The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Carcassonne (Museum of Fine Arts of Carcassonne) is a small art gallery in Carcassonne’s lower town. (The gallery’s website is, as far as I could see, French-only.) To my mind, small is good because I quickly become catatonic in large art galleries. As I’ve explained in other posts, I go to galleries when I’m travelling primarily because that’s what one is expected to do when one is a tourist.
What can I say? I’m a wimp. I cave instantly to peer pressure, even when I’m travelling alone.
Despite my standoffishness about art galleries, I can say, without any hesitation or doubt whatsoever, that Musée des Beaux-Arts de Carcassonne was more than worth the price. And I probably would have said that even if it weren’t free, assuming, of course, the price wasn’t too high. However, it was free. So that’s a bonus.
The façade of Carcassonne’s Museum of Fine Arts is somewhat plain, in a homey, mutedly colourful way. I could say that it stood out as a dazzling cultural icon, but if I did I’d be lying and I try to avoid that.
Beyond having a somewhat subdued appearance, the signage indicating that it was the Musée was not particularly obtrusive. As a result, I didn’t immediately recognize it as the destination I sought. Then again, to be fair, if I had been more observant, the window-filling reproductions of fine art facing the street and marble statue out front should have given me a clue.
Behind the Door at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Carcassonne
The first exhibit area in Carcassonne’s Museum of Fine Arts contained a temporary exhibition. For a couple of reasons, there’s no point in me describing that exhibit here. For one thing, as I said, it was a temporary exhibition. What’s more, I took a while to write and publish this post. So, the exhibition likely won’t be there if and when you go.
For another thing, I didn’t take notes about the exhibit. I’ve now totally forgotten pretty much everything about it. Therefore, I’d have to totally make up something if I wanted to write something about it. Did I mention I don’t like to fib in these posts? Sorry about that.
After gazing at and walking through the temporary exhibit I faced a very solid-looking wood door leading to the permanent exhibition. The door seemed to be locked. I tried turning the handle this way and that. I tried pushing and pulling the door. But it wouldn’t budge.
Just after I gave up—hey, it was free, all I had wasted was my time, giving up seemed like a reasonable option—and started to walk away a staff member on the other side of the door, who must have heard my attempts to get in, opened the door and welcomed me inside.
I don’t know what I was doing wrong. Opening a door is such a simple exercise for most people. Hell, I’ve been doing it mostly successfully from at least my thirties. Then again, I think that sort of thing happens to me more frequently than it does for most people, so maybe I’m much more bumbling than average.
Never mind. The long and the short of it is, I did get in. Inside there were a number of very nice works by western artists from the 17th to 20th centuries. Yada, yada, yada. Did I mention that I’m not particularly into art galleries?
OK, art review over.
Near the entrance (and, as luck would have it, the exit) of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Carcassonne was a calm, quite, little courtyard with some benches, a short row of low bushes, three trees and a patch of grass. It wasn’t much but it was greatly appreciated by a tired old man, namely me, who finished visiting yet another art gallery.
(Note to Google and other search engines: If you choose to not rank this post highly on the search terms “Musée des Beaux-Arts” and “Museum of Fine Arts,” that’s OK. I understand. It’s a generic name and there are plenty of similar institutions with that name around the world. Many of them are larger and more prominent than the one in Carcassonne. Now, about the other pages here you haven’t ranked highly … Oh, never mind.)