35 Best Museums In Paris, From Superstars To Secrets

Looking for the perfect museums to visit in Paris? You’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been to dozens of Paris museums, both large and small, in my many visits over the years. Paris is a veritable art paradise. It just oozes art, with more museums per mile than any city in the world.

The sheer number of museums in Paris can be overwhelming though. There’s visual art in all forms in Paris — classical, Renaissance art, contemporary art, fashion, and shrines to Monet and Picasso.

Paris cityscape with the Eiffel Tower

I’ve compiled a list of 35 museums that you should consider putting on your itinerary for a visit, or repeat visit, to Paris.

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.

If you’re seeing a lot of museums in a single visit, you may want to book Paris Museum Pass

the Louvre Museum, a top must visit museum in Paris
the Louvre

Best Museums In Paris

1. Louvre Museum: Classic Collection

If you’re an art lover, the Louvre in Paris is probably on your must-visit list. It’s the world’s largest, busiest, and most visited museum.

The Louvre is home to 35,000 artworks, ranging from the 6th century B.C. to the 19th century A.D. The museum itself is a stunning Renaissance palace, complete with a richly decorated interior and beautifully painted ceilings.

It’s a good idea to plan your visit in advance. The Louvre is shaped like a U and is divided into three wings: Denon, Sully, and Richelieu, each spread across four floors.

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

The Denon Wing is the busiest area in the Louvre, where you’ll find the museum’s most famous artworks. This wing also features the stunning Apollo Gallery, known for its high arches and frescoed ceilings.

In the Sully Wing, you’ll discover a collection of statues and ancient artifacts. Meanwhile, the Richelieu Wing is home to the opulent apartments of Napoleon III, as well as a collection of renowned Dutch artworks.

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.

You really can’t go to the Louvre without a pre-booked timed entry ticket. The museum is simply too popular and the lines are epic.

Because the Louvre is so massive, you might consider booking a guided tour of the museum. There are myriad options that vary in length:

central hall of the Musee d'Orsay, which I think is the best museum in Paris
central hall of the Musee d’Orsay

2. Musee d’Orsay: Impressionist Treasures

The Musée d’Orsay is one of Paris’ true treasures.

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.

This includes works by the movements’ most revered figures like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The Musée d’Orsay also has rich collections of decorative arts, sculpture, and photography.

The Orsay museum is just chock full of groundbreaking masterpieces. Be sure to see 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.

It’s essential to book a timed entry ticket to the Orsay a very long line. You can also book a 2 hour guided tour of the Orsay with an expert. You can also book a 2.5 hour private tour of the museum.

Once you have your ticket, be sure to get in the right line. You’ll go through security, a ticket check, and then a line for audio guides.

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.

Tip: The Grand Palais is closed for renovations. It will open for a time in 2024, but then close again until 2025.

the radical architecture of the Pompidou Center
the radical architecture of the Pompidou Center

4. Pompidou Center: Modern & Contemporary Art

The Centre Pompidou is Paris’ modern art museum and the largest one in Europe.

The brainchild of French President Georges Pompidou, it’s located in central Paris near the Marais. It’s one of the best museums in Paris, so be sure to visit before it closes for renovations in the Fall of 2024!

Opened in 1977, the Pompidou is known for its futuristic and colorful architecture, designed by Renzo Piano. Within the guts of this exoskeleton lie 120,000 works of art.

The permanent collection is on the 4th and 5th floors. 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 6th floor viewing terrace.

You can also visit the studio of Constantin Brancusi, which is in a freestanding structure opposite the main entrance to the Pompidou.

Click here for a entry ticket for both the permanent and temporary collections. If your a real fan of modern art, you may want to book a 2 hour guided tour.

Tip: The museum will close in 2025 or major renovations.

The Rodin Museum, the best museum in Paris for sculpture
the Rodin Museum

5. Rodin Museum: Sculptures By the Master

The spectacular Rodin Museum is one of the best museums in Paris for those who love sculpture. Rodin’s titular museum is housed in the 18th century Hotel Biron on the Left Bank.

