Post Overview: Roundup of the Best Museums in Paris
Paris has long been a champion of art, housing some of the most famous masterpieces of all time in its slew of museums. Every year thousands of folks (myself included) travel across the globe hoping to see the artwork.
Between art made by the French themselves or the global art collected over centuries, you’ll find amazement in the many museums in Paris. But what do you do when you’re only in Paris for a few days and can’t see it all?
You read this article and make a game-plan, that’s what! I’ve been to Paris multiple times (often for months at a time) and have found museums to be an endless source of inspiration.
I’ve been among the millions of visitors to the biggest museums in Paris and also been the only person at often-forgetten museums. Learning is something that never gets old so I try to do as much of it as I can!
In this article I’ve outlined the best museums in Paris, added photos, and included what to see at them. With this guide you can make an educated choice as to which Paris museums you want to prioritize during your trip.
But hey – we have a lot of ground to cover. What do you say we cut the small talk and get to the good stuff?
Tips for visiting Paris’ Museums
Buy your tickets ahead of time: I cannot stress this enough! Museums in Paris are just as popular as the Eiffel Tower so buy your tickets as soon as you start planning your itinerary. It would be heartbreaking to travel thousands of miles only to find out the museum you most-wanted to see is sold out.
Make a list of your “can’t miss” artwork: Thanks to the sheer size of some of the museums in Paris (cough, cough The Louvre) you can easily spend days gawking at all the art. Unfortunately when traveling lolly-gagging isn’t a luxury many of us can afford. Make a list of your must-see artwork and check them off like a grocery list.
Prepare online guides: If you enjoy learning about artwork as much as you enjoy looking at it, guides are worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately tour guides can be expensive and if you’re visiting multiple museums in Paris can add up quickly. I’ll let you in on my personal museum hack: Smarthistory. It’s a free, online resource that walks you through the history and meaning of thousands of pieces of art. Even better, they have a YouTube channel with short videos on much of the art you’ll see, so pop in a headphone and enjoy!
Wear comfortable walking shoes: This should be a given but when visiting museums in Paris you’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking. That’s why you should wear your most comfortable pair of walking shoes! These have been my go-to’s after countless miles.
Hydrate: You might be thinking, “I’m going to the best museums in Paris, not a soccer game” but I’ll let you in on a often glossed-over detail. Most museums in Paris are in old buildings that can’t support air-conditioning. During the summer they can get warm and sweaty, especially later in the day. Therefore don’t forget to hydrate!
Best Museums Paris
If during your visit to Paris you only have time for one museum, let it be The Louvre. Admittedly the dense crowds can be annoying but geez – this place is home to some of the most famous artwork in the world.
The Louvre is a masterpiece, even if you don’t consider yourself a “musuem person.” It was originally built as a fortress before being repurposed as a royal palace. The building officially became a museum in 1793.
That’s right, when our America was still a teenager (17 years old), the Louvre was established. Since then its been collecting art from all corners of the globe, attracting 7.8 million visitors annually.
The building alone is steeped in rich history and one of the reasons The Louvre is among the best museums in Paris. When perusing the artwork it’s hard not to be amazed by museum’s construction, just don’t forget to look up! The ceilings are among the most intricate and beautiful features.
Architecture aside, you can’t sleep on the opportunity to see the Mona Lisa with your own eyes! More impressive than the honorable Mona (in my opinion), is the Coronation of Napoleon. A massive painting depicting — you guessed it — Napoleon’s coronation. It’s the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen (and I visit The Met weekly).
Some folks argue that the Louvre can be skipped on a Paris itinerary for first time visits, but I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logic — the Louvre is next-level busy and chaotic! But why in the world would you miss an opportunity to tour the largest museum in the world?
Of all the best museums in Paris, The Louvre is the city’s crown-jewel. Bring comfortabe shoes and a camera because this monumental museum is one you will want to explore and remember!
Fun fact: Incredibly, there was a time when the museum sat nearly empty. Anticipating the fall of France to the Nazis, The Louvre’s art director organized a mass exodus of artwork. He hid the masterpieces in France’s provinces, saving them from becoming Nazi plunder. Fortunately they’ve all been brought back for your enjoyment.
Must see at The Louvre:
- The Mona Lisa
- The Coronation of Napoleon
- The Winged Victory at Samothrace
I also have a full article covering all the best things to see at The Louvre. Check it out for more suggestions and tips on navigating the behometh of a museum!
