10 Best Museums in Paris

Paris Art and Culture Exhibitions

Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller
5 Sep, 2018

The task of listing the best museums in Paris is rather difficult as the city counts around 130 of them and is itself like a museum. If you’re interested in history, art, architecture or militaria, Paris should be near the top of your bucket list.

From the Louvre to the Orangerie and from the Grand Palais to the Centre Pompidou, you have plenty of opportunity to spice up your holiday with the visit of these temples of knowledge, culture and creative skill. We’ve done our best to pick out the ones which will give you the most impact and edutainment during your stay in Paris.

1

The Louvre

With over 70,000 sq m of gallery space, The Louvre is one of the largest art museums in the world. Housed in a 13th-century palace by the Seine River, in the heart of Paris, it’s also the most visited museum in France. Such an over-the-top venue can only store extraordinary items. From Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to the Winged Victory of Samothrace to Michelangelo's Dying Slave and many more, The Louvre takes you for a ride through the history of human arts.

Location: Rue de Rivoli in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris, France

Open: Friday and Wednesday from 9am to 10pm; other days from 9am to 6pm; closed on Tuesdays

  • History
  • Photo
2

Orsay Museum

Housed in a former railway station built at the end of the 19th century, Orsay Museum holds one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world. Masterpieces of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir and Cézanne, just to name a few, can be see among over 2,500 paintings and sculptures on display. The building is a piece of art by itself, and you should stop by and have a drink in the café near the vintage train station’s clock to fully take in the timeless feel of the place.

Location: Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, diagonally opposite The Louvre Museum on the south bank of the River Seine

Open: Tuesday – Friday from 9.30am to 6pm (9.45pm on Thursdays), closed on Mondays

  • History
  • Photo
3

Orangerie Museum

The Orangerie museum is not a big museum by size – it covers only 1,600 sq m – but it’s significant for the major Impressionist paintings it houses. Famed for its 2 rooms dedicated to Claude Monet's Water Lilies, the museum hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Most of them are dedicated to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and the Douanier Rousseau are just a few of the prominent artists who have paintings permanently on display at the Orangerie Museum.

Location: At the western end of the Jardin des Tuileries, on the north bank of the River Seine, Paris, France

Open: Wednesday – Monday from 9am to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays

  • History
  • Photo

photo by Traktorminze (CC BY-SA 3.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

4

Rodin Museum

Learn everything about Rodin and discover some of his most famous artworks in this 18th-century hotel (Hotel Biron) located right next to the Army Museum in the centre of Paris. From The Thinker to the Gates of Hell, and many other sculptures, drawings and ceramics, Rodin left an impressive artistic heritage for you to see in what used to be his workshop. It’s best to go on a sunny day as many statues are outside, in a lovely garden. The audio guide gives you plenty of information about this brilliant French artist.

Location: Just east of Les Invalides (the Army Museum), on Rue de Varenne, Paris, France

Open: Daily from 10am to 5.45pm

  • History
  • Photo

photo by omeWillem (CC0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

5

The Centre Pompidou

It’s almost fair to say that the Centre George Pompidou is more famous for its avant-garde architecture than for the pieces it houses in the National Museum of Modern Art. Besides the museum, the complex also hosts a library, a music centre, and a posh rooftop bar and restaurant. Permanent and temporary exhibitions of celebrity artists and designers such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Philippe Starck make this museum a lively place to visit.

Location: On Place Georges Pompidou, 550 metres north of The Cité Island

Open: Wednesday – Monday from 11am to 9pm, closed on Tuesdays

  • Couples
  • Families
  • History
  • Photo
6

The Army Museum

Named ‘les Invalides’ in French after the complex of buildings it’s hosted in, the Army Museum houses collections of weapons and uniforms used by the French Army throughout history. Significant part of the complex, the Dôme des Invalides holds The Tomb of Napoleon I. This huge museum takes you for a walk through the art of war. The French military may have a reputation as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” (thanks to The Simpsons), but this museum will show you just how inaccurate that is.

Location: 129 Rue de Grenelle on the south bank of the River Seine, in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, France

Open: April – October, daily from 10am to 6pm; November – March, daily from 10am to 5pm

  • History
  • Photo
7

The Grand Palais

Opened for the Universal Exposition of 1900, the Grand Palais houses an exhibition hall and 2 museums in one of the most impressive complexes in Paris. Listed as a historic monument, the Grand Palais is famous for its glass roof framed by iron and light steel. You can see temporary art exhibitions, the National Art Galleries and, in the west wing, a science museum and planetarium. After the visit, indulge yourself with a cocktail or a meal at the Mini Palais, a splendid venue that sits at the southeast corner of the complex.

Location: 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, opposite the Army Museum on the north bank of the River Seine in Paris, France

Open: Wednesday – Monday from 10 am to 8pm, closed on Tuesdays

  • History
  • Photo
8

Museum of Architecture and Heritage

Discover the rich French architectural heritage at this museum housed in the Palais de Chaillot. It’s on the Place du Trocadéro, right opposite the Eiffel Tower. Showcasing monumental reconstructions of architectural elements and scale reconstitutions of entire edifices, the museum invites you on a journey through French design and construction from the 12th century to today. One of the highlights of this museum is the walk through the full scale reconstitution of Gothic-style cathedral crypts.

Location: In the Palais de Chaillot on Place du Trocadéro, Paris, France

Open: Wednesday – Monday from 11am to 7pm (9pm on Thursdays), closed on Tuesdays

  • History
  • Photo

photo by herryway (CC0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

9

Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum

Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum is dedicated to the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. Named after its location and the former French president who ordered its construction, it showcases, at any given time, 3,500 objects from a collection of over 400,000 items. Here, you’ll discover primal art from all around the world in modern settings with interactive displays.

Location: On Quai Branly, 400 metres north of the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine in Paris, France

Open: Thursday – Saturday from 11am to 9pm; Sunday – Wednesday from 11am to 7pm, closed on Mondays

  • History
  • Photo
10

Dalí Paris

Enter the surreal world of Salvador Dali by visiting this small private museum a short stroll away from Place du Tertre, on the flank of Montmartre Hill. Dalí Paris shows the many facets of this eccentric and highly imaginative artist, including about 300 original artworks. Painting, sculpture, engraving and photography – here you’ll come across the different forms of art which this quirky man got into.

Location: 11 Rue Poulbot, near Place du Tertre on the flank of Montmartre Hill, Paris, France

Open: Daily from 10am to 6pm

  • History
  • Photo

photo by Jeremy Polanski (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

Start planning your trip