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Kate Bove

Your Whole Family Can Enjoy These Virtual Museum Visits From the Couch

best museums to visit in paris

In 2011, Google started using its Street View technology to bring museum experiences into your home. This can be a great way to visit that museum you’ve been intending to visit for years, or an opportunity to throw a virtual dart on a map and get whisked away to somewhere surprising. One arts blogger described the experience as a bit clumsy, noting that “ Street View technology aims for a sort of overall sense of awe—the effect of a re-created space, rather than its details. ” If it’s details you’re after, you might want to be prepared to use this technology as a launching point for some deeper research of your own. But if ambience is what you’re after, this could be a great way to spend a few hours— we’re charmed by the idea of snuggling up on the couch on a rainy day to wander through a far-away museum.

And Google isn’t the only technology that museums are employing to bring their works to you. Some have created their own virtual tours, or curated audio experiences, or installed live cams in their spaces. From virtual tours to meditative livestreams, here are the wonderful works of art and exhibitions your family can enjoy together on a cozy afternoon from the comfort of your couch.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

First up on our list is Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, which is, as the name suggests, dedicated to the influential Dutch post-impressionist painter. In just over a decade, Vincent van Gogh created roughly 2,100 works of art, including a staggering 860 oil paintings. For its part, the museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh works in the world, including roughly 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 letters under one roof.

best museums to visit in paris

If you’re familiar with Van Gogh’s work, you’ll recall that the artist’s oil paintings are known for their almost tactile quality — thick, visible brushstrokes and smears of paint that form the subjects and backgrounds of his work. There’s nothing quite like seeing a Van Gogh in person, but this museum has tried its darndest to give virtual visitors a visceral experience.

The Van Gogh Museum offers a robust, beautifully shot tour in 4K via its YouTube channel , and in partnership with Google Arts & Culture, you can also explore extremely high-res photographs of the pieces in the collection as well as a Google Street View walkthrough of the museum’s galleries.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA, U.S.

These days, the town of Monterey may immediately bring to mind now-iconic .gifs of Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon and Co. playing the deliciously dramatic moms from HBO’s Big Little Lies , but the region is also known for its incredible, trailblazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. When it opened in 1984, the aquarium was the first of its kind to maintain a living kelp forest.

best museums to visit in paris

Throughout the aquarium’s history, biologists spearheading the organization’s research and conservation efforts have earned a lot of “firsts.” They pioneered the animal husbandry of jellyfish; succeeded in rehabilitating a great white shark; and, in 1999, started Seafood Watch, an advisory list that has made the industry more sustainable. Each year, 2 million guests visit the sea otters, birds and other forms of aquatic life that call the aquarium home.

After it first closed down in response to the pandemic, Monterey Bay Aquarium began offering a lot of cheer in the form of 10 different livestream cameras , which are stationed throughout the facility. Take a peek at the adorable sea otters, the fabled kelp forest and the stunning coral reef, or if you really need to relax, check out the hypnotizing guided meditation with the jellies . You can also watch narrated feedings of the various sea critters at different times throughout the week.

Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil

MASP, Brazil’s first modern museum, was designed by Lina Bo Bardi and is thought of as a landmark in architecture of the 20th century. While the building itself is beautiful, perhaps the most defining feature of the museum is the way it displays its collection of 8,000 works. Instead of hanging paintings on white walls, Bardi introduced the radical “crystal easels” as a means of displaying the works.

best museums to visit in paris

These transparent easels open up the space in a unique way, reflecting the fluid nature of gallery spaces and the way they offer up endless possibilities for exploring and understanding art. According to MASP, the easels also point to the “de-sacralization of the works, making them more familiar to the public.”

Another neat element of the gallery’s design? The works aren’t organized in a way that aligns with the typical chronology of art history — there’s no set path, no demarcation of schools or movements. Instead, you’re encouraged to find your own path and build dialogues between artworks that would otherwise never be arranged alongside each other. Needless to say, this makes the virtual tour of MASP all the more intriguing — and way less clunky than tours other museums have on offer.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Sure, you could spend your time taking a virtual wander through the Louvre — home of the famous Mona Lisa — but for a much more relaxing experience, we recommend trading one Parisian site for another. Although it’s slightly less well-known than the Louvre to the average tourist, the Musée d’Orsay is one of Europe’s largest art museums, welcoming approximately 3.6 million visitors each year.

best museums to visit in paris

Best of all, it specializes in Impressionist — who doesn’t love the Impressionists? — and post-Impressionist masterpieces. From heavy-hitters like Monet and Manet to beloved painters like Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat and Gauguin, the museum’s halls are an art history Mad Libs — well, without the joke answers. Touring the museum on its Google Arts & Culture page is something of a reprieve . Impressionists found their subjects in the seeming minutiae of everyday life — yay, normalcy! Better yet, the color palettes tend to be subdued and pastel-like, creating a sense of serenity for the viewer. In short, it’s visual comfort food.

National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, VA, U.S.

Even though many of us are staying indoors as much as possible, especially during the winter holidays, we can still celebrate women’s history from our homes — and we can do so in style, thanks to the National Women’s History Museum. This Virginia-based institution “seeks to honor the lives and legacies of all women, living and dead” and “explore the stories of women whose contributions have enriched our lives.”

best museums to visit in paris

From oral histories dedicated to well-known figures like Rosie the Riveter to extensive biographies about history’s unsung heroes — such as suffragist and activist Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, the first Chinese woman to receive a PhD in economics — the museum’s robust website has it all. Moreover, it boasts some great “ Online Exhibitions .” Be they about women working at NASA, competing in the Olympics or marching for civil rights, each virtual exhibit features high-quality historical photos, thorough “wall text” and interactive timelines.

The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco, CA, U.S.

You don’t have to travel to Anaheim or Orlando to experience some Disney magic during the holidays. In fact, even under business-as-usual conditions, you don’t have to trek to either of those locations for your dose of Disney. Whether you’re a film buff, animation lover, history enthusiast or just a huge Disney fan, The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco is a must-see institution.

best museums to visit in paris

Unaffiliated with the Walt Disney Company, the museum was established by Walt’s late daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and her son and co-founder, Walter Miller. Across a plethora of interactive galleries, The Walt Disney Family Museum traces the story of Walt’s (1901–1966) life from his days as a penniless would-be filmmaker in Kansas City to times of incredible success, including the premiere of the revolutionary, Oscar-winning Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and the construction of the ever-innovative Disneyland.

The Walt Disney Family Museum offers quite a bit of content for virtual visitors. Interested in sharing your two cents? Check out the museum’s Twitter account for daily Disney trivia. Rather let someone else do (most of) the talking? Visit the Facebook page for animation demonstrations and livestream talks. Or, check out the main website for virtual storytimes, talks and workshops.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, U.S.

Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the largest and most important museums in the world thanks to its incredible collection of modern and contemporary art. With a library of over 300,000 books and catalogs, over 1,000 periodicals and over 40,000 pieces of ephemera relating to artists, it’s also the primary source for all things modern art history.

best museums to visit in paris

Between 2.8 million and 3.1 million guests visit each year to see MoMA’s iconic works. Some of the institution’s greatest hits include Vincent van Gogh’s beloved The Starry Night ; Pablo Picasso’s cubist breakthrough Les Demoiselles d’Avignon ; Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych; Henri Matisse’s kinetic Dance (I) ; and Andy Warhol’s pop-art sensation Campbell’s Soup Cans , among many, many others.

MoMA features most of its collection online, with the incredibly high-res photographs allowing viewers to take in quite a bit of digitized detail. One hurdle with modern art is that, often, the average museum-goer doesn’t find it accessible. For that reason, we recommend pairing your virtual visit with MoMA’s audio tours for a curator-approved look at everything from the museum highlights to the building’s design.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., U.S.

While most of the other museums on our list rely on Google Arts & Culture for their virtual “boots on the ground” tours, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has built its own rather robust website-based tour. The virtual tour of the museum allows visitors to experience self-guided, room-by-room tours — no holiday travel necessary.

best museums to visit in paris

Travel between galleries is easy. Want to move on from taxidermied kangaroos and get a look at some dinosaur fossils? Just click the blue arrows on the screen to head through the doorways. If you find yourself interested in a mummy’s sarcophagus or the skull of a Neanderthal, feel free to click the camera icon for up-close-and-personal views. Not only does the Smithsonian offer tours of current natural history exhibitions, it also allows virtual visitors to embark on tours of exhibitions that have come and gone. Long story short, with all that content, you may never leave your couch again.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.

The J. Paul Getty Museum — a.k.a. The Getty — is a two-campus art museum located in Southern California. In 2016, the museum welcomed more than 2 million visitors, and while the gallery won’t be adding more to its 2020 guest figures, you can still get a taste of what the Getty has to offer from the comfort of your living room.

best museums to visit in paris

The Getty Villa, located in scenic Malibu, houses a collection of roughly 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. Farther down the coast, in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Getty Center is a hilltop museum that houses European paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, decorative arts pieces and manuscripts. According to The Getty, its locations house more than 6,000 years of art, all of which is made accessible with the click of a button thanks to in-depth walkthroughs and virtual galleries on the institution’s Google Arts & Culture page .

Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

In cataloging history through art, Italian cities like Florence, Venice and Rome remind us of humanity’s resilience, even in desperate times. There’s no doubt that the Uffizi Gallery, one of the country’s most-visited art spaces, is one of those reminders.

best museums to visit in paris

The gallery is famous across the globe for its collection of ancient sculptures and busts acquired by the prominent Medici family as well as its Renaissance masterpieces. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can study works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio and more and even take a virtual stroll through the two-story building — all while munching on some sweet potato casserole and turkey.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, U.S.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), when it was founded back in 1870, the institution didn’t own a single work of art at the onset. Now, The Met’s collection has swelled, representing “more than 5,000 years of art from across the globe — from the first cities of the ancient world to the works of our time.” While going to The Met in person can be an overwhelming experience — it’s hard to know where to even begin! — the online version of the collection is just as formidable — in the best way, of course.

best museums to visit in paris

If you’re interested in something approximating a virtual-tour experience, you’ll want to check out The Met’s Google Arts & Culture page , which allows visitors to Google Street View their way through the immense galleries. This works really well for large-scale installations, like period rooms or the Temple of Dendur (pictured), but if you’re more interested in eyeing the museum’s paintings, you’ll want to click on over to The Met’s Open Access Artworks page, where you can browse, download and share more than 406,000 hi-res images of public domain works from the collection.

Looking to add some context to all that art? Play around with the museum’s innovative Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History , which allows you to sift through more than 8,000 works just by scrolling. If you’re interested in a particular time period, region or theme, you can sort the timeline using the handy filters at the top. Never has art history been so nifty.


best museums to visit in paris

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The 15 Best Museums in Paris

By Lindsey Tramuta and Melissa Liebling-Goldberg

The 15 Best Museums in Paris From the Louvre to the Louis Vuitton Foundation

There’s a reason Beyonce and Jay-Z, and then the cast of Netflix’s  Lupin   brought their talents to the Louvre: it’s the most visited—and arguably the most iconic—museum in the world. But they could have taken up residence at a number of the city’s storied art institutions and galleries which showcase centuries of sculpture, painting, illustration, and photography: Stand rapt before Monet’s Water Lilies at L’Orangerie, take in Europe’s leading collection of contemporary art and culture at the Centre Pompidou, or spend the afternoon perusing the rooms of the Pinault Collection at the Bourse de Commerce. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of visual history here, so read on to find our editors' picks for the best museums in Paris.

Read our full Paris travel guide here .

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Petit Palais in Paris

Petit Palais Arrow

As its name suggests, the Petit Palais is the little sister of the Grand Palais, but don't be fooled: the building is still plenty stately. Designed by Charles Girault for the World’s Fair of 1900, the building became a museum in 1902. Its architectural grandeur was meant to pay tribute to the arts and the city of Paris, initially housing decorative murals and sculptures. Since there is free entry to the permanent collection, many visitors simply come to take in the quiet and sunshine in the garden.

Centre Pompidou Paris Exterior

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When the Centre Pompidou, known by locals as  Beaubourg ,  opened in 1977, it was a radical (and controversial) design for a museum—all industrial pipes and open glass views of Paris. Forty-plus years later it's the undisputed grande dame of Paris's contemporary art world. Within the massive 100,000-piece collection that stretches back to 1905, you’ll find everything from Picassos to video installations. It is highly recommended to book your tickets in advance for a specific time slot and note that if you’re in town on the first Sunday of the month, admission to the permanent collection and children’s gallery is free. 

Louve Paris

Musée du Louvre Arrow

The Louvre hardly needs an introduction—it is still the most-visited museum in the world, with more than 7.8 million visitors in 2022.  The former royal palace is now the magnificent home of some of the world's most iconic artworks (ever heard of the Mona Lisa?). Don't freak out, but walking through the halls where Louis XIV once strolled (he lived here before moving to Versailles), surrounded by the most famous art on earth can be an overwhelming experience. What’s more, there are some 35,000 artworks and artifacts from prehistory to the 21st century housed within its walls. As a result, it could take a lifetime to see and experience it all so don’t try (the museum sells multi-day passes so you can spread out your visit).  

best museums to visit in paris

Hôtel de la Marine Arrow

This recent addition to the capital’s cultural offering is unlike any other in the city, largely by dint of its heritage and size. Perched over the Place de la Concorde, the museum occupies the former royal Garde Meuble—the depository for the King’s furniture collections, crown jewels, tapestries, and decorative arts—and what later became the country’s naval headquarters for 200 years. Given that it is only a year old, it remains moderately trafficked but the word is out. Open to the public for the first time in 250 years, its new incarnation as an immersive museum experience allows visitors to explore the 18th century apartments of the Garde-Meuble intendants, recreated and restored to their original layout and design, as well as the structure’s grand reception halls filled with period furnishings, paintings, and objets d’art. Key to the visit is the audio guide, which leans theatrical. You could speed through the audio guide in an hour, get a view of the Place de la Concorde from the covered balcony, and take in the jaw-dropping Cabinet des Glaces, a mirror-walled boudoir not unlike the hall of mirrors in Versailles, covered in paintings.

