The Definitive Guide to the Best Museums in Paris
With so many museums to see, we want to make sure that your trip to Paris hits all the best ones.
When it comes to indulging in culture, history and art, Paris is up there as one of the best places to visit in the world. Renowned for having incredible curated collections, exhibitions and jam-packed galleries full to the brim with treasures, the museums in Paris are truly unparalleled.
But with so many to choose from it can be tricky to prioritise, so without further ado here’s Plum Guide’s round-up of the best museums in Paris.
The big hitters: The Best of Paris' Museums
The A-list of Parisian museums often come with impressively long lines - check out our list and follow our advice so you don't spend all of your time waiting for something to happen.
When compiling a list of the best museums in Paris it would simply be wrong of us to not include the Louvre. With 35 000 works of art displayed in 300 different rooms, the Louvre truly is a feast for the eyes. Quite the behemoth it can be fairly difficult to conquer in one day and if you’re set on laying your eyes on the Mona Lisa (maybe don’t bother) and Venus de Milo, then you need to plan your trip in advance.
To avoid the queues we’d recommend using a lesser known entrance like the one in the Carousel du Louvre shopping centre, as beautiful as the Pyramid entrance is - you’ll be standing and staring at it for a very long time. It’s also worth remembering the whole museum in closed every Tuesday, so don’t waste time going then.
An interesting building both inside and out, the iconic Pompidou museum houses the largest collection of modern art in Europe (really only rivalled by the MoMa in NYC). Just some of the artists that feature include Matisse, Giacometti, Dali, Rothko and Pollock, Sonia and Robert Delaunay as well as Picasso. This museum should be the number one stop for modern art fans.
Enter the former Gare d’Orsay and you’ll see that it now holds the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art from around the world. What could be seen as the younger and more manageable sister of the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay is home to an impressive collection of artists - Monet, Manet and Cezanne to name a few.
Musée de l’Orangerie
A short walk from the Louvre in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens and next to the Place de la Concorde sits the Musée de l’Orangerie - most notable as a permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet that hang in the oval rooms of the museum. An impressive sight to behold, it’s worth checking out.
Something a little less traditional: Unique Places to See
To avoid battling the crowds at the Louvre and for something a little less mainstream, why not take a relaxed tour of these spots?
Louis Vuitton Fondation
For the fashion fanatics and culture vultures alike, try a visit to the Louis Vuitton foundation. Founded in 2006 as an art museum and cultural centre sponsored by the LVMH group. Inside you’ll find works by modern artist Jeff Koons, Gilbert & George as well as John Basquiat. The love it or hate it facade was designed by Frank Gehry and depicts a boat’s sails inflated by the wind - worth a visit just to judge for yourself.
An entirely glass building surrounded by a beautifully landscaped modern woodland, Fondation Cartier is a mini oasis within the capital. Upon entering you’ll discover museum displays and exhibits by contemporary artists from around the world. Featuring such treasures like Everything that Rises Must Converge by Sarah Sze and The Monument to Language by James Lee Byars - essential viewing for modern art fans.
Palais de Tokyo
Another one for contemporary art buffs, the Palais de Tokyo is a bustling hub for emerging international artists. As well as being one of the city’s best springboards for new talent it also holds host to one of the hippest spots in Paris: the Mediterranean brasserie Les Grands Verres takes museum dining to the next level and is worth a visit alone. Having recently welcomed nudists inside in a show of openness, this cool museum truly embodies the Parisian spirit.
In 1919 a museum was opened dedicated to the works of French sculptor and all round genius Auguste Rodin. Spread over two sites: the hotel Biron - once his workshop and just outside Paris in his old home, the expansive collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs, and 7,000 objets d’art. Take the time to hunt down the Thinker and ponder the meaning of life whilst you’re at it.
Musée des Arts Decoratifs
One for the design lovers, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is a must see. Holding host to some incredible exhibitions in the past, the term Art Deco was coined in these hallowed halls. Home to a collection of furniture, interior design, objets d’arts, ceramics and glasswares this museum could be seen as an equivalent to the V&A in London, but with french flair!
The Museums of Montmartre
On a tour of museums where you’re embracing all the culture, art and history Paris has to offer you must take a trip to Montmartre, the home of art during the Belle Epoque. Nestled in these streets are some wonderful museums deep in the heart of these artist’s homes. A trip to Montmartre is guaranteed to add depth and context to your understanding of Parisian art.
Musée de Montmartre
Renoir’s first address in Paris and home to such artists as Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo, the Musee de Montmartre is a shrine to Parisian art history. Down a charming cobbled street round the back of the Sacre Coeur, you’ll find the house situated at the back of the garden,. The permanent exhibitions are a treat to behold, evoking the joie de vivre of a generation of artists rallying against the elite bourgeoisie.
Musée de l'Érotisme
In the belly of the Parisian underworld nestled in a neighbourhood known for its sex shops, take a trip to the Musée de l'Érotisme to gawk at phallic pottery and erotic art whilst learning about the history of brothels in Paris and ancient fertility symbols. Sprawled across seven floors you’ll receive a thorough erotic education.
This beautiful art gallery, is an independent platform for exhibitions, publications and education around contemporary art in all forms be that photography, video, film as well as new media. A tour of this museum is bound to inspire. Aside from this Le Bal cafe is a wonderful hidden gem for brunch offering french food with an Austrian twist.
La Halle St-Pierre
A museum dedicated to Art Brut - art that’s made without traditional fine art training. Originally started as a cultural project, the museum now boasts an impressive collection of contemporary, modern and pop culture artworks. The museum is also home to an awesome creative bookstore and the magazine ‘HEY! Modern art & pop culture’.