It’s a romantic mansion where Rodin created some of his greatest works. The Rodin Museum is 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.

Rodin's The Thinker in the garden of the Rodin Museum
Rodin’s The Thinker in the garden of the Rodin Museum

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. Inside, the museum is laid out in chronological order.

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 to pre-purchase a ticket. Click here to book a 2 hour ticket + guided tour of this lovely museum.

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

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

The Paris’ Picasso Museum is housed in the gorgeous Baroque Hotel de Sale in the Marais neighborhood. It’s definitely one of the best museums in Paris.

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.

Picasso was a complicated and controversial figure, especially in his personal relationships. He had a reputation as a womanizer, often likening love to a “refreshment” that he frequently indulged in.

At the Picasso Museum, the exhibits are arranged in chronological order. This setup allows visitors to observe the evolution of Picasso’s artistic styles throughout his career.

The museum also provides insight into the women in Picasso’s life who were deeply affected by their relationships with him. These include Fernand Olivier, Olga Khoklova, Dora Maar, Marie Therese-Walter, Francoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque.

Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket. It’s necessity. You can also book a 2 hour guided tour of the museum with an expert.

the Cluny Museum, one of the best museums in Paris
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 Paris museum that should be on your Paris bucket list.

The museum’s housed in the Hotel de Cluny, built in the 14th century and atop extant Roman bath.

It recently underwent a € 26 million renovation, which added a reception area and more exhibition space. You can now view the exhibits in chronological order.

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

As its name implies, the Cluny Museum is dedicated to all things from the Middle Ages. The museum houses the world’s best collection of medieval art and objects.

You’ll find sculptures from Notre Dame and other churches and stained glass from Sainte-Chapelle. The museum’s pièce de résistance is the six 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.

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. 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, 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 and historical curiosities. This makes 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, period rooms, paintings, 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.

Beginning in 2016, the museum underwent a spectacular $65 million renovation. The redesign created a new chronological route and added much more display space and signage in English.

If you’re in a hurry, make a beeline for the French Revolution exhibits on the top floor.

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. It’s a UNESCO site, Paris’ most exquisite Gothic monument, and surely one of the best museums in Paris.

The 14th century royal chapel was built by Louis IX to house the supposed Crown of Thorns of Christ.

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.

You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance for this lovely, as there will be epic lines. Click here to pre-book a ticket. Click here to book a guided tour.

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 the first king of France. 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.” The building was then renamed the building La Conciergerie.

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

Click here to pre-book a ticket

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

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.

It’s housed in the Les Invalides complex in the 7th arrondissement. The impressive museum has 7 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” best, which focuses on WWI and WWII.

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

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.

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.

If you want the full scoop, I’ve written a guide to visiting the Army Museum. Click here to book a ticket.

the Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, one of the best and most beautiful museums in Paris
the Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation

10. Louis Vuitton Foundation: Contemporary Art

The Fondation Louis Vuitton was inaugurated in 2014. It’s an absolutely stunning building designed by Frank Gehry.

The museum is located in the Bois de Bologne, so you’ll need to take the metro or a taxi. The Foundation houses late 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.

But it’s worth the trip just for the building itself. The museum also hosts special exhibitions in large galleries with soaring ceilings. I recently went to an excellent one featuring the works of Claude Monet and Joan Mitchell.

Click here to pre-book a ticket.

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

12. Musée National Eugène Delacroix: Romantic Period Pieces

The Delacroix Museum is an eccentric little gem of museum. 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.

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.

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

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. If you are sightseeing in Montmartre, it’s just a 15-20 minute walk downhill.

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.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

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.

Paolo Uccello, St George and the Dragon, 1430-1435, Musee Jacquemart-Andre
Paolo Uccello, St. George and the Dragon, 1430-35

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.

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 real 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.

Click here to book a skip the line ticket.

rooms in the Marmottan Monet Museum, one of Paris' best museums for Impressionism
rooms in the Marmottan Monet Museum

15. Musée Marmottan Monet: Impressionism Galore

The Musée Marmottan Monet is a small jewel of a museum. It’s tucked away in Paris’ sleepy, posh 16th arrondissement, not far from 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 the world’s largest collection of art works of Claude Monet, 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.

