Baccarat has long been the crystal of choice for the world’s most discerning customers, the history of which is the focus of a beautiful museum in Paris’ 16th Arrondissment. The Musée Baccarat is located in the former home of the eccentric and influential French patron of the arts Marie-Laure de Noailles, and is also the brand’s corporate headquarters. Decorated by Philippe Starck, the museum features some of the most significant works Baccarat has produced over its several centuries in operation.
Vases, dishes, stemware, and collaborations by famous designers including Marcial Berro, Ettore Sottsass, and Van day Truex, are spread throughout the museum’s four rooms. Many of these works were first displayed at a series of World’s Fairs in the 19th century, at which Baccarat was always been awarded the highest distinction for its intricate designs and superior craftsmanship.
In a section called “Alchemy,” painter Gérard Garouste’s canopy depicting Earth, Wind, Air, and Fire—the four elements needed to produce crystal—hangs in an ornate rotunda, which also houses an ethereal Baccarat chessboard, and its famous red-cut glass Simon vases. Display cases house stunning examples of the enameling, gilding, cutting, and wheel-engraving that has made Baccarat’s craftsmanship so distinctive, and given them so many famous clients over the centuries.
Some of the pieces designed for this list of haute clientele include Josephine Baker’s wedding tableware, 12-foot candelabras commissioned by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and engraved bar tumblers from Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis’ yacht.
For the fullest immersion into the world of Baccarat, visitors may want to consider a visit for lunch, dinner, or drinks at the museum’s Cristal Room after taking in the exhibitions. Baccarat candlesticks glow on the stainless steel tables, and the international chic crowd chows down on the restaurants’ foie gras de cannard, Noix de Saint-Jacques juste tiédies, and Champagne, served Baccarat flutes. But know before you go—reservations are a must, and it is well-advised to book several months in advance.