Tribute to French flair from furniture and freaky fashions to furry toys.
Tracing France's great history of decorative arts, design and craftsmanship, this is actually three museums in one: decorative arts, fashion and advertising and although it's in a wing of the Louvre is a totally independent organisation telling a very different tale. Whereas the decorative arts in the Louvre are often grandiose royal and imperial pieces, the emphasis here is on design, craftsmanship and innovation from the Middle Ages right up to today. On one side period rooms give a roughly chronological display, dotted with reconstructed period rooms, such as the painted cabinet from the Hôtel de Rochegude in Avignon, a 19th-century dining room and Jeanne Lanvin's fabulous art deco bedroom suite and bathroom, though my favourite section is probably the turret where you start in the 1940s and descend through the decades to a changing selection of today's hot designers. On the other side, the "thematic" galleries, which change every couple of years, take a transversal approach, currently "Animal" (until Nov 2011) ranging from boar-shaped soup tureens, animals in advertising and snakeskin boots to Radi Designers' greyhound bench. Fashion is presented in rotating displays (until 8 May), "The Years 1990-2000: an Ideal History of Contemporary Fashion". Exhibitions in the central Nef or nave are often spectacular, usually of contemporary design, though this summer (28 Apr-28 Aug), you'll be able to see 17 extraordinary cars from Ralph Lauren's private collection.