There’s a museum perfect for every artistic taste in Paris, from the outstanding collection of masterpieces at the Louvre Museum to the intimate setting of the Rodin Museum’s sculpture garden or the outrageous colors of the modern Pompidou Centre. Many of Paris’ museums are located in buildings just as artistic and beautiful as the collections they present. Here are our favorite museums and galleries to explore during your vacation in Paris.
The world’s most famous museum is at the top of any must see list in Paris. The Louvre’s impressive collection is home to so much more than the Mona Lisa, and includes French and European painting, sculptures and objets d’art from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, antiquities from Greece, Rome, Egypt and more. A world of art is waiting to be discovered!
Housed in a train station built in 1900, the Musée d’Orsay is a delightful museum. An expansive glass arch fills the central hall with light, and the ornate original clocks for the railway are still in place. Most visitors come to see the world-class collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, as well as the Art Nouveau galleries and special exhibitions.
One of our favorite museums in Paris, the Musée Rodin is located in an elegant 18th-century mansion in the 7th arrondissement. Rodin lived here during the last years of his life, and his work is on display throughout the beautifully landscaped gardens and mansion. The gardens are a lovely spot to relax on a summer day, surrounded by sculptures by this great French artist.
One of Paris’ most controversial and colorful buildings, the Pompidou Centre is easily spotted with its bright green, blue and red piping and unusual glass façade designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in 1977. There’s a lot to see inside, but the biggest draw is the Musée National d’Art Moderne, one of the finest collections of modern art in Europe.
Set in an opulent home built for wealthy 19th-century banker Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart near Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement, this museum presents the couple’s extraordinary art collection exactly as it was during their life. Magnificently decorated, the museum includes masterpieces by Italian artists Botticelli, Donatello, Tiepolo and many more.
Built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900, the Petit Palais is located near the Seine and ornate Pont Alexandre III bridge. Since 1902 the building has been home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, with an excellent collection of paintings, decorative arts, jewelry and more, all located in a building as historic and beautiful as the art collections on display.
Musée National du Moyen Age
The National Museum of the Middle Ages is one of Paris’ most evocative museums. This extensive collection of medieval arts is located in the Hôtel de Cluny, a rare example of medieval architecture in Paris built as the town house for the Abbots of Cluny. Inside discover the Roman baths beneath the Hôtel, the famous tapestry collections and enjoy the Gothic architecture.
Les Arts Décoratifs
Located in the Palais du Louvre, Les Arts Décoratifs comprises several museums dedicated to design. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs offers a chronological walk through design history, from furniture to dainty objets d'art, while the Musée de la Publicité is dedicated to advertising history. Fashion lovers will swoon over the Musée de la Mode et du Textile’s exhibitions highlighting French fashion history.
Musée de l'Orangerie
One of Paris’ loveliest small museums, the Musée de l’Orangerie sits on the edge of the Tuileries near the Seine in a building the once protected orange trees from the gardens. The museum is home to the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume Collection of masterpieces by Cézanne, Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and many more, as well as Monet’s outstanding water lily series Nymphéas.
Musée Jeu de Paume
Right at the edge of the Tuileries overlooking Place de la Concorde, the Musée Jeu de Paume is located in a building that was once a royal tennis court. The museum, famous for its appearance in the final episode of “Sex and the City” filmed in Paris, hosts exhibitions of photography and video art from the 19th to the 21st centuries.
Musée National Picasso
One of the finest collections of Picasso’s artwork in the world, the Musée Picasso is located in a distinguished 17th-century mansion in the Marais neighborhood. Reopened in 2014 after a lengthy restoration project begun in 2009, the museum is now better than ever.