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.

Click here to book a skip the line ticket. Click here to book a ticket+ guided tour to this gem of a museum.

the Musee Montmartre, one of the best museums in Paris for fans of the Belle Époque
the Musee Montmartre on a wintry day

16. Musée de Montmartre: Secrets of Montmartre

The Montmartre Museum is a compelling charmer and full of hart and istory. It’s housed in an atmospheric 17th century manor house, Maison Bel Air.

It has a beautiful inner garden with the famous swing from Renoir’s 1876 painting, Moulin de la Galette, which is also in the Orsay.

Founded in 1960, the museum chronicles the raucous, bohemian history of Belle Époque Paris. It was a time when artists like Pissarro, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Dongon, Utrillo, and Modigliani lived in Montmartre and paved the way for modern art.

the Lapin Agile at the Montmartre Museum
the Lapin Agile

Renoir, Valadon, Bernard, Dufy, and Utrillo lived in the museum itself. Eric Satie the composer also lived there. There’s a room dedicated to him.

On the second floor, you’ll find an exact replica of the studio of Valadon and her son Marcus Utrillo. There’s also a separate exhibition space.

Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket to the Musee Montmartre and its gardens. You may even want to book a small group walking tour of Montmartre.

Raoul Dufy's Electricity Fairy at the Modern Art Museum in Paris
Raoul Dufy’s Electricity Fairy, 1937

17. Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris: Modern Art

Off the typical tourist circuit, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris ( known as “MAM”) is a must see nerve center for modern art.

MAM is in a prime location in the eastern wing of the Tokyo Palace. The museum overlooks the Seine and boasts a lovely view of the Eiffel Tour.

The museum was inaugurated in 1961 and boasts over 10,000 works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum has high ceilings, open spaces, and is filled with colorful eye-catching art.

Henri Matisse, La Dance, 1930-33, originally commissioned for the Barnes Foundation
Henri Matisse, La Dance, 1930-33

The permanent collection is free to the public and and showcases major artistic movements, including Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Orphism. There are works by Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Chagall, Modigliani, and Sonia and Robert Delaunay.

The Electricity Fairy (shown above) is the pièce de résistance of MAM. It’s a monumental work, 10 x 60 meters and one of the world’s largest painting, making it impervious to theft.

Le Petit Palais
Le Petit Palais

18. Petit Palais | Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris: Secret Masterpieces

Newly renovated and beautiful, the Petit Palais is another of the best museums in Paris. Plus, the collection is free, absolutely free, and a joy to take in.

Like its sister palace the Grand Palais, the Neo-Classical Petit Palais was built for Paris’ 1900 World Fair. It became a museum in 1902.

Designed in the Beaux Arts style by famous architect Charles Girault, it’s a charming small museum that’s easy to cover in an hour or so.

one of my favorites -- Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, 1876, Georges-Jules-Victor Clairin
Georges Clairin, Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, 1876
Ingres, The Death of Leonardo, 1818
Ingres, The Death of Leonardo, 1818

It has French paintings, sculpture, and artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The collection includes artists as diverse as Rembrandt, Fragonard, Delacroix, Cézanne, Courbet, Corot, Monet, Rodin, Sisley, Pissarro, and many others.

There’s also a section dedicated to Roman and Greek art and some splashes of Post-Impressionism.

Ossip Zadkine sculptures in the Zadkine Museum
Ossip Zadkine sculptures in the Zadkine Museum

19. Zadkine Museum: Cubist Sculpture

Two blocks from the lush Luxembourg Gardens, in the heart of Montparnasse, lies the secret Zadkine Museum. You can blink and miss it, it’s so well hidden.

The intimate museum occupies the first floor of a two story house and has an impressive sculptural garden. It was formerly Zadkine’s home and studio, where he lived and created his atelier for 40 years.

Entering the museum, you’ll find a procession of small well-lit rooms with glass ceilings and white walls. The museum presents all periods of Russian expat Zadkine’s work in roughly chronological order.

