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Musée de la Céramique de Sèvres

Musée national de céramique at Pont de Sèvres
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

Musée de la Céramique de Sèvres

Museum with Priceless Porcelain Works

2 Place de la Manufacture, 92310 Sèvres

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Situated just outside the Paris city limits, this ceramics museum and manufactory is often overlooked, but it really shouldn’t be! After all, who doesn’t like a lovely vase or a beautiful bowl, delicate tea sets, and pretty statues? And did I mention that there’s hardly ever a crowd?

Man has made useful as well as pretty things from clay for millennia. The more delicate porcelain, named by explorer Marco Polo, had been made from a secret recipe in China for some 2,000 years before Johann Friedrich Böttger discovered how to make it in Europe in the early 1700s. The Meissen factory in Germany was the forerunner, but the French factory in Sèvres was right behind, starting production in 1738.

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Ever since, pretty much every royal household in France and beyond has owned pieces of the exquisite Sèvres porcelain, its signature intertwined Ls underneath a mark of excellence. Think Louis XV, Madame Pompadour, Katherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth II, and you get some idea of not only history and beauty, but also price.

Porcelain set at the Ceramics Museum near Paris
Set of Sèvres porcelain, photo by Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey.

The Sèvres National Ceramics Museum collection covers the entire timeline of ceramic art, from different production techniques to changing styles. On display, you can see pottery dating back to the -5000 BC as well as modern artworks made of porcelain by Louise Bourgeois, an Art Nouveau vase by Hector Guimard of Paris metro-fame, to modern interpretations of vases and sculptures, and even some glass exhibits. 

"Bar aux Autruches," or Ostrich Bar, by François-Xavier Lalanne, is now part of the permanent collection of the Musée de la Céramique.
“Bar aux Autruches,” or Ostrich Bar, by François-Xavier Lalanne, is now part of the permanent collection of the Musée de la Céramique. Photo by Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey.

There is also, of course, a collection of Sèvres porcelain on display, all with incredibly delicate detail, beautiful colors, and polished to a shine that makes you want to throw out your mugs and head off to the next flea market in the hope of finding even a tiny cup of a treasure like that.

So, if you’re even slightly interested in ceramics, porcelain, or sculpture and want to find a place that isn’t overrun by tourists, my advice is not to miss this gem of a museum. You can take all the time you like to appreciate the beauty of the artworks as you make your way through the museum, or take a guided tour to learn even more about the history and manufacturing process of this delicate material.

Tickets: Adults 6€, 8€ during temporary exhibitions.

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  • 2 Place de la Manufacture
  • 92310 Sèvres

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