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A Perfect Small Museum and Lunch Spot in Paris: The Musée Bourdelle and Rhodia Café

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A Perfect Small Museum and Lunch Spot in Paris: The Musée Bourdelle and Rhodia Café

May 29, 2024

In a city of possibilities, how to best spend a few hours in Paris? I recently accompanied my husband on a work trip in France and knew I would only have a free afternoon in Paris. On previous visits, I had checked the city’s greatest hits off my list and was looking for something bite-size and uncrowded but memorable.

Knowing of my interest in art and design, my photographer friend Marie Hennechart suggested the Musée Bourdelle and its new Rhodia cafe. It was a tip worth sharing.

The museum is devoted to the art of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, a student of Rodin’s and a teacher of Giacometti’s. It’s set in his preserved Montparnasse studio enclave and has a new restaurant in what had been the apartment Bourdelle’s daughter, Rhodia, and her husband, Michel Dufet, the Art Deco interior designer, built for themselves in the late 1940s.

Rhodia and Michel together created the museum and were dedicated to preserving her father’s work. The designers of the café, in turn, kept many of the apartment’s details, including its wall of clerestory windows and yellow-and-white palette, while giving it a fresh new guise. Come see.

Museum photography by Stephen Drucker and Le Rhodia photography by Marielle Gaudry.

The Museum

bourdelle&#8\2\17;s sculpture workshop has a wall of plaster casts used as  17
Above: Bourdelle’s sculpture workshop has a wall of plaster casts used as teaching tools for his students and a herringbone floor. It’s part of a complex the artist created in the heart of Montparnasse. Admission is free and there are no velvet ropes or mobs.
outside the studio, front and back courtyard gardens are filled with towering b 18
Above: Outside the studio, front and back courtyard gardens are filled with towering Bourdelle sculptures.

The Café

located upstairs from bourdelle&#8\2\17;s studio in what had been the apart 19
Above: Located upstairs from Bourdelle’s studio in what had been the apartment’s double-height salon, the café is the work of Paris architecture studio Same. Co-founder Marc-Antoine Servell explains: “To restore a domestic character to the space, we designed unique pieces of furniture, such as semi-circular three-person tables in travertine and eight-person family tables in ceramic and wood. Stone, clay. and wood were chosen as an ode Bourdelle’s work.”

The large oak tables have ceramic bases made by Cyril Dennery and are surrounded by 1950s Finnish designer Olavi Hänninen’s T-chairs. The Zen saucer lights are the work of Céline Wright whose studio is on the Île Saint Louis.

the porthole window is another original detail: michel dufet worked on the apar 20
Above: The porthole window is another original detail: Michel Dufet worked on the apartment after designing 40 cabins for the Normandie. The rounded travertine tables are by French stone furniture specialists Talka. The 1960s split-seat chairs are a Pierre Gautier-Delaye design.
not your standard prepackaged museum fare: le rhodia is part of chef jean ren&# 21
Above: Not your standard prepackaged museum fare: Le Rhodia is part of chef Jean-René Chassignol’s Asana restaurant group, and has an inventive lunch and snack menu of dishes from the Southwest of France, where Bourdelle grew up, and from South America, in homage to his many apprentices from Peru, Chile and Argentina.
the original antique wood stove occupies an otherwise modernist corner. 22
Above: The original antique wood stove occupies an otherwise modernist corner.
the café team on the mezzanine lined with outside seating. photograph via  23
Above: The café team on the mezzanine lined with outside seating. Photograph via @lerhodia.

Musée Bourdelle and Le Rhodia are at 18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle in the 15th arrondissement.

Explore the Remodelista design travel archive for more of our Paris picks, including:

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