• Leslie

Guide To the Best Museums In Paris, From Superstars To Secrets

Updated: May 20


Paris cityscape with the Eiffel Tower


Listen up, culture vultures. Here's my guide to the best museums in Paris. I've been to many Paris museums, both large and small, in my many visits over the years. Paris is an epicenter of museums, with superb collections.


The sheer number of museums in Paris can be overwhelming. There's visual art in all forms in Paris -- classical, Renaissance art, contemporary art, fashion, and shrines to Monet and Picasso. There are major must see museums, with world renowned collections in architectural landmarks -- like the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Pompidou Center.



Guide to the Best Museums in Paris, for your Paris Bucket List


But what if you're done with the Louvre and world's most recognizable enigmatic smile?

That's the time to delve into Paris' small intimate museums. They include single artist showcases, private collections, and secret hidden gem galleries.


Many of these unique smaller collections are housed in grand palace-homes with world-class troves. This is where you can escape the crowds, still admire high quality fine art, and have a serene museum experience.


I've compiled a list of 32 museums that you should consider putting on your itinerary for a visit, or repeat visit, to Paris. I've grouped them into large/most famous museums and small/more secret museums, beginning with the heavy hitters. I give you an overview of the museums and their must see masterpieces, so you can select museums that suit your personal museum-going taste.



the Louvre Museum in Paris


32 Best Museums in Paris For Your Paris Art Bucket List


Let's take a tour of the best museums in Paris, large and small.


1. Louvre Museum: Classic Collection


If you love art, the august Louvre is likely on your Paris bucket list. It's the largest, busiest, most visited museum in the world. The Louvre has 35,000 works of art from the 6th century B.C. to the 19th century A.D. It's a sumptuous Renaissance palace itself, with a lavishly decorated interior and beautifully painted ceilings.


It's best to have a strategy for visiting. The Louvre is a U shape, divided into three wings: Denon, Sully, and Richelieu. Each of the wings has four floors.


The Denon Wing is the most visited wing, home to the Louvre's best known art work and the ravishingly ornate Apollo Gallery, with high arches and frescoed ceilings. The Sully Wing is known for its statuary and antiquities. The Richelieu Wing houses the lavish apartments of Napoleon III and famed Dutch art works.


READ: History and Secrets of the Louvre



Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa,1503
Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa,1503




The Louvre houses the classics -- Leonardo da Vinci's iconic Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, and Vermeer's The Lacemaker. The Louvre has the largest collection of Leonardo paintings in the world.


There are also plenty of underrated masterpieces there, if you don't want to vie with selfie sticks. Click here for my guide to taking a virtual tour of the Louvre, where you can cast your eyes on every Louvre masterpiece.

READ: Louvre Survival Tips


Practical Information for Visiting the Louvre:


Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France

Hours: Open daily, except Tuesday, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Wednesday and Friday, the Louvre is open until 9:45 pm.

Entry fees: Adults € 17 online, € 15 at the museum. Children under 18 are free.

Metro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7) and Pyramides (line 14)



central hall of the Musee d'Orsay
central hall of the Musee d'Orsay


2. Musee d'Orsay: Impressionist Treasures


The Musée d'Orsay is one of Paris' true treasures and a must visit site on the Left Bank. In 2018, it was named the "best museum in the world" in the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards.


READ: 25 Masterpieces of the Musee d'Orsay


There's good reason. The Musée d'Orsay is housed in a stunning converted Beaux-Arts railway station. The museum has the world's largest collection of French paintings from 1848 to 1914, a period when Paris was the undisputed artistic capital of the world.


The Musée d'Orsay is where you'll find a spectacular cache of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, including many works by the movements' most revered figures, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The Musée d'Orsay also has rich collections of decorative arts, sculpture, and photography.


READ: Vincent Van Gogh: Suicide or Murder?




