhibition in Paris without a line isn’t worth seeing, right? Truly, it’s worth coming along just for the architecture. Once inside, you can pick up a map to guide you around because nothing in this building is straight forward. There’s barely a straight line to be found and exhibitions generally stretch across several floors.
At the time of writing, The Courtauld Collection: A Vision for Impressionism (until 17 June 2019) and The Collection of the Fondation: A Vision for Painting (until 26 August 2019) are both stunning. The personal collection of wealthy entrepreneur and patron of the arts Samuel Courtauld includes paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, Gaugin and so many more. It is unbelievable they all belong to a private person and were once displayed in his home. The Vision for Painting exhibition has a more contemporary theme, including two paintings by Daniel Buren of Palais Royal striped-column-fame, as well as a superb installation by eccentric and exciting Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
But no matter which exhibition is on while you’re in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is a sure pick – I have yet to be disappointed. And then you have the building itself, with great views from the rooftop terraces, a good restaurant, and a nice gift shop. It’s worth spending an entire day here, for sure.
And if you visit on a nice day, pop out the back entrance into the Jardin d’Acclimatation for a look around. It’s free to enter with your exhibition ticket.