Top museums in Paris: In Paris, a special function is automatically launched: to see beauty everywhere, without interruption and in high resolution. And if Berlin tempts with museum techno raves or history frozen in architecture, then the French capital prepares for your eyes the absolute bliss of the art world – from the classics to the wildest modern. How to please yourself if famous museums like the Louvre and the Pompidou Center are not enough for you?
(Musee du Louvre)
The Louvre is so famous that its name has become a household name. Although the majority of visitors invariably crowd around the Mona Lisa (Hall 7 of the Denon Wing), Venus de Milo (Hall 16 of the Sully Wing), Liberty Leading the People (Hall 75 of the Denon Wing), or The Prisoner (Hall 4 of the Denon Wing), do not rush to hide the card on this in your pocket. The museum’s collection covers space-time on a colossal scale: from the Ancient East and Egypt to the masterpieces of the 19th century. There are separate rooms with Islamic art, antique, and later sculptures, graphics, exhibits of the decorative and applied world. And even Napoleon’s apartments. And along with this expanse – various temporary exhibitions. The championship, of course, is for painting in any of its guises, from huge canvases to frescoes and paintings.
#see more: Don’t forget that the Louvre is a real palace. In a building with three wings and several levels, there is a risk of spending the day not contemplating the beauty, but in search of the “very” exhibit: instead of a compass, arm yourself with applications for smartphones. To make the visit more informative, download the audio guide there too. And so that the route from an endless and confusing number of halls turns into a harmonious system, choose one of 29 thematic visits: from classics (tours through the paintings of Delacroix, Italian Renaissance artists, applied art) to a remake of The Da Vinci Code or a hike in the footsteps of Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Each option is designed for a specific amount of time. Another bonus – the only “touching” place in the Louvre, tactile gallery with copies of famous sculptures.
- Address: Palais Royal
- Working hours: day off – Tuesday; on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays 9.00 – 18.00, on Wednesdays and Fridays 9.00 – 21.45. Closed on 1 January, 1 and 8 May, 25 December.
- Price: standard ticket € 15, € 17 – online. Visitors under the age of 18, people with disabilities, and some other groups are free. If you are under 26 years old (with a passport of any country), you can come to the Louvre free of charge every Friday after 18.00. Don’t forget the document!
(Center national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou)
The Pompidou Center is a complex that connects theaters and cinemas, the public information library (Bibliothèque publique d’information), the Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique) in an adjoining building on Stravinsky Square and, finally, the Museum of Modern Art with a collection of over 60,000 exhibits. This is a celebration of visual culture. There are 40 exhibition halls on the third and fourth floors: products of painting, photography, design, architecture with video, installations, and performances happily coexist there. Temporary exhibitions occupy Level 1 South Mezzanine and Grande Galerie Level 6. All exhibits are no older than 1905. The museum part of the Pompidou Center will carry you on the waves of modernism. Open your eyes wider to dot all the cubisms, fauvism, functionalisms, and other -isms, to learn more about pop art, new realism, and experimental art. Who are the tenants in Pompidou? In addition to warm greetings from Chagall, Malevich, and Kandinsky, here you will find Modigliani, Matisse, Dali, and the late Picasso.
#see more: The building of the center itself, turned inside out, should be recognized as a special beauty. In the chaos of pipes, the ultimate logic is hidden: so that the insides give way to the exhibits, from the facade the box is enveloped by all the museum communications, painted in different colors. Ventilation pipes are blue, plumbing pipes are green, electricity is in yellow, and escalators and elevators are in red. When you have managed to navigate outside, make an app on your mobile as a guide inside. … Get ready for tough audiovisual: the museum is equipped with both screens and Linguaphone’s. If you don’t have enough smartphone knowledge, you can get on an English-language excursion only once a week, on Saturdays. In addition to the photogenic “insides” of the center, do not forget about an additional secret – the observation deck above, where the whole of Paris, from Montmartre to Notre Dame, poses.