Ossip Zadkine, Rebecca or the Tall Water Carrier, 1927
Ossip Zadkine, Rebecca or the Tall Water Carrier, 1927

It traces the “primitivism” of his first sculptures in wood or stone, to the strict geometry of his Cubist works, to his more expressionistic works, and finally to the pared down neoclassicism of his final years.

The heart of the museum, much like the Rodin Museum, is the lovely garden, dotted with terrific sculptures.

There, you’ll find Zadkine’s Torso of a Destroyed City, a smaller scale version of his most famous piece, The Destroyed City, in Rotterdam. Other seminal garden works include Orphee, Rebecca, and The Human Forest.

entrance to the Grevin Museum in Passage Joffrey
entrance to the Grevin Museum in Passage Joffrey

20. Grevin Museum: Wax Museum

Inaugurated in 1882, the Grévin Museum is a veritable Parisian institution and one of the best things to do in the Opera District. It’s not a museum that many tourists frequent. It’s a fantastical wax museum. Sacré bleu!

The museum was the brainchild of prominent La Galoise newspaperman Arthur Meyer. In the pre-photography era, he dreamt of giving his loyal readers real life versions of the people they admired.

Using Madame Tussauds in London as a model, he hired Alfred Grévin, a sculptor and designer of theater costumes to create wax figures. Grévin did such a fantastic job that the museum bears his name.

the Hall of Mirrors at the Grevin Museum
the Hall of Mirrors at the Grevin Museum

In the museum’s themed rooms, visitors can relive French and world history. There are over 500 replicas of famous entertainers, politicians, historical figures, and painters.

Luminaries include Albert Einstein, Louis XIV, Gandhi, Alfred Hitchcock, Marie Antoinette, Michael Jackson, Mick Jager, Auguste Rodin, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Grevin Museum is located in the historic Passage Jouffroy. It’s one of the most popular covered passages in Paris because of its sheer beauty. It has gorgeous marble flooring, a glass ceiling, and intricate wrought iron.

Click here to pre-book a ticket.

Balzac's study in his museum
Balzac’s study in his museum

21. Maison de Balzac: Novelist’s Lair

In the 16th arrondissement, close to the magnificent Rue Berton, lies the Maison de Balzac.

It offers an immersion into the daily life of one of France’s greatest writers, Honoré de Balzac. Toiling away in his writing study, Balzac edited the entire Human Comedy and wrote some of his other masterpieces.

Fleeing creditors, Balzac moved into the house on 1840 under the name of his mistress. The furniture is mostly gone due to subsequent moves, but it is still evocative and packed with interesting momentos.

You’ll find Balzac’s famous cane, paintings, engravings, illustrations, and documents about his loved ones. And you will see his fabulous carved writing desk and chair.

decorations at the Fragonard Perfume Museum
decorations at the Fragonard Perfume Museum

22. Musée du Parfum – Fragonard: Test Your Nose

Nestled in the heart of Paris, a half block from the Opéra Garnier, is the unique Fragonard Musée du Parfum. The museum opened in 2015 and is housed in a romantic, ornate 19th century townhouse.

It was built by Joseph Lesoufaché, a student of Garnier. The decor is alluring with painted ceilings, stucco decoration, old fireplaces, and chandeliers.

The museum offers a magical look at the secrets and history of the perfume trade. It has a magnificent collection of precious objects tracing the history of perfume from antiquity to the present day.

Visitors will find a cabinet of curiosities, including ancient artifacts, perfume “organs,” scent boxes, bottles in blown glass that look like beautiful jewels, and potpourri used at the court of the Louis XIV.

perfumes in the Fragonard Museum

You’ll learn that the Iris is the most expensive flower to make perfume from and that light, heat and air are the enemy of perfume.

The museum offers a free small group guided tour in English. It is really quite a wonderful intimate experience, lasting about 30 minutes.

And, after discovering the history of the precious elixirs, you can test your nose with an olfactory game available free of charge at the end of the tour.

the study of Marie Cure
the study of Marie Cure

23. Musée Curie: For Science Geeks

The Curie Museum celebrates the life of scientist Marie Curie. It’s located near the Pantheon in the leafy green streets of the 5th arrondissement.

Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. The permanent exhibition of her eponymous museum traces the history of radioactivity and its medical applications, along with the lives and works of Curie, her husband Pierre, and their children, Irene and Frederic.

They’ve been dubbed “the family of 5 Nobel prizes.” There’s also a chemistry laboratory that houses laboratory notes and scientific instruments from the 1930. I especially loved Curie’s small office where she spent most of her time.

The displays are in both English and French and you can pre-book private tours. When you’re done with the museum, you can head over to the nearby Arènes de Lutèce, the most important Roman ruin in Paris in the Latin Quarter.

massive water lilies by Claude Monet at the Musee de l'Orangerie
massive water lilies by Claude Monet

24. Musee de l’Orangerie: Monet’s Water Lilies

Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie, or the Orangerie Museum, is one of the best small museums in Paris. The Orangerie’s marquee attraction is Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s water lily paintings, his career defining work.

In 1927, the water lily canvases were set in massive curved panels. They were installed in two adjoining oval shaped rooms in the (then new) museum.

Some art historians call the Orangerie Museum’s space the world’s “first art installation” because the rooms were created and designed specifically for Monet’s water lilies, which he created at his estate in Giverny.

Claude Monet's water lilies
Monet water lilies

The water lily installation is designed to create a stunning visual effect.

Four panels in one gallery capture the essence of sunrise, while the other four in a different gallery evoke the feeling of dusk. The water lilies themselves are breathtakingly beautiful.

As you walk through the rooms, it’s like stepping into a panoramic view of light and water. You’ll feel as if you’re right in Monet’s garden at Giverny.

Monet’s bold, large brushstrokes beautifully capture the surfaces of the lily pond, along with reflections, depth, and movement. It’s like experiencing a perfect summer day, distilled into an enchanting and serene scene

Once you’re done admiring Monet’s works, head downstairs to inspect another fabulous collection of paintings. Natural light floods a wide corridor where oils by Renoir and Cézanne are given pride of place.

Other rooms are devoted to more modern masters like Picasso, Matisse, Maurice Utrillo, and Henri Rousseau. The museum’s collection of works by Soutine is arguably the best in Paris.

Her’s my complete guide to the Orangerie Museum. Click here to book a skip the line ticket. You may also want to book a 2 hour guided tour of the museum.

Places des Vosges
the gorgeous Places des Vosges, one of Paris’ prettiest squares

25. Victor Hugo Museum: Quirky House Museum

If you’re obsessed with Victor Hugo and the grandeur of Les Miserables, visit the writer’s former pied-à-terre, the Musée Victor Hugo.

This hidden gem in Paris is tucked away on the second floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée at 6 Place des Vosges. It’s an unusual destination, off the typical tourist trail.

The museum was once home to Victor Hugo from 1832 to 1848. It’s uniquely presented, combining elements from various homes of the writer, including those of his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

the Chinese Room in the Victor Hugo Museum
the Chinese Room in the Victor Hugo Museum

Despite its eclectic mix, the museum has a romantic atmosphere, reflecting the adventurous and passionate spirit of its famous occupant. What’s surprising is that it not only showcases Hugo’s literary genius but also his lesser-known talent in interior design.

The museum is intended to give visitors a sense of what Hugo’s daily existence might have looked like. Thematic rooms are arranged with furniture and works of art that Hugo created or are from his personal collections.

You’ll see first editions of his books, family portraits, photographs, sheet music, and 350 drawings by Hugo, as well as paintings and sculptures that were created in his honor.

the soaring central atrium of the Museum of Decorative Arts
the soaring central atrium of the Museum of Decorative Arts

26. Musée des Arts Décoratifs: French Savoir Faire

Paris’ Decorative Arts Museum is housed in a 19th century wing of the Louvre. But it’s not part of the Louvre. The museum is the second oldest gallery in Paris, housing 8 centuries of French savoir faire. Light floods through the oculi of its central hall.

The museum combines beautiful architecture with a French passion for priceless decorative art. Decorative arts are objects and crafts whose purpose is both beautiful and functional.

The museum has room after room of furniture, mirrors, glass vases, carpets, jewelry, books, and fashion items — spread out over 10 floors in roughly chronological order.

room in the Museum of Decorative Arts

The museum has a world renowned collection of reconstructed period rooms.

It’s also known for its fashion collection. If you need a bite, try the white pizza with black truffles at Loulou, a casual Italian eatery on the ground floor.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits. From the top floor, there’s an amazing view out over the Tuileries Gardens.

frescos in the dome of the Bourse de Commerce, one of the best museums in Paris
frescos in the dome of the Bourse de Commerce

27. Bourse de Commerce: Contemporary Art

Housed in Paris’ former stock exchange two blocks from the Louvre, thie spanking new Bourse de Commerce houses the collection of one man, French billionaire Francoise Pinault.

The museum opened in May 2021 and was 20 years in the making. The private museum was overhauled and renovated by prize winning architect Tadao Ando, to the tune of $140 million.

It has 3,000 square feet of space and it’s gorgeous. It’s worth a visit just to see the building.

You can hardly take your eyes off the painted panorama in the lower part of the dome. It’s over 4500 feet and represents the five parts of the world.

Pinault’s collection of contemporary art includes 5,000 works by Cy Twonbley, Cindy Sherman, Daniel Hirst, and Jeff Koons. There is also plenty of exhibition space.

The Bourse de Commerce’s third floor overlooks the Jardin Nelson Mandela. It offers views of Saint Eustache church, the Centre Pompidou, and the Paris rooftops.

Musée Bourdelle
Musée Bourdelle

28. Musée Bourdelle: Artist Studio

The Musée Bourdelle is one of the few remaining examples of the artists studios that filled Montparnasse in fin-de-siecle Paris.

Arranged throughout its darkly atmospheric interiors are close to 500 monumental works by sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. The Great Hall holds the plaster casts used as the basis for his best known bronzes. Probably the most famous are his casts for Hercules the Archer.

Bourdelle was a pupil of Auguste Rodin and a mentor to Alberto Giacometti and Aristide Maillol. His studio was also used by Dalou and Chagall.

You’ll also see art works by Ingres, Delacroix, and Rodin himself. The artist’s studio is still arranged as it was during his lifetime, complete with intriguing details like a full set of Samurai armor and scraps of medieval architecture.

the Museum of the Romantic Life
the Museum of the Romantic Life

29. Museum of the Romantic Life: 19th Century Works

The 9th arrondissement also has a lovely museum dedicated to Romanticism called the Musée de la Vie Romantique, or the Museum of the Romantic Life.

In the lexicon of swoonful museums names, this museum wins top prize.

Opened in 1987, the museum is housed in the Italianate style Hôtel Scheffer-Renan at the foot of Montmartre Hill. It’s hidden down a picturesque cobblestone alley and wrought iron gate.

casts of the hands of pianist Chopin and novelist George Sand
casts of the hands of pianist Chopin and novelist George Sand

The intimate little museum is widely regarded as one of Paris’ most beautiful and quaint museums. It celebrates the lives and works of George Sand, who was a writer, libertine, and femme fatale, and Ary Scheffer, a Romantic Period Dutch painter.

With its creaking floors and curios, you can almost imagine yourself in the 19th century. If hunger calls, there’s a cafe onsite, Rose’s Bakery. It’s a satellite store of the famous bakery on Rue des Martyrs.

sculptures in the Maillol Museum
sculptures in the Maillol Museum

30. Maillol Museum: Single Artist Sculpture Museum

This beloved Maillol Museum is a single artist museum that’s a hidden gem in Paris. The small museum is located on the Left Bank. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the Rodin Museum, if you’re a fan of sculpture.

The Maillol Museum was founded by Maillol’s late-in-life muse and model Dina Vierny. After Maillol’s death, she inherited the bulk of his art work.

Maillol was a sculptor and sometimes painter, who adopted an old school craftsman style. His full bodied sculptures offer an absolute stability. Some look like the very image of determination.