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Fondation Louis Vuitton Arrow

As one of few privately owned and funded art spaces in Paris (owned by LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault), the Fondation Louis Vuitton arrived with a bang when it opened to the public in 2014. Star Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry designed the building, which looks like a magical sailboat afloat on a man-made lake in the Bois de Boulogne. Thanks to the spectacular architecture and blockbuster exhibitions, the museum is bustling at all times, despite its location in the far reaches of the 16th Arrondissement.

Musee Picasso Museum Paris France Exterior

Musée Picasso Paris Arrow

The Hôtel Salé alone is reason to visit, but of course the real draw is Picasso's oeuvre, more popular than ever following a much-hyped 2014 reopening. And since the museum is centrally located in the bustling Marais, it's easy to work the Musée Picasso into a day out shopping and dining. While there are other single-artist museums in Paris, the combination of Picasso's fame and the beauty of the setting make this one of the very best. Timed tickets must be reserved online in advance to visit the museum. Reserve tickets in advance to avoid long lines.

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Europe France Paris Museum Grand Palais

Grand Palais Arrow

As associated with years of Chanel runway shows being held in the nave of this stately Beaux-Arts space as it is with the art exhibitions it houses, the Grand Palais is an emblem of French grandeur and architectural process. The time has come, however, for the grand dame of buildings, originally built for the World’s Fair of 1900 to be refurbished. It is closed for renovations until 2024, but in its place, there is now the Grand Palais Ephémère, a 100,000-square-foot temporary space on the Champ de Mars, which hosts the artistic, cultural, fashion and art events that would normally be held in the Grand Palais.

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs  next to the Tuileries and the Louvre in Paris France.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs Arrow

Occupying the west wing of the Louvre—though not part of the Louvre—the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is the definition of grand. And, as the home to one of the world’s largest collections of decorative arts and design, including fashion, it has to be. It’s also the city’s second oldest museum, after the Louvre, making the historic building itself and its stunning, vaulted central atrium, part of the draw. It doesn’t command the same visitorship as its grand neighbor or the Musée d’Orsay, but it remains a favorite.

Bourse De Commerce Pinault Collection Modern Art Foundation

The Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection Arrow

One of the most long awaited temples to modern art in Paris (twenty years in the making) sits prominently between the Seine River and Les Halles in the 130-year-old Bourse de Commerce building, once a grain and commodities exchange a stone’s throw from the Louvre . The Pinault Collection, named for the 5,000 piece private collection of contemporary greats from arts patron and billionaire François Pinault (founder of Kering), occupies a striking, domed building painstakingly restored by the award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando over the course of a decade. One stunning, winding staircase brings visitors up to additional gallery spaces while another leads to the Halle Aux Grains restaurant on the third floor, run by beloved restaurateurs Michel and Sébastien Bras (and yes, ancient grains get a spotlight on the menu). Advanced booking recommended. 

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Musée d'Orsay Arrow

A vast collection of Impressionist art is the focus at the Musée d’Orsay, the second-most-visited museum in Paris (after the Louvre, of course). At every turn, you'll be delighted to recognize yet another piece from pop culture or that art history class you took. There is no room not worth exploring here, so let yourself just wander among masterworks by names like Degas, Cézanne, Manet, Renoir, and Monet. Pre-booking online is recommended for priority access within 30 minutes of the reserved time.  


The Carnavalet-History of Paris Museum Arrow

To understand present day Paris, it’s worth stepping into the past at the Musée Carnavalet, the museum of Parisian history located in the heart of the Marais. Vestiges from  old  Paris, from furnishings to signage and storefronts, objects (from stained glass to a 6,000 year old canoe discovered in the Seine), artwork and cultural artifacts, take up two grand 17th century buildings that underwent a five-year renovation, reopening in spring 2021. Among the most important features in the museum’s new iteration: greater accessibility for reduced mobility visitors, improved navigability through each space, and a more robust collection—more than half of the pieces on display in the permanent collection were kept in storage prior to the redesign. Tickets to the permanent collection are free and do not require advanced booking. 

Muse Rodin Paris Museum Exterior

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Auguste Rodin lived in the Hôtel Biron in the later stage of his life, where the gardens inspired some of his work. The former home opened as a museum to the public in 1919, almost 200 years after it was built for a wealthy financier. The high ceilings of the intimate rooms allow visitors to see Rodin's sculptures and drawings up close, while the large gardens showcase his most famous bronze sculptures, like "The Gates of Hell" and "The Thinker."

Palais de Tokyo Paris France

Palais de Tokyo Arrow

The Palais de Tokyo is the largest center for contemporary art in Europe. Opened in 2002, its mission is to celebrate living artists across multiple disciplines. As part of the renovation of the building, the 1937 structure was stripped back to the original concrete, giving it a raw and unfinished feeling that is distinctly different from the typical white-room museum layout. Visitors should start their exploration in the subterranean levels, where art such as large-scale graffiti works are on display, and end with a drink or dinner either at Monsieur Bleu or Bambini, the more festive spot from the Paris Society Group.

Europe France Paris Museum Muse de l'Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie Arrow

If you’ve strolled through the Tuileries gardens, you’ve seen L’Orangerie right on the edge, which is visible from the Place de la Concorde and set up in a former greenhouse. The more intimate scale belies the astonishing art housed within. Among the most well-known works are Monet’s "Nymphéas," the water lily paintings he donated to the state in 1918. Also on display: a strong selection of Post-Impressionist works, including Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso.

Europe France Paris Museum Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain Arrow

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in 1994, Fondation Cartier is an ultra-modern museum and cultural center for contemporary art, and the gardens—here, called Theatrum Botanicum—are treated as an art installation of their own. Before the opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, this was the top destination for contemporary art in Paris. Given the less-than-central location, the average visitor to Paris may overlook it; those initiated in contemporary art, however, won’t leave Paris without stopping here.


Fauchon l'Hôtel Paris

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Le Louvre Paris

The 24 best museums in Paris

So you’ve done the Louvre – but this city has plenty more to offer. These are the best museums in Paris according to us

Huw Oliver

Paris is home to the world's most recognisable smile (well, smirk), but there's much more to the City of Light's museum offering than Mona Lisa's grin.

You have to explore the Louvre's sprawling collection at least once, but that shouldn't mean missing out on the city’s excellent collection of museums, attractions and things to do too. Whether it’s contemporary art, fashion, architecture or temples to Monet and Picasso, there’s a museum for visual art in all its forms here. So grab your camera – and a sketchpad should you feel inspired – and head down to one of the very best museums in Paris according to us. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best  things to do in Paris   RECOMMENDED:   The best art galleries in Paris

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click  here .  

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Best museums in Paris

The Centre Pompidou

1.  The Centre Pompidou

  • Art and design
  • 4e arrondissement

It takes a lot to rival the iconic historic landmarks of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, but Centre Pompidou's primary colours, exposed pipes and air ducts make it one of the best-known sights in the French capital. Known to locals as simply ‘Beaubourg’ because of its location, Pompidou's modern art collection is the largest in Europe, rivalled only in breadth and quality by MoMA in New York. When it first opened in 1977, the idea of combining a modern art museum, library, exhibition and performance space and cinema in one multi-purpose complex was revolutionary, but it paved the way for most art institutions around the world.

Musée des Arts et Métiers

2.  Musée des Arts et Métiers

  • Science and technology
  • Arts et Métiers

Don't get confused by the name. This ‘arts and crafts’ museum is, in fact, Europe’s oldest science museum. Founded in 1794 by constitutional bishop Henri Grégoire, it was initially a means to educate France’s manufacturing industry in useful scientific techniques. It became a museum proper in 1819, and has been wowing visitors with its vast, fascinating and attractively laid out collection of treasures for more than two centuries. Highlights include Pascal’s calculating devices, an enormous 1938 TV set, scale models of buildings and machines that must have required at least as much engineering skill as the originals, and the world's first powered vehicle – Cugnot’s 1770 ‘Fardier’.

Musée du Quai Branly

3.  Musée du Quai Branly

  • 7e arrondissement

The living walls of the Musée du Quai Branly are worth the short walk along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower alone, but it's what is inside that will keep you there for hours. A vast showcase for non-European art and culture,  it brings together the collections of the Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie and the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie du Musée de l’Hommethere in rooms dedicated to art from Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. Treasures include a 10th-century anthropomorphic Dogon statue from Mali, Vietnamese costumes, Gabonese masks, Aztec statues, Peruvian feather tunics and rare frescoes from Ethiopia.

Jeu de Paume

4.  Jeu de Paume

  • 1er arrondissement

The Centre National de la Photographie's Tuileries gardens location makes it the ideal second stop after a trip to the Louvre or Orsay. Although the two white, almost hangar-like galleries don't make it an intimate space, it works well for showcase retrospectives. Downstairs in the basement, you'll find a video art and cinema suite that shows new digital installation work, as well as feature-length films made by artists. Its café and bookshop are well worth a visit in their own right, too.

Musée Bourdelle

5.  Musée Bourdelle

Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle was a big deal in the late 1800s and early 20th century. A pupil of Rodin, the Frenchman produced a number of monumental works including the Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky–inspired modernist relief friezes at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. This museum is dedicated to the artist's life and his apartment and studios take centre stage. Two further wings have been added since Bourdelle's death in 1929, and each explores his work in even greater detail – including his various bronze studies of Beethoven in different guises.

The Louvre

6.  The Louvre

The world’s largest and most visited museum needs no introduction, but here's one anyway. Established in 1793, the Louve has grown into a city within a city – a vast, multi-level maze of galleries, passageways, staircases and escalators, all topped with its iconic pyramid roof. While a lot of its 10 million annual visitors make a bee-line for a certain famous lady – hello Mona Lisa – there are more than 35,000 works of art and artefacts to see once you've got the side-eye from da Vinci's most famous creation. Be sure to check the website or lists in the Carrousel du Louvre to see which galleries are closed on certain days to avoid missing out on what you want to see.

Musée d’Orsay

7.  Musée d’Orsay

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If you like art that leaves an impression, then the Musée D'Orsay is a must. Housed in a former train station, the collection includes all of the Impressionist and Post-impressionist movements' big hitters – Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec – as well as some dapper decorative arts from the Art Nouveau era and a wide range of 19th-century sculpture. Be sure to visit the café and watch time go by (literally) on the museum's giant transparent clockface.

Musée de l’Orangerie

8.  Musée de l’Orangerie

The Orangerie is home to eight, tapestry-sized ‘Nymphéas’ (water lilies) paintings. Housed in two plain oval rooms, the sparse setting allows visitors to immerse themselves fully in the astonishing, ethereal romanticism of Monet’s works. There's more to the Orangerie than Monet though. Downstairs, you'll find works by Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso, while the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionism is worth a detour.

Musée Marmottan-Monet

9.  Musée Marmottan-Monet

  • 16e arrondissement

While the Musée de l'Orangerie is home to his tapestries, it's this former hunting pavilion on the edges of Bois de Boulogne that lays claim to the largest Monet collection in the world. Originally a museum of the Empire period left to the state by collector Paul Marmottan, a donation by Monet's son Michel in 1966 meant it added 165 of the Impressionist artist's works, plus sketchbooks, palettes and photos overnight. Other gems in its collection include works by Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Caillebotte and Berthe Morisot, 15th-century primitives and a Sèvres clock.

Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

10.  Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

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The huge, sprawling galleries of the Grand Palais were originally constructed for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 – so it’s no surprise this place is the definition of grand. The exterior is in the Beaux-Arts style and dominated by an eye-catching steel-framed glass roof. In recent years it has put on huge exhibitions on the likes of Irving Penn, Marc Chagall and Paul Gauguin.

Musée Nissim de Camondo

11.  Musée Nissim de Camondo

  • 8e arrondissement
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Put together by Count Moïse de Camondo, this collection is named after his son Nissim, who was killed during the First World War. Moïse replaced the family’s two houses near Parc Monceau with this palatial residence and lived here in a style in keeping with his love of the 18th century. Grand first-floor reception rooms are filled with furniture by craftsmen of the Louis XV and XVI eras, silver services, Sèvres and Meissen porcelain, Savonnerie carpets and Aubusson tapestries.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

12.  Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Taken as a whole (alongside the Musée de la Mode et du Textile ), this is one of the world’s major collections of design and the decorative arts. Located in the west wing of the Louvre for almost a century, the venue reopened in 2006 after a decade-long, €35 million restoration of the building and of 6,000 of the 150,000 items donated mainly by private collectors. The focus here is French furniture and tableware, but from extravagant carpets to delicate crystal and porcelain, there’s almost too much to admire. Of most appeal to the layman? The reconstructed period rooms, 10 in all, showing how the other (French) half lived from the late 15th century to the early 20th.

Musée National Gustave Moreau

13.  Musée National Gustave Moreau

  • Saint-Georges

This wonderful museum combines the small private apartment of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau with the vast gallery he built to display his work – laid out as a museum by the painter himself, and opened in 1903. Downstairs shows his obsessive collecting tendencies through family portraits, Grand Tour souvenirs and a boudoir devoted to the object of his unrequited love, Alexandrine Dureux. Upstairs is Moreau’s fantasy realm, which plunders Greek mythology and biblical scenes for canvases filled with writhing maidens, trance-like visages, mystical beasts and strange plants. Don’t miss the trippy masterpiece ‘Jupiter et Sémélé’ on the second floor. Printed on boards you can carry around the museum are the artist’s lengthy, rhetorical and frankly pretty wild commentaries.

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

14.  Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

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Many of the exhibits here seem more suited to an art gallery than a museum. The history of hunting and humankind’s broader relationships with the natural world are examined in things like a quirky series of wooden cabinets devoted to the owl, wolf, boar and stag, each equipped with a bleached skull, small drawers you can open to reveal droppings and footprint casts, and a binocular eyepiece you can peer into for footage of the animal in the wild. A cleverly simple mirrored box contains a stuffed hen that is replicated to infinity on every side; and a stuffed fox is set curled up on a Louis XVI chair as though it were a domestic pet. Thought-provoking stuff.

