Museums and Galleries

There are so many museums and galleries in Paris, it’s worth checking the papers and street posters to see what concerts and special exhibitions are on, particularly at the “Big” exhibition spaces such as the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.

Pre-booking of entry tickets

These days, particularly with “blockbuster” exhibitions at the major galleries and museums, it is essential to pre-book a ticket.  This can be easily done online either via the venue’s own website, or from FNAC,  This will avoid waiting in very long, slow queues, especially during winter and peak tourist seasons.  As well, major shows often sell out the entire season of a special exhibition via pre-sold tickets, even before the starting date.

Virtually all museums and galleries in France charge an entry fee, so a Museum Pass, La Carte Musées et Monuments, is a good idea as it saves money and time (queuing can sometimes take ages if it’s a popular museum).

The pass can be bought from participating museums, monuments, major metro stations, and at the Espace du Tourisme Ile-de-France (Carrousel du Louvre 99 Rue de Rivoli).

A great Web-site to check out all this and more is:  also at


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Musée Rodin

In rue de Varenne, near Hôtel des Invalides. Once Rodin’s own home, it’s set in lovely grounds with an excellent cafe in the back garden.  It has most of Rodin’s best-known bronzes such as The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell, Balzac, Victor Hugo, as well as terracottas & marbles. 

Metro: Varenne.

Musée Marmottan – Monet

At 2, rue Louis Boilly, 75016.  Situated very near the Bois de Boulogne.  This houses the collection of Jules and Paul Marmottan who willed their collection to the Academie des Beaux Arts.  Its collection of Monets is second only to the Musee d’Orsay.  Also has Renoir, Sisley, Morisot, Pisarro, Caillebotte, Gaugin, as well as Empire paintings and furniture. A favourite, and lovely on a Sunday morning, when you can stroll through a very pleasant park from the metro station. 

Metro:  La Muette.

Musée d’Orsay

Worth visiting just to see the brilliant conversion of the building from former railway terminus into a museum, quite apart from the spectacular collection.  Now houses the Impressionist collections previously in the Jeu de Paume, sculpture, Art Nouveau furniture and glass, amongst other treasures.  A wonderful experience just to be there.  A good place to eat is the cafe situated just behind the enormous clock face.  It’s quite a sight. 

Metro Solferino

The Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet
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This is a wonderful museum, displaying art and archaeology from 17 Asian countries ranging from India, Afghanistan to Japan and all of Southeast Asia.  It is housed in a wonderful 19th century stone “Haussmann” style building, but has been totally rebuilt inside—extremely modern and quite stunning.  The original collection had belonged to a well-known art collector, M. Guimet, and now has the largest collection of Buddhist art in Europe.  It is absolutely superb, and a great experience.  There is a lovely café in the basement serving Asian cuisine, and is very popular.  The gift/bookshop is excellent, with a number of titles in English.  It’s situated at 6 Place d’Iena, cnr. ave. d’Iena, quite close to the Palais de Chaillot du Trocadero. 

Nearest metro, Iena.

Musée du Quai Branly

Entrance 218, rue de l’Université.  This impressive museum is the latest of Paris’ major museums and opened mid 2006.  Its collection is described as the cross-roads of civilisations covering art and artefacts of the Americas, Oceania, Africa and Asia.  The building itself is architecturally dramatic. 

Metro: a couple of possibilities: Bir Hakeim (the stop for the Eiffel Tower), Alma-Marceau, or Iéna.


Hotel Carnavalet

23 rue de Sévigné, off rue francs-Bourgeois 3th arr. in the Marais.  This wonderful museum, situated in the Marais district, is devoted to the history and development of the city from its origins right up to early 20th century, with relief maps, documents, souvenirs of the Revolution etc: 

Metro: either St-Paul or Chemin Vert.

Arts et Metiers

Just up the road from the Centre Georges Pompidou, no. 60 rue Reaumur, cnr. rue St Martin, in the 3rd arr., is the science and technology museum.  Founded in 1794, the museum is housed within the walls of the former medieval Priory Saint-Martin-des-Champs, with the 11th century former chapel being perhaps the highlight display area.  It has a wonderful collection of over 80,000 examples of scientific instruments and machines, early cars and aircraft, including 19th century flying machines, engines, radio, radar and other marvels of humankind’s ingenuity, plus the original scale model of the Statue of Liberty. It’s all fascinating stuff and great fun. 

Metro: Arts et Metiers.