Musée de l’Armée
My husband and I ended up spending a few days visiting Paris during our honeymoon. With limited time, we had to prioritize a list of our “can’t miss” items and and seeing Napoleon’s tomb rose high on his list.
With our minds made up we booked tickets not realizing Napoleon’s tomb is inside one of the best museums in Paris, the Musée de l’Armée. Let’s start by chatting about the tomb.
I had no idea what to expect and found myself completely blown away. Housed in the Dome des Invalides, a church steeped in history, the final resting place of Mr. B is something else and needs to be seen to be believed.
For starters, it’s enormous! The tomb looks like it could fit an entire platoon, but nay nay it’s solely for Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s a little ironic the French leader is notorious for being small and has such a behemoth of a tomb.
But the Musée de l’Armée isn’t one of the best museums in Paris solely thanks to the remains of one man. It’s home nearly every weapon imiginable from the time of primitave hunters to the weapons that won the World Wars.
If you’re a history buff you’ll have an amazing time reading about and gazing upon the tools of war. Whether it’s the sword of a Medieval knight or the armor of a Samurai, every minute detail is worth analyzing.
Unfortunately when I visited the section of the museum dedicated to the World Wars was closed for renovations. I’ve heard great things about it so I look forward to returning to one of the best museums in Paris when it reopens (in July of 2023)!
Something to note: The Musée de l’Armee is in what’s known as the Hotel des Invalides, a collection of buildings originally meant to house France’s war veterans. I explain this because I’ve heard the names used interchangeably, so if your cab driver says he’s taking you to Les Invalides don’t panic, you’re headed to the right spot.
Must see at Musée de l’Armée:
- Tomb of Napoleon
- Napoleon’s Pistols
- Medieval Armor
Address: 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France
Neighboring the Hotel des Invalides, Musée Rodin is another one of the best museums in Paris. The museum first opened its doors in 1919, completing a wish of its namesake artist: Auguste Rodin.
To keep a long story short, Auguse Rodin was a renowned French sculptor who was friends with a number of the world’s brightest artists. He used the Hôtel Biron as an art studio for years, and agreed to leave his entire collection to the French state if they agreed to turn the estate into a museum dedicated to his art.
The French state upheld the deal, and the Hôtel Biron is now the home of the Musée Rodin. If you don’t recognize the Rodin’s name you might recognize some of his masterpieces, including The Thinker and The Kiss.
The more than 6,000 sculptures alone would make Musée Rodin one of the best museums in Paris, but wait, there’s more. When Rodin passed in 1917 he left the museum his entire private collection of paintings.
They include work by some of the day’s brightest minds including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso. Rodin continues to prove himself not just a talented artist, but a prolific art collector.
Must see at Musée Rodin:
- Gates of Hell
- The Thinker
- The Waltzers
- Père Tanguy
Address: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
Standing tall along the mighty Seine River is Musée d’Orsay, one of the best museums in France. It’s housed in a (gorgeous) former railway station that was completed in the year 1900.
It wouldn’t be until 1986 that it was converted into a museum, but it hasn’t looked back since. In fact, the Musée d’Orsay was the sixth-most visited art museum in 2022 and second-most visited in France.
Inside you’ll find a collection made up largely of French artists. From paintings to sculptures to even photography, the Musée d’Orsay is an art lover’s Garden of Eden.
You’ll see the long list of usual suspects — Manet, Renoir, Seurat and van Gogh — alongside new-to-you artists waiting to be discovered. The sheer quanitity of notable artwork is reason to include Musée d’Orsay as one of the best museums in Paris.
Must see at Musée d’Orsay:
- The Lion Hunt by Eugene Delacroix
- Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh
- Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
The Centre Pompidou
The Pompidou Center is one of the most popular museums in Paris, as well as being one of its most unique. From the second you arrive the thought of “what exactly am I looking at” is recurring in your head like a scratched CD.
The building looks like a factory thanks to a slew of pipes and metalwork. It isn’t until you notice the futuristic-looking escalator running up the side that you realize it’s not actually a construction zone.
And you should see the inside, it’s home to the National Museum of Modern Art. On Thursdays visiting is one of the best things to do in Paris at night, since the museum is open until 11PM!
With that said you should squeeze a visit to the Centre Pompidou anywhere you can on your schedule. It has more than 140,000 pieces of art in its collection all of which will make your mind do aerobics trying to understand them (it is modern art at the end of the day).
