Paris holds some of the biggest, most amazing and beautiful museums and art collections in the world, you could easily spend whole days exploring them. So here is a list of my favorites, including some hidden gems and some world-famous places.
Consider that Paris and the museums are always crowded with tourists, especially during the weekend. You can buy tickets online for most museums, so if you plan a little bit ahead you can save time waiting in line.
A little bit off the beaten track close to gare Montparnasse is the Musée Bourdelle. The former atelier of artist Antoine Bourdelle is a hidden gem with many different rooms and a garden full of the sculptor’s artworks. Sometimes there are also interesting exhibitions, like the exposition ‘back stories’ about the back in fashion.
Also a bit off the usual tourist routes you find the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the park Jardin d’Acclimatation. The building by Frank Gehry is breathtaking, but the exhibitions are also exquisite. You can spend hours exploring the building’s many levels, especially the rooftop and outside area.
Relatively close to the Louis Vuitton Fondation you can also visit the Villa La Roche as well as the studio-apartement by architect Le Corbusier.
One of the classic, very impressive museums is the Musée d’Orsay right on the other left side of the river Seine. Here you can discover some great masterpieces just casually hanging there, like paintings of Van Gogh, Degas and Gaugin. But simply the building and volume of artworks is incredible. Every fist Sunday of the month the entrance is free, it’s best to get there early as to not having to wait in line too long. Right across the bridge there is also the Jardin des Tuileries with the Musée de l’Orangerie, where you can see the beautiful Nymphéas, or water lilies by Claude Monet.
If you are interested in fashion, you can visit the small Musée Yves Saint Laurent in the designer’s original couture house and see exhibitions of his historic fashion creations.
There is also the lovely Association Azzedine Alaia in Alaia’s former home and atelier, where they show small exhibitions of his designs. Also the small cafe and bookshop are very nice.
Another world-famous museum is of course the Centre Georges Pompidou, where you can admire works by Yves Klein and Francis Bacon. Buy tickets in advance to avoid the long queues.
A fantastic place to see photo exhibitions is the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Also an interesting museum is the Musée de Cluny, where you can see artworks of the Middle Ages in a unique building which is build around the remains of an ancient Roman thermal bath.
Then there is the Louvre, of course, which is definitely worth a visit, especially when there is a special exhibition like the Da Vinci show. Just be prepared that it will be crowded and you might have to wait in line if you don’t buy tickets online in advance. Located in the Louvre is also the huge Musée des Arts décoratifs, where you can see amazing fashion exhibitions, for example.
The Palais de Tokyo usually hosts some very interesting contemporary art exhibitions. Often there are also some very cool events like art performances and concerts. The bar and restaurant Les Grands Verres located in the building is a very hip and cool hangout spot, too.
The Musée du quai Branly is the huge ethnological museum with a beautiful collection of indigenous art and culture. The building and garden, designed by famous architect Jean Nouvel, are impressive, too.
The Institut du monde arabe is not only located in an interesting building that mixes traditional and modern oriental architecture, also designed by Jean Nouvel, there are great exhibitions and a lovely rooftop terrace with great views of Notre-Dame, river Seine and the whole city, too.
The Mona Bismarck Center, the American house for arts and culture, often has some interesting small exhibitions in a beautiful old villa at the river Seine.
The Musée de la Vie romantique near Pigalle is a lovely hidden gem. It consists of a small exhibition hall and the former house of painter Ary Scheffer. But the highlight is actually the garden and romantic tearoom.
The Musée Rodin located in a beautiful villa with an extraordinary garden is another highlight of the cities’s many sights. You can admire Augustine Rodin’s fantastic sculptures and wander around the romantic park-like garden.