Camille Claudel, Age of Maturity, 1902
Camille Claudel, Age of Maturity, 1902


The museum is just chock full of groundbreaking masterpieces -- Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, Van Gogh's Bedroom and Self Portrait, Degas' Ballerina, Cezanne's The Card Players, and Renoir's La Moulin de la Galette. Click here for my comprehensive guide to 25 must see masterpieces of the Musee d'Orsay


READ: Tips for Visiting the Orsay Museum


Practical Information for Visiting the Musee d'Orsay:


Address: 1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur

Hours: 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, except closed Mondays. Open until 9:45 pm on Thursdays

Entry fee: € 14

Metro: Solferino

Online tickets



Paris' Grand Palais
Paris' Grand Palais


3. Grand Palais: Stunning Exhibition Space


The Grand Palais is a historic site and museum complex on the Champs-Elysées. It's a massive Beaux-Arts icon. The facade combines a classical stone facade and a riot of Art Nouveau style ironwork. Two monumental bronze chariots with flying horses crown each end of the facade.


Inside, there's an incredible lofty exhibition hall. It has a stunning glass and steel roof, which gives the effect of a greenhouse. At night, the glass roof glows, lit from the inside.


The west wing houses a science museum with a planetarium. The east wing is reserved for high profile blockbuster art and photography exhibits. The Grand Palais is an "in the know" place used for all sort of occasions, including Chanel fashion shows. The complex also hosts fairs, trade shows, and sporting events. In winter, it even has an ice rink.


Practical Information for Visiting the Grand Palais:


Address: 3 Avenue du General Eisenhower

Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

Tickets

Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées Clemenceau

Pro tip: The Grand Palais has four entrances. The one you should use is printed on your ticket.

Website



color coded tubes of the Pompidou Center
the caterpillar-like escalator of the Pompidou Center


4. Pompidou Center: Modern & Contemporary Art


The Centre Pompidou is Paris' modern art museum, the largest one in Europe. The brainchild of French President Georges Pompidou, it's located in Paris' lively Beaubourg area on the Right Bank.


Opened in 1977, the Pompidou is known for its radical "inside out" architecture, designed by Renzo Piano. Outside is the famous Stravinsky Fountain, a whimsical homage to the composer. Within the guts of this exoskeleton lie 120,000 works of art.


The Pompidou is Europe's best and most important collection of wild and crazy 20th century art, the Golden Age of modern art. There are works of Fauvism, Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and contemporary art on display. You'll find works by such artistic luminaries as Kandinsky, Rothko, Kiefer, Hockney, Picasso, Pollack, Miro, Klee, Matisse, and Modigliani.





Some of the must see masterpieces include Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Louise Bourgeois' Precious Liquids, Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait in Drag, Jackson Pollock's Number 26 A, Miro's Bleu II, and Picasso's The Guitarist and Harlequin. But you'll see all forms of media, from paintings to photography to experimental film.


Don't miss the spectacular Paris views from the Pompidou's rooftop. You can also visit Brancusi's studio, reconstructed by Piano. Romanian by birth, the sculptor Constantin Brancusi lived most of his life in Paris. Upon his death in 1956, he gifted the entire contents of his studio to the French state. The studio is a work of art in its own right.


Practical Information for Visiting Centre Pompidou


Address: Place Georges Pompidou, 4th arrondissement

Hours: Open daily, except Tuesday, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm generally. Check the website linked below for all hours.

Entry fee: There's an adjustable ticket price depending on the number of exhibition spaces you wish to visit, from 7-10-12 €, 5 € audioguide

Metro: Rambuteau, Hotel de Ville, or Les Halles

Pro Tip: The museum will be closed from late 2023 to 2027 for renovations.

Website


The Rodin Museum, housed in a gorgeous rocaille mansion
The Rodin Museum, housed in a gorgeous Rococo mansion


5. Rodin Museum: Sculptures By the Master


The spectacular Rodin Museum is one of my favorites museums in Paris. Rodin's titular museum is housed in the 18th century Hotel Biron, a romantic mansion where Rodin created some of his greatest works. It's an atypical, unstuffy museum. A verdant retreat.


Rodin is considered the father of modern sculpture. He was absurdly talented, his works a torrent of expressive power. Like Michelangelo, Rodin wanted to convey the raw emotion and physicality of a subject, not just an idealized or sanitized view. He wanted to capture the ugly inner truths of the human psyche.