- Address: 9 Rue Beaubourg
- Working hours: 11.00 – 21.00 (closed on Tuesday). On Thursdays, the exposition on the 6th level is open until 23.00. On December 24 and 31, the museum is open until 19.00. May 1 – closed.
- Price: standard ticket € 14, € 11 – concessionary, visitors under 18 years old – free. You can also go for free on the first Sunday of the month.
(Musee d’Orsay et Le Musee de l’Orangerie)
The final point in the pilgrimage of lovers of impressionism (and neo-, and post-, and not only it). The Musée d’Orsay is justly famous for the paintings of masters of the XIX-XX centuries – the works of Manet (headed by Olympia and Breakfast on the Grass) and Monet’s plein airs, Renoir’s “dances”, ballerinas, bathers and Degas horses (of which sculptures are not less treasure than paintings), Gauguin’s Tahitians, Cezanne’s fruits, Toulouse-Lautrec’s cabaret circus, Van Gogh’s nights and fields. By the way, you can also see the famous self-portrait of the latter here. As for painting, the Musée d’Orsay contains everything that, from an excess of popularity, even becomes prints on socks. But there is no end to visual abundance. Go to the realists at least for the sake of “The Origin of the World” by Curbe (together with Delacroix, Ingres and sculpture until 1870, he occupies the first floor), on the second level, enjoy the academics,
The Orangerie Museum naturally continues the d’Orsay exhibition. On its first, lower, floor, there is the same impressionist collective (Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cezanne), along with them – Gauguin, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso. The second level makes the Orangerie truly a greenhouse, a variation on the Giverny garden. It is in its oval halls that Monet’s “Water Lilies” grow on eight long curved panels. Soft light is especially good for seeing details.
#see more: These museums are so beautiful that you don’t want to blink so as not to waste time. As if guessing the desire of visitors to take some of the paintings with them, you will find everything from stylized stationery and mini-replicas to albums and jewelry in local stores. In order not to part with beauty for a long time, a video gallery is waiting for you on the website of the Museum d’Orsay, and virtual water lilies on the page of the Orangerie Museum.
- Address: 62 Rue de Lille (Musée d’Orsay), Jardin des Tuileries (Musée de l’Orangerie)
- Opening hours: The Museum d’Orsay is open on a schedule from 9.30 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays) and until 9.45 pm on Thursdays. Orangerie Museum: Wednesday – Monday 9.00 – 18.00, last visitors start at 17.15.
- Price: a general ticket to the Museums d’Orsay and Orangerie (for one visit for 4 days) costs € 18. A standard ticket to the Musée d’Orsay is € 14 (€ 11 – concessionary), in the Orangerie – € 9 (€ 6, 50 – preferential). Visitors under 18 do not need to pay to enter. The preferential rate for the Musée d’Orsay (€ 11 per ticket) is valid for admission from 16.30 (except Thursdays) and from 18.00 on Thursdays. And also on Heritage Days, September 15 and 16.
(Musee des arts decoratifs de Paris)
Taking pictures against the background of such carpets is not a sin. The exhibits of the Museum of Decorative Arts form a history of luxury from the Middle Ages to the present. Here you can find tapestries, toys, jewelry, graphic and painting works (including Tiepolo, J. Daville, and Gauguin), pieces of furniture, and interiors. This is what IKEA looks like in heaven. Temporary exhibitions deserve a separate curtsey: when, for example, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior, a collection of the first haute couture was exhibited in the museum, there was no less queue than in the neighboring Louvre.
# see more: The ticket price includes an audio guide, so you don’t have to guess who sat on this Art Deco chair. All themed areas are conveniently marked on the museum’s website. The Museum of Decorative Arts, with masterpieces applied by default, offers workshops for both children (from 4 years old) and for adults. What if you do it so well that a new exhibit is born?
- Address: 107 Rue de Rivoli
- Working hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 – 18.00, Thursday – until 21.00 (temporary exhibitions), Monday – day off.
- Price: standard ticket – € 11, concession ticket – € 8.50.
