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Charlotte de Charentenay

With a History of Art degree from the famous École du Louvre, Charlotte shares the secret side of the Palais-Royal and Gustave Moreau Museum.

Before returning to her beloved Paris, Charlotte lived and taught many years abroad, in both far-East Asia and Italy. It was on her return to Paris that Charlotte realized how breathtaking her hometown is. With a history of art degree from the famous École du Louvre, Charlotte is delighted to share the secret side of the Palais-Royal as well as the intimacy of the Museum Gustave Moreau.

You grew up in the countryside outside of Paris, but you have lived in the city for quite some time now. How do you think your status as “an adoptive Parisian” has given you a unique appreciation of the city? 

The place where I grew up is near Paris, but the environment was completely different and coming once in a while to visit some Parisian museums did not prevent me from still having a bit of a culture shock when I settled in Paris. I still remember very clearly the change of scenery and the fascination for Haussmann’s facades or the Tuileries gardens, where I found that nature is just as disciplined as architecture. Since then, I have nurtured this ability to marvel at the city and to share all of the city’s wonders with any newcomer.

With Secret Journeys, you lead the fabulous Palais-Royal journey. While the Palais-Royal sits in the center of Paris and is known by name to many, why do you feel it is still a “well-kept secret”?

Even though it is called “royal,” the palace has not been built for a king, but rather for Richelieu, the famous minister to Louis XIII. Even though young Louis XIV lived here for a while after his father’s death, he did not stay long and soon preferred Versailles as his residence. You will not find at the Palais-Royal such majestic entrances as in other royal palaces, and the huge garden at the back of the palace has also been drastically reduced by the construction of three wings at the end of the 18th century. Therefore, it is very easy to miss the stunning palace. One does not simply discover the Palais-Royal by accident.

You also lead the Secret Journey to the Musée Gustave Moreau, what about Moreau as an artist do you find so appealing and how do you hope to bring that to life for guests?

Gustave Moreau is very unusual compared with his contemporaries. He invented a way of painting that questions the relationship between line and color, using color to construct the composition of a work and superimposing the drawing to define the work’s motifs. As a “history painter,” he looks back to the old masters, yet he develops this new way of painting and paves the way for modernity and abstraction. Walking through the museum, designed by Gustave Moreau himself before he died, and immersing oneself in the artist’s works is the best way to feel how Moreau’s painting was meant to inspire dreams rather than thoughts.

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