The expressive and erotic nature of Rodin's work was quite revolutionary for the time. His work was constantly rejected by the Salon. No one appreciated his penchant for realism until much later in his career.


Rodin curated the museum and placed his sculptures amidst the garden's pointy hedges and leafy groves. The museum is laid out in chronological order.





The museum's permanent collection includes many iconic Rodin sculptures and works from the brilliant Camille Claudel. Claudel was Rodin's student and muse, an unsung sculptor herself, and had a tumultuous 10 year affair with Rodin.


READ: Guide to Camille Claudel's Life & Art Work in France


In Paris' Rodin Museum, you'll find some of Rodin's most famous pieces -- The Thinker, The Kiss, The Gates of Hell, Monument to Balzac, Young Girl with Flowers in Her Hair, etc. There's also a room dedicated to Claudel. Click here for my complete guide to Rodin Museum


Practical Information for the Musée Rodin:

Address: 79, rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris

Entry fee: full price, 12 €, audioguide 6 €

Hours: Open daily except Mondays from 10:00 am to 5:45 pm, open late on Wednesdays until 8:45 pm

Metro: Varenne (line 13) or Invalides (line 13, line 8)

Website


the gorgeous second floor of the Picasso Museum showing his piece Grand Nu au Fauteil Rouge
the gorgeous second floor of the Picasso Museum showing his piece Grand Nu au Fauteil Rouge


6. Musée National Picasso-Paris: His Lifetime & Loves

Ah, I adore Paris' Picasso Museum. The eponymous museum is housed in the gorgeous Baroque Hotel de Sale in the Marais neighborhood.

What I love most about the museum is that it houses all the art that Pablo Picasso couldn't part with in his life, donated to France by his heirs (to avoid taxes). It's a personal collection that he created, curated, lived with, and kept nearby his entire life. The intimate museum represents all the artistic periods of his life, all the women he loved, and reveals his extraordinary range and talent.


READ: Guide To the Picasso Museums in Europe





Picasso wan't a nice man, to say the least. He was a lothario and chronic womanizer. Picasso was a one man female wrecking ball who once said "love is the greatest refreshment" and never left the concession stand.

As you stroll through the Picasso Museum, which is organized chronologically, you can see the progression of his artistic styles and the succession of his long-suffering female casualties -- Fernand Olivier, Olga Khoklova, Dora Maar, Marie Therese-Walter, Francoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque. His art and his loves were always intertwined.


Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Marie-Thérèse, 1937.
Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Marie-Thérèse, 1937.


READ: Guide To Picasso Museums in Europe


Practical Information for Visiting the Picasso Museum in Paris:


Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris

Entry fee: 14 €, under 28 free, audioguide 5 €, 1 € online reservation fee

Hours: Tues to Fri: 10:30 am to 6:00 pm, Sat- Sun: 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, closed Monday

Metro: 1 Saint-Paul, 8 Saint-Sébastien-Froissart, 8 Chemin Vert

Website


the Cluny Museum
the Cluny Museum


7. Cluny Museum | Museum of the Middle Ages


Are you a history buff who wants to be transported back to the late Middle Ages? Or are you, like everyone else it seems, just crazy for mythical unicorns? If so, the Musée Cluny is a must see site in the Latin Quarter of Paris.


It's truly one of my favorite museums in Paris. The museum's housed in the Hotel de Cluny, built in the 14th century and adjacent to an extant Roman bath.


The Cluny Museum is dedicated to all things from the Middle Ages. Its centerpiece is the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They're considered the Mona Lisa of tapestries and one of the greatest surviving medieval relics. Created in 1550, the six tapestries are rather mysterious and the artist is unknown. #6 is the most famous, titled To My Sole Desire.



The Lady and the Unicorn: To My Sole Desire
The Lady and the Unicorn: To My Sole Desire


Unicorns have various meanings. In medieval lore, they were mercurial solitary creatures that could only be tamed by a virgin. In secular society, they symbolize the attraction of a man to his love. In religious iconography, the unicorn was a symbol of Christ.