Having said all that let me chat some more about the building, which is a work of art itself. On any given day you’ll find the area in front of it chock-full of locals sitting down and resting their feet.
There’s not many benches but folks get comfy right there on the concrete. I can’t judge, the Centre Pompidou is one of the best museums in Paris even when only viewed from the outside.
Must see at Centre Pompidou:
- Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917.
- Self-Portrait in Drag by Andy Warhol, 1986
- Portrait de la journaliste Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix, 1926
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
Musée Picasso Paris
Pablo Picasso was born in Spain but spent nearly 70 years in France, so it’s not surprising one of the best museums in Paris is dedicated to him. The museum houses thousands of Picasso’s personal belongings including photographs, letters and a selection of more than 5,000 pieces of his art.
You can easily spend hours wandering the museum’s halls and analyzing Picasso’s complex works. He was a master at including symbolism in his paintings. Most of the time it takes deep contemplation to realize what Picasso was trying to say.
Even the Hôtel Salé, the building that houses the museum is a joy to wander. Built in the mid 1600’s its been designated a Historic Monument since 1968. The building is a worthy home to one of the best museums in Paris.
The intricacies of its design take nearly as much time to digest as the paintings. Thanks to masterful stonework at its entrance and the galleries creative layout the museum provides artwork throughout.
There are more than just Picasso’s on display in the museum too. The collection includes works by Auguste-Pierre Renoir and Paul Cézanne to name a few. All in all, this is one of the best museums in Paris for folks who love artwork from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.
Must see at Musée Picasso Paris:
- The Kiss by Pablo Picasso, 1925
- Self Portrait by Pablo Picasso, 1901
- Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso, 1951
Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
More Popular Museums in Paris
Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Musee des Arts et Métiers is one of the best museums in Paris because it takes you on a tour of the world’s greatest inventions. The museum’s name translates to the Museum of Arts and Crafts, but don’t think for a second you’ll be seeing macaroni necklaces or popsicle-stick houses.
There are old-timey airplanes hanging from the ceilings, the first model for the Statue of Liberty and the original Foucault Pendulum (a ball that hangs from the ceiling and swings, proving the Earth’s rotation).
I’m no engineer, but the Musée des Arts et Métiers is engaging and one of the best museums in Paris. Of more than 80,000 items in the museum’s collection 2,500 of the best are on display, so you’ll have plenty to see.
We’re truly fortunate the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts), the folks responsible for the museum, was founded in 1794 and immediately began collecting these scientific artifacts. Otherwise we wouldn’t have one of the best museums in Paris to show them off!
Address: 60 Rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris
Fondation Louis Vuitton
No you guys, I am not taking you shopping. Hell, we’re not even talking about fashion here, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is simply one of the best museums in Paris. It bears the Louis Vuitton name because that’s who sponsored the museum, but it is run completely independent of the luxury-conglomerate’s business.
It opened less than 10 years ago as a magnificent work of art itself, a proper welcome to the its impressive collection inside. I wouldn’t even know how to begin describing the building’s architecture, it looks like a place the Avengers would live. It also has the price tag to match, costing nearly 900 million dollars to build.
Inside the museum you’ll find a striking collection of art including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and a slew of other contemporary artists. In a few decades when the shine wears off I wouldn’t be surprised if the Fondation Louis Vuitton becomes one of the most iconic museums in Paris.
And speaking of which, after 55 years the museum will pass from its private ownership into the hands of the French Government. The transition makes sense too, since the museum is located in a public park owned by the state.
Address: 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris
Musée de l’Orangerie
In the heart of the city inside the Tuileries Garden is the Musée de l’Orangerie, one of the best museums in Paris. Its galleries largely display some of the best art from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art movements.
For those unfamiliar (like I was before visiting) Impressionism was an art movement that originated in France the mid 1800’s. Instead of painting in a studio, artists focused on quickly capturing the a fleeting scene and took their work into the field with them.
The main focus was on the sunlight and a lot of the paintings take place when it is most dynamic, like sunset and sunrise. Post-Impressionism came immediately after and instead of representing how the scene actually looked the artists used colors to express how they saw it and felt it.
The Musee de l’Orangerie is one of the best museums in Paris and has some of the world’s most renowned paintings from these periods. The museum’s crown-jewels are Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. It’s a collection of eight, big paintings spread across two oval shaped room that come together to form an infinity loop (∞).
Address: Jardin des Tuileries, 75001 Paris (Southeast Corner)
Château de Versailles
The million dollar question — should you devote a precious day visiting Paris to the Palace of Versailles. The answer? Of course.
A mere 30 minute train ride from downtown, this used to be the official royal residence of the top dogs until the French Revolution in 1789. Today the palace is one of the best museums in Paris and damn — it’s a joy to explore.
Seeing the Hall of Mirrors (unreal) and Marie Antoinette’s gardens are a must-do for Paris first time visitors! Not to mention the photo-taking opportunities are endless.
In fact, touring the gardens of Versailles with my mom ended up being the most memorable day from our first trip to Paris. It was a very special experience, just make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes so you can make the most of this Paris museum.
Helpful Note: If you’re going to add the Palace of Versailles to your Paris itinerary (as you should!), make sure to book tickets well in advance. This is especially true if you plan on Visiting Paris in the summer. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in the infamous long lines. Here’s the official website to book your tickets.
Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles
Cité des Sciences
Cité des Sciences is a great spot to add to your list of best museums in Paris to visit with kids. The interactive exhibits are sure to get their brains turning, keeping them well entertained for hours.
Located in the Parc de la Villette, this is the largest science museum in all of Europe. With both rotating exhibits and permanent ones, this is something you can look forward to no matter how many times you’ve visited Paris.
Offering a plethora of exhibitions, activities and shows, there will be a lot of ground to cover. If you’re limited on time my best piece of advice is to ask a staff member for a course of action.
Better yet, if you’re a planner, hop on their website and check out the calendar to see what fun things might being happening while you’re in town. This way you can maximize your time enjoying one of the best museums in Paris.
Among the permanent exhibits you’ll find displays that help explain math, sound, space and the brain. Even if you’re visiting without little ones, this is one of the handful of museums in Paris where you’ll be actively learning (like being back in school).
Just be sure to book tickets ahead of time! The Cité des Sciences is one of the most popular museums in Paris hosting more than 5 million visitors annually!
Address: 30 Av. Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris | Purchase tickets here.
Musée Eugene Delacroix
Eugene Delacroix was a French painter and leader in the romantic art movement. Instead of merely replicating scenes in history, he mixed emotion into his work. You’ll find a lot of his paintings show movement and action, not just still and posed scenes (which was the norm before romanticism).
Luckily one of the best things to do in St. Germain is to swing by his former apartment, which has been transformed into a one of the best museums in Paris. There you’ll be welcomed by the artist’s paintings that showcase his career from beginning to end.
There’s also letters, sketches and photographs that give visitors a behind-the-curtain peek into the painter’s school of thought. His approach to painting was unique for the time and inspired future artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Incredibly, the Paris museum is seldom busy. Visiting is a nice reprieve from the bustle of city life. There’s even a courtyard in the apartment where you can simmer in any possible inspiration you gleaned from the museum.
The Musée National Eugene Delacroix is open every day except for Tuesday and tickets can (and should) be booked online.
Since the Delacroix Museum is managed by the Louvre, another one of Paris’ best museums, you have the option of booking a combination ticket that allows you to visit both museums within a 48 hour span.
Address: 6 Rue de Furstemberg, 75006 Paris
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Initially started in 1635 as the royal garden of Medicinal Plants, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle was formally launched in 1793 during the French Revolution.
Translating to the National Museum of Natural History this is one of the best museums in Paris for science-lovers. You’ll get to enjoy and learn all about the natural world and the life you find on it.
It’s even nicknamed “The Louvre of Natural Science” so you already know it’ one of Paris’ best museums.
The Grand Gallery of Evolution, which is situated at the end of the main lane and faces the formal garden, is the museum’s biggest and most well-known gallery. Visit and be amazed by the full-size line-up of African mammals.
Along with a ton of amazing animal skeletons and life-size replicas, a great picnicking area nearby, and a few unique critters that kids normally adore, you’ll find limitless entertainment for both kids and adults.
And if you’ve used up your budget visiting other Paris musuems the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle has a stunning garden you can enjoy for free. The Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden of Paris and covers nearly 70 acres. It’s on a quieter part of town so the garden offers a tranquil atmosphere.
Address: 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris | Purchase tickets here.
The oldest of the museums run by the City of Paris, the Musée Carnavelet tells the story of Paris itself. Here you can take a trip down memory lane and learn about the moments in history that made the City of Light what it is today.
