A Wondrous Tour of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris
When I hear the name “Louis Vuitton,” it conjures expensive, luxury bags stamped with logos–not a priority for my lifestyle. I’d rather save my money for collecting experiences, not stuff. So when my mother recommended I visit the Fondation Louis Vuitton on a trip to Paris last year, I was a bit skeptical. Was it a center built to showcase the brand’s fashion collections? “No,” my mom explained, “it’s an art museum.”
Turns out that Louis Vuitton set up a non-profit foundation over 25 years ago that supports art and culture. In 2014, it opened a new center in Bois de Boulogne to showcase 20th and 21st century art and serve as a platform for intellectual reflection and debate.
In true designer style, the Fondation hired world-renown architect, Frank Gehry, to build the space. Gehry reinterpreted the vaulted glass roof of France’s Grand Palais into a modern, crystal palace. It’s difficult to explain and must be seen to be appreciated. The innovative architecture implements nautical and geological elements while retaining a clean, industrial style.
Click above to watch our short video from our visit»
I decided to go last minute, but it would have been wiser to book a ticket online in advance to avoid waiting in line. The museum gets crowded on weekends and during peak hours. But standing in queue wasn’t so bad. From the minute I arrived, I discovered that this museum was dedicated to details. We were provided with complementary chic, white umbrellas to shade ourselves from the summer sun and were handed exhibit brochures and maps to plan our visit. I spent most of my time though staring at the twisted glass panels that curved up towards the sky with the lightness of a boat sail.
My delight only deepened as I entered. The interior was light, airy, and… well, playful! Oftentimes, modern art museums have an air of haughtiness and seriousness, but the Fondation manages to straddle the fine line between sophistication and whimsy. A ceiling-high painted stainless steel rose by artist Isa Genzken’s greeted me at the door while a larger-than-life school of illuminated, white fish hovered over diners in the lobby café.
The art exhibits were thoughtfully curated, featuring a variety of mediums. There was a temporary exhibit on passion that featured paintings and sculptures divided into sequences of Expressionism, Contemplative, Popist and Music. The space houses an auditorium to host musical and dance programs. The upper levels are dedicated mainly to installation, sculpture, and video art that err on side of avant-garde.
Even if you’re not an art-love, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is worth seeing for the architecture alone. Gehry’s design becomes part of the experience, guiding visitors through unexpected landscapes. In the basement, a cascading fountain leads to a subterranean pool lined by the Grotto, an interactive installation by Nordic artist Olafur Eliasson of glowing yellow columns partly covered by prismatic mirrors.
My favorite part of the structure was getting lost on the terraced roof. Glass cupolas jutted out of the rooftops like icebergs. The museum’s location in western Paris reveals fresh, impressive skyline views of La Défense, Paris’ major business district. It’s no accident that the museum’s entrance fee covers access to the children’s Jardin d’Acclimatation amusement park next door – the space reset my gaze to child-like wonder.
Other Architecturally Wondrous Museums
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
75116 Paris, France
Hours change seasonally, check FLV’s website for current schedule
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Closed most Tuesdays
Open Friday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
• 16€ for adults
• 26€ ages 19-26
• 5€ ages 18 and under
• free ages 3 and under
• 32€ family price for two adults and up to four children 18 and under
The shuttle costs 1€ and is the easiest and most direct way to get to the museum
Departs every 15 minutes from Charles de Gaulle metro exit on the avenue near Avenue de Friedland
Take Line 1 to Les Sablons, the museum is a 10-15 minute walk from the Fondation Louis Vuitton exit
Take line 244 to Jardin d’Acclimation, stops at the Fondation on weekends
What museum do you recommend visiting in Paris? Leave your comments or questions below.
Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of discovering the world. She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to explore some of Asia for the next few years. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as a freelance graphic designer. In her spare time, she contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, is an ambassador for FIG Clothing, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, instructs Zumba, practices yoga, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.