(Palais de Tokyo)
Tokyo Palace, named after the former name of the street, in spite of it, will not pull you into the art of the East. But it will not hesitate to remind you why eyes and the entire set of senses are needed. In one of the wings of the building, there is a completely Parisian Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art mam.paris.fr. The lower floors house a permanent collection of sculptures, paintings, and video art, while the upper ones host temporary exhibitions. Here, in chronological order (from Fauvism and Cubism to the Paris School) and in a pleasant company of each other, Chagall, Braque, Derain, Delaunay, Leger, Modigliani, Picasso, and others are located. Be sure to go to the Matisse Hall, where the versions of his “Parisian Dance” are located, and to the hall of one work, “The Light of Electricity” by Raoul Dufy. This 250-panel mural tells the story of electricity from antiquity to modern power plants.
The second wing is occupied by the Center for Contemporary Creativity. The only permanent exhibits there is the cafe floor, painted by Taiwanese artist Michael Lin, and the portrait windows by Beat Streuly. The Center hosts disputes, performances, visuals, and temporary exhibitions in all spheres of creativity from cinema, literature, and choreography to fashion, design, sculpture, and painting.
#see more: What is the statue at the entrance? Since 1948, Bourdelle’s “France” has been working on the open terrace 1948: the first thing she greeted was the end of the war. Complement the powerful visual component of the Palace itself with a pre-downloaded map, workshops, and tours. Even free, but only if you are a parles français.
- Address: 13 Avenue du Président Wilson
- Working hours: 12.00 – 00.00, Tuesday – day off.
- Price: standard ticket – € 12, concession ticket – € 9.
- Visual treasures
(L’Atelier des Lumieres)
It all started with the art fund Fondation Culturespaces, which helped to create the Carrières de Lumières project with the exhibition “Gauguin, Van Gogh, Painters of Color”. In 2012, this was the beginning of the digital revolution for museums of classical painting. The atelier, opened in 2018 in the womb of a 19th-century steel factory, became the first digital museum of fine arts. This is a combo of works by famous authors and their complete digital transformation. The walls of the space become a gigantic concrete canvas, onto which the products of pop art or mosaics, collages, and paintings by Klimt, Bruegel, Chagall, Bosch, Michelangelo are projected. Exhibitions are constantly updated. And the original soundtracks for each exhibition will help you completely break the connection with space and time.
# see more: Digital Museum – please, with digital tickets. The Atelier administration strongly recommends booking tickets online from Monday to Friday. And on weekends, it does not leave visitors with a choice at all, closing the cashier. An audio guide is hardly needed here and a map is unlikely to come in handy: once you find yourself in the center of your favorite paintings, just keep your eyes open.
- Address: 13 Avenue du Président Wilson
- Working hours: Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 18.00, Friday – Sunday 10.00 – 19.00.
- Price: standard ticket – € 14.50. Benefits by age: children under 5 years old – free, young people from 5 to 25 years old – € 9.50, pensioners (over 65 years old) – € 13.50. There are “family” tickets.
The A42 Street Art Museum prefers to call itself a collection. In the four basements of the art territory, urban art lives in its diversity: graffiti, installations, and digital projects. Your attention will be presented to 150 works, among the authors of which are Banksy, Miss Van, Swoon, Speedy Graphito, Boris, Jacques Villeglé – a total of 20 artists.
# see more: The real space of the street art museum is much larger than the modest A42 – it’s all the streets of Paris. To see the collection with your own eyes and visit the epicenter of street art, regularly update the site and catch a fresh schedule for visits.
- Address: 96 Boulevard Bessières
- Working hours: Tuesday, Saturday.
- Price: free, but with obligatory preliminary registration.
Petit Palais (Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris)
If you do not have time to visit the Louvre but touch the classic art of hunting, you will have a direct road to Petit Palais. Where, moreover, free admission. The City Museum of Fine Arts has an enviable collection of paintings, sculptures, icons, and adjacent to the – jewelry, furniture, dishes, and other joys of decorative art. In the likeness of Big Brother, the Small Palace houses exhibitions of Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, and Oriental art. And the chronicle of canvases starts from the icons of the Middle Ages and reaches the most sonorous names – Rubens, Poussin, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Ingres, Gericault, and others. The authors of the sculptures are also of choice – take at least Rodin, Dala, Renoir, and Maillol.