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

15.  Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

Opened in 2007, this architecture and heritage museum impresses principally because of its scale (massive). The expansive ground floor is filled with life-size mock-ups of cathedral façades and heritage buildings, with interactive screens that place the models in context. Upstairs, darkened rooms house full-scale copies of medieval and Renaissance murals and stained-glass windows. The highlight of the modern architecture section? A walk-in replica of an apartment from Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse in Marseille.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

16.  Musée de la Vie Romantique

The 9th arrondissement was teeming with composers, writers and artists when Dutch artist Ary Scheffer built this small villa in 1830. The likes of Chopin and Liszt were guests at Scheffer's soirées, while novelist George Sand would also make an apperance. The museum is devoted to Sand, plus Scheffer’s paintings and other mementoes of the Romantic era. Renovated in 2013, the museum’s tree-lined courtyard café and greenhouse make for the ideal summer retreat.

Petit Palais

17.  Petit Palais

On the other side of the road from the Grand Palais, you’ll find the Petit Palais. Although this institution was also built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it’s fondly known as the Grand Palais’s younger sibling. Behind its Belle Époque exterior visitors can cast their eyes on some of the city’s most wonderful fine art and sculptures, including work by Poussin, Doré, Courbet and the Impressionists. Art Nouveau fans are in for a treat downstairs, where you’ll find jewellery and knick-knacks by Belle Époque biggies Lalique and Galle.

Musée National Rodin

18.  Musée National Rodin

The Rodin museum occupies the hôtel particulier where the sculptor lived in the final years of his life. ‘The Kiss’, ‘The Cathedral’, ‘The Walking Man’, portrait busts and early terracottas are exhibited indoors, as are many of the individual figures or small groups that also appear on ‘The Gates of Hell’. Rodin’s works are accompanied by several pieces by his mistress and pupil, Camille Claudel. The walls are hung with paintings by van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Carrière and Rodin himself. Most visitors have greatest affection for the gardens: look out for ‘The Burghers of Calais‘, ‘The Gates of Hell’ and ‘The Thinker’. 

Palais de Tokyo

19.  Palais de Tokyo

When it opened in 2002, many thought the Palais’s stripped-back interior was a design statement. In fact, it was a response to tight finances. The 1937 building has now come into its own as an open-plan space with a skylit central hall, hosting exhibitions and performances. Extended hours and a funky café have drawn a younger audience, and the roll-call of contemporary artists is impressive (Pierre Joseph, Wang Du and others). The name dates to the 1937 Exposition Internationale, but is also a reminder of links with a new generation of artists from the Far East.

Musée Carnavalet

20.  Musée Carnavalet

Here, 140 chronological rooms depict the history of Paris, from pre-Roman Gaul to the 20th century. Built in 1548 and transformed by Mansart in 1660, this fine house became a museum in 1866, when Haussmann persuaded the city to preserve its beautiful interiors. Original 16th-century rooms house Renaissance collections, with portraits by Clouet and furniture and pictures relating to the Wars of Religion. The first floor covers the period up to 1789, with furniture and paintings displayed in restored, period interiors; neighbouring Hôtel Le Peletier de St-Fargeau covers the period from 1789 onwards. Displays relating to 1789 detail that year’s convoluted politics and bloodshed, with prints and memorabilia, including a chunk of the Bastille.

Musée de Cluny

21.  Musée de Cluny

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The national museum of medieval art is best known for the beautiful, allegorical Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle, but also has important collections of medieval sculpture and enamel. There’s also a respectable programme of medieval-themed concerts in which troubadours pay homage to the museum’s collection. The building itself, commonly known as Cluny, is a rare example of 15th-century secular Gothic architecture, with its foliate Gothic doorways, hexagonal staircase jutting from the façade and vaulted chapel. It was built from 1485 to 1498 – on top of a Gallo-Roman bathing complex. The baths, built in characteristic Roman bands of stone and brick masonry, are the finest ancient remains in Paris. 

Musée Jacquemart-André

22.  Musée Jacquemart-André

Long terrace steps and a pair of stone lions usher visitors into this grand 19th-century mansion, home to an impressive collection of objets d’art and fine paintings. It was assembled by Edouard André and artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, using money inherited from his rich banking family. The mansion was built to order to house their hoard, which includes Rembrandts, Tiepolo frescoes and paintings by Italian masters Uccello, Mantegna and Carpaccio. The adjacent tearoom, with its fabulous tottering cakes, is a favourite with the smart lunch set.

Musée Picasso

23.  Musée Picasso

First opened in 1985, the Musée Picasso is one of the city’s most precious and prestigious institutions. Set in the great 17th century Hôtel Salé in the heart of the historic Marais area, the world's largest collection of Picasso’s masterpieces hang on the walls of bright, spacious exhibition rooms. 

Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

24.  Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

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Jean Nouvel's glass and steel building, an exhibition centre with Cartier's offices above, is as much a work of art as the installations inside. Shows by artists and photographers often have wide-ranging themes, such as 'Birds' or 'Desert'. Live events around the shows are called Nuits Nomades.

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The 9 Absolute Best Museums in Paris in 2024

Sean Finelli Last Updated: October 29, 2023

In Paris, you only need to see the Louvre, right? Wrong! There’s so much more to see in one of the world’s greatest cities for arts and culture! There are entire museums dedicated to Rodin, Monet, and Picasso beyond the Louvre. In this article, discover the best museums to visit in Paris.

Pro Tip: Planning your trip to Paris? It’s easier to organize your trip with all your resources in one place. Bookmark this post along with our Paris Guide for more planning resources, our top Paris museum tours for a memorable trip, and the best things to do in Paris.

The Top 9 Paris Museums To See

Paris boasts around 130 museums from the Louvre to the Arab World Institute, the Musée d’Orsay, and even a museum created by the Louis Vuitton Company—that’s right, the one that makes expensive bags.

Many of the world’s greatest artists came to live and work in Paris. Here, art and culture are elevated and well-preserved. That makes it the perfect place to get lost in the halls of historical buildings housing the greatest works of art spanning various artistic movements, time periods, and cultures.

Here’s a list of the top museums to visit in Paris for lovers of art and culture. To discover more cool things to do in Paris, explore the menu below.

PARIS Top 15 Things to Do... Sites, Attractions and more!

Not ready to book a tour? See if Paris tours are worth it .

best museums to visit in paris

9. Louis Vuitton Foundation

exterior of the louis Vuitton foundation and its exquisite modern architecture surrounded by luch gardens and people visiting the museum

The architecture of this building alone makes a visit worth it. If you thought you were cool for going to the Paris Modern Art Museum (below), now you’re in a completely new league. This is one of my favorite Paris museums for a casual visit.

The building was designed by renowned architect Frenk Gehry. Once inside, you’ll find mostly modern art and very elaborate art installations. There are works of art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ellsworth Kelly, Olafur Eliasson, Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons, and many others.

Due to the elaborate and innovative architecture, the building hosts many Parisian events including the occasional Louis Vuitton fashion show (2015). The admission ticket costs €16, but they offer reduced prices for youths and family discounts.

Address: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi

8. Paris Museum of Modern Art

The beautiful exterior of the Paris Museum of Modern Art with sculptures.

Been to Paris so many times and you’re way too cool for the Louvre? Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris or MAM is one of the most fun Paris museums. It’s much less intense than other massive collections and a great museum to visit with kids.

The museum has a pretty cool collection that you can pass through on your own possibly after a cocktail and before seeing the Eiffel Tower. It has a few huge works of art and a ton of other eye-grabbers. See it for yourself —I think you’ll be convinced.

The Paris Modern Art Museum is technically free to visit, but they ask for a non-mandatory donation of €5 to see the permanent artwork. This museum is also great for exhibitions.

They charge between €7 to €13 for different exhibitions beyond the free permanent exhibits. While we love and appreciate classical art, we recommend visiting this museum to promote the curation and creation of modern art. One day, our modern art will be the classical art of future generations and it won’t compare without our support.

Address: 11 Avenue du Président Wilson |  Hours:  Tues – Sun, 10 am – 6 pm (closed Mondays)

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Secrets of the Louvre Museum Tour with Mona Lisa

The Louvre is the largest art museum on Earth and the crowning jewel of Paris, which is why it’s on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t miss out on an incredible opportunity! Join a passionate guide for a tour of the most famous artwork at the Louvre. Skip-the-line admissions included.

best museums to visit in paris

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Skip-the-Line Palace of Versailles and Gardens Tour from Paris

Versailles isn’t that difficult to get to by train, but why stress over the logistics? Meet a local guide in central Paris who will purchase your train tickets and ensure you get off at the right stop. Then enjoy a guided tour of the palace and the unforgettable gardens. Skip-the-line admissions included to the palace and gardens.

Not ready to book a tour? See our  best Paris tours to take and why .

7. Musée Marmottan Monet

Exterior view of the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Similar to the Picasso Museum, the Monet Museum is mostly about Monet. It is the proud home of over 300 paintings by Claude Monet including one of the most influential paintings of the Impressionist movement, Impression, Sunrise. According to scholars, it is the epoch painting and namesake of the Impressionist Movement.

You will also find Nympheas and many other works by the master. The museum is only what it is today thanks to Michel Monet’s (second-born son and heir) famous donation of his father’s remaining works of art.

Instead of allowing the works to enter private collections, Michel left them to the state of France to be memorialized—an extremely French thing to do. If you’ve been to Paris a few times or love Monet, this museum is a must. Admissions will run you from €9 to €14.

Address: 2 Rue Louis Boilly | Hours: Tues – Sun, 10 am – 6 pm, late nights on Thursdays until 9 pm (closed Mondays).

6. Rodin Museum

best museums to visit in paris

Auguste Rodin remains the most famous French sculptor to date. You’ve likely seen his most famous sculpture named The Thinker , located at the Rodin Museum in Paris, France. You can find the museum next to Invalides metropolitan station where there’s a garden and two structures, one of which is a gift shop and café, Boutique du Musée Rodin.

Then there is the main structure, a mansion named Hôtel Biron. The name comes from a very wealthy previous owner by the name Louis-Antoine de Gontaut-Biron. Hence, Hôtel Biron.

The mansion sits in a large well-manicured garden dotted with various sculptures created by the master himself. There are also works from other artists including Rodin’s prize student Camille Claudel.

Technically, there are over 6,000 sculptures in the collection but many are housed off-site. You will find  The Thinker  outside in the garden. This museum is a wonderful visit with a local guide, but to get you started, don’t miss our art historian’s recommendations for the top art you have to see here . Tickets are just €13.

Address: 77 Rue de Verenne | Hours: Tues – Sun, 10 am – 6:30 pm (closed Mondays)

Not ready to book a tour? Find out how to visit the Musée Rodin .

5. Musée National Picasso-Paris

exterior view of the Musée National Picasso-Paris

Pablo Picasso is Spanish, not French. Like most artists, he loved Paris and Paris loved him back. The City of Lights loved him so much, in fact, he has a museum named after him. The Picasso Museum is in Hôtel Salé, tucked into the Le Marais district of Paris.

The museum is home to thousands of Picasso works in all forms of media from painting to ceramics. Unlike the Rodin Museum, which contains works from many artists, the Picasso Museum keeps its collection closely tied to the master.

There are works by others, but they are mostly artists copying, mocking, or paying tribute to Picasso. The museum also features newspaper clippings and other historic items to form a sort of chronological timeline of Picasso’s 70 years of dedication to the evolution of art. Tickets cost €14 but can vary when the museum takes on an exhibition.

Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny | Hours: Tues – Fri, 10 am – 6:30 pm; Sat and Sun, 9:30 am – 6 pm (closed Mondays)

4. Musée de l’Orangerie

Visitors admire the giant waterlily Nympheas paintings by impressionist painter Claude Monet at the Musee de l Orangerie museum in Paris.

When you think of Paris, the Louvre and Versailles will definitely come to mind. You may also think of the Musée d’Orsay. When someone mentions the Rodin Museum, people normally say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that one.” Well, if you didn’t study art, you’ve probably not heard of the l’Orangerie Museum. You do, however, know who Claude Monet is.

Monet’s Water Lillies installation is not the only thing to see in the l’Orangerie Museum , but it is definitely the highlight. It may not qualify as an art installation by today’s measures, but at the time it was painted (1918 post-WWI armistice) it was the only installation.

The term didn’t even fully exist at the time and wasn’t used in popular art culture until the 1950s. Regardless, Musée de l’Orangerie is one of my personal favorite museums to visit in Paris for a few reasons: At €12.50, the tickets are a great price, and you won’t find large crowds of people, and it’s near the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay. It’s an easy museum to visit after your post-Louvre lunch.

Sound good? Check out the best restaurants near the Louvre or near Musée D’Orsay , for a lovely lunch before you head to Musée de l’Orangerie.

Address: Jardin Tuileries

3. Musée d’Orsay

People in the central corridor of the Musee d'Orsay, Paris. In the background, there's the clock of the old railway station and, in the foreground, the David of Antonin Mercié seen from behind.

This museum is conveniently located just across the river from the Louvre, which makes it easy to find. What makes this museum so interesting is the masterpieces it houses but its history.

Formerly known as the Gare d’Orsay, or the Orsay train station, most of the architecture from the original structure remains. It was famous for being the first electrified urban train station in the world when it was inaugurated in 1900.

The museum is home to around 80,000 works of art, mostly dating from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. It has a really cool layout and is a bit easier to see and much less intimidating than its older sibling the Louvre. You’ll find far fewer crowds in this gallery.

Does it deserve a visit or a tour? It is an impressive art collection that comes in just behind the Louvre in terms of dedicated art museums. However, it may not warrant a visit on your first trip with so much to see in Paris unless you have several days in the city.

If you have a time slot of 2 to 3 hours, you should definitely visit it. Like any museum, the artworks need to be brought to life by a licensed local guide. Read more about the top things to see at Musée d’Orsay in preparation for your visit.

Address: 1 Rue de la Legion d’Honneur

Not ready to book a tour? Find out how to visit the Musée d’Orsay .

2. The Palace of Versailles

The exterior of the Grand Trianon Versailles, France, with visitors in the foreground.

The palace of Versailles is so incredibly rich with history that it is a must-see while in Paris. It’s a short ride on the RER and a 10-minute walk to the golden gates of Versailles. The structure is both a museum and a massive estate all in one. If the Louvre didn’t exist, it would be the greatest museum near Paris, but we’re better off with both!

It is one of the greatest destinations to visit in France and the world due to how diverse of a location it is. Not only is the museum (palace) full of art and history but the gardens are immense. Most people who visit don’t see a tenth of the estate. Find out more about how to visit and what to see at Versailles .

Address: Place d’Armes

Not ready to book a tour? Find out if a Versailles tour is worth it .

1. The Louvre Museum

The glass pyramids in front of the Louvre Museum Paris, France at dusk

The Louvre is the largest museum on Earth boasting more than 380,000 works of art in a gallery that is 652,300 square feet (60,600 square meters). It’s considered by many historians to be the greatest collection of art on Earth and, without a doubt, the top museum in Paris.

The Louvre is famous for many works of art including the Mona Lisa and the famous pyramid entrance, which was added to this beautiful complex in the 1980s. But there is so much more to see and love beyond da Vinci’s famous work that’s smaller than you think. Don’t miss the Coronation of Napoleon , the Winged Victory of Samothrace , Venus de Milo, and many other great works that an art history guide can lead you to.

The meaning of the word “Louvre” is loosely related to a type of old window. Read more about how to visit the Louvre and check out our dedicated guide to the Louvre for more planning resources.

Address: Rue de Rivoli

Not ready to book a tour? Find out if a Louvre Museums tour is worth it .

best museums to visit in paris

Where To Stay in Paris

With a city as magnificent as Paris, it can be hard to find the perfect hotel at the perfect price. Explore the best hotels and places to stay in these incredible neighborhoods in Paris.

7 Absolute Best Restaurants in Paris for 2024

About Sean Finelli

Sean is a co-founder and owner of The Tour Guy and its subsidiary The Roman Guy. He studied finance and statistics, but that is his "Dr. Jekyll" side! His "Mr. Hyde" is in love with travel, art, history, and culture. Sean has read libraries of historical text and believes that all internet content should come from books. A practice he follows!

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Getting around paris, paris travel guide, paris miscellany, paris essentials, train travel, paris arrondissements, the top twelve paris museums… that aren't the louvre, the top 12 paris museums… that aren't the louvre.

There's nothing wrong with the Louvre. In fact, it's probably the greatest art museum in the world, and million of visitors a year support that idea. The Louvre is always busy and lines are always long. So, we've personally adopted the strategy of signing up for a skip-the-line Louvre tour to get us inside quickly. Once you're inside, you can explore on your own, but the most important thing is to have a plan of what you want to see before you get there. Our guide to the Louvre has some great ideas for the not-to-miss art.

But, once you've done the Louvre, what next? Luckily, Paris is absolutely filled with more than one hundred great museums — and none of the others is as crowded as the Louvre can be. You need to pare down those 100-plus museums to the ones you really want to visit. So, here's our personal list of the twelve top Paris museums we like visiting again and again. Bonus — except for maybe Musée d'Orsay, getting inside shouldn't take very long.

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Discover what's on when you're here, 1. for impressionable visitors.

Musee d'Orsay

Let's start with the one museum on this list that may have long ticket lines — the Impressionist palace, Musée d'Orsay. This former 1900-era train station has become the world's foremost museum of the Impressionists and other late 19th-century art. Even though there are likely to be crowds, the masterworks on display here make it worthwhile.

To make your wait as short as possible, we recommend signing up for a skip-the-line guided tour with an art expert that bypasses the ticket lines to take you through a priority- access entrance.

2. Focus on Claude Monet

Musée Marmottan

We're suckers for the works of Claude Monet, the most enduring Impressionist master. Luckily for us, and those visitors with similar feelings, there's a museum in Paris that holds the world's greatest collection of his works. It was in 1966 that Musée Marmottan Monet (as it's now called) received a bequest from Monet's last surviving son of sixty-five of the master's paintings. They are now housed in a specially-built space in the museum.

Marmottan, we're happy to report, also displays Impressionist works by Edouard Manet , Edgar Degas, Henri Rouart, and especially Berthe Morisot, the most well-known woman Impressionist painter. The museum is off of the normal tourist route, out in the 16th, and is rarely crowded.

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3. the best value in paris.

Petit Palais

While we're on the topic of Claude Monet, let's mention the Petit Palais in the 8th Arrondissement. This 1900 building houses the Beaux Arts museum of the City of Paris. There are some surprising (and pleasing) finds here, including a magnificent Monet, quite reminiscent of his famous Impression: Sunrise . You can also see fabulous works by Gustave Courbet and Camille Pissarro as well as a broad collection that ranges from the Classical World to the 19th century.

We saved the best part for last. Because this is a City of Paris museum, entrance is absolutely free. Perhaps because of that, it's probably the Paris museum we visit most often. (Not that we're cheapskates or anything.)

4. The 20th Century's Most Important Artist

Picasso Museum

It was only after we first visited the Picasso Museum in Paris that we felt we understood the man and his art. And, following a renovation, it's a better experience than ever. As befits such an important figure, the museum is both lively and comprehensive, filled from basement to attic with works from Picasso's long life — paintings, sketches, prints, sculptures, letters, and even his poetry.

The museum is arranged to reflect the artistic periods in Picasso's life, like the Blue Period and the Rose Period. One of the most fascinating aspects of the museum is the display of works of art from Picasso's personal collection that include works by Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, Georges Braque, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse.

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5. explore the history of paris.


For lovers and Paris and for history buffs, nothing beats Musée Carnavalet in the Marais, now reopened after a five-year, €58 million renovation. In over one hundred rooms and with more than half a million exhibits, Carnavalet shows off Paris history the way the city's residents experienced it. The museum is free (it's a City of Paris museum), making it easy to return again and again for leisurely visits.

We often visit Carnavalet for its interesting special exhibitions (not free) such as the story of Paris under the German Occupation of World War II, and a show exploring the impact on Paris of Napoleon. Other times we stop by simply to enjoy the lovely garden.

  • Musée Carnavalet Website …

6. Museum in the Garden

Musée de l'Orangerie

Let's talk about one more museum that spotlights Claude Monet. In the Jardin des Tuileries , which runs between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde , up against its western end, is the relatively small museum housed in what once was the garden's orangery. Called, unsurprisingly, Musée de l'Orangerie , it's home to Monet's famous waterlily paintings. These large-scale Impressionist masterpieces cover the walls of two specially-built rooms. (The construction of the rooms was overseen by Monet himself, just before his death.)

As if the waterlilies weren't awe-inspiring enough, the museum also houses a superb assortment of early 20th-century paintings collected by art dealer Paul Guillaume. You might find yourself gawking at great works by Picasso and Matisse and Modigliani. We did.

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7. inventions, technology & machines.

Arts et Metiers Museum

Let's move from one aspect of human creativity (art) to another (technology). In the upper reaches of the Marais , located in a former priory, the Musée des Arts et Metiers has collected fantastic examples from the history of human inventiveness.

From the first airplanes to the first model of the Statue of Liberty to the original Foucault's pendulum, Arts et Metiers shows off the history of the science and technology that infuses our life today. We find it to be a completely fascinating adventure through human ingenuity and invention, and we discover something new every time we visit.

8. The Life Romantic

Musée de la Vie Romantique

In a pretty garden in the 9th are two small hôtels particuliers where you can take a trip back to early 19th-century Paris, when artists and writers frequented cultural salons , and Paris was expanding north in a new district known as Nouvelle Athènes — the New Athens. That era is now called the Romantic Period (at least by certain historians).

Musée de la Vie Romantique celebrates some of the icons of the period. What is now a museum was once the home and studio of Romantic painter Ary Scheffer. Guests at his regular Friday night salons included George Sand, Frederic Chopin, and the likes of Delacroix, Ingres, Liszt and Charles Dickens.

9. A Slice of 19th-Century Parisian Life

Musée Jacquemart André

For more on chi-chi life in Paris in the 19th century we head over to Musée Jacquemart André. Edouard André was born to privilege during the Romantic Period. He started collecting art early in life, and after his marriage to Nélie Jacquemart the couple devoted their lives to traveling and expanding their collection.

But it's not so much the art collection that blows us away. It's the mansion they built to house the art. Visiting it is like taking an amazing trip through the fairytale existence of these wealthy Parisians. Curved walls, gilded details, marble staircases — they are all there. But perhaps most amazing are the moving walls that could transform the already large rooms into one huge party central — although they called it a ballroom.

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10. better homes & gardens, rodin style.

Rodin Museum

As we say in our review, "there's really no other museum like it in Paris." There are other museums that are located in the former homes or studios of artists, but in Rodin's case the home and studio were in a striking two-story mansion that overlooks seven acres of gardens, ponds, and perfectly-pruned trees. You feel like you're in the country, but you're pretty much right next to Les Invalides in the middle of Paris.

While the mansion (Hôtel Biron) and the artwork it contains are fascinating in their own right, it's the gardens that shine for us. Somehow, viewing Rodin's sculptures in amongst the trees and the flowers and the lawns is exactly right — it's the perfect setting for his work. Go on a sunny day in Spring if you can arrange it.

11. For the Photography Aficionado

Jeu de Paume

Paris is a very good place to see photographic works. There are the annual Mois de la Photo and photo industry fair. There are also a couple of excellent photo museums, but for location and calibre of the exhibits, we think Jeu de Paume stands out. This national gallery of photography is found in the Tuileries, up against Place de la Concorde and across from l'Orangerie .

It seems like there's always something fresh and interesting on display. We've seen exhibits featuring the work of one or another historically famous photographers, as well as others showcasing photographers we had not been aware of but whose work is very good. So, we go for both the big names and for fascinating new discoveries. (Like too many Paris museums, Jeu de Paume has a mediocre-to-lousy website that can take too long to load.)

  • Jeu de PaumeWebsite …

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The left bank of paris, 12. the art museum without an art collection.

Musée du Luxembourg

Let's round out this list of the top 12 Paris museums that aren't the Louvre with a museum that doesn't have a permanent collection, and is only open for a few shows each year. Musée du Luxembourg is tucked into a corner of Jardin du Luxembourg and is part of the Palais du Luxembourg complex — it's all owned and operated by the French Senate.

Musée du Luxembourg was actually the first public art museum in France, back in 1750, but today it's known for its stellar special exhibitions, staged only a few times a year. There have been shows like the portraits of Titian, and the later paintings of Pissarro. All of the shows bring together exemplar paintings from top galleries and museums from around France. If there's an exhibition at Musée du Luxembourg while you're in Paris, be sure to get tickets.

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34 Best Museums in Paris

best museums in Paris, France

Paris is home to some of the world’s most famous museums . With over 150 of them dotted across the City of Lights, you would need weeks to truly explore them all. In fact, some of them are so large – at over 60,000 square meters, the Louvre is the largest museum in the world – you could easily lose yourself in the labyrinth of galleries for an entire day or two and still not see everything.

But there is, of course, much more to see than the very famous Louvre. Whether you’re looking for contemporary art, homages to famous names like Picasso or Rodin, or more unique collections of antique weapons or “tiny” dinosaurs, Paris has something for you.

Want something fun? The Grévin Wax Museum offers a unique twist on wax figures. Want to explore stunning architecture? Many of Paris’ museums – including the Cluny Museum and the Grand Palais – are housed in stunning palaces fit for a king.

We know there’s much to see, do and try when you’re in Paris, so deciding what museums are worth including in your itinerary can be a challenge. Not to worry. We’ve compiled a list of the best museums in Paris so you can choose a few top-class museums, galleries, and cultural institutions in between visits to the Eiffel tower and your favorite cafes.

1 – Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum, Paris

The world’s most-visited museum is also Paris’ heart and soul. Located right by the river Seine, the Louvre Museum occupies over 70,000 square meters, with over 38,000 objects being exhibited at any given time (this is about 10 % of the museum’s full collection). Millions make their way every year to the 13th-century palace that now houses the museum.

Here, eight different spaces feature everything from Egyptian antiquities and Greek and Roman art, to Paintings, decorative arts, and drawings. There are even full rooms from the state apartments of Napoleon III featuring furniture, tapestries, and works of art.

The museum’s most famous pieces – the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo – are also the most visited, but the museum boasts many other artifacts and masterpieces that are also worth a look. Keep in mind that the museum is massive and seeing it all would likely take several days.

Louvre Museum exhibition, Paris

If you only have one afternoon to explore, stick to the top sights, which include stunning paintings like Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, the stunning The Winged Victory of Samothrace statue, and the museum’s only preserved mummy on display.

The outside of the museum, with its beautiful 21-meter high glass and metal Louvre Pyramid, is just as stunning as the inside. The pyramid was designed for a practical purpose (to serve as the museum’s main entrance) but it has become also one of its biggest attractions.

To find out more about Louvre Museum tickets price or what else there is to see and do at the beautiful historical destination, don’t forget to check out the museum’s official website in advance of your visit.

  • Louvre Museum tickets

2 – Petit Palais

Petit Palais, Paris

Don’t let the name fool you. The Petit Palais (literally, Small Palace) is anything but small. Originally built for the 1900 Paris Exposition world fair (the Grand Palais and the Gare d’Orsay railroad station were also built for the same reason), it now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts.

Compared to the vast galleries of the Louvre, this museum definitely feels more manageable, though. It’s less busy, it’s free, and you only need a few hours to explore the four wings that make up the exhibition space.

