Louis Vuitton in Paris for Under 15 Euros

Seen from the Jardin d'Acclimation...

I had very little interest in whatever was inside of it. When I hear the words “contemporary art” in Paris, I immediately lose interest. The Fondation Louis Vuitton, despite opening in late 2014, never made it to my list of priorities. Last week though, that finally changed.

I like being efficient, so when I had to go pick up a race bib for the Bois de Boulogne 10k, it seemed like the right time to check out this fancy Frank Gehry building. It’s located in the park, not far from the pick-up spot, so I planned my route.

I took a VĂ©lib through the park until I reached the massive structure – it seemed much smaller in the photos, and the color was definitely not what I’d been seeing on Instagram for the past year. It was curiously covered with colored tiles, giving it a playful checkered look that popped a bit on this particularly grey day. This installation, by French artist Daniel Buren, officially opens on May 11, but I couldn’t really help but get the preview. 

The colors!

I realized very quickly that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the entire building without getting into the adjacent Jardin d’Acclimation, the tiny theme park and playground for children. But a ticket to the Fondation’s collection covered that (between 5 and 14 euros).

I sucked it up and entered the gallery, expecting to hightail it out of thereafter a few minutes.

Of course, however, I was in love with the building, the views, and even the current exhibit on (gulp) contemporary Chinese artists. It didn’t take long. I stood entranced by a film designed with Second Life about city planning, featuring an insanely intricate yet bizarre city built on an island. In another gallery, a statue of the Louvre’s Winged Victory stands upside down on a Buddha’s head. Another item, 50 Arms of Buddha, features fifty different arms holding fifty different items depicting China’s past and present.

Not as advertised...

It was just really interesting, and an exciting change from the other museums. Part of the Chinese art exhibit closes on May 2, but the most interesting stuff, in my opinion, will be on display through August 29.

Overall, there were few tourists, which meant I could explore without feeling cramped. The rooftop views of Paris aren’t the best, but I really enjoyed walking through the seemingly billowing sails of Gehry’s building. On the ground floor, all visitors have access to the Jardin d’Acclimation, so I wandered outside to see the building in its entirety. 

La Defense from the top of the Fondation....

I’m not about to get giddy for the next contemporary art exhibit in Paris, at least not anytime soon, but I’ve got to give the Fondation Louis Vuitton props. From the architecture to the art, it the took me by surprise.