The Cluny houses beautiful medieval stained glass, stone heads from Notre Dame, a Roman frigidarium (cold bath), byzantine ivories, medieval shields, and Romanesque capitals.


Practical Information for Visiting the Cluny Museum:


Address: 28 rue du Sommerand

Hours: The museum is currently closed for renovation until early 2022

Entry fee: 5 €

Metro: Cluny-La Sorbonne, Saint-Michel, Odeon

Website



gardens of the Carnavalet Museum
gardens of the Carnavalet Museum


8. Carnavalet Museum: Ultimate Paris-Centric Museum


The 17th century Carnavalet Museum is "the museum of the city of Paris." It was Paris' very first municipal museum, plopped into the center of the bustling and museum-dense Marais neighborhood. It's been listed as a Monument Historique since the mid 1800s. And it's fabulous.

The very special museum fills two adjacent mansions, the Hôtel Le Peletier de St-Fargeau and the Hôtel Carnavalet. One of Paris' most famous and colorful citizens, Madame de Sevigne, who wrote salacious letters to her daughter, once lived in the Hotel Carnavalet.

The museum documents Paris' compelling history in an eclectic and eccentric way. Its hodgepodge collection comprises over 600,000 artifacts, making it one of France’s most important museums.



room in the Carnavalet, with Paris' iconic hanging iron signs
room in the Carnavalet, with Paris' iconic hanging iron signs


The museum has medieval and Gallo-Roman archeological collections, mementos of the French Revolution, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and other items of art.

It's also filled with fun everyday objects and historical curiosities -- Rousseau’s inkwell, Voltaire's armchair, a scale model of the guillotine made of bones, keys to the Bastille, a reconstruction of Louis XVI's prison cell, a ring containing Marie Antoinette's hair and a pair of her shoes, and Napoleon's toiletries


In 2016, the museum was closed for extensive architectural renovation. The gussied up museum has a new reception area, contemporary staircases, and updated facilities. It'll also has more signage, helping you to re-live the story of Paris.


Practical Information for Visiting the Musee Carnavalet:


Address: 16 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Entry: permanent collection is free

Metro: Saint-Paul or Chemin Vert

Website



stained glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle
stained glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle


9. Sainte-Chapelle: Incredible Stained Glass


On the Île de la Cité, you'll find the beautiful Saint-Chapelle, a true Gothic wonder. Completed in 1248 and enshrined within the Palais de Justice, Sainte-Chapelle is Paris’ most exquisite Gothic monument. It's a 14th century royal chapel, built by Louis IX to house the the supposed Crown of Thorns of Christ (now it's part of the Notre Dame treasury).


You'll be awed by the gorgeous stained glass and intricate painted wood columns. In the Upper Chapel, there are 15 separate panels of glass, showing scenes from the history of the Christian world. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance for this lovely, as there will be epic lines.


Practical Information for Visiting Sainte-Chapelle:


Address: Boulevard du Palais 8

Hours: Open daily, March to Oct 9:30 am to 6:00 pm & Nov to Feb 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entry fee: 11.50 €, combined ticket with the Conciergerie 17 €

Metro: Cite (line 4)

Website



La Conciergerie on the banks of the Seine River
La Conciergerie on the banks of the Seine River


10. La Conciergerie: Marie Antoinette's Prison


The Conciergerie was Maire Antoinette's gloomy prison after her arrest. The original fortress was built in the 6th century. It was the residence of Clovis, the first King of France, and used to be a royal palace. Today's version of the Conciergerie dates from 1200.


In the 14th century, the kings and queens of France abandoned the gloomy Gothic palace and decamped for brighter digs. When King Charles V, the last royal resident, moved out, he appointed the first "Concierge" and renamed the building La Conciergerie.


The Concierge oversaw the police and supervised the prisons. During the Reign of Terror after the revolution, "enemies of the people" were imprisoned without trial and duly "sentenced." The verdict was either innocent or death, no murky middle ground.



the UNESCO-listed Hall of Soldiers in the Conciergerie
the UNESCO-listed Hall of Soldiers in the Conciergerie


The Conciergerie became the "antechamber of the guillotine," the last stop before people were marched to the Place de la Concorde and decapitated. Its stunning and atmospheric vaulted ceiling in the Hall of Soldiers, the Salon des gens d’armes, was declared a UNESCO site in 2006.


Downstairs, there's an exhibit featuring Marie Antoinette, the Conciergerie's most famous prisoner. It's decidedly unsatisfying and not "her cell." It's a rather kitschy memorial, a reconstructed staging of her cell with her posed in a long black veil. The actual cell was demolished and is now an expiatory chapel.


Practical Information for Visiting the Conciergerie:


Address: 2 boulevard du Palais 75001 Paris

Entry fee: 9.50 €, combined ticket with Sainte-Chapelle 17 €

Hours: Open daily, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

Metro: line 1, station Châtelet, line 4, stations Saint-Michel or Cité, lines 7, 11 and 14, station Châtelet

Online tickets



the exterior cobblestone courtyard of Paris' Army Museum, know as the Cour d'honneur
the exterior cobblestone courtyard of Paris' Army Museum, know as the Cour d'Honneur


11. Musee de l'Armee at Les Invalides: Europe's Premiere Military Museum


If you’re a lover of French history or antique weapons, then Paris’ Musée de l’Armée is a must see site in Paris. The Army Museum is one of Europe's best military museums, housed in the Les Invalides complex in the 7th arrondissement. Military buffs and history geeks will be in heaven.


The impressive museum has seven collections and over 500,000 pieces of art -- artillery, weapons, armor, uniforms, and paintings from antiquity to the 20th century. You can even find Napoleon's stuffed horse and one of Hitler's notebooks.


I liked the "contemporary department," which focuses on WWI and WWII, the best. The department uses photos, maps, videos, and a few artifacts to trace the Blitzkrieg that overran France, D-Day battles, the concentration camps, the atomic bomb, and the eventual Allied victory. It also comes with a handy documentary film telling war stories.



Ingres, Napoleon on his Throne, 1806
Ingres, Napoleon on his Throne, 1806


Museum visitors might also be surprised to discover some high quality artwork in the museum, such as Ingres' 1806 Napoleon on his Imperial Throne and Paul Delaroche's Napoleon I at Fontainbleau. I love Delaroche, a rather melodramatic Salon painter, particularly his underrated Young Martyr painting at the Louvre.

If you want the full scoop, I've written a guide to visiting the Army Museum.


READ: Visiting Napoleon's Tomb and Les Invalides


Practical Information For Visiting the Army Museum:


Address: 129 rue de Grenelle, 7th arrondissement

Hours: Open daily from April 1 to Oct 31 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and from Nov 1 to March 31, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. From April 1 to Sept 30, on Tuesday evenings it is open until 9:00 pm.

Entry fee: Full price: €14, audio guide € 6 (you need ID for the audioguide), € 10 after 4:00 pm. Paris Museum Pass is accepted

Metro: Varennes La Tour Maubourg or Invalides

Website



the Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris
the Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation


10. Louis Vuitton Foundation: Contemporary Art


Inaugurated in 2014, the Louis Vuitton Foundation houses the collection of Bernard Arnault. It's a chic little museum tucked into a stunning Frank Gehry designed glass building located in the Bois de Bologne. The Foundation houses modern and contemporary art from the 1960s to the present.


The museum's permanent collection showcases Pop, Expressionistic, and Contemplative pieces. You'll find masterpieces by the likes of Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Henri Matisse, and Ellsworth Kelly. The foundation hosts temporary exhibits as well.


Practical Information for Visiting the Fondation Louis Vuitton:


Address: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi

Hours: Typically open from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm Mon to Fri and until 9:00 pm on weekends

Entry fee: 16 €, which also gives you access to the Jardins d'Acclimatation

Metro: Les Sablons

Website



entrance to the Delacroix Museum on Place de Furstenberg
the lovely Place de Furstenberg, home to the Delacroix Museum


Small Secret Museums in Paris


In Paris, you can go beyond the classic must see museums, rather than waiting in line for hours. Seasoned travelers will want to explore the myriad secret, less crowded museums Paris has on offer.


