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Thanks to its monumental impact on fashion, design, and gastronomy, Paris is one of Europe’s most influential cities. It’s a major capital bursting with rich, cultural experiences around every corner.
Although you could never get bored visiting a city like Paris, there are a few landmarks and buildings you absolutely cannot miss. For example, Paris is known for its large collection of amazing museums and art galleries. In a city with over 100 different museums, you might have a hard time narrowing down exactly which ones to visit!
So we put together an insider’s guide to all the best museums in town. We guarantee that you’ll find something new and exciting to see and experience while visiting the City of Lights.
Table of Contents
Not only is the Louvre the largest art gallery in the world, but it’s up there with the Eiffel Tower as one of Paris’ most iconic landmarks! Besides housing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre rotates through almost 400,000 pieces of art from every point in history.
It’s divided into eight different collections, including Egyptian antiquities, paintings and drawings, sculptures, and Islamic art to name a few. You could easily dedicate a few days to exploring the entirety of Paris’ most loved museum. This is one you definitely don’t want to skip on your trip!
Due to the sheer size of the Louvre, we recommend visiting with a guide who knows their way around.
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Auguste Rodin might be one of France’s most famous artists, and thousands of his works can be found right here in the Rodin Museum. There are nearly 7,000 sculptures, and almost double the number of drawings and paintings on display.
Although you could spend several hours just admiring the inside of the museum, you won’t want to miss the outdoor sculpture garden. Many of his most popular sculptures, like The Thinker, are on display in the lush, green garden.
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Although it may be considered more of a residence than an actual museum, the Palace of Versailles is a breathtaking landmark that will likely be the highlight of your Paris trip. The palace was originally the residence of the French Royal court until it was abandoned in the early 1700s after the death of Louis XIV.
You’ll be amazed as you walk through the glistening Hall of Mirrors, the grandiose Royal Opera, and the decadent royal apartments. And if the sun is shining, step outside to the lavish Garden of Versailles, complete with fountains, mazes, and blooming flowers.
Experience the Palace of Versailles like a royal by skipping the line with advanced tickets!
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Can you spot the difference between a real and fake Louis Vuitton purse? At the Counterfeit Museum, you’ll be able to see how the knock-off production of luxury brands has grown into a booming business.
Although it’s the most common, fashion isn’t the only thing that’s reproduced in fake, mass quantities. You will also find also a vast collection of counterfeit toys, pens, jewelry and even dictionaries on display!
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Located on the banks of the Seine River in a defunct railway station, the Musée d’Orsay houses some of the best French artworks in all of Paris. Most of the pieces come from the 19th century, but also includes the world’s largest impressionist and post-impressionist painters in the world.
You’ll find works from Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Gauguin, as well as Van Gogh’s infamous Starry Night Over the Rhone. When you’re inside, glance above you to see the magnificent Musée d’Orsay Clock.
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You might not think of mythical creatures when you think of Paris, but the city is actually home to the world’s only vampire museum! Tucked away in a dark, cobblestone alley is Musée des Vampires, a museum that’s filled with everything spooky, eerie, and creepy.
There are mummified cats, anti-vampire protection kits, and even books with secret spells. Since this is a privately owned museum, visits must be arranged ahead of time
If you need a break from the masses of classical French art, then take a quick visit to the Quai Branly Museum. You’ll find an incredibly large collection of African, Asian, and American ethnic and tribal art. In fact, there are over 400,000 pieces of art altogether!
And when you’re done touring the museum, you can take a break in the on-site outdoor cafe. Here, you’ll have unforgettable views of the neighboring Eiffel Tower!
View both permanent and temporary exhibitions with advanced skip the line tickets to the Quai Branly Museum!
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Paris is a city known for many things, but it’s especially known as the ultimate land of love! At Musée de la Vie Romantique, you’ll find hundreds of objects and items that capture the spirit of artistic Romantic era in French.
You’ll find jewelry and photographs from Romantic novelist George Sand and portrait paintings by Ary Sheffer. There’s even a plaster cast of pianist Chopin’s left hand! This small museum is also located in Montmartre, one of Paris’ most romantic neighborhoods.
Located underneath a 16th-century villa that once belonged to Marquis de Sade, the Musée de la Magie is one of Paris’ most unique small museums. The museum is not only dedicated to magic and illusion, but it also contains a large collection of antique toys, show equipment, and general oddities. Although the museum is free to visit, you can watch a real live magic show up close just for an extra fee!
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Although Picasso was born in Spain, he lived for almost 70 years in Franch, and his life and paintings are still memorialized at Musée Picasso. There are over 5,000 of his paintings, sculptures, and drawings on display, as well as thousands of his personal papers and manuscripts.
Since Picasso died in France, a large collection of his paintings that are displayed are from his later years. However, you can still view many of his works that were completed throughout his lifetime.