The earliest work covers what the capital would’ve in ancient times, dating as far back as 6,500 BC. The museum is where I first learned of the Parisii, an ancient people which the city derives its name that lived along the Seine as early as 250 BC.
You can also walk through a series of rooms showcasing what a Parisian home would’ve looked like at different points in history. From humble apartments to palatial estates, the French capital has been a hub for people of all socioeconomic standings. You should take a peek behind the curtain at Musée Carnavalet.
Of course you can’t tell the story of the globally-significant city without mention of the country’s revolutions. The Musée Carnavalet is one of the best museums in Paris to learn about the bloody French revolutions and how they helped alter the world we live in today.
Adorning the walls of the museum you’ll find a vast collection of Parisian art, freezing the city in moments that capture its essence. One of the prominent painters featured is Jean Béraud, a man I’ve greatly come to admire. Let me tell you why:
As a travel photographer I look for moments that may seem ordinary but encapsulate the feeling of a city. Jean Béraud did that with a paintbrush instead of a camera, and his work helps the Musée Carnavalet be one of the best museums in Paris.
Best of all, the permanent collection at Musée Carnavalet is free to the public. It’s one of the best museums in Paris for those on a strict budget. I should also mention the museum boasts a gorgeous courtyard (that’s also free). Here you’ll find an inexpensive cafe you can visit for a much needed caffeine-boost.
Something to note: The oldest museum in Paris is the Louvre, but it’s officially ran by the government of France. The Musée Carnavalet is run by the city of Paris.
Address: 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris
Musée du Parfum
The French were not the first to create perfume, but boy have they mastered the craft. With so many luxury designers from France in the market (Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior) it’s easy to forget that perfume-making is a science that has taken thousands of years to perfect.
That’s why the Musée du Parfum is one of the best museums in Paris for a fun and out of the ordinary experience. As you walk through the small exhibits you can learn all about the techniques used to make perfume, how they’ve changed and the key ingredients.
Unfortunately the museum doesn’t have much that will put your nostrils to use, but there is a gift-shop at the end where you can sample the scents. This is one of the smaller museums in Paris, but I’d still say it’s worth the stop.
And when you learn that it’s one of the few museums in Paris that will let you visit for free there really isn’t an excuse not to visit. So long as you don’t end up buying anything at the gift-shop you can enjoy this experience for a whopping grand total of €0.
Something that caught my eye during my visit to the Musée du Parfum is the perfume making class. It sounds like a fun date night idea at one of the best museums in Paris. Unfortunately I just didn’t have enough days in my trip to partake. Classes start at €95 and you get to even take your perfume home at the end of the workshop.
Address: 9 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris
More of a gallery than a museum, Dali Paris is a must-see for fans of surreal art and more specifically Salvador Dali. The Spanish painter was one of the leading art figures for most of the 20th century and helped inspire today’s contemporary artists.
The Paris museum boasts more than 300 Dali originals including paintings, sculptures and etchings. For those unfamiliar wit the artist its hard not be stunned, intrigued and honestly a little confused.
This is because Dali was a leader in the surrealist art movement. In surrealism, artists aim to free the unconscious mind and their creations often distort reality and are heavy in symbolism. All this to say, this is a museum in Paris that will give your brain a workout, you’ll really have to think to find meaning in the work.
With that said this might not be the best museum in Paris for folks who just want to see historical paintings or traditional art. It is however located in Montmartre, one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods so you should really consider swinging by if you’re in the area.
Address: 11 Rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris
You should visit the Petit Palais even if it’s just for a picture. The Paris art museum looks like it belongs in a princess movie! With that said, you’d be missing a truly masterful display of art so give yourself the time to see inside.
Originally built for the 1900 World Fair the building was meant to impress guests and show off the might of French engineering. Stopping me in my tracks more than 100 years later, I think its safe to say it succeeded.
Even better, the museum has a grand collection of (mostly French) art including paintings, sculptures and furniture. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is one of the best museums in Paris for those looking for world-famous art, but rather for those looking for an entertaining afternoon walk.
Again, not to sound like a broken record, but the buildings architecture is jaw-dropping. It could be home to the most hideous art in the world and I’d still include it as one of the best museums in Paris.
