The Best Museums in Paris


This is a very subjective list of the best Museums in Paris.

Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou, in the 4th Arrondissement.
01 44 78 12 33. Closed Tues.The place for modern art in a building that remains cutting edge even though it’s over 30 years old.
Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
Palais de Chaillot. 1, place du Trocadéro, in the 16th.
01 58 51 52 00. Closed Tues. The largest architectural museum in the world features full-scale replicas of structures built on French soil, by everyone from the Romans to contemporary “starchitects” like Renzo Piano. Don’t miss the 400 re-created frescoes from the 12th to 16th centuries, or the walk-in model of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse.
Grand Palais and Petit Palais
Grand: 19, rue Victoire, in the 9th.
01 42 80 27 77. Closed Mon. Petit: 22, rue St. Dominique, in the 7th.
01 47 05 02 41. Closed Mon. These buildings, originally built for the World’s Fair of 1900, offer big important exhibitions. Not long ago we saw an excellent show on Marie Antoinette, and one titled “La Nuit espagnole.” Consult for complete listings of current shows.

Institut de Monde Arabe
1, rue des Fosses-St. Bernard, place Mohammed V. 01 40 51 38 38. Worth a glance; designed by Jean Nouvel. Go for a fabulous lunch with a view at Noura, on one of the upper floors of the museum.
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
82, rue François Miron, in the 4th. 01 44 78 75 00. Closed Mon and Tues. For contemporary photography in a nicely designed modern setting.
Musée d’Art Moderne
11, ave du President Wilson, in the 16th. 01 53 67 40 00. Closed Mon. For modern art beyond the Pompidou.

Musée de la Mode
Palais Galliera, 10, ave Pierre 1er de Serbie, in the 16th. 01 56 52 86 00.
Closed Mon.French fashion museum—what more could a girl want?

Musée de la Vie Romantique
16, rue Chaptal, in the 9th. 01 55 31 95 67. Closed Mon. A lovely painter’s mansion in the Pigalle district that gives you a glimpse of life in the Romantic period. The writer George Sand was a guest here. They also offer special events, such as readings—and don’t miss the teahouse outside in summer, which is the best time to visit this museum.  

Musée de l’Orangerie
In the Tuileries Gardens, in the 1st. 01 44 77 80 07. Closed Tues. Go for the location and the glorious collection of Monet’s water lilies downstairs, which were painted specifically for this location. The museum’s collection also includes Picassos, Cézannes and Modiglianis, just to name a few. This is a small place and great for a quick cultural dip.

Musée d’Orsay
62, rue de Lille, in the 7th. 01 40 49 48 14. Closed Mon. This one goes without saying: the Orsay probably has the best Impressionist collection in the world. Clock café is cute, too.

Musée du Luxembourg
19, rue de Vaugirard, in the 6th. 01 42 34 25 95. A wonderful tiny little place when you’re on your way to the Luxembourg Gardens. In and out and fully cultured in under half an hour!


Musée du quai Branly (pictured above)
37, quai Branly, in the 7th. 01 56 61 70 00.
Open late Thurs–Sat; closed Mon. This is the new major museum, also designed by Jean Nouvel, that has taken Paris by storm, with art from Asia, Africa and Latin America, plus special presentations of music, theatre and dance from those regions. The restaurant in the museum is all the rage, but some say it’s much ado about . . .

Musée Marmottan
2, rue Louis-Boilly, in the 16th. 01 44 96 50 33.
Closed Mon. Out of the way but a haven if you love Monet.

Musée National du Moyen Age
6, place Paul Painlevé, in the 5th. 01 53 73 78 16. Closed Tues. The Musée National du Moyen Age, also known as the Musée Cluny, presents a vast collection of medieval art. It is housed in the Hôtel de Cluny, which dates back to the 15th century, and includes Gallo-Roman baths that date back to the 1st century. A garden from which visitors can enter the museum stretches between the boulevards St.-Germain and St.-Michel.

Musée National Eugène Delacroix
6, rue de Furstenberg, in the 6th. 01 44 41 86 50. Closed Tues. Comprising the artist’s home and studio on the place de Furstenberg, as well as a picturesque garden, the Musée Eugène Delacroix has been a national museum since 1971. Here you’ll find a collection of the artist’s paintings, drawings and memorabilia.

Musée Picasso
5, rue de Thorigny, in the 3rd. 01 42 71 25 21. Closed Tues. Housed in a gorgeous building, the Picasso museum is a quick look at some of the artist’s work. This is not an extensive collection—but it is a delightful way to spend an hour or so. Don’t miss the small garden out back.
Note: Museum is closed for renovations through 2012.  

Musée Rodin
79, rue de Varenne, in the 7th. 01 44 18 61 10. Closed Mon. Fabulous collection of Rodins in a gorgeous mansion, plus a good collection of work by his lover Camille Claudel. Sculpture garden and outdoor café are sublime. This is a very sexy place.

Musée Zadkine
100 bis, rue d’Assas, in the 6th. 01 55 42 77 20. Closed Mon. This museum features the home and workshop where the Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine lived and worked from 1928 to 1967, as well as his garden. On view are sculptures crafted from wood, stone, marble and bronze, and a photographic archive of his life in Paris.

Palais de Tokyo
13, ave du President Wilson, in the 16th. 01 47 23 54 01. Recently redone in a very SoHo-like way. A cutting edge museum focusing on younger artists.
OK, we’ve left out the Louvre. Yes, it is the biggest museum in the world, and we know you’ll go there if you haven’t already. But it is so big—we always find it overwhelming. And the Mona Lisa is quite underwhelming. Strolling through one small section, though, can be enjoyable—just try not to do too much.
There are many more museums—consult for a full listing.