12. Musée National Eugène Delacroix: Romantic Period Pieces

The Delacroix Museum is an eccentric little gem of museum. It's off the beaten track in Paris and designed for art lovers. It's set on the lovely Place de Furstenberg, off the Rue Jacob, in the trendy Left Bank neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. When I last visited, it was nearly empty.

The museum has an intimate setting, housed in Delacroix's final apartment and studio before his death in 1863. I tend to love museum-ateliers. They're so revelatory.



Eugene Delacroix, The Education of the Virgin  1842
Eugene Delacroix, The Education of the Virgin 1842



Delacroix is known as the founder of the Romantic Period of painting. He rejected the Academy's idea of precise drawing. Instead, he adopted a flowing, convulsive brush style. When you look at a Delacroix, you see "fuzziness, smears, fibrillating paint, irradiated color that destabilize space and emulsify objects."


You won't see anything as stunning as Delacroix's famous Liberty Leading the People (that draws massive crowds at the Louvre) at his studio. What you'll find is lush religious and historical paintings and drawings by Delacroix and others, as well as personal objects and mementos. Delacroix had an obsession with large cats, and you'll see some of those paintings.

The museum's most important piece is Mary Magdalene in the Desert, which was admired by Baudelaire. He said Delacroix's works had “a kind of furious rivalry with the written word.”



a room in the Delacroix Museum in Paris
a room in the Delacroix Museum in Paris showing The Education of the Virgin

There's also a short film about Delacroix's paintings at Saint Sulpice, the nearby 17th century church in the Latin Quarter. I would advise coming to the museum before visiting the church to have a more informed view of the recently restored paintings on display there, which are Delacroix's best murals.

READ: Complete Guide to Paris' Latin Quarter


Practical Information for Visiting the Eugene Delacroix Museum:


Address: 6 Rue de Furstemberg, 75006 Paris

Entry Fee: 7 €, under 18 free, free to visit with a Louvre ticket, Paris Museum Pass, or Louvre Membership

Hours: Wed to Mon, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, night opening until 9:00 pm on the first Thursday of each month. Daily free guided tours at 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm

Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Website

the incredible staircase in the Gustave Moreau Museum designed by architect Albert Lafon in 1895
the gorgeous spiral staircase in the Gustave Moreau Museum designed by architect Albert Lafon in 1895

13. Musée National Gustave Moreau: Works of Symbolism

The Gustave Moreau Museum is another utterly uncrowded art spot. It's tucked away in the 9th arrondissement in an area of grand mansions known as Nouvelle-Athènes or South Pigalle. If you are sightseeing in Montmartre, it's just a 15-20 minute walk.

Gustave Moreau was a prolific 19th century French symbolist painter. He was an art school dropout inspired by Delacroix. Some consider his oeuvre a precursor to Surrealism. Henri Matisse was one of his students, and Moreau influenced many 20th century artists.

This museum, like the Delacroix Museum, was Moreau's family home. He transformed it into an atelier and kept the first floor as his apartment. It's absolutely stuffed with his sometimes macabre paintings and drawings. With copious art and half finished sketches, you can almost imagine what life was like for a fin de siècle artist in Paris.


Gustave Moreau, Chimera, 1884, at the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris
Gustave Moreau, Chimera, 1884, at the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris

There are over 1,300 paintings, watercolors and sketches. There are 5,000 drawings of mythological, biblical, and literary subjects. There's not much curation; you are largely left to interpret the works yourself.


This is fairly typically of museums self-designed by eccentric artists or art collectors. But that's OK, you can come up with whatever narrative you want or that suits your mood.

Once you head up the gorgeous spiral staircase, you'll find Moreau's bright well-lit studio. Many drawings are behind curtains and some have to be slid from drawers to be viewed.


