The history of trade and economics

The Cité de l’Économie
Citéco: a chic museum of finance in a former mansion

Finance buffs should check out these two new museums in France. Chris Carter reports.

“Leave it the French to conceive a chic museum dedicated to finance,” says Sara Lieberman in The Wall Street Journal. The Cité de l’Économie (or Citéco en bref) opened this summer, in a building in the 17th arrondissement of Paris dating from 1882. With vaulted Gothic doorways and “intricate wooden wainscoting, the building itself is as genteel and old-school as you’d expect from a Parisian mansion turned bank turned museum.”

Citeco museum exhibitThat is all part of the charm offensive. If it had opened inside a building resembling the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, without doubt a museum on economics would have struggled to attract visitors, says Sibylle Vincendon in French newspaper Libération. Fortunately, the French central bank, La Banque de France, avoided the hazard by placing its museum in a “jewel” of a building that espouses the 19th-century craze for Renaissance revival architecture – the Hotel Gaillard.

The museum amenities, however, are “resolutely contemporary”, says Martine Robert in French business daily Les Echos. There is a café, shop and an auditorium. Many of the exhibits are also interactive, such as the airport-style scanner that teaches you about production and globalisation, and a photo booth that allows you to print money with your face on it. Meanwhile, in the former bank vault, Charlie Chaplin’s The Bank plays on a loop. The museum hopes to educate up to 180,000 visitors a year on the finer points of finance, “making economics accessible for everyone”.

Tickets €12, citeco.fr

A tribute to maritime trade

Bordeaux was at one time the busiest port in Europe, says Ashlea Halpern for Condé Nast Traveler. So it’s fitting that the new Musée Mer Marine “pays tribute to France’s rich maritime history”.

It uses “sea-themed art and artefacts to broach important issues such as climate change and the refugee crisis”. By early next month, the museum will have put the finishing touches to its permanent collection, presented over three storeys. The exhibits chart the evolution of navigation, and document famous naval battles.

“A restaurant, hanging garden, and wet docks housing a fleet of restored boats will follow next summer.” Once complete, the collection will include a scale replica of the Titanic, a hand-carved Bangladeshi moon boat, and an 82-foot racing yacht, last sailed by Team China in 2007, but originally used by the French in several America’s Cup regattas.

Tickets €12, mmmbordeaux.com/en