There is no way to see all of the museums in Paris in one day so we have provided a listing of all of the museums that are definitely worth visiting while visiting Paris. Most of the museums close one day per week which is usually on a Monday or Tuesday so we suggest to check with each museum hours.
Students, seniors and professionals can qualify for reduced rates of admission, so it is a good idea to carry appropriate identification. Many museums have at least one night a week with later hours.
Some museums, including the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre, offer free entry for all visitors on the first Sunday of the month, and the permanent collections of many museums are free (or at least discounted) to anyone younger than 18.
All Paris municipal museums are free except for the Catacombes, Musee Galleria, Crypte Archeologique and temporary shows.
You can buy a Paris Museum Pass that will allow you to enter more than 60 museums in and around Paris without standing in line for a ticket (a great benefit, especially in summer). The fee is 35 euros for a two-day pass, 50 euros for a four-day pass and 65 euros for a six-day pass.
Passes can be purchased at airports, metro stations, monuments, museums and at tourist offices around the city (as well as online via http://www.FNAC.com or in Paris at FNAC stores), and must be used on consecutive days. The clock starts ticking the first day you use it (start in the morning for full benefit from your day). You can also order your pass online and have it mailed to you for a fee. http://www.parismuseumpass.com.
Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art
Funded by the famous Cartier jewelry empire, this collection of works by more than 800 contemporary artists is housed in a striking glass structure. The permanent exhibit includes works by such artists as Gilbert and George, Claude Viallat and Shirley Jaffe. Open daily except Monday 11 am-8 pm (Tuesday until 10 pm). 9.50 euros adults. 261 Blvd. Raspail (14th; Metro Raspail or Denfert-Rochereau), Paris. Phone 01-4218-5650. http://www.fondation.cartier.com.
Centre Pompidou (Beaubourg)
The Pompidou Center, which many locals call "Beaubourg" after its neighborhood, opened in 1977 amid a whirlwind of controversy. The building, designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, appears to be turned inside out, with pipes, heating ducts, wires and girders visible. Critics called it "the refinery" or "the fridge." Bizarre, colorful and somehow beautiful, it houses an excellent permanent collection of 20th-century art, including works by Matisse, Braque, Delaunay, Leger, Chagall and Andy Warhol.
Do not miss the bookstore: it has the best collection of art books in France. There's also a trendy, futuristic bar and restaurant, Georges, on the sixth floor with an outdoor terrasse that has excellent views of the entire city. Galerie Sud, on the south side of the museum, houses special temporary exhibits.
Off the outdoor plaza is the re-creation of the atelier of sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1956), which contains many of his smooth, abstract sculptures and works-in-progress. Fans of the "French in Action" language series will no doubt recognize the Stravinsky Fountain with its colorful mechanized sculptures. The Pompidou Center also houses a movie theater showing classic and first-run films. Open daily except Tuesday 11 am-10 pm (museum closes at 9 pm, ticket window closes at 8 pm). Admission to the permanent collection and special exhibitions is by a combined ticket costing 12 euros for adults (10 euros when Gallery 1 is closed). A ticket just to the sixth floor for the panoramic view is 3 euros. Place Georges Pompidou (4th; Metro Hotel de Ville, Chatelet-Les Halles or Rambuteau), Paris. Phone 01-4478-1233. http://www.centrepompidou.fr.
Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie (Science and Industry Museum)
Set amid gardens and playgrounds in Parc de la Villette, this sprawling museum complex features interactive exhibits on space technology, computers, astronomy and marine biology. One of the main attractions is the excellent planetarium. The museum also includes the Cite des Enfants, which has hands-on exhibits geared to children ages 3-12. Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 am-6 pm, Sunday 9:30 am-7 pm. 11 euros adults, 9 euros children, free for children younger than 7 (regular Explora tickets). Combination tickets may cost up to 20.50 euros adults, 9 euros children. 30 Ave. Corentin-Cariou (19th; Metro Porte de la Villette), Paris. Phone 01-4005-7000 for information. http://www.cite-sciences.fr.
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
This space, dedicated to photography, alternates changing exhibits of up-and-coming young photographers with exhibits of Cartier-Bresson's legendary work. Open daily except Monday 1-6:30 pm, Wednesday until 8:30 pm. Closed first three weeks of August and between expositions. 6 euros adults. Free Wednesday after 6:30 pm. 2 Impasse Lebouis (14th; Metro Gaite or Edgard Quinet), Paris. Phone 01-5680-2700. http://www.henricartierbresson.org.
Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume
This museum in the Tuileries gardens just off the Place de la Concorde was named after the game of court tennis, because its building functioned as a tennis court under Napoleon III. When court tennis became less fashionable, the structure was used to exhibit art. Its stunning collection of impressionist art was moved to the Musee d'Orsay in 1986: Now it's part of the National Center for Photography and Photographic Patrimony, with multimedia exhibitions that combine historical photography and contemporary art.
Some exhibits are held in the annex location at La Monnaie de Paris, 11 Quai Conti (6th; Metro Pont Neuf). Museum at Concorde: Open Tuesday noon-9 pm, Wednesday-Friday noon-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am-7 pm; closed Monday. 9 euros adults or combined ticket for both locations for 11 euros. Jardin des Tuileries, 1 Place de la Concorde (1st; Metro Concorde), Paris. Phone 01-4703-1250. http://www.jeudepaume.org.
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
Built for the Universal Exposition of 1900, this beautiful art-nouveau palace is now used as a permanent gallery for hosting art exhibitions; it's considered one of the most prestigious venues in the world. Shows have included works of Warhol, Courbet, Rousseau and Cezanne. Save a few euros (and time in the long lines) by reserving tickets in advance on the Web site. Hours vary. Closed between exhibitions. Fees vary by exhibition but typically start at 11 euros adults. 3 Ave. du General Eisenhower (8th; Metro Champs Elysees-Clemenceau or Franklin D. Roosevelt), Paris. Phone 01-4413-1717. http://www.rmn.fr/Galeries-nationales-Grand-Palais.
Institut du Monde Arabe
The institute offers a fascinating look at Arabic culture old and new, with collections of ancient art and objects from the Arab world, as well as modern-art exhibits and a library. It is housed in a striking modern aluminum-and-glass building, designed by Parisian star architect Jean Nouvel, whose south wall has photosensitive arabesque window panels that regulate the flow of light into the building. The ritzy top-floor restaurant, Ziryab, boasts impressive views of Paris. Daily except Monday 10 am-6 pm. Ticket prices vary by exhibition but start at about 7 euros adults. 1 Rue des Fosses St. Bernard (5th; Metro Jussieu, Cardinal Lemoine or Sully-Morland), Paris. Phone 01-4051-3838. http://www.imarabe.org.
This elegant, Philippe Starck-designed museum and gallery, housed in a mansion in west Paris, exhibits the fragile crystal masterpieces—including a black crystal chandelier—that have won Baccarat so many awards since its inception in the early 19th century. While you're there, treat yourself to champagne or a meal in the Cristal Room lounge and restaurant (with renowned chef Guy Martin). Monday and Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-6:30 pm. 5 euros adults, free for those younger than 18. 11 Place des Etats-Unis (16th; Metro Iena or Boissiere), Paris. Phone 01-4022-1100. http://www.baccarat.com.
Musee Carnavalet—Histoire de Paris
This delightful museum is located in the heart of the Marais and focuses on the history of Paris. The vast collections of the Carnavalet are housed in two now-joined 17th-century hotels particuliers; one was once home to the prolific society scribe Madame de Sevigne, whose letters shed a lot of light on the society at the court of Louis XIV.
The city's history is illustrated with artwork, models, documents, room furnishings, advertisements and commemorative objects from prehistoric days through modern times, including the Revolution and belle epoque. It also has the original bed in which Marcel Proust wrote most large parts of his famous A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). Recent exhibitions have included a collection of items from Benjamin Franklin, who spent several years of his later life in his beloved Paris.
Allow at least a half-day to see the entire museum, and be sure to rest and relax for a time in the formal gardens. Daily except Monday 10 am-6 pm. Free entry to the permanent collection; fees for the temporary exhibitions start at about 5 euros adults. 23 Rue de Sevigne (3rd; Metro St. Paul or Chemin Vert), Paris. Phone 01-4459-5858. http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr.
