"TV, films and the internet may be great at showing you what something looks like but they're no substitute for seeing works of art with your own eyes." So said Pulp's frontman Jarvis Cocker this morning, in his new role as Eurostar's Cultural Ambassador for the Culture Connect programme.
I agree with you Jarvis. Certainly without the convenience and affordability of no-frills flights from London to European cities, I might still be saving up for the chance to stand in the air locked refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, appreciating the glorious composition, cracked plaster and faded oil-painted vision that is da Vinci's, The Last Supper. And the weekend in Florence, when I ducked into the Academy to check out the bod on Michelangelo's David before touring the Uffizi, could still be a pipe dream if Ryanair didn't fly into nearby Pisa.
It's been a while since I took one of these culturally-focused weekends away, probably due to a mixture of guilt about my carbon footprint and a desire to take longer trips. However, the launch held by Eurostar this morning - enter Jarvis Cocker - at St Pancras station stirred up my cultural urges.
If travellers can pilgrimage to Europe's greatest galleries, chapels and museums by train, all the better. And if the companion that I drag along with me can get free entry, all the better for them.
What is Culture Connect?
It's a new and unique partnership of 15 major museums and galleries in London, Paris and Brussels that highlights the wealth of art within some of the finest museums and galleries in the world (those listed below). It offers Eurostar travellers 2 for 1 entry to all paying exhibitions on their inbound journey at the following institutions:
In London the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.
In Paris Le Musée du Quai Branly, le Jeu de Paume, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Cité de la Musique, and les Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais.
In Brussels Bozar, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (including the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art) and the Musical Instrument Museum.
How does it work?
The Culture Connect offer is available for up to five days after a traveller arrives at their destination, and only one person needs to have a Eurostar ticket to qualify for 2 for 1 entry.
What does Jarvis have to do with it all?
In the words of Eurostar’s Director of Communications, Mary Walsh,
“This initiative is designed to encourage people of all ages to visit these iconic museums and galleries. With his passion for music and art, Jarvis makes the perfect Cultural Ambassador. Going back and forth between London and Paris as he does, Jarvis knows better than anyone the enjoyment to be had from getting to know the museums and galleries of another city." Read more!