Because the Petit Palais is one of the City of Paris’ museums its permanent collection is free to visit. This makes it the perfect spot to add to your itinerary after a fun day at the neighboring Hotel des Invalides or Champs Elysee.
Address: Av. Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris (near the Pont Alexandre III Bridge)
So we just got done chatting about the Petit Palais, and if you look across the street you’ll see the Grand Palais! It literally looks like the Petit Palais’ older brother, which is not nearly as cute but stronger and imposing.
It too is the home of one of the best museums in Paris after being created for the 1900 World Fair. The building is used as an exposition space and in 2024 will host the Olympic finals for both fencing and taekwondo.
Fortunately it also has permanent wings that can be viewed for free. These include the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais (Grand Palais National Galleries). The collection includes lifelike stone statues and substantial paintings.
Unfortunately the Grand Palais closed its doors in 2021 to began an extensive remodel. The city is trying to get the palace done in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Hopefully we don’t have to wait long before getting to enjoy one of the best museums in Paris again.
Address: 3 Av. du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris
Jeu de Paume
Found in the Tuileries Garden near the Place de la Concorde, Jeu de Paume is one of the best photography museums in Paris. As a photographer myself, I knew I had to visit.
It was such a breath of fresh air to see photographs displayed off a phone screen or laptop. The museum has projectors and prints plastering images of all sizes for you to admire.
And the photography styles vary too. One minute you can be drooling over an ingenious black and white portrait and the next you’re looking at a colorful photo that captures everyday life. Not every image is a stereotypical and abstract street photos (but some are) meaning there is something here for everyone.
If you’re wondering why the Paris museum is in the Tuileries Garden I’ll explain. It’s because the building was created in the mid 1800’s by Napoleon III for jeu de paume, which we now call tennis. Over the course of its 150+ year history its also served as an extension of The Louvre and storage room for looted art by the Nazis during WWII.
Something to note: Two museums are near each other in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. The Jeu du Paume is the building near the Rue de Rivoli and the Musée de l’Orangerie is the one near the Seine River.
Address: 1 Pl. de la Concorde, 75008 Paris
Musée du Quai Branly
Lets say in the off-chance you’re visiting Paris and want to visit a museum that doesn’t cover French history or art. Where do you go? Hmm. I got it! You visit the Musée du Quai Branly! It’s a museum in Paris that covers the indiginous peoples of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.
It’s one of the newest museums in Paris. The Musée du Quai Branly opening in 2006 and it hasn’t taken long to establish itself as one of the most popular.
After only a decade the museum was hosting more than 1,000,000 people annually! Its location near the Eiffle Tower means it’s in the vicinity of a lot of tourists that will continue to visit.
I’ll admit the museum has been intertwined in the fierce debate of whether to repatriate items attained through colonial conquest to their countries of origin. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it!
There’s more than one million items in its collection. Of the million, approximately 3,500 of the best on display at any given time.
As you wander the expertly curated exhibits you’ll see everything from clothing to art to tools used by people all over the world. They also host temporary echibitions and share artifacts with other museums. Therefore there’s always reason to swing by this popular Paris museum.
Address: 37 Quai Jacques Chirac, 75007 Paris
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
We live in a world full of disposable photgraphy thanks to the likes of social media. Thus it’s easy for talented and artistic photographers to fall through the cracks.
Luckily one of the best museums in Paris is the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (European House of Photography). The museum is completely dedicated to the art of photography and sharing it with the world!
At the museum, instead of scrolling through your feed, you walk amongst the photos themselves. You’ll see a little bit of everything including photo-journalism, lifestyle images and creative portraits.
Visiting is one of the best things to do in the Paris neighborhood of Le Marais. This is especially true if you fancy yourself creative! Seeing a photo printed and not just on a screen offers new perspectives, and odds are you’ll walk away having learned something or being inspired.
Plus the museum also has a variety of temporary exhibits throughout the year. Even if you’ve already been this is one of the best museums in Paris to keep coming back to. Odds are the Maison Européenne de la Photographie will likely have something new.
Address: 5/7 Rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris
Musée Marmottan Monet
When Paul Marmottan donated a former hunting lodge and art collection in 1934 to the Académie des Beaux-Arts the Musée Marmottan Monet was born. The Paris museum was made even greater when Michel Monet, Claude Monet’s son and heir, donated his fathers work to the museum in 1966.