Musee d'Art et Histoire du Judaisme
This museum is housed in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais. Exhibits trace the history of Jews in France, Europe and North Africa from the Middle Ages to the present day. Documents from the 1894 Dreyfus case, as well as paintings by Chaim Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani and Marc Chagall. Open Monday-Friday 11 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-6 pm. Closed on Jewish holidays. 6.80 euros museum only, 7 euros exhibition only, or 9.50 euros for combined entry of exhibition plus museum. Hotel de St. Aignan, 71 Rue du Temple (3rd; Metro Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville, RER Chatelet-Les Halles), Paris. Phone 01-5301-8660. http://www.mahj.org.
Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
This is a fabulous collection of the important art movements of the 20th century, located in the Palais de Tokyo. Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Maurice Utrillo, Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Leger are represented in the collection, as is an impressive selection of contemporary artists. Daily except Monday 10 am-6 pm, Thursday to 10 pm for temporary expositions. Main collection free; fees vary for temporary exhibitions. 11 Ave. du President Wilson (16th; Metro Alma-Marceau or Iena, RER Pont de l'Alma), Paris. Phone 01-5367-4000. http://www.mam.paris.fr.
Musee de l'Erotisme
It's only fitting that the City of Love should have a first-class collection of erotica, and even more fitting that it be located among the peep shows and sex shops of the Pigalle district. Four floors of paintings, illustrations, sculptures and various objects allow you to explore erotica around the world from AD 200 to the present. Be aware that the contents of the museum—and even of its Web site—may be too erotic for some. Rebecca Rils, the erotic shop next door, stocks merchandise that may appear in the museum in a hundred years. Daily 10 am-2 am. 9 euros (5 euros if you reserve your ticket online). 72 Blvd. de Clichy (18th; Metro Blanche or Pigalle), Paris. Phone 01-4258-2873. http://www.musee-erotisme.com.
Musee de l'Orangerie
Just across the Seine from the Musee d'Orsay, the Orangerie started its life as a serviceable part of the royal gardens, but long after France became a republic, Claude Monet chose this as the location to display the masterpieces of his Water Lilies collection—six enormous canvases that surround the art lover in two oval rooms designed especially for these works. The Water Lilies rooms include skylights to flood the space with natural light. You can visit this small museum in only one to two hours. You can also view the delightful Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collections of modern art featuring Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau, Matisse, Derain, Modigliani and many more. Daily except Tuesday 9 am-6 pm. 7.50 euros, free on the first Sunday of each month; 13 euros for a combination ticket for both the Orangerie and the Musee d'Orsay. Jardin des Tuileries (1st; Metro Concorde), Paris. Phone 01-4477-8007. http://www.musee-orangerie.fr.
Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Mode et Textile, Publicite
It's a pleasure to walk through this museum and admire the collections of furniture and the decorative arts spanning the Middle Ages to the 21st century. If you are interested in fashion or advertising campaigns and posters, don't miss the Fashion and Textile Museum or the Advertising Museum that are also on site. One entrance ticket covers all three museums. Open daily except Monday 11 am-6 pm (Thursday till 9 pm). 9 euros adults, free to children younger than 18. 107 Rue de Rivoli (1st; Metro Palais-Royal), Paris. Phone 01-4455-5750. http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr.
Paris' most popular museum after the Louvre, this beautifully renovated, belle-epoque one-time train station houses paintings and sculptures created from 1848 to 1914. Highlights include Manet'sDejeuner sur l'Herbe, Whistler's portrait of his mother, iconic works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rodin and Cezanne, plus Monet's five paintings of Rouen Cathedral. You'll also find architecture, photography, decorative arts (furniture, silver, porcelain), jewelry, and a wonderful scale model of the Opera Garnier and its environs. Note: Save your Orsay ticket to visit the Opera National de Paris and the Gustave Moreau National museum within one week at a reduced rate. Daily except Monday 9:30 am-6 pm (Thursday till 9:45 pm). The ticket booth closes at 5 pm. 8 euros adults for the permanent collection (special collections not included). 1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur (7th; Metro Solferino or RER Musee d'Orsay), Paris. Phone 01-4049-4814. http://www.musee-orsay.fr.
Musee du Louvre
The Louvre was the seat of French royalty from the 12th century. It was built by Philippe Auguste, and you can still see remnants of the original foundations if you enter via the Metro at Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre. In the late 1600s, Louis XIV moved the royal court to Versailles, and the Louvre was used to house the royal collections but was not open to the public. In the wake of the French Revolution, the Louvre was formally declared a museum by the new republican government.