As it’s the case with many museums in Paris, the building itself is just as beautiful as the art inside. The Beaux-Arts architectural style used in the palace combines modern elements such as glass and iron with elaborate classical building decoration (think Roman gods), overscaled details, and lots of beautiful arches, pilasters, and balustrades.

Petit Palais exhibition, Paris

Inside, the museum’s collection covers everything from the classical world and the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and the 17 to 19th centuries. There’s a special section of the collection that focuses on the 1900s Art Nouveau, with works from Emile Gallé, Rene Lalique, and Georges Fouquet. There are not only paintings in this collection, but also jewelry, porcelain, tapestry, and metalwork. There’s even a remarkable collection of Christian icons.

The museum’s semicircular courtyard offers a great place to relax (and sit down if you’ve been walking around the museum for a while) or have some tea or coffee in the garden cafe.

3 – Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris

Built in 2014 as both a French art museum and a center for the promotion of art and culture, the Foundation Louis Vuitton Museum is designed to look as a glass boat covered by sailboat sails.

The museum is home to 11 galleries, an auditorium, and a number of roof spaces for temporary exhibits and art installations. Collections include not only paintings, but also sculpture, music & sound, and photography. Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, and Janet Cardiff, among many others.

Many of the works of art in the museum were actually commissioned. These have encompassed a mix of light and sound installations, films, design and sculptures, and even living sculptures. An example of the last one is the beautiful “Where the Slaves Live,” a giant water tank-like piece filled with layers of organic materials and found objects that are constantly growing and changing the sculpture.

Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris

Other commissioned works include 43 illuminated yellow columns placed along a corridor and hanging Formica and wood fish lamps.

The museum also holds temporary exhibits and an extensive program that brings together musicians and artists, as well as conferences and debates. The auditorium has hosted many renowned artists, including piano concerts, solo artists, and international orchestras.

4 – Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

This charming French art museum takes its name from the former Gare d’Orsay railway station that now serves as its home. The station opened in 1900 but it was already obsolete by 1939, as the tracks would no longer suit the trains of the time. After that, it was used during WWII to move prisoners of war and as a film location for many major European movies, including some directed by Orson Welles and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Musée d’Orsay , which opened in December 1986, retains the original (and still in working condition) station clock in the main hallway. Today, the museum’s collection is focused on French art from the period between 1848 and 1914, with a large number of works representing Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists. Painters like Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh are all well represented here.

Musée d’Orsay exhibition, Paris

Of the 3,000 art pieces on display at the museum, many are unique, such as a 1:100 scale model of the Paris Opera and the neighborhood around it, set under a glass floor that visitors can walk on.

The museum also has an important sculpture collection, including pieces like Auguste Rodin’s massive The Gates of Hell, which is made of bronze and stands six meters high. There’s also a significant number of photographs and architecture and decorative art pieces in the collection.

Before visiting, make sure you check out the Musée d’Orsay tickets price for special skip-the-line offers or guided tours.

  • Musée d’Orsay tickets

5 – Museum of Decorative Arts

Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris

Housed in one of the wings of the stunning Louvre, the Museum of Decorative Arts holds the largest collection of its kind in Europe. In addition to furniture, tapestries and carpets, and porcelain, the museum’s permanent collections also focus on glassware and even toys. Some of the pieces go back to the Middle Ages, but modern objects are also well represented in the museum.

The museum’s most popular exhibits are its period rooms, which include the 1752 Gold Cabinet of Avignon, sections of the 1920s home of haute couture fashion designer Jeanne-Marie Lanvin, and the 1800s bedroom of courtesan Lucie Delabigne, which might have been the inspiration for Emile Zola’s most famous novel, Nana.

Museum of Decorative Arts exhibition, Paris

More modern pieces include designer furniture, toys from the 60s, and stained glass windows recovered from buildings. There are also beautiful examples of Lalique glass, Sèvres porcelain, and Aubusson carpets.

Guided tours and temporary exhibits (on topics as varied as contemporary jewelry, the history of footwear, and Cuban cinema) are available, and the museum also has its own auditorium where conferences, courses, and special photographic projects are presented.

6 – Musée Marmottan-Monet

Musée Marmottan-Monet, Paris

The beautiful mansion that houses the museum was once part of a chateau before it became a private property owned by Paul Marmottan, a collector and art historian. Marmottan amassed a significant number of neoclassical landscape paintings as well as material from the Napoleonic Era., much of which was donated to different museums and institutions throughout his life.

Upon his death, Marmottan left his home and the art within it to the Academy of Fine Arts, which then created the Musée Marmottan-Monet within the property.

While the original museum was mostly focused on art from the First Empire (the time also known as Napoleonic France) because this is what Marmottan mostly collected, a shift happened over the following years. Two major donations provided the museum with a significant number of Monet works. The first came from the son of Monet’s physician, the second from Monet’s son himself.

Musée Marmottan-Monet exhibition, Paris

Monet’s works now take up an entire exhibition space, but the museum also showcases work by other painters, including Paul Gauguin, Renoir, and Camille Pissarro. The original furniture and art that was in the house, most of which represent the First Empire times, are still in the house and are part of the collections as well.

The museum organizes special workshops for both children and adults, temporary exhibits around special themes, and event nights throughout the year.

7 – Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou museum, Paris

This modern art and cultural center is one of the best museums in Paris, just as famous for its building as for the collections it holds. Designed in a high-tech, modernist style, the building has its structural, electrical and mechanical systems on the outside of the building. This is sometimes known as an “inside-out” building – a design that allows you to fall in love not necessarily with the final look of the structure but with the uniqueness of it.

The museum’s collection covers the visual arts, drawing, photography, film and new media, and design and architecture. The design and industrial prospective collection at the museum holds several pieces of furniture that in some cases almost double as architectural pieces of art.

When it comes to film, the Centre Pompidou has become the go-to place for experimental art films, video installations, and artistic cinematography.

Centre Pompidou exhibition, Paris

Thematic exhibitions include everything from retrospective collections of unique artists to multidisciplinary exhibitions from different artists within a time period to screenings and discussions around contemporary spy series.

The center also runs the Brancusi Studio, an exact recreation of the studio once used by Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer Constantin Brâncuși. The studio now houses Brâncuși’s extensive collection of works, with over 1,600 original prints, sculptures, drawings, and paintings.

  • Centre Pompidou tickets

8 – Grand Palais

Grand Palais, Paris

This massive complex located close to the Champs-Élysées consists of three major buildings: the Nave, the Palais de la Découverte children’s science museum, and the National Galleries, home to a large collection chronicling the history of art.

Built for the 1900 Universal Exposition in a Classical and Art Nouveau style, the beautiful iron and glass structures that make up the Grand Palais have been used for different purposes. The Nave itself, the largest of all three spaces at 240 meters long, often hosts fairs and expos, horse riding events and large art exhibits.

Grand Palais exhibition, Paris

For those visiting with kids, the massive 25,000 square meters Palais de la Découverte is a must-see. In addition to a planetarium, the museum also hosts permanent interactive exhibits on physics, biology, astronomy, and more. There’s a room to experiment with sound and one to learn about energy, with extra spaces to look into DNA and even opportunities to try a number of simulators using computers.

The National Galleries at the Grand Palais focus on major art exhibits – from immersive exhibitions offering interactive and sensory experiences to artists in the Paris of the roaring twenties, this is the place to be in Paris for a different way to experience art in all its forms.

9 – Bourdelle Museum

Bourdelle Museum, Paris

Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle played an important part in the Art Deco movement in France, but he was also famous for working with Rodin and Matisse, both as a student and teacher.

Back in the 19th century, Bourdelle maintained an atelier in Paris, which he himself worked on converting into a museum later in his life. That’s exactly where the Bourdelle Museum is today, in a beautiful space where Bourdelle’s original large wooden work tables and turntables sit exactly as they were many years ago.

Bourdelle Museum Garden, Paris

Over 500 of the artist’s works now call the museum home, including marble, plaster, and bronze statues, paintings, fresco sketches, and sculptures made up of plaster, bronze, and marble. Most of the large bronze statues are actually in the museum’s gardens, mixing with serene green spaces and hidden corners. Bourdelle learned to draw long before he was a sculptor, and many of his early sketches – done in pencil, pastel, and ink – are displayed at the museum.

Bourdelle himself was an avid collector and much of what he obtained during his lifetime is also displayed at the museum. This includes beautiful art by Rodin, Monticelli, Van Gogh, and Eugène Delacroix, as well as engravings, plaster molds, and antiques. There’s also a large collection of photographs showcasing his work and life.

10 – Cluny Museum

Cluny Museum, Paris

Paris’ only museum dedicated exclusively to the Middle Ages is housed in the 15th century Hôtel des Abbés de Cluny and is directly connected to the next-door ruins of the Thermes of Cluny, ancient Gallo-Roman baths that were constructed around the 3rd century. With such grand structures and over 6,000 square meters of museum space, it’s no surprise that the Cluny Museum is one stunning set-up.

About 10 percent of the museum’s 23,000 artifacts are in exhibition at any given time. The collections – which cover the time from the Gallo-Roman period to the Early Middle Ages – are spread between the Hôtel de Cluny building and the Frigidarium (a large room that once held a cold pool at the Roman baths).

Cluny Museum exhibition, Paris

The ancient collections include art of the Byzantine-Greco-Roman Egypt era (including religious art) and Byzantine Art as far back as the founding of Constantinople. Beautiful examples of this era include a 7th century Visigoth gold crown adorned with pearls and sapphires, and an ivory statuette of a mythological figure made in Constantinople.

The museum also has a significant collection of Romanesque Art, which includes many religious sculptures, and a significant number of beautiful tapestries, including a series of six tapestries known as The Lady and the Unicorn. Dating back to the 1500s, the tapestries weren’t discovered until three centuries later. Gothic art, 15th century art, and a number of pieces from the gold workshops of Limoges complete the collection.

11 – Musée de L’Orangerie

Musée de L’Orangerie, Paris

The museum is housed in an old orangery, a sort of greenhouse used to store fruit trees during the winter to protect them from the frost. The Musée de L’Orangerie was built to house the trees from the Tuileries garden during the early 19th century.

Years later, the building was used for public events until it became a space for art exhibitions in 1921. Dedicated to impressionist and post-impressionist painting, the museum opened with a series of paintings by Monet, who not only donated his Water Lillies series to the Orangerie, but also requested skylights were added to the rooms to provide natural light to enhance the viewing experience.

Musée de L’Orangerie exhibition, Paris

For years, the Orangerie hosted temporary exhibits by many master painters, including Rubens, Arno Breker, and a number of Impressionist artists. As the museum continued to acquire larger collections and the building expanded and redesigned, new exhibition rooms were added, as well as a library and an auditorium.

Today, this is one of the best museums in Paris, holding works by Paul Cézanne, Marie Laurencin, Matisse, Monet, Modigliani, Picasso, and Renoir, among many others. There are also some sculptures from Africa and Oceania, which were acquired as part of the Paul Guillaume collection, as well as a number of functional sculptures by artist Agnès Thurnauer.

  • Orangerie Museum tickets

12 – Carnavalet Museum

Carnavalet Museum, Paris

Paris’ oldest museum is appropriately dedicated to chronicling the history of the city. Already popular when it opened in 1880, the Carnavalet Museum has continued to expand and it now occupies two buildings: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau.

The museum’s collection includes over 2,600 paintings, more than 150,000 photographs, thousands of drawings and engravings, and over 2,000 pieces of sculptures. There are also unique pieces of furniture, signs, ceramics, and even coins. As part of its effort to record the history of the city, the museum not only holds pieces that showcase how Paris has changed over the years, but also portraits of different people who have played a role in those changes.

Carnavalet Museum in Paris

Painters from the Renaissance to today include Jacques-Louis David, Étienne Aubry, Pierre-Antoine Demauchy, Jean-Louis Forain,  and Paul Signac. Plus, unique pieces at the museum include unique items like a 4th-century perfume bottle, a 13th-century ornate chest, paintings depicting the French Revolution, a case of toiletries that belonged to Napoleon, and the cradle where Louis Napoleon Bonaparte slept as a baby.

There are also many personal belongings of important Paris-based figures such as Robespierre, Marie-Antoinette, and Émile Zola.

In addition to temporary exhibits, the museum also offers workshops, lectures, and even a series for young visitors.

13 – Paris Museum of Modern Art

Paris Museum of Modern Art

With more than 15,000 works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, the Paris Museum of Modern Art is a great place to understand today’s art scene. Works by some of the most significant modern and contemporary artists – including Picasso, Juan Gris, Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Cézanne – are an essential part of the collection, but so are works representing the Fauvist and Cubist movements, New Realism, and the School of Paris themes.

The must-see works in this museum, however, all have something in common: their massive size. La Danse by Henri Matisse consists of three separate oil on canvas panels that cover much of the wall in the Main Room at the Museum. La Fée Electricité by Raoul Dufy was originally commissioned for the 1937 International Exposition in Paris and it’s so big (600 square meters) that it curves over three walls inside the museum. It’s still one of the largest paintings in the world.

Paris Museum of Modern Art exhibition

In addition to permanent exhibitions, the museum also hosts new temporary exhibits every six weeks. Past ones have focused on single artists, as well as group shows (African artists or winners of the Marché de l’Art Prize). Although there’s an entry fee to see the temporary exhibits, general entry to tour the permanent collection is free.

The museum’s bookshop, considered one the best art bookshops in Paris, offers rare books like artist monographs, exhibition catalogs, and specialist journals.

14 – Invalides Army Museum

Invalides Army Museum in Paris

Part of the Les Invalides, a complex of military museums and monuments, the Army Museum houses a massive collection. It’s the country’s largest museum of military history but also one of the most extensive, covering the history of war from antiquity to modern times.

The collection is divided into six areas. Four of the areas are dedicated to displaying items from the collections and include the room for the armor and weapons from the 13th to the 17th century, the modern department (from the mid-1600s to the late 1800s), the contemporary department (which includes the two World Wars), and the artillery collection.

