From the City's Italian quarter of North Beach, to its pedestrian friendly streets filled with boutiques, cafes and coffee houses - to its rich arts scene of theater, museums and architecture - San Francisco certainly exudes a sense of being in a city on the continent rather than in the USA.
So it should come as no surprise that The City is also home to a museum which is an exact duplicate (well - at 3/4 scale) of a museum found in the heart of Paris; The National Museum of the Legion of Honor - located right next door to the Musée d'Orsay. San Francisco's version is one of two fine arts museums in The City (the other being the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park) and is known as The Palace of the Legion of Honor.
The collection ranges from the earliest pieces dating from the 4th millennium B.C.E. to works of the 20th century; a span of more than 6000 years. And while the collection is small compared to museums such as The Metropolitan in New York City - it forms the basis of an excellent introduction to the art of the cultures represented.
Within her walls are housed works by the Impressionists and post-Impressionists, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Seurat, Cézanne, and others. Among the 20th century artist you will find pieces by Braque and Picasso. The museum also houses important works by Rembrandt, David, El Greco, and many fascinating works by lesser known artists.
A particular strength of the museum is its collection of Greek vase painting with over 100 examples of work from the prehistoric period up to the end of the classical age. However, it is certainly not limited to this genre as evidenced by its displays of Japanese prints, Indian miniatures, and visiting exhibitions from around the world.
Yet you needn't even go inside to enjoy a visit to this museum. The building itself and its location are worth a visit. Built in a neo-classical style, the museum is located on an elevated site in Lincoln Park which gives spectacular views of the entrance to the Golden Gate, San Francisco bay and the Marin headlands, as well as of the City itself. And it is surrounded by large grass lawns which - unlike similar venues in Paris - are open to the public.
In addition, the museum cafe is excellent with both indoor and courtyard seating, just across from the creative and reasonably priced gift shop.
This is a truly special place - quite unique amongst American museums - and a highlight of any trip to The City.
The museum is located at 100 34th Avenue.
Don't miss it.