The Marais hits it out of the park when it comes to museums! There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, especially Modern art enthusiasts.
The Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of cream and gray buildings, its strange, intricate network of colorful pipes unabashedly snaking over the monumental rectangular form. When it was first built in the 1977, it was a topic of distaste amongst Parisians. These days, however, it holds the title as one of the most important modern art museums in Europe, housing some of the greats such as Duchamp, Kandinsky, and Mondrian, just to name a few. A highlight for many is the view from the top of the massive exterior escalator, one that carries you through a massive transparent tube, the city sprawled out beneath you.
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou
Transport: Metro Rambuteau (line 11), Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 and 11), Châtelet–Les Halles (lines 1, 4, 7, 11, 14, A, B, and D)
Pablo Picasso was one of the most original and prolific artists of the twentieth century. The bulk of his artistic career occurred in Paris, even though his roots lie in Spain. Newly reopened in late 2014 after 5 years of renovation, the Musée Picasso features thousands of priceless artworks: ceramics, sculptures, drawings, paintings, and sketches. The museum presents Picasso’s life chronologically, exploring his winding, dauntless journey into various art movements and styles. Long known for being an eccentric, vivacious fellow, many satirical cartoons depicting his strange mannerisms and style are on display in the museum, presenting a well-rounded view of the cultural climate at the time. Pieces from Picasso’s personal art collection are also on display, works from Cézanne, Degas, Seurat, and Matisse.
Address: Hôtel Salé, 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
Transport: Metro Saint-Paul (line 1), Saint-Sébastien-Froissart and Chemin Vert (line 8)
Think of the Carnavalet Museum as an interactive history book, documenting everything about Paris and its inhabitants from Pre-history to today; it truly brings history to life. The museum is housed in two classic Marais townhouses with beautifully manicured gardens at the center. Each time period is reproduced within the townhouse rooms: Imagine the rugged world of ancient times, or immerse yourself in the stylistic endeavors of the 17th century. The museum has also recreated famous Parisian bedrooms; Marcel Prousts’ bedroom, complete with his notebooks and pens splayed out before him, ready to pen a literary masterpiece. Because the Musée Carnavalet covers such an expansive amount of time, it boasts the widest variety: artworks, ancient street signs, cultural artifacts, and archaeological remains. The Musée Carnavalet truly provides the missing pieces of your Paris exploration.
Address: 6 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris
Transport: Metro Saint Paul (line 1), or Chemin Vert (line 8)
Maison de Victor Hugo
Apartment number 6 in the Place des Vosges is where acclaimed French writer Victor Hugo once found his home. In his second floor room overlooking the picturesque garden-square, he wrote Les Chants du Crepuscule, Les Voix intérieures, and a large portion of the beloved Les Misérables. The apartment tour features the three decisive stages of his creative life through furniture, décor, and memorabilia: pre-exile, exile in Guernsey and post-exile. The first floor displays sketches and iconography of his written work.
Address: 6 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris
Transport: Metro Bastille (lines 1, 5, and 8) and Saint Paul (line 1)
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme
Inside one of the many old mansions of the Marais, this museum of Jewish art and history focuses on French Jewish cultural heritage through paintings, drawings, textiles and manuscripts. The museum also honors Jewish lives in North Africa and the rest of Europe, all with respect and consideration in regards to the trials and horrors they have endured.
Address: 71 Rue du Temple, 75003 Paris,
Transport: Metro Rambuteau (line 11)
Mémorial de la Shoah
The Mémorial de la Shoah illuminates the harsh realities of the Second World War and is dedicated to the memory of the six million Jewish people who perished during those tragic years. In addition, it concentrates on eliminating racism in future generations. A staggering 55,000 photographs and portraits bring you face-to-face with those who were lost. There is also a wall memorializing all 76,000 names of the French Jews taken to Nazi camps in the 1940s.
Address: 17 Rue Geoffroy l'Asnier, 75004 Paris
Transport: Metro Pont Marie (line 7) and Saint Paul (line 1)
Musée des Arts et Métiers
This museum, dedicated to technological and scientific innovation, was founded in 1794 in the spirit of the Enlightenment. It houses several of the most important scientific gadgets from the past including celestial spheres, barometers, clocks and scales, as well as more impressive objects like the cinematograph of the first filmmakers in history, the Lumière brothers, and a scale model of the Statue of Liberty. It’s truly an imaginative, thought-provoking experience! Don’t forget to check out the steampunk metro station underneath the museum, inspired by Jules Verne’s science fiction works - you can find it on the platforms of line 11 at Arts et Métiers.
Address: 60 rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris
Transport: Metro Arts et Métiers (line 11 and 3)
Founders of a prosperous department store in the 1st Arrondissement known as La Samaritaine, Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jay, funneled their fortune directly into their art collection. Between 1900 and 1925, the married couple collected quite an array of 18th century paintings and sculptures. After their deaths, the extensive collection was donated to the City of Paris after which the 1,200 paintings, drawings and sculptures were brought together to become the Musée Cognacq-Jay. A treasure trove of the finest, most opulent decorative objects, furniture and paintings resides here.
Address: 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris
Transport: Metro Saint Paul (line 1)