The Louvre underwent a major expansion in the 1990s, beginning with the controversial I.M. Pei-designed glass pyramid at the entrance and continuing with the Sackler Wing (financed by U.S. philanthropists Mortimer and Theresa Sackler), the Musee de la Mode et du Textile (Museum of Fashion and Textiles), and an underground shopping area called the Carrousel du Louvre (one of the few places to shop in Paris on a Sunday). The Egyptian Wing is also open, and the Galerie d'Apollon has been restored to a magnificent gilded and painted glamour.
The Louvre has on display a dizzying number of works, from Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities to paintings and sculpture of the 19th century. Some of the most famous are the Venus de Milo, theWinged Victory of Samothrace, Michelangelo's Slaves and Leonardo da Vinci's Portrait of Mona Lisa(follow signs for La Joconde—the painting's French name).
There is no way to see everything in one day, so for your first visit, choose a wing, period or artist to concentrate on and plan to return. The opening of the Porte des Lions entrance has made lines shorter, and advance tickets are available at FNAC department stores. After being moved around during renovations, the Mona Lisa is now in the Salle des Etats in the Denon Wing, within close proximity to the Winged Victory and Venus de Milo. Pick up a map at the visitors desk and follow the signs for these works. If you have a very limited amount of time and want to see the highlights, you can rent a time-limited audioguide; for Da Vinci Code fans, the museum even offers an audio guide with explanations given by actor Jean Reno.
The Louvre plays host to around 8.5 million visitors per year, and 35,000 works, just one-tenth of its total collection, are permanently displayed. When all the art has worn you out, take a break in the beautiful Cafe de Marly, set in a side wing of the Louvre. Enjoy the view of the pyramid from the wind-protected arcades. Tip: To avoid the super-long lines at the pyramid entrance, enter through the underground entrance in the Carrousel shopping area; access via the Metro or via some slightly obscure steps near the Carrousel arch at the entrance to the Tuileries. Open daily except Tuesday 9 am-6 pm (Wednesday and Friday till 10 pm). Galleries begin to close 30 minutes early. 10 euros adults, 6 euros after 6 pm on Wednesday and Friday, 11 euros for temporary exhibitions, 14 euros for a combination ticket. Free the first Sunday of the month. Rue de Rivoli (1st; Metro Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre), Paris. Phone 01-4020-5317 for the information desk. http://www.louvre.fr.
Musee du Luxembourg
Adjacent to the Jardins du Luxembourg, this recently renovated museum is one of the principal exhibition spaces in Paris. It has no permanent collection, but every year it stages two major exhibitions with paintings borrowed from galleries and museums worldwide. Daily from 10 am-8 pm, and until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. 11 euros adults, family tickets (two adults, two children) 22.50 euros. 19 Rue de Vaugirard (6th; Metro Odeon or Saint Sulpice; RER Luxembourg), Paris. Phone 01-4013-6200. http://www.museeduluxembourg.fr.
This is a marvelous chronicle of fashion from the 18th century to the modern day. More than 100,000 garments are housed in the Renaissance-style palace of Duchesse Maria de Farrari Galliera. To preserve the collection, which is sensitive to light and pollution, the museum only offers changing temporary exhibitions. The museum is closed until 2013 for renovation. 10 Ave. Pierre Pierre-Premier-de-Serbie (16th; Metro Alma-Marceau or Iena; RER Pont de l'Alma), Paris. Phone 01-5652-8600. http://www.galliera.paris.fr.
This is a fine-arts museum, Japanese garden and Buddhist sanctuary all in one. The museum's annex is the magnificently refurbished, neoclassical Hotel Heidelbach. The museum's permanent collection of Japanese, Chinese, Tibetan and Indochinese art are world renowned. Its masterpiece is a 14-headed sculpture from Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Enjoy an authentic Japanese tea ceremony in the garden pavillion. Daily except Tuesday 10 am-6 pm (last admission 5:15 pm). 7.50 euros adults, 8 euros for temporary exhibitions, 9.50 euros combined ticket. 6 Place d'Iena (16th; Metro Iena, Trocadero), Paris. Phone 01-5652-5300. http://www.guimet.fr.
Located in a lovely 19th-century town house on Ranelagh Park, this museum houses the world's largest and most important collection of Monet canvases, as well as works from Monet's own collection, including paintings by Paul Gauguin, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas. On display is Monet's Impression, which spurred the artistic movement of that name. Particularly worth noting are the paintings of impressionist painter Berthe Morisot and the Wildenstein Collection of French, Italian, English and Flemish miniatures from the 13th to 15th centuries. Daily except Monday 10 am-6 pm, Tuesday till 9 pm (last admission 5:30 pm). 10 euros adults. 2 Rue Louis-Bouilly (16th; Metro La Muette), Paris. Phone 01-4496-5033. http://www.marmottan.com.
Musee National du Moyen Age (Thermes de Cluny)
Built atop the remnants of the city's original Gallo-Roman thermal baths (dating to AD 200), this 15th-century cloister once housed the abbots of Cluny; now it's home to a magnificent collection of tapestries (most notably The Lady and the Unicorn series), medieval sculpture and armaments, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass. While there, see Paris' oldest sculpture, Boatman's Pillar, made between AD 14 and AD 37. Contemporary gardens inspired by the medieval collections provide a wonderful place to enjoy a few moments of quiet in the bustling 5th. Open daily except Tuesday 9:15 am-5:45 pm (last admission 5:15 pm). 8.50 euros adults, free on the first Sunday of the month. 6 Place Paul Painleve (5th; Metro Cluny-La Sorbonne, Odeon or Saint Michel), Paris. Phone 01-5373-7800. http://www.musee-moyenage.fr.
Once home to the artist himself, this stately mansion is the perfect setting for Auguste Rodin's glowing white marble sculptures, and the beautiful garden is full of surprises. Some of the highlights include The Thinker, The Kiss, The Gates of Hell and a sculpture of the very rotund novelist Honore de Balzac. One room is dedicated to Rodin's mistress and student Camille Claudel, whose works have come to be fully appreciated only in recent decades. There is a cafe on-site with outdoor seating. Open daily except Monday 10 am-5:45 pm April-September; 9:30 am-4:45 pm October-March. Museum admission 6 euros adults, gardens 1 euro adults, 10 euros for entry plus gardens and temporary exhibit. Free for children age 18 and younger. Free on the first Sunday of the month. 12 euros for a same-day combination ticket to the nearby Musee d'Orsay. You may purchase and print your tickets in advance via the Web site to avoid a line at the entrance. 77 Rue de Varenne (7th; Metro Varenne or Invalides), Paris. Phone 01-4418-6110. http://www.musee-rodin.fr.
Palais de la Decouverte
The Discovery Palace is part of the Grand Palais, an art-nouveau glass-and-steel structure built for the 1900 World's Fair. It offers exhibits and films about dinosaurs, mineralogy, nuclear physics, earth sciences, math and chemistry, as well as an excellent planetarium. Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-7 pm, last admission 30 minutes before closing. Museum admission 7 euros adults, 4.50 euros children younger than 18. Special exhibitions have separate entrance fees. The planetarium costs an extra 3.50 euros. Avenue Franklin Roosevelt (8th; Metro Champs Elysees-Clemenceau or Franklin Roosevelt; RER Invalides), Paris. Phone 01-5643-2020. http://www.palais-decouverte.fr.
Palais de Tokyo
Located next to the Musee d'Art Moderne, this hangar-sized space near the Trocadero, constructed for the World Exposition in 1937, is dedicated to contemporary artists working in a variety of media, from photography and painting to contemporary installations. An energetic exhibition space that takes chances, the Palais de Tokyo is great for those who want to experience cutting-edge contemporary art. An extensive bookstore and design shop are on-site. Open daily except Monday noon-9 pm. 3 euros adults, free for children younger than 18. 13 Ave. du President Wilson (16th; Metro Iena; RER Pont de l'Alma), Paris. Phone 01-4723-5401. http://www.palaisdetokyo.com.
Petit Palais—Musee des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris
Built at the same time as the Grand Palais for the Universal Exposition of 1900, the Petit Palais became the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts in 1902. After years of restoration and renovation, it now has a section dedicated to the permanent collection and an exposition area for temporary shows. There are more than 1,300 works of art from Roman antiquity to the early 20th century that are predominantly French, but foreign collections, such as Russian and Greek icons, are featured as well. Daily except Monday 10 am-6 pm, Thursday till 8 pm for temporary exhibits. Free entry to the permanent collection. Fees vary for temporary exhibits. Avenue Winston Churchill (8th; Metro Champs Elysees-Clemenceau; RER Invalides), Paris. Phone 01-5343-4000. http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr.
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