Of the works donated Monet’s, Impression, Sunrise is the crown jewel. It depicts a hazy sunrise with a fiery sun on the horizon over two small rowboats. The painting is a masterpiece and is credited with giving the Impressionest art movement its name.
In a notorious 1985 heist five gunmen stole Impression, Sunrise from the museum along with eight other paintings. Fortunately the police were able to arrest the criminals and recover the paintings five years later. They had a value more than $12 million dollars!
Today the painting hangs triumphantly in a wing of the museum dedicated entirely to Monet’s work. The revolutionary art piece is enough to give the Musée Marmottan Monet a spot amongst the best museums in Paris alone.
But for those with a wider palette Monet isn’t the only artist at the museum. It’s also the home to pieces made by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, and more.
Address: 2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris
Musée de la Vie Romantique
Musee de la Vie Romantique translates to the Museum of Romantic Life. It’s one of the best museums in Paris and the name alone attracts both locals and tourists alike in droves!
The museum was the home-base of painter Ary Scheffer, a close friend to the second-to-last King of France, Louis-Phillipe. Scheffer also had a relationship with his neighbor George Sands (Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin). She was one of the most popular writers in Europe at the time.
The Paris museum is small but has just enough room to cover Scheffer and Sands’ work. There’s also a sprinkling of more artists’ pieces throughout. The museum is also one of the best free museums in Paris. The only part of it that costs money are its temporary exhibits.
The museum’s garden is just as charming as the building. It’s a point of inspiration for anyone trying to get creative juices flowing. Sitting under the shadow of the large tree you’ll find ample space to draw, write or photograph.
Just be sure to arrive in the morning because the free cost of admission makes this one of the most popular museums in Paris. Every chair will be full by noon!
Address: 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris, France
Home to one of the greatest collections of Italian art in France, the Musée Jacquemart-André is both the opulent former home of a wealthy family and one of the best museums in Paris.
The museum is broken up into five unique sections revolving around a different part of the estate. Rather than feeling like you’re walking through a museum’s galleries it feels like you’re walking through a palace (and the palace is the museum).
The museum’s five parts are the State Apartments, the Informal Apartments, the Winter Garden, the Private Apartments and (my favorite) the Italian Museum. As you walk through the rooms try to imagine what it would be like to live there.
Some of the famous artists represented include Donatello, Vittore Carpaccio and Jacques-Louis David. With that said the private collection includes so much it’d take me days to write.
There’s also an important detail you should know. The museum will be closing for more than a year beginning in August, 2023 for renovations. Be sure to squeeze in a visit before it shutters its doors, it’s one of the best museums in Paris!
Address: 158 Bd Haussmann, 75008 Paris
I figured the last Paris museum I mention should be a fun one. What’s more fun than gorging in chocolate? It’s a hit for kids and adults alike because the unifying power of sugar remains undefeated.
There are two experiences you can choose from when visiting Choco-Story:
The first is the classic ticket. With this entry you’ll learn all about the history of chocolate and even the ability to meet the chocolatiers. You’ll also get to sample more than ten different kinds of chocolate.
The second ticket will give you all the same access, plus you’ll get to partake in the chocolate workshop. During the workshop you’ll spend 45 minutes working with a chocolatier creating their own candy bar!
Not only is creating your own chocolate bar one of reasons Choco-Story Paris is one of the best museums in Paris, it doubles as a great souvenir. Along with the memory of the workshop I can’t think of a better experience!
Address: 28 Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle, 75010 Paris | Purchase tickets here.
The best museums in Paris (Post Summary)
In sum, the best museums in New York City are:
- The Louvre
- Musée de l’Armée
- Musée Rodin
- Musée d’Orsay
- The Centre Pompidou
- Musée Picasso Paris
- Musée des Arts et Métiers
- Fondation Louis Vuitton
- Musée de l’Orangerie
- Château de Versailles
- Cité des Sciences
- Musée Eugene Delacroix
- Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
- Musée Carnavalet
- Musée du Parfum
- Dalí Paris
- Petit Palais
- Grand Palais
- Jeu de Paume
- Musée du Quai Branly
- Maison Européenne de la Photographie
- Musée Marmottan Monet
- Musée de la Vie Romantique
- Musée Jacquemart-André
- Choco-Story Paris
Map of the can’t miss museums in Paris
And there you have it my friends, my personal list of cool museums in Paris, based on first-hand experience. I hope you enjoyed the post!
Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or suggestions below, it’s always nice to hear from you. 🙂