The Natural History Museum

57 rue Cuvier, 5th arr.  Situated in the Jardin des Plantes near Gare D’Austerlitz.  The spectacular Hall of Evolution shows the evolution of all life from Pre-historic times to modern, using moving models in a wonderfully evocative sound and light technique.  Don’t go there on a weekend, as every child in Paris will be there, with equally enthusiastic adult/s in tow!  A terrific experience. 

Metros:  Place Monge, St Marcel, Jussieu or Gare d’Austerlitz.

Institut Du Monde Arabe

Situated on Quai de la Tournelle, corner of rue des Fossés Saint Bernard, 5th arr., directly opposite Ile St Louis. This is quite an extraordinary building is a very beautiful blend of modern high-tech stainless steel and glass with traditional Arab architectural features and motifs. Take the lift to the top floor for the view at the top, where there’s also a restaurant where you can try mint tea and sticky, sweet Arabic pastries. As the name suggests, it’s dedicated to Arab culture, and has regular special exhibitions. Well worth a look, as it’s quite a showpiece. The museum, which houses a wide selection of traditional Arabic arts, crafts and artefacts..

Fondation Cartier Pour L’art Contemporain

261 bvd Raspail, 14th arr.  Designed in 1994 by French architect Jean Nouvel, the building itself is stunning and worth seeing for the way its all-glass façade fits into a traditional Paris streetscape.  It specialises in contemporary painting and art installations, videos etc. as the name suggests. 

Metro: Raspail.

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

At 2 Impasse Lebouis, 14th arr. This gallery is dedicated to the famous French photographer whose iconic photographs documented the life of the city.   They also have special exhibitions featuring other photographers. 

Nearest metro:  Gaïté, Line 13.

The Pavillon de l’Arsenal

21 bvd. Morland, 4th arr. Owned by the city of Paris and specialising in the architecture and urban development of the city.  The Arsenal is a terrific little museum/gallery housed in a former arsenal.  Always has something of interest, and it’s free.  Has a small but good selection of publications.

Closed Mondays.  Free entry. 

Nearest metro: Sully Morland (Line 7)

Fondation Pierre Berge Yves Saint Laurent

5 ave. Marceau, 16th arr., but entrance may be at 1 rue Léonce Reynaud.  This museum is located in the premises of YSL’s former atelier.  It houses a collection of over 5,000 haute couture garments, such as the famous Mondrian dress, and more than 15,000 accessories covering 40 years of YSL’s work, as well as photos, paintings, designs and objects from the history of the fashion house.  Also has exhibition space for temporary exhibitions, entrance at 3 rue Léonce Reynaud.  There is a large archive and library facility available to students and researchers, by appointment.  Metro: Alma Marceau (Line 9).

Musée Jacquemart-André

158 Bvd Haussmann, 8th arr., not far from the delightful Parc de Monceau. This lovely museum is housed in a magnificent Second Empire hôtel particulier (private mansion). The collection comprises major works from the French 18th century such as Fragonard and Boucher, English masters by Reynolds, Lawrence and others, Dutch works by Rembrandt and Van Dyck, and an exceptional collection representative of the Italian Renaissance, such as Botticelli, Bellini, Mantegna etc. Le Figaro newspaper once described the collection as a miniature Louvre. Even the café has a stunning Tiepolo ceiling, making it one of the most beautiful restaurant/tea-rooms in Paris. There is also a good book and gift shop.

The museum is open 365 days from 10.00am until 6.00 pm.

Metro: either Miromesnil or St Philippe du Roule. (Line 9)

Musée National Picasso

At 5 rue de Thorigny, in the Marais. About 5 – 10 min. stroll from the Place de Vosges. Housed in the former hôtel Salé, the whole building is full of paintings, sculpture and ceramics by Picasso, as well as some works by Braque, Cezanne and others once privately owned by Picasso. The Picasso family were “persuaded” to donate the collection to the State in lieu of death duties, so it’s quite extensive. Metro: St-Paul or Chemin Vert.

The Picasso Museum is currently closed for extensive renovations.

Check the website for update before you go:

The Musée De La Mode et Du Costume De La Ville De Paris

This is located quite close to the Musée des Arts Asiatiques. It has French fashion and costume from the 18th century to present day, also etchings, engravings, and fashion photographs. Situated in the Palais Galliera, opposite the Palais de Tokyo, at 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie.

Nearest metro, either Iena or Alma-Marceau.

The museum is temporarily closed until the autumn of 2013.

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