Get priority access to Musée Picasso with skip the line tickets!
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There is a seemingly endless supply of art museums in Paris, but the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is one of the most modern and influential! It houses an astounding 10,000 works from the last century, and even highlights up and coming trends that can be found in art today.
While the temporary exhibits rotate every six weeks, the museum’s permanent collection is equally as impressive. You’ll find all the biggest names hanging on the walls, from Picasso and Matisse to Delaunay to Dufy.
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Located next to the Tuileries Gardens, the Musée de l’Orangerie is another well-known impressionist art museum in Paris. The museum is located inside a 19th-century orangery (hence the name!), which was used to protect the orange trees next to the gardens.
The museum attracts thousands of visitors a year who come to view the vast collection of paintings, including the eight panels of Monet’s Water Lilies.
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Live La Vie en rose as you explore Musée Édith Piaf, a museum dedicated to the life of French singer Édith Piaf! The museum is set inside two small rooms of an apartment where Piaf lived when she was 18.
Although it may be small, the museum is brimming with all types of artifacts, personal items, and memorabilia. Read her fan letters, browse your china collection, and even listen to original recordings that you can’t find anywhere else!
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Get up close and personal with some of the biggest celebrities and stars to ever step foot in Paris! At Musée Grévin, you can mingle with over 450 wax figures from Hollywood, sports, and history.
Shake hands with Michael Jackson, admire Pablo Picasso, and even take photographs with Napoleon III! The figures are arranged in different scenes and are so incredibly lifelike, that you’ll have to do a double take just to make sure it’s not really them!
Don’t miss a chance to visit Musée Grévin! Make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time to guarantee your entrance.
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The Musée du Vin is a must visit for all wine lovers and aficionados! Located in the underground depths of a 15th-century limestone quarry, the Musée du Vin dives deep into the process of making everyone’s favorite alcoholic beverage – wine!
You don’t need to venture to the French wine country in order to taste delicious red wines. You can enjoy a sample tasting at the end of the museum right here in Paris.
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The “inside out” building of Le Centre Pompidou is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With twisting pipes, floating staircases, and free-standing sculptures, it’s an architectural masterpiece on its own.
However, Le Centre Pompidou also houses some of the coolest pieces of modern art around. You’ll find unique paintings from Picasso as well one of a kind sculptures like the Stravinsky Fountain. But of course, you could simply just go to admire the bizarre building itself!
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Step back in time and explore the history of France and Paris at Musée Carnavalet. Built inside two different 16th-century villas, the museum covers everything from the Renaissance to the French Revolution and everything in between.
There are paintings, sculptures, photographs and even antique pieces of furniture. Its considerably less crowded compared to other museums in Paris, making it a wonderful sight to visit during the busy summer months.
With some of France’s most important medieval artifacts, the Musée National du Moyen Age is a stunning look into the past. The museum houses a large collection of Mediterranean and Scandinavian arts, along with French classical paintings.
However, the museum is known for the famous 15th-century tapestry collection titled La Dame à la Licorne, or The Lady and the Unicorn. It’s meticulously woven from wool and sick and depicts the different five senses humans have.
Mixing science and art together, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum in Paris worth visiting! The museum is divided into seven galleries, each covering a different aspect of science and technology. Play with different scientific instruments, learn about how energy is conducted, and even view the worlds first mechanical calculator.
There’s also an impressive installation about the world’s first methods of transportation and automobiles. But by far, the main attraction in the museum is the original model of New York’s Statue of Liberty!
The Musée des Arts Forains is quite possibly the most fun museum in Paris. Opened by antique dealer Jean-Paul Favand, the museum is solely dedicated to amusement rides and fairground attractions!
There are over dozens of antiquated rides and fair stalls that were used between 1850 – 1950. But nothing is more magical than the star of the show, a brightly colored merry-go-round. Visits to Musée des Arts Forains must be arranged ahead of time through their website.
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Once the site of the world’s oldest veterinary schools, the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort is not for the squeamish. In this one of a kind museum, you’ll learn all about bizarre, weird, and just plain eerie side of medicine.
Human body parts are on display, but the focus of the museum is on animal skeletons and dissections. On every wall, you’ll be able to see strange animal specimens, like a Siamese lamb, a 10-legged sheep, and even a two-headed cow!
Although France has one of the most well-known militaries in the world, there is still a long war-torn past that deserves to be explored. At Musée de l’Armée, you’ll see thousands of military artifacts such as weapons, uniforms, and machines that were used by the French army.
Many of the items come between the 13th and 17th centuries, although there are several exhibits devoted to modern development. You’ll even see life-size FT17 tanks, missiles, and even pistols on display.
Visit the Musée de l’Armée (along with 60 other Paris attractions) with a Paris City Pass!
Is there anything more alluring than French perfume? The Musée du Parfum is built inside a 19th-century French town-home and is completely dedicated to the sights and smells of perfume. Within the different exhibits, you’ll find antique perfume bottles, toiletry sets, and advertising photographs from some of the top perfume companies.
You might even learn a thing or two about how these scents are manufactured and packaged. Don’t miss the perfume organ, which automatically mixes different a variety of different fragrances.
Learn more about the history of international, eastern, and western medicine right here at the Musée d’histoire de la médecine. There are hundreds of objects and tools that were used in surgeries, hospitals, and apothecaries around the world.
Egyptian embalming tools, amputation saws, and autopsy charts are just a few of the gruesome but intriguing things you’ll see on display! But don’t worry, the majority of the museum is very educational and shouldn’t be too frightening!
Immerse yourself in the glamorous world of shimmering, shining crystal at Galerie-Musée Baccarat! This museum is slightly off the beaten path, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in beauty. View larger than life chandeliers, glistening table settings, and marble columns throughout the rooms of the palace.
Designers like Georges Chevalier and Ettore Sottsass have designed several crystal pieces that are also on display. You’ll feel like a celebrity as soon as you step inside!
See art in ways you could never imagine! Unlike normal art galleries, Atelier des Lumières is an interactive experience that takes popular and well-known paintings to a whole new level.
Using 140 video projectors and surround sound, you’ll see artworks from your favorite artists come to life as they dance on the ceilings and walls of the museum. All you have to do is find a comfy chair or seat and watch the magic happen right before your eyes!
This might be one of Paris’ most delicious exhibits! At Musée du Chocolat, you’ll step inside the decadent, tasty world of everything chocolate! This interactive museum not only teaches you the history of chocolate, but it also showcases some of the coolest pieces of chocolate art to ever exist.
But most importantly, all the chocolate samples in the museum are free and unlimited! Try unique one of kind flavors, or feel free to just stick to the delicious classics.
No, this isn’t just a cigarette shop! The Musée du Fumeur is a museum that looks at a variety of tools and equipment related to smoking. You’ll find ancient Chinese opium pipes, Egyptian hookahs, and even clothing made out of hemp.
You don’t have to be a smoker to visit or enjoy the museum. Even non-smokers can learn a little bit more about different ancient smoking tools that were used in the past.
Located inside the French National Museum of Natural History, the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology has a vast collection of some of the worlds rarest gemstones! Learn about the growth and formation of minerals and see rocks of all shapes, colors, and sizes.
Some of the crystals are fluorescent and shimmer in the light, while others are roughly cut straight out of the ground. And since only 600 out of 800,000 specimens are on display at one time, you can keep coming back year after year and still see new rocks!
When you think of French cinema, the thoughts of classic film noir films likely come to mind. However, France is known for having some of the most influential movies and films in the world!
And at Musée de la Cinémathèque, you can see over 5,000 objects like movie scripts, costumes, and camera equipment in one place. Don’t miss out on memorabilia from your favorite blockbuster hits, like Mrs. Bates head from Psycho and the female robot from Metropolis!
Visit the Musée de la Cinémathèque and 60 other museums with a 2 day Paris City Pass!
Housing a variety of temporary rotating exhibits, Art Ludique focuses on the alternative side of art, from graphic novels and comic books to claymation and animated films.
Using post-production techniques and digital technology, you’ll be able to see how talented animators bring your favorite characters, settings, and designs to life. Past exhibits have been dedicated to Pixar, Marvel Superheroes, Studio Ghibli, and Aardman Animations.
How many museums are in Paris?
There are a record-breaking 130 or so museums inside the city limits of Paris. You’ll find something for every type of visitor, from Renaissance and modern art galleries to offbeat specialty exhibits.
How many free museums are in Paris?
There are several museums and art galleries in Paris that are free to visit year round. Some museums are also free on the first Sunday of the month. And if you are an EU citizen under 26 years old, then all national museums (like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay) are always free to visit.
What are the hours of the museums in Paris?
Most museums in Paris are open starting at 9 or 10 in the morning and close around 5 or 6 in the evening. There are several museums that are closed on Mondays and Tuesday, however, you can still find many that are open 7 days a week. As always, most Paris museums are closed on national and bank holidays.
What can I bring into Paris museums?
Cameras and photography are generally allowed in most museums in Paris, including the Louvre, Palace of Versailles, and Musée d’Orsay. However, you must disable the flash before taking any photographs. Backpacks are also typically not allowed, and must be checked in at the front desk or left back in your hotel.
As you now know, there is more to Paris than just a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower or a stroll through the Champs-Élysées. If you’re looking to really soak in what Paris has to offer, we recommend visiting some of the city’s best museums.
Whether you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, checking out antique French Revolution weapons, or simply basking in the Palace of Versailles, Paris has a museum to just for you.
We hope that you’ll walk away from the museums with new experiences, more knowledge, and a deeper appreciation of French and Parisian culture.
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.