#see more: Download a map or take an audio guide for € 5 as a companion, so as not to get lost in the grandeur of the interiors (and they deserve attention). Particular beauty, where mosaic floors and marble-faced walls are crowned with frescoed ceilings, can be found in the rotunda at the entrance and in the main gallery of the museum. After running through the exhibition halls, be sure to check out the museum’s gift shop. In addition to the standard pile of beautiful but of little use gizmos, here you can buy something for your home. For example, tableware.
- Address: Avenue Winston Churchill
- Working hours: 10.00 – 18.00 (the ticket office closes at 17.15), Monday – day off. On Fridays, temporary exhibitions are open until 21.00.
- Price: admission to the permanent exhibition is free, ticket prices for temporary exhibitions vary, some groups of visitors may enter for free.
Paris in faces
Among the garden with tulips rises the Biron Palace. In the mansion and in the park, the largest collection of works by Auguste Rodin is exhibited (you can count 6600 sculptures alone), including the famous Thinker, The Kiss, Beethoven, Ugolino, and The Gates of Hell. Along with documents and photographs, the museum contains many creations that have frozen at different stages of work, starting with sketches. Despite the name, the walls of the palace are remembered not only by Monsieur Rodin but by the entire art elite – artists and sculptors, poets, musicians, and dancers. Among the guests at one time were, for example, Jacques Cocteau and Henri Matisse.
#see more: Together with the works of Rodin and his beloved Comilla Claudel (the latter has a separate wing), the museum contains paintings by Van Gogh, Manet and Renoir bought by the sculptor. It would seem, where in Paris they are not? The file “How to use the museum” will help you to understand the topography of the park complex, the palace, and the chapel. An alternative to the audio guide (€ 6) will be a summary of the trip to the museum. And, of course, do not forget to capture yourself in the pose of a thinker next to the famous sculpture.
- Address: 77-79 Rue de Varenne
- Opening hours: 10.00 – 17.45 (the ticket office closes at 17.15), Monday – day off. The museum is closed on May 1, January 1, and December 25. On December 24 and 31, it works according to a special schedule.
- Price: permanent collection, garden and exhibition – € 10 ( concessional – € 4 or € 7), garden only – € 4 (concessionary – € 2). Certain groups of visitors are admitted free of charge.
(Maison de Balzac)
In the most aristocratic suburb of Passy, and now in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, Balzac lived under a pseudonym and hiding from creditors. The house museum has carefully preserved the atmosphere of that time. On the ground floor, you will find a library with manuscripts and publications of the writer, and on the upper levels – an exhibition about his life and work. All this, of course, is not without the works of famous French artists.
#see more: Pay attention to details. The inquisitive gaze will open both small earthenware figurines of the characters of the “Human Comedy”, and drafts of texts with lines crossed out in the process. For a closer look at the details, download the virtual tour. And not to miss the current events will help a special calendar.
- Address: 47 Rue Raynouard
- Working hours: 10.00 – 18.30, Monday – day off.
- Price: free, € 4 – ticket to temporary exhibitions.
(Maison de Victor Hugo)
Here the writer lived with his family for sixteen years and created the most famous works. The apartment occupies a solid 280 square meters. All rooms are furnished and decorated as they were during Hugo’s lifetime: with paintings in massive frames and carved furniture – practically a branch of the Museum of Decorative Arts. The first and rare editions, manuscripts, drawings of the author are also kept here. But you come here not so much as to the museum, as to visit Victor. And you become the same welcome guest as Liszt, Rossini, Balzac, and Merimee once did.
#see more: Something happens every week at the Hugo House Museum. But it is more interesting than events and thematic excursions to try to see in a famous author not a writer, but a person. In the “Chinese living room”, where the walls, ceiling, and fireplace are buried in oriental ornaments, you will open it like a lover of porcelain plates, and in the Gothic-style dining room – a small and not suffering Middle Ages.