Practical Information for Visiting the Musée National Gustave Moreau:


Address: 14 rue de La Rochefoucauld

Entry fee: € 7, reduced rate: € 5, Under 18 free

Guided tour: one Thursday a month at 6:00 pm € 8, reduced rate: € 6, duration: 1 hour

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 12:45 pm & from 2:00 pm to 5:15 pm, closed Tuesdays

Metro: Trinité d’Estienne d’Orves (line 12) or Pigalle (line 2)

Website

Paolo Uccello, St George and the Dragon, 1430-1435, Musee Jacquemart-Andre
Paolo Uccello, St. George and the Dragon, 1430-1435, Musee Jacquemart-Andre

14. Musée Jacquemart-André: Dutch & Italian Renaissance Art

The Jaquemart-André is another oddly overlooked museum, located just off the Champs-Elysées in the tony 8th arrondissement. It's usually empty unless there's a special exhibition. Then, the Parisians flock in and you'll need to pre-purchase a ticket. When I was there one February, I seemed to be the only English speaking person in line.

The gorgeous classical mansion dates to Baron Haussmann's massive renovation of Paris. It offers a glimpse into another era of elegant high society living and collecting. Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart wanted their home to be as grand and beautiful as the new Paris. So the duo set about assembling a magnificent art collection and renovating the mansion to showcase the pieces.


Tiepolo, Henri III Being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, 1745
Tiepolo, Henri III Being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, 1745



And there are some masterpieces. The museum has Dutch pieces by Rembrandt and Van Dyke. It also has a large collection of 14th and 15th century Italian art, including works by Mantegna and Botticelli. The painting of St. George and the Dragon (shown above) is deemed one of the greatest achievements in Italian Renaissance art. It's the jewel of the Jacquemart-André.

Another astonishing piece is a massive 1745 Tiepolo fresco titled Henri III Being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa. The luminous fresco greets you at the top of the spectacular main stairway.


Practical Information for Visiting the Musée Jacquemart-André:


Address: 158 boulevard Haussmann, 8th arrondissement

Entry fee: € 12, € 15 to include special exhibitions

Hours: Daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, late hours until 8:30 pm during special exhibitions

Metro: Miromesnil or Champs-Elysées Clemenceau

Website

a gorgeous Manet painting -- Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot Reclining, 1873
a gorgeous Manet painting -- Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot Reclining, 1873

15. Musée Marmottan Monet: Impressionism Galore

The Musée Marmottan Monet is a small jewel of a museum, tucked away in Paris' sleepy, posh 16th arrondissement. The museum was the recipient of generous bequests from the Monet family. Because of its rather far flung location, the Marmottan is largely and delightfully devoid of tourist throngs.

I was dragged there against my will -- I don't like Impressionism much. But I had no excuse. I was staying in the 16th arrondissement, and little effort was required to get there. If you're staying in the center of Paris, it's absolutely worth a detour by metro. And it's not far past the Eiffel Tower.

The Musée Marmottan Monet was once home to art critic and collector Paul Marmottan, who bequeathed his collection of Napoleonic art objects. It has a specially built basement gallery with an exceptional overview of Monet's work, over 300 pieces, from his early caricatures to his late works at Giverny. The museum also has 300+ paintings by fellow Impressionists Renoir, Dégas, Gaugin, Manet, and Morisot.


READ: 3 Day Itinerary for the Monet Trail in Paris

two of Monet's massive water lilies
two of Monet's massive water lilies

Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1874
Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1874

Monet's water lilies are the star of the show. They're massive, especially compared to the usual postage size Impressionist painting. And they sparkle with pure vivid color. I found them mesmerizing.

The museum also has Monet's famous painting, Impression, Sunrise. The painting is significant because it gave birth to the name of the art movement. It was first shown at what was derogatorily dubbed the "Exhibition of the Impressionists" in 1874.


READ: Complete Guide to the Marmottan Museum

Practical Information for Visiting the Musée Marmottan Monet:


Address: 2 rue Louis Boilly | 16th Arrondissement, 75016 Paris, France

Hours: Daily: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Thursday until 9:00 pm, closed Mondays