Maillol scupltures
Maillol sculptures

In contrast to Rodin, whose sculptures were in a continuous state of drama and uproar, Maillol’s sturdier pieces seem effortless, idealized, and more abstract.

The museum showcases Maillol’s most important drawings, engravings, pastels, tapestry panels, ceramics, and sculptures. The collection epitomizes his calm, modern classicism.

They art works range in date from 1899 to 1940. The permanent collection also includes works by Picasso, Monet, Degas, Duchamp, and Kandinsky. The museum also hosts some outstanding exhibits.

Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac
Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac

31. The Quai Branly Museum: Non-Western Artifacts

Opened in 2006, the Musee du Quai Branley – Jacques Chirac is one of the best museums in Paris.

It was the pet project of French President Jacques Chirac. The museum is housed in an extraordinary building designed by award winning architect Jean Nouvel.

The low slung horizontal building consists of four connected buildings, which are all wildly different. One exterior wall is covered with vegetation. One curves with the Seine.

exhibit of indigenous primitive art at the Quai Branly
exhibit of indigenous primitive art at the Quai Branly

You enter into a high ceilinged atrium. A spiraling stairway that mimics a river leads to the massive permanent display area.

The museum is devoted entirely to non-Western indigenous art and culture. Its vast collection has thousands of artifacts, with dimly-lit rooms dedicated to art from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

Its treasures include a 10th century Dogon statue from Mali, Aztec statues, Peruvian feather tunics, ritual masks, and rare frescos from Ethiopia.

the Gustav Klimt show at Paris' Atelier des Lumière
the Gustav Klimt show at Paris’ Atelier des Lumière

32. L’Atelier des Lumieres: Paris’ Digital Museum

If you’re looking for a twinkly indoor activity that’s visually amazing, you’ll love the Atelier des Lumieres, or Workshop of Light. The Atelier is Paris’ first digital museum. It’s operated by Culturespaces, a French museum foundation specializing in immersive art displays.

The Atelier is housed in an old factory in the 11th arrondissement. Using state of the art visuals and audio, the Atelier transforms famous works of art into projections on a vast 3300 square foot space. It’s a multi-sensory light and sound show.

The Atelier des Lumieres has became a new cultural hotspot in Paris. You don’t see the paintings as the artist intended, in quiet reflection.

But you may feel like you’re truly inhabiting the art, swathed in it from all angles and sides. Check the website to see which artist is featured — Klimt, Monet, Dali, Renoir, Chagall, etc.

Palais Galliera, one for the best museums in Paris for fashion lovers
Palais Galliera

33. Palais Galliera: Fashion

The Palais Galliera is a museum dedicated to fashion and the history of fashion. Its official name is the Palais Galliera – Musee de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

The collection is housed in a Renaissance palace built by the Duchesse de Galliera, then Paris’ wealthiest woman.

Newly renovated, the permanent collection takes a generalist approach to the history of fashion since the 18th century. You’ll find designer costumes, jewelry, walking sticks, hats, shoes, bags, fans, gloves, parasols and umbrellas.

This museum is a surprisingly hot ticket in Paris. I was recently there for a temporary exhibition on Frida Kahlo and it was completely sold out.

Hotel de la Marine
Hotel de la Marine

34. Hotel de la Marine: Sumptuous Period Rooms

The Hôtel de la Marine is another new museum in Paris, just opening in 2021. It’s housed in a grand Neo-classical palace on the Place de la Concorde,

It was designed and built between 1757 and 1774 by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Louis XV’s superintendent had a grand suite of rooms there. 

The museum can now be visited for the first time in almost 250 years after a 4 year $157 million renovation. 200 of France’s finest craftsmen were hired to restore it to its former to its Louis XV splendor.

Today, visitors can embark on an immersive visit of the sumptuous apartments, complete with furnishings and state rooms that provide access to the loggia overlooking the Place de la Concorde. The elegance quotient is off the charts and an audio guide offers colorful historical anecdotes.

Click here to book a skip the line ticket.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best museums in Paris. You may enjoy these other Paris travel guides and resources:

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