- Address: 6 Place des Vosges
- Working hours: 10.00 – 18.00, Monday – day off.
- Price: free, € 6-8 – ticket to temporary exhibitions.
(Musee National Eugene Delacroix)
If your interest in Delacroix’s painting does not end at Liberty on the Barricades, take a look at the artist’s house museum. This is his last apartment. From time to time eminent works are exhibited here, but at the permanent place of residence, there are only 20 of Delacroix’s paintings and not the most famous ones. But they are exhibited surrounded by things that belonged to the artist: even the palette and easel are left as if he would return immediately. The house museum contains sketches, sketches, and drawings. Among the latter are drawings for the frescoes of the Church of San Sulpice, the painting of which the painter considered his work of life. And the frescoes are still there.
# see more: When you have enough of looking at the collection of faience, candlesticks, and souvenirs from Morocco, you read all the artist’s secrets in the diaries and walk up and down the garden with a rose garden – go to the thematic promenade. If everything goes according to plan, you won’t be able to look at Delacroix’s canvases for another ten years.
- Address: 6 Rue de Furstemberg 6
- Opening hours: 9.30 – 17.30, closed on Tuesday. Every first Thursday of the month the museum is open until 21.00. Closed on May 1, January 1, and December 25.
- Price: standard ticket € 7, free for some groups of visitors. You can also get in free of charge with a ticket from the Louvre.
(Musee national Picasso)
The entire Picasso is in chronological order. From the blue period of the artist, Cubism and Surrealism, “Girls of Avignon” to allegories of love and death in the images of the Minotaur or fighting bulls. In addition to Picasso’s works, the museum’s collection includes those paintings that the artist either bought himself or accepted as a gift from his contemporaries (for example, Matisse and Cézanne), as well as photographs, African masks, and sculptures, beloved by the painter, and with them – a membership card of the Communist Party and sketches to the portrait of Stalin.
#see more: Picasso is firmly entrenched among artists who are especially actively digitalized. In addition to the museum’s exposition and the digital exhibition in Atelier Lumiere, virtual versions of his work can be found in various databases and art portals.
- Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny
- Working hours: Tuesday – Friday 10.30 – 18.00, Saturday – Sunday 9.30 – 18.00. Closed on May 1, January 1, and December 25.
- Price: standard ticket € 12.50, concession ticket € 11, free for some groups of visitors, including those under 18.
Free museums in Paris
- The Carnavale Museum (Musée Carnavalet, 16 Rue des Francs, Bourgeois) is a museum of the history of Paris. Closed for renovation until the end of 2019. But there are still some activities and useful features of applications in the Apple Store and Play Store.
- Museum of Romantic Life (Musée de La Vie Romantique, 16 Rue Chaptal) in the former home of the artist Ari Schaeffer.
- Cernuschi Museum (Musée Cernuschi, 7 Avenue Velasquez) . It is home to the art and archeology of ancient China (Neolithic period, thirteenth century).
- The Bourdelle Museum (Musée Bourdelle, 18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle) is the home, garden, and workshop of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, who, among other things, designed the theater on the Champs Elysees. Here 500 of his works of plaster, marble, and bronze are exhibited.
- The Osip Zadkine Museum (Musée Zadkine, 100bis Rue d’Assas) is a treasure trove of works by famous sculpture.
- Atelier Brancusi (Place Georges Pompidou) under the wing of the Pompidou Center. A treasure trove of fantastic abstract sculpture.
- The free day at most museums is the first Sunday of every month.
- Free admission to almost all museums and galleries – for children under 18.
- To see half of the museums in Paris without a queue, at a discount or even free of charge, get one of the special cards. Choose either the urban tourist PARIS PASS (with the Louvre, Versailles, sightseeing tours by bus and along the Seine), a suitable variety of FAST PASS (with a card, pass, and river cruise), and for a deep immersion in the world of beauty – PARIS MUSEUM PASS with access to 60 major museums in Paris and its suburbs for 2, 4 or 6 days.
- Most museums in Paris allow photography (no flash) – create your own virtual gallery from classics to provocative contemporary art.