Invalides Army Museum, Paris

There are also two additional spaces: the Charles de Gaulle Monument multimedia space chronicling the general’s campaign against Nazi Germany, and a special area dedicated to unique collections, including toy soldiers and military music instruments.

The collections feature uniforms, ceremonial swords, antique armament, canons, howitzers and mortars, battle armor for both humans and horses (including the armor worn by future Henry II), a 1916 rapid-fire infantry cannon, and four pistols belonging to Napoleon.

Other buildings in the complex include the Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides, the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, and the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, dedicated to military models dating as far back as the 1600s.

  • Invalides Army Museum tickets

15 – Metiers Art Museum

Metiers Art Museum, Paris

This unique industrial design museum, Metiers Art Museum , is home to a large collection of technological innovations, scientific instruments, and mechanical objects. About 2,500 pieces are in exhibition at any given time, though the museum’s collection contains almost 100,000 objects.

Perhaps the best thing about this museum is that you really cannot guess what you’ll find anything. The museum’s five distinct collections cover everything from transportation to construction to energy, which results in a very eclectic mix of items.

For example, you’ll find the original model for the construction of the Statue of Liberty, as well as the first mechanical calculator (designed by Pascal), a 1985 Supercomputer Cray-2, an 1835 drawer camera for daguerreotyping, and the original Foucault pendulum.

Metiers Art Museum exhibition, Paris

Other interesting objects include a beautiful 1909 Blériot XI airplane and a number of automatons, such as a 1785 singing birdcage, a 1934 acrobat, and a number of music boxes from the 1800s. There’s also a significant collection of objects connected to energy, such as hydro turbines, gas engines, an 1881 Gramme system dynamo-electric machine, and a pendulum steam engine which was used in mines to scoop water out.

Temporary exhibits and events also cover a wide variety of topics, including music and vinyl, moving pictures, the Belle Epoque, and live demonstrations of Foucault’s Pendulum at work.

16 – City of Science and Industry

City of Science and Industry in Paris

As the biggest science museum in Europe, you wouldn’t expect the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie to also have the title of one of Paris’ biggest green spaces. But this unusual and unique museum is also home to three massive 32-meter-high greenhouses facing the park at the entrance of the museum.

Once you step inside, you’ll find permanent exhibits on the topics of transport, energy, the history of the universe, mathematics, sounds, and space. Try an eco-driving simulator, see a map of air traffic over 24 hours, test yourself using interactive stations designed to show you how the brain works, and see how much energy is consumed around the world on a daily basis.

City of Science and Industry, Paris

In addition to a planetarium, the museum also houses an IMAX theater built inside a mirrored geodesic dome known as La Géode. Here, films, live broadcasts and concerts are projected on a 1,000 square meter hemispherical screen, often in 3D, for an intense experience that engages all senses.

The decommissioned Argonaute (S 636) submarine (which sits outdoors in the Parc de la Villette) is also part of the museum, and visitors can climb inside to learn more about the history of submarines, learn what daily life inside the Argonaute was like, and see historic photographs.

  • City of Science and Industry tickets

17 – National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History, Paris

The Museum of Natural History started its life back in the early 1600s, when it served as King Louis XIII’s royal garden for medicinal plants. During the French Revolution, it became the first version of the museum it is today – though much of its collection was added a few years later thanks to Napoleon, who traveled to Egypt with more than 150 scientists and brought back a large number of specimens for the museum.

Today, the museum’s collection includes over 67 million specimens, including 7.5 million plants, over 1000 skeletons retracing evolution (including one of a Compsognathus, one of the smallest dinosaurs ever), cultural artifacts and archaeological remains, and even meteorites. The museum’s insect and mineral collections are also very large.

National Museum of Natural History exhibition, Paris

In addition to the main museum building, there are 13 other sites holding specific collections that are part of the museum, including the anthropologic Museum of Mankind, the Pataud Shelter (an on-site prehistoric excavation site), the Harmas de Fabre (a herbarium and museum), and four scientific sites. Three zoological parks (including La Ménagerie, one of the oldest zoos in the world) and three botanical gardens are also run by the museum.

18 – Grévin Wax Museum

Grevin Wax Museum, Paris

Founded by French newspaper director and journalist Arthur Meyer, Grévin Wax Museum is somewhat modeled after Madame Tussauds. A significant part of their collection is focused on figures that have made a mark in the history, culture and spots of France.

There are special scenes with wax figures fighting the French Revolution, and you can see the actual scene of the murder of French political theorist and journalist Jean-Paul Marat (including the real bathtub where he was found dead).

Modern French figures include former football player Zinedine Zidane, actress and singer Isabelle Adjani, and actor and comedian Jean Dujardin. Other famous stars from Europe, including Italian actress and model Monica Bellucci, are also featured here.

Grévin Wax Museum in Paris

The museum also features wax statues of personalities from around the world, many of which are set in interactive environments. You can pose with Einstein, have coffee with Picasso, or sip champagne with George Clooney. You’ll even find Napoleon sitting on a camel during his campaign in Egypt.

The museum also houses an Italian-style theater, where you can attend shows, concerts, and special events. There’s also a Hall of Mirrors – which feels more like a giant kaleidoscope featuring a show of music and lights once you step in – originally designed for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

  • Grévin Wax Museum tickets

19 – Homme Museum

Homme Museum, Paris

The Museum of Mankind (or Museum of Man) is an anthropology museum that was originally created for the 1937 International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life. It originally included only random pieces obtained from a “cabinet of curiosities,” small collections of strange objects held privately by scholars or historians as far back as the 16th century.

These included everything from ethnographic specimens to bones, skeletons, many animals and plants, and even special things like a dragon’s egg or blood collected when it rained down on some faraway island.

Besides the obvious fakes, the museum eventually also removed any specimens that weren’t connected to the human species and focused on the history of humanity and its evolution. Today, the museum focuses on answering the question, “where do we come from” through human fossils, ancient art, and artifacts.

Homme Museum exhibition, Paris

Notable items in the collection include the real skull of philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes, an ancient crystal skull carving, and a series of anatomical representations of human diversity.

There are even interactive exhibits like an original 1960 bus that once ran in Senegal and now offers a virtual ride through history, and recreations of typical homes of five very different families around the world, from a pygmy in Gabon to a Sami in Lapland.

The “Where Are We Headed” gallery of the museum focuses on globalization and its impact on diversity, the planet’s condition, and the impact humans are having on the planet.

20 – Rodin Museum

Rodin Museum in Paris

The founder of modern sculpture and a master of naturalism, Rodin was already drawing by the age of 10, but it wasn’t until he was 24 that he had his first sculpture exhibited, and not until 16 years later that his work started to be recognized. He spent the next four decades working on what would end up being his unfinished masterpiece, the six meters high and four meters wide sculpture known as The Gates of Hell, which is now the central piece at the Rodin Museum.

Among the best museums in Paris, Musée Rodin consists of two sites: the main location in central Paris where Rodin once had his workshop, and Rodin’s old home just outside the city. If you can only visit one place, the Paris location offers the best of his work and a significant portion of the massive collection, which includes 8,000 drawings and over 6,000 sculptures.

Rodin Museum, Paris

There are also a significant number of photographs in the collection, as well as an entire room dedicated to the work of sculptor Camille Claudel, which whom Rodin had a relationship later on in his life.

Rodin’s most significant works, including The Thinker, The Age of Bronze, and The Kiss are at his museum.

Rodin was an avid collector of photography and ancient works of art, with much of those collections now available to see at Musée Rodin. He also owned works by Théodule Ribot, Jules Dalou, Van Gogh, and Monet.

  • Rodin Museum tickets

21 – Musée du Parfum

Musée du Parfum, Paris

This small museum was established in the early 1900s by Fragonard Parfumeur, a perfumery still in operation today. Although the Musée du Parfum has some objects representing Fragonard, the main part of the collection focuses on the history of perfumery through rare objects that come from all around the world.

Some of the most important examples include distillation equipment and objets d’art, beautiful bottles and containers to store perfume, some of them dating back hundreds of years.

Two of the oldest items in the museum are a Mesopotamian vase used to hold perfume around circa 3000 BC, and a Greek ceramic vase from circa 470 BC. There’s also a number of unusual perfume-related items, such as pomanders (smelling boxes), which carry strong perfumes in solid form for more medicinal purposes – such as repelling the Plague during the Middle Ages.

Musée du Parfum exhibition, Paris

Perfume burners used during Louis XIV’s reign and bottlers by jeweler designer Karl Fabergé – including one specifically for the Tsar’s wife – are some of the museum’s most beloved items. There are also bottles decorated with gold and diamonds, ring flasks to hold perfume instead of drinks, and perfume bottles shaped into almost anything you can think of.

The museum offers free guided tours that include a look into the techniques used to produce perfume through history plus a free “olfactory game” at the end of the tour. Every Saturday, the museum also offers perfumer’s apprentice workshops where you can create your own essence under the guidance of a perfumery expert.

22 – Picasso Museum

Picasso Museum in Paris

Just as the name implies, the Picasso Museum is dedicated to the work of the famous Spanish painter and sculptor. Picasso was a prolific artist who was always in the midst of creating something new, and you can clearly see that in the museum’s large collection, which includes over 3,000 drawings and hundreds of paintings, sculptures, and engravings.

In addition, the museum also holds most of the artist’s preliminary studies and a number of three-dimensional works, such as relief paintings and steel cut-outs.

About 400 of those works are exhibited at one time in the museum, including many large sculptures placed in the garden.

Picasso Museum, Paris

Some of the most significant works in the museum include the elf-portrait and La Celestina paintings, large Cubist paintings, wire-framed models like Plans for the Monument to Apollinaire, the famous The Goat sculpture, and a written archive that includes personal papers, letters, press clippings, and more.

The museum also exhibits a photographic collection that captures not only the work but also the life of the famous artist, as well as many works on paper created by Picasso – from historic mementos to charcoal sketches to icons and allegorical drawings.

  • Picasso Museum tickets

23 – Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art

Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris

The luxury goods conglomerate Cartier might be best known for its exquisite jewelry and watches, but the Cartier Foundation also runs this impressive center dedicated to both established and young artists.

Since its opening in 1984, the museum has put an emphasis on building an impressive collection that now includes over 1,500 pieces by contemporary artists from around the world. Some great examples include Belgian neo-conceptual artist Wim Delvoye (famous for his shocking and controversial installations), visual and performative artist Gerard Garouste, and conceptual and performance artist James Lee Byars, who focused his work on esoteric motifs.

Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris

In addition to its permanent collection, the center also hosts temporary exhibits that cover everything from painting and sculpture to photography installations and video and film. The Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art prides itself on being a multidisciplinary space that also looks into modern issues like migration, environmental concerns, and philanthropy.

Live performances are an important part of the foundation’s very popular Nomadic Nights, where the emphasis is put on the performing arts and younger artists. The foundation’s other live event is the ongoing Nights of Uncertainty, which features discussions with some of the artists currently exhibiting at the center.

Guided tours are available from Tuesdays to Fridays and are a great way to get a deeper understanding of the collections and artists that call this place home.

24 – Quai Branly Museum

Quai Branly Museum, Paris

Over almost 370,000 works of indigenous art representing four corners of the world (Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas) make this one of the most impressive museums and cultural sites in Paris. Although the collection itself focuses mostly on traditional art, the design of the building and exhibits combine modern technology, lighting and sound to create a living environment around the pieces.

Many of the original pieces here come from private collections and cabinets of curiosities kept by educators and rich collectors for centuries. By the end of the 1800s, however, these collections started to find their way into museums, where they could be cataloged and preserved properly.

The brand-new Quai Branly Museum , opened in 2006 to house the ethnology collection that once belonged to the Museum of Man, plus a number of objects from the former National Museum of the Arts of Africa and Oceania.

Quai Branly Museum exhibition, Paris

Over 10,000 new objects have been added to the collection after the museum opened, including documents, photographs, and textiles. There are also numerous objects connected to the French colonization of Canada, Aboriginal Australian art, funerary ritual objects from Oceania, and sculptures from pre-Hispanic America.

Temporary exhibits have covered a wide variety of topics – from the history of tattoos to the Vietnam War posters and propaganda. The museum also organizes shows and concerts, festivals and events throughout the year. These can include things like live concerts using unique tribal instruments, science fairs, lectures and readings, and family Sundays.

  • Quai Branly Museum tickets

25 – Musée Maillol

Musée Maillol, Paris

This relatively small art museum is dedicated to the work of painter and sculptor Aristide Maillol. It was established by Maillol’s main muse and model, Dina Vierny, after his death. Vierny herself eventually became an avid art dealer and collector and was inspired to bring Maillol’s main works – which include paintings and sculptures, engravings, tapestries, terracotta and plaster designs – together under one roof.

Later on in his life and career, Maillol focused almost exclusively on sculptures representing the female form. He modeled some after his wife, but Vierny eventually became his only muse. Although many of these sculptures are currently in other museums around the world (and 20 of them reside in the Tuileries gardens), the Musée Maillol also holds beautiful examples of his detailed work.

Musée Maillol exhibition, Paris

The museum also showcases pieces that once belonged to Maillol’s personal collection – from drawings by Cézanne and Matisse to sculptures by Rodin and woodcuts by Paul Gauguin. Temporary exhibits have covered everything from pop art to painting in the roaring 20s, to avant-garde artists.

Art workshops for children and a bookshop specializing in modern and contemporary art complete the offerings here. If you’re stopping by the bookshop, look up their large selection of Maillol-inspired gifts and souvenirs.

26 – Jacquemart-André Museum

Jacquemart-André Museum, Paris

Back in the mid-1860s, French banker and politician Édouard André and his wife, painter Nélie Jacquemart, amassed a significant art collection – which they exhibited in their own mansion. Much of it came from their own travels in Italy, but after André’s death, his wife also started traveling to the Orient to bring more pieces. Their mansion is now the Musée Jacquemart-André , showcasing not only the couples’ amazing art collection, but also their own treasures.

The museum is divided into five sections based on the actual areas of the mansion. The State Apartments, which the family used for formal receptions, now house 18th-century art, while the Informal Apartments showcase the couple’s personal possessions and furniture. The informal apartments consist of several rooms, displaying tapestries, a library filled with Flemish and Dutch paintings, and a beautiful study.

Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris

There’s also the Private Apartments (decorated in a Louis XV style) and the Winter Garden (a beautiful green space decorated with sculptures), as well as an area known as The Italian Museum, which houses 15th- and 16th-century sculptures and paintings, including pieces from Botticelli, Donatello, Carpaccio, and  Perugino.

The museum’s temporary exhibits often showcase the work of one of the masters, such as the creative genius of Botticelli or the stunning watercolors of Joseph Mallord William Turner.

In addition to beautiful coffee table books, the museum’s bookshop also sells ornaments, jewelry, and educational books and games.

  • Jacquemart-André Museum tickets

27 – Jeu de Paume

Jeu de Paume in Paris

Dedicated to modern photography and media, this gallery and association sits in the Tuileries garden, right next to the Place of the Concorde, Paris’ largest square.

It’s a beautiful location for an equally beautiful building that was once used to play “jeu de paume” (indoor court tennis). When the sport fell out of favor, the space was renovated as an exhibition space and eventually became a gallery in 1922.

After a hard time during the war (Nazis confiscated all modern art – deemed unworthy of being shown in state-owned museums – and stored it here), the gallery went through a series of changes and it finally became the Jeu de Paume gallery of contemporary art in 1991.

Jeu de Paume, Paris

Today, the gallery operates mostly as a temporary exhibit space for photography, video, digital and multimedia art. Past temporary exhibits have included the work of established and up-and-coming figures from around the world, including photographers Diane Arbus and Joel Meyerowitz, video artist Omer Fast, and filmmaker Marine Hugonnier.

As a unique offering, Jeu de Paume also hosts online art exhibitions, which consist mostly of collaborations between filmmakers and visual artists.

28 – Musée de la Vie Romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris

The Museum of the Romantics is appropriately housed in a charming 1800s hôtel particulier (a type of townhouse). Once the home of Romantic painter Ary Scheffer and his daughter, the building first became famous for its grand evening salon events, which everybody from Frédéric Chopin to Charles Dickens used to attend.

When the building became a museum in 1982, a decision was made to focus the collections on the Romantic movement in general, but especially literature. As a result, the Musée de la Vie Romantique holds one of the most important collections connected to George Sand (the pen name of French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), which includes some of her writing, family portraits and possessions, and even watercolors she painted.

Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris

There are, of course, many paintings by Scheffer himself, plus works by some of his contemporaries like Redoute. In addition to paintings, sculptures, and graphic arts, the museum also has furniture and some memorabilia items, including a cast of the arm and right hand of George Sand, as well as a music box that belonged to her grandparents.

Temporary exhibits at the museum often focus on topics that somewhat relate to the Romantic movement, such as Romanticism in contemporary art, the importance of literary salons during the Romanticism, and the work of specific artists of the time. Visitors can also step into the museum’s greenhouse and gardens to access the tea room.

See also: Romantic things to do in Paris for couples

29 – Dalí Paris

Dalí Paris museum in Paris

For fans of the Spanish surrealist artist, Dalí Paris is the best museum to visit in Paris, with a must-see permanent exhibit space dedicated to his works. Over 300 pieces are spread in the well-designed, beautiful 600 square meters of Dali Paris’ exhibition space –including the largest collection of Dali sculptures in the country.

One of the most notable sculptures available to see here is the death mask of Napoleon, which Dali sculpted over the original molding created after Napoleon’s death. Dali added horns to the face to represent the rhinoceroses-like strength of Napoleon. There are also sveral pieces representing his Dance of Time (melting clocks) series, as well as his Surrealist Piano sculpture, representing a dancing female on tiptoes on top of a piano.

Dali Paris Museum

Paintings, etchings, and rare hand-signed graphics and drawings are also part of the exhibition. These represent some of the best graphic artworks Dali ever created, showcasing his fascination with mythology, religion, and allegories.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits featuring guest artists and special themes (like the techniques and methods behind street art). There have also been special Dali exhibits organized in the past, including one on the collection of jewels designed by Dalí in the 1960’s.

  • Dalí Paris tickets

30 – Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo in Paris

Built in 1937 for the Paris International Exhibition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life, this palace-like building now houses two museums: the Paris Museum of Modern Art on one end and the Palais de Tokyo on the other half. Named after Avenue de Tokio (now Avenue de New York), the palace is the largest center for contemporary art and creation in Europe.

Although technically a museum, it holds no permanent collection and only showcases temporary and rotating exhibits especially curated for the space. Past exhibits have covered wide themes like the art of vinicultural practices, the work of Tunisian artist Aïcha Snoussi, and a living ensemble featuring old olive trees from Lebanon and blinding white light.

Palais de Tokyo, Paris

In addition to contemporary art, it also hosts film screenings and live events. It’s also home to one of the largest art bookstores in Paris, offering a selection of art-related books, magazines, and gifts from all around Europe, as well as two restaurants serving traditional products and Italian delicacies.

True to its goal of offering a unique scene for contemporary artistic expression, the Palais de Tokyo also hosts the Yoyo, a venue offering musical events, visual programs, and even fashion shows.

31 – Yves Saint Laurent Museum

Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Paris

Set in the very same studio atelier where fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent worked for many years, the YSL Museum chronicles the history of the legendary designer, but also showcases his love for art and the art that inspired him. An impressive look into the world of fashion, there’s also a bit of nostalgia to the museum’s setup, which also tells the story of how haute culture shaped the 20th century.

The collection goes all the way back to 1962, when YSL had its first fashion show. It offers a look at original costume sketches and photos, multimedia presentations, and snapshots into the brand’s extensive portfolio. Over 5,000 garments and thousands of accessories are exhibited here, many of which were worn by fashion model and YSL’s muse Betty Catroux.

Yves Saint Laurent Museum exhibition, Paris

Visitors also get to see the designer’s own desk and working space and some of his favorite artists, including a Picasso.

The museum is open every day, but an online ticket reservation in advance is needed to visit on weekends. Make sure to stop by the museum’s gift shop to grab a couple of mementos of your visit.

  • Yves Saint Laurent Museum tickets

32 – Musée Guimet

Musée Guimet, Paris

The Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts was founded in the late 1800s by Founded by Émile Guimet, an industrialist with a passion for travel to faraway lands. Guimet spent much of his time in the study of Oriental civilizations, so when he decided to set up a museum, it made sense his focus would be on Asian art and culture.

In fact, many of the objects in the museum were brought back to Paris by Guimet himself, including porcelain collections from Japan. Today, the museum displays items from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, Buddhist art, artifacts from Khmer culture, Chinese pottery from the 8th century, Serindian art from the western region of China, and sculptures and reliefs from India.

Musée Guimet in Paris

The Himalayan collection, which consists of about 1600 pieces, is one of the most significant ones in France. Special pieces include paintings, metal sculptures, wooden images and Buddhist objects. There’s also a large textile collection, which includes dyed, printed and painted fabrics, kesa sets from Japan, embroidery pieces from China, batiks from Java, and much more.

Guided tours of the museum are available, and visitors can also participate in workshops to create a sand mandala, learn Chinese painting, try your hand at Nihonga (Japanese painting techniques), or create a bonkei, a miniature garden. There are film showings, cultural activities and lectures, and a cycle of readings featuring intellectuals and historical experts.

33 – Musée de la Monnaie

Musée de la Monnaie, Paris

The Musée de la Monnaie chronicles the history of the production of coins in France through a massive archive that goes all the way back to the 15th century. Exhibits include a number of machines and tools used to cast, stamp, and engrave not only coins but also jewelry. There’s also a significant numismatics collection inside the museum.

The best part? The museum has been built so most of your senses are involved as you walk through the exhibition. Special olfactory devices ensure that you can experience what a manufacturing workshop smells like. And there are recorded testimonials and interviews (as well as recorded noises from an original factory) so you can hear straight from experts and workers what it’s like to mint a coin. You can even forge your own token coin to take home.

Musée de la Monnaie, Paris

The Musée de la Monnaie is also a working factory, where you can see the process of minting in action through large glass windows that open up over the Foundry. In the museum itself, you can also catch engraving demonstrations and use interactive devices to play with minting techniques yourself.

  • Musée de la Monnaie tickets

34 – The 99 Cameras Museum

Studio Harcourt, Paris

Situated in the heart of the prestigious Studio Harcourt, the 99 Cameras Museum is a recent addition to Paris’s rich tapestry of cultural venues. As the name suggests, the museum proudly showcases a fascinating collection of 99 vintage cameras, each representing a unique chapter in the evolution of photography.

The soul of the museum is the enduring passion of Gianpaolo B., a devoted collector whose life’s journey entailed gathering these photographic marvels from various corners of the globe. His legacy now breathes through the displays meticulously arranged by his son, tracing the technological advancements from the early 20th century to the threshold of the digital era.

99 Cameras Museum, Paris

The museum extends a warm invitation to all, with no admission fee, offering an intimate gaze into the remarkable journey of photographic innovation. Every camera, be it from iconic brands like Leica and Hasselblad or lesser-known treasures, tells a tale of creativity and engineering prowess, embodying the timeless allure of capturing moments through a lens.

Final Thoughts

With so many incredible options for things to do in Paris , we can’t blame you if you’re having a hard time narrowing down which museums and galleries to visit. We hope our list of the “best of the best” provides a good starting point for a trip filled with exciting discoveries.

If you’re a big fan of museums, however, you might feel the pinch after a while – after all, most museums charge an admission fee, and cost adds up quickly if you’re in town for several days.

For the best bang for your buck, consider getting a Paris Museum Pass , which allows free entry to over 50 museums and tourist attractions over a period of 2, 4 or 6 days. Just pay once and you’ll also get added benefits like skip-the-line and fast-track entry.

Do you have any other must-see museums to suggest? Let us know in the comments!

best museums to visit in paris

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The 12 Best Museums to Visit in Paris

By Sarah Belmont

Sarah Belmont

France. Paris. lookpoint of the Tour Eiffel from the tour of Notre Dame. (Photo by: Claudio Beduschi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Paris, the City of Light. Millions of travelers perceive it as an ideal destination.

With architectures spanning the Middle Ages (Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés) to the 21st century (Frank Gehry’s Louis Vuitton Foundation), Paris offers a way to time travel through beauty. It is the birthplace of Gothic and Art Deco styles, of postmodern aesthetics even. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris (1163–1345), the Dôme des Invalides (1677–1707), the École Militaire (1751–1780), the Palais Garnier (1861–1875), the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais—all can be considered masterpieces in an open-air museum as large as the city itself. Within this vast museum thrive about 200 institutions with collections of their own.

“One of my favorite things about Paris is the concentration of cultural hot spots,” says French artist and academician Jean-Michel Othoniel.

Opposite the Musée du Louvre and its 38,000 works of art stands the Musée d’Orsay, known for its Impressionist treasures. Further along the Seine is the Petit Palais, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Palais de Tokyo . . . However difficult it may be to choose among them, here is our pick of the 12 best museums in the Ville Lumière .

Musée du Louvre

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 20: The Louvre Museum during the confinement of the French due to an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 20, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images)

Who has not heard of the Louvre? Situated on the Right Bank of the Seine, it is one of Paris’s most famous landmarks. Housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th century, converted into the primary residence of French kings by Francis I in 1546 (until Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household in 1682), it was extended more than once over the centuries. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly stated that the building should be used as a museum to display France’s masterpieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests ever since.

Divided into eight curatorial departments—Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; and Paintings; and Prints and Drawings—the Louvre is an amazing multistory maze of galleries, passageways, staircases, escalators, and a courtyard topped with a glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei in 1988. With 652,300 square feet and about 10 million annual visitors (before Covid) all eager to get lost in it, the site is the largest and most visited museum in the world. It is home to some 38,000 artworks and artifacts from prehistory to the 21st century, including Leonardo da Vinci’s often photo-bombed Mona Lisa , Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo , and Eugène Delacroix’s Raft of the Medusa . It is impossible to see the entirety of the collection in one day, so plan on coming back—often.

Musée d’Orsay

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 14: General view of the Orsay Museum which is closed until further notice, due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak. French Prime Minister Edward Philippe announced that France will shut shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from midnight to slow down the spread of the coronavirus on March 14, 2020 in Paris, France. Due to a sharp increase in the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus declared in Paris and throughout France, several sporting, cultural and festive events have been postponed or cancelled. The epidemic has exceeded 5,500 dead for more than 147,000 infections across the world. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

The Musée d’Orsay, one of the largest museums in Europe, is located on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station built between 1898 and 1900 under the aegis of three architects, Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux. Its trains connected Paris to southwest France until 1939, after which they served the suburbs only. Part of the building became a mailing center during World War II. It was then used as a movie set for films such as Orson Welles’s adaptation of The Trial by Franz Kafka, and as a venue for auctioneers while the Hôtel Drouot was under construction. It began its life as a museum and cultural landmark in 1986.

The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by such luminaries as Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the institution’s opening. Thanks to a €5 million donation from Daniel Marchesseau, the Musée d’Orsay has launched the restoration of the 17th-century Hôtel de Mailly-Nesle (facing the Louvre’s Pavillon de Flore), destined to reopen as a resource and research center by the beginning of 2026.

Centre Pompidou

Exterior of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, France - Rue Beaubourg side.

Named after the French president (1969–1974) who commissioned it, the Centre Pompidou is also known as the Beaubourg, which is what its neighborhood in the Marais district of Paris is called. This institution is home to a public library, a center for music and acoustic research called IRCAM, and to the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the largest museum of modern art in Europe.

When unveiled in 1977, the Beaubourg’s high-tech industrial design, with all of its structural and mechanical elements exposed on the exterior, gave rise to much controversy. Now the building, the work of architects Richard Rogers, Su Rogers, Renzo Piano, and Gianfraco Franchini, is considered iconic. The same goes for its 2010 regional satellite in Metz, France, a curvilinear white building designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines.

The exhibitions at both locations draw from a collection of 120,000 works by major 20th-century artists including Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Niki de Saint Phalle, Pablo Picasso, Anselm Kiefer, Sheila Hicks, and many more. The Centre Pompidou Málaga and the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project (in Shanghai) were inaugurated in 2015 and in 2019, respectively, and there have been discussions about opening more branches around the world, from Brussels to Jersey City.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Livre "Paris plaisir" p.259 Livre "Paris plaisir" p.259. (Photo by Michel RENAUDEAU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Located on the former Quai de Tokio (now called Avenue de New York), the Palais de Tokyo was designed by Jean Claude Dondel and André Aubert to house two separate museums: the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Musée National d’Art Moderne. Today only the former is housed there, nested in the west wing of the iconic building, unadorned on the inside but decorated with mythological themes on the outside. The museum holds one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in France, with more than 10,000 works by Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Amedeo Modigliani, André Derain, Marc Chagall, Christian Boltanski, Philippe Parreno, and many others. The institution is also home to site-specific installations such as the first version of Henri Matisse’s La Danse and Dufy’s monumental mural La Fée Electricité , donated in 1954 by the artist himself. More than 800 works have entered the holdings since 2007, including pieces by Peter Doig, Christopher Wool, Douglas Gordon, Gilles Barbier, and Elaine Sturtevant. And there are certainly more to come.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Paris: Musée de la Vie Romantique Paris: Musée de la Vie Romantique. (Photo by JARRY/TRIPELON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Located in the New Athens district, cradle of 19th-century intellectual and artistic elites, the Musée de la Vie Romantique is the former house of Dutch-French painter Ary Scheffer (1795–1858), who moved to Paris in 1811. The second level is devoted to him and his contemporaries. The floor below, which pays tribute to the writer George Sand, includes portraits, furniture, and 18th- and 19th-century jewelry. In his living room, Scheffer would host his counterpart Eugène Delacroix; composers Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Gioachino Rossini; opera singer Pauline Viardot; and writers Ivan Turgenev and Charles Dickens. In the studio, he worked alongside his younger brother Henry. The latter spaces, now reserved for temporary exhibitions, frame a cobbled courtyard, while the greenhouse, in the garden, is home to a quaint coffee shop whose quiches are a must-try.

Musée Gustave Moreau

A view of Gustave Moreau's studio at the Musee national Gustave Moreau in Paris, on January 21, 2015. The main emphasis of Moreau, a French Symbolist painter, was the illustration of biblical and mythological figures. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON    = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION =        (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Another emblematic painter of the New Athens district, in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, is the Symbolist Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), who turned his home into a museum in 1895 with the help of architect Albert Lafon. The house had been bought in 1852 by his parents, who shared the second floor (a dining room, one bedroom, a den, a hallway, and an office/library) with him until their passing. Moreau’s studio was originally on the third floor and later on the top floor, accessible via a spiral staircase, still in place today. In 1897 Moreau donated his home and its contents to the state, which did not accept the offer until four years later. The collection consists of 1,300 of the artist’s paintings, watercolors and sketches, as well as some 5,000 drawings. Among the highlights on view are Jupiter and Semele (1895), Chimera (1884), and The Return of the Argonauts (1890–97), all inspired by Greek mythology.

Musée Jacquemart-André

La cour d'honneur du Musée Jacquemart-André à Paris, France. (Photo by Franck CHAREL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

A jewel of the 8th arrondissement, the Musée Jacquemart-André occupies the former home of a collector couple. Scion of a Protestant banking family, Edouard André (1833–1894) married Nélie Jacquemart (1841–1912), a well-known society painter, 10 years after she executed his portrait. Every year the pair would travel to Italy, amassing the finest pieces of art they could find. When André died, Nélie Jacquemart completed the decoration of their “Italian museum” and headed to Asia to expand her aesthetic horizons. Sticking to the plan she had made with her husband, she bequeathed the mansion to the Institut de France, which opened it as a museum in 1913.

Today the public can visit the site in its original state and, on the walls, discover works by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Andrea Mantegna, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Sandro Botticelli, and Thomas Gainsborough, which have always been there. Culturespaces, the private company that has been managing the museum since 1996, is accountable for the success of many temporary exhibitions and the creation of a quaint coffee shop, the menu of which subtly refers to the artists on view.

Musée Guimet

FRANCE - MARCH 18: Exhibition hall on the ground floor dedicated to Southeast Asia, Guimet museum, Paris, France. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The Musée Guimet was born in Lyon in 1879, three years after industrialist Émile Guimet was sent to Japan, China, and India by the French minister of public instruction to study the religions of the Far East. When he returned from his travels, Guimet brought back many works of art, which were given to the state and transferred to Paris in 1889. The museum (full name: Musée National des Arts Asiatiques–Guimet) is now home to the largest collection of Asian arts in Europe. Renovated in 2001, its spacious, light-filled galleries gather together pieces from India, Cambodia, Thailand, Malasia, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Korea, and Japan. The library includes works on Asian religion and philosophy as well as art. The permanent display occupies five levels, and temporary exhibitions devoted to contemporary artists regularly fill the building’s top-floor rotunda. Daniel Arsham, Chiharu Shiota, Duy Anh Nhan Duc, and Yang Jiechang have been among those featured.

Musée Carnavalet

Gardens at the Musee Carnavalet ,Marais, Paris, France

If you want to know everything there is to know about Paris, this museum devoted to the city and its history is the place to go. Originally built as a townhouse, the Musée Carnavalet is one of the gems of the Marais, the oldest district in the French capital. The building was designed by architects Pierre Lescot and Jean Goujon before they were called to work on the Louvre Palace, and completed in about 1560 by Jean Bullant. The hôtel particulier owes its name to its 1572 acquirer, Madame de Kernevenoy, which Parisians had a tendency to mispronounce.

In 1866 the city purchased the Hôtel Carnavalet and started assembling what would be the museum’s contents. These pieces were stored along with the city archives in the vaults of the Hôtel de Ville, which Communard revolutionaries set on fire in 1871; the collection has been rebuilt since. It now includes some 625,000 objects, including a prehistoric dugout canoe cut from a single block of wood, stained-glass windows from the chapel of the College of Dormans-Beauvais attributed to Baudoin de Soissons and painter Jean de Bruges, Antoine Coysevox’s statue of Louis XIV, and 17th-century wood panels from the study of the Colbert de Villacerf mansion.

Musée Rodin

Busts on display in the Rodin Museum. (Photo by Yves Forestier/Sygma via Getty Images)

The Hôtel Biron, home of the Musée Rodin, is a perfect example of Parisian rocaille architecture. With some 700,000 visitors a year, it is one of the most popular sites in Paris. This is where Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), the father of modern sculpture, worked in the early 20th century and where most of his works (6,600 sculptures, 8,000 photographs, as many drawings, and 7,000 objets d’art) are now preserved and presented. The house, started in 1727 by architect Jean Aubert, belonged at some point to Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon, Louis XIV’s daughter-in-law. In the early 20th century, Rodin rented it as a studio. His plan was to bequeath his collection to the state, on the condition that the Hôtel Biron become a permanent museum of his work. Sadly, the master died two years before his dream came true. Today, the property’s 7.4-acre garden, filled with sculptures by Rodin, is the ideal place for a romantic stroll. Temporary exhibitions take place in the 19th-century chapel, which was restored in 2005.

Musée du Quai Branly

FRANCE - JUNE 19:  The museum will open to the public on June 23rd with a collection of 300,000 pieces of indigenous artwork collected for centuries by France from Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia - Funerary art from Borneo in Paris, France on June 19th, 2006.  (Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The imposing ivy-coated building standing on the Left Bank of the Seine not far from the Eiffel Tower is the Musée du Quai Branly. Opened in 2006, this glass-and-wood architectural gem was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel to welcome the collections of the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Mankind) and the Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie. With 360,000 objects, 700,000 iconographical pieces, and more than 200,000 reference works, from the Neolithic period (around 10,000 BC) to the 21st century, it is one of the richest public institutions in Europe dedicated to the study, preservation, and promotion of non-European arts and civilizations. Jointly administered by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Quai Branly museum also serves as a research center.

Musée de Cluny

FRANCE - MAY 27: Kings of Judah, 13th century, once attached to the western facade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Paris, Musée National Du Moyen Age (Hôtel De Cluny, Middle Age Museum)) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The beating heart of the Latin Quarter (along with the Sorbonne, the Panthéon, and the Luxembourg Gardens), the Musée de Cluny is one of the oldest museums in Paris and the only national institution dedicated to the Middle Ages. It recently went through a major transformation, the most ambitious since it was created in 1843. The museum’s Roman thermal baths and Gothic chapel were restored, and public spaces—the reception area, the ticket office, and the café—were modernized. The new chronological display spans 21 rooms and features a reshuffle of 1,600 works, among which is the unavoidable Dame à la Licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn), a series of six tapestries designed in the  mille-fleurs  (“thousand flowers”) style in Paris and woven in Flanders. Five of them seem to be depicting the senses of taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch. The sixth tapestry bears the words “ À mon seul désir ” (“To my only desire”), an esoteric message that fuels the mystery of this masterpiece.

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Guide to the Best Museums in Paris

A group of people admire a piece of street art in front of the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Paris is a city of museums. Renowned for her cultural contributions to the world, the city hosts hundreds of them, from the world-class artifacts of the Louvre to the priceless artworks of the Musée d’Orsay.

View all trips, musée du louvre.

The Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Musée d’Orsay

Museum, Train Station

People flock to the Musée d’Orsay to see Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works of art

Centre Pompidou

Art Gallery, Library, Museum

Centre Pompidou, Centre national d?art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Beaubourg, high-tech or brutalist architecture by Renzo Piano and Richard Roge

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Musée de l’Orangerie

Art Gallery, Building, Museum

Musee de lOrangerie, an Art Gallery located in The west corner of the Tuileries, Paris

Palais de Tokyo

Building, Museum, Art Gallery

Palais de Tokyo in Paris

Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

Building, Museum

Musee du quai Branly, Paris, France Musee des arts et civilisations dAfrique, dAsie, dOceanie et des Ameriques. Architect Jea

Musée de Cluny

Musee Cluny, Paris

Musée Picasso

Museum, Art Gallery

Musee Picasso, Paris

Fondation Cartier Pour l’Art Contemporain

Fondation Cartier pour lart contemporain

La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

Covering over 1,000 years of French history, La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (the French Monuments Museum) sounds quite narrow in scope, but by getting to know the sites their collective conscious holds as significant, visitors can learn a lot about the French. The collection is divided into two sections: from the Middle Ages until the 19th century, and then from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. It also has a cafe on-site, home to one of the best views in Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Come for the history, stay for coffee with a picture-perfect view.

Chloé Braithwaite contributed additional reporting to this article.

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  • Best Museums in Paris

Many enjoyable experiences await you in Paris, the City of Lights, including some of the best museums in the world. Keep reading for our list of the best and most famous museums in Paris to visit.

There is only one place to start a list of famous museums in Paris, which is the world's most renowned museum, the Louvre. Home to 35,000 pieces of art in a massive 60,000 square meters. No matter what your tastes in art are, you will find something to enjoy in the Louvre. Not just a famous museum, but also home to one of Paris's most iconic monuments, the beautiful Louvre Glass Pyramid is ideal for your Instagram-worthy pictures. It would take weeks to look at all the pieces in the Louvre, so the best way to visit is either with a guide or by creating your own wish list. Some must-see pieces are, of course, the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo. Like most tourist attractions, there are some hectic times that are best avoided, like the weekends, for example. An excellent time to tour and appreciate the art at your own pace in a relaxed way is to visit during the week early in the morning before it gets crowded. Keep in mind that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

Location: Rue de Rivoli, Paris, Île-de-France, 75001

Museums in Paris

Musée Picasso

The Picasso Museum, which houses the world's richest public collection of works of the artist, is definitely one of the most famous museums in Paris you should visit. The exhibits include 297 paintings, 368 sculptures, 200,000 pieces of archives, and 92 illustrated books. Some of Picasso's masterpieces include Les Demoiselles, Musicians, and his Self Portrait. The Picasso Museum is located in the Hotel Sale building and is well worth a visit in itself, which is one of the most extravagant Parisian houses of the 17th century. You can also enjoy the beautiful gardens and rooftop café of this beautiful building. It costs €14 for entry, and it opens at 10:30 during the week and 9:30 at the weekends. A good time to visit is early in the morning as with all the famous museums in Paris, to avoid the crowds. It is easy to access by public transport, and you can take Line 1, Saint Paul, Line 8 Saint-Sebastian Froissart, or the Line 8 Chemin Vert metro to the museum. Try to book your ticket in advance to avoid queues.

Location: Musée national Picasso-Paris, 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris

Musée d’Orsay

Set beautifully along the bank of the Seine River, the Musée d'Orsay is one of the most visited and famous museums of Paris. This impressive museum houses an amazing collection of must-see pieces, including Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait and the Lunch on the Grass by Edouard Manet. Not only famous for its impressionist art collection, the Musée d'Orsay also houses remarkable sculptures, such as the La Danse by Carpeaux and Hercules the Archer by Bourdelle. The second most popular of the famous museums in Paris opens at 9:30. A great way to see these collections is with an audio tour that costs €6, available in English, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, and French.

Location: Musée d'Orsay, Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing 75007 Paris

museums paris

Musée des Arts Forains

If you are looking for something a little different from the usual famous museums in Paris, then Musée des Arts Forains is well worth a visit. Musée des Arts Forains, or the museum of fairground arts in English, is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of carnival objects, including amusement rides, stalls, and other attractions and funfair objects dating back as far as 1850. You can't help but have fun when you step into this other world. To visit the unusual Musée des Arts Forains, you must book an appointment for a guided tour in advance.

Location The Musée des Arts Forains, 53 Av. Des Terroirs De France - 75012 Paris

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