My Five Fav Parisian Museums
April 18, 2012 MuseumChick
This is especially for my friend, Harley, who is traveling to Paris for her first time. I wish I could fit in her suitcase with little Darcy in tow (since Paris is super dog-friendly) but I’ve been eating too much cheese and French macarons lately.
Millions of visitors come from all over the world to see Paris’ extensive museums and beautiful monuments (the Louvre gets over 8 million visitors a year)! In the year I lived there I barely got to skim the surface of all the great large and small museums to visit. To skip the lines of all these visitors and too save a lot money and time you NEED a Paris Museum Pass. Trust me, it’s really worth it.
These are my top five favorite museums in Paris that are sure to make even the art-averse into art history buff wanna-bes.
1. The Louvre (at the risk of sounding very unoriginal- the Louvre is my favorite)
You can spend a day, a week or a year here, and you will never be bored in the museum of museums, The Louvre. Believe me, I tested this the year I lived there.
Originally a fortress, it was reincarnated as a museum in 1793. Their collection just keeps growing with works from Greek and Roman antiquities, French sculpture, and the Italian Renaissance to Napoleon III’s lavish apartments and more.
Its courtyard contains a glass pyramid designed by the Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei.
Make a plan and download a map on their site to get the most out of the museum before your visit.
Location: 99 Rue de Rivoli
Metro: Palais-Royal, Musée du Louvre
Hours: Mon, Thur, Sat, Sun 9am to 6pm, Wed, Fri 9am to 9:45pm Closed Tues.
2. Musee d’Orsay
The d’Orsay Museum is housed in an interesting edifice which was at one time a palace, then a hotel, converted into a train station and finally into what it is today. As museums in Paris go, this one is relatively new but the depth of its extensive collection covers the period from the mid-nineteenth century to World War I.
Be wowed by the works of Gauguin, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Seurat and others for a pre- and post-Impressionist surplus at the d’Orsay Museum.
If you love Parisian scenery, the don’t forget a camera for some of the best views of Paris that can be had from the museum’s upper floor.
Location: 1 Rue de Bellechasse
Metro: Palais-Royal, Musée du Louvre
Hours: Tues- Sun 9am-6pm, Thurs until 9:45pm Closed Monday
3. The Musee National d’Art Moderne/Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou was constructed between 1971- 1977 and subsequently was named after the then-serving president of France. It is well-known for its novel architectural design, and includes a vast library, an art cinema and is considered to have one of the most avant-garde modern art collections in the world.
The Musee National d’Art Moderne offers visiting and permanent collections of obscure artworks, including the masters of Cubism and Modigliani. If you’re a fan of modern art, then the five-minute walk on the right bank from Notre Dame positions the perfect element of outings for you.
Location: Place Georges Pompidou, 4th Arrondissement
Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Les Halles
Hours: Daily Mon, Wed – Sun 11am to 9pm Closed Tues
4. Musée Jacquemart-André
Just steps from the Champs Elysées, this Parisian museum was once a private mansion in the 8th Arrondissement and visitors will be transported back to another time of Paris. The Musée Jacquemart-André still retains the sensation of being in a private home rather than a museum. French antiques, precious tapestries and draperies adorn the intricate gold and white woodwork.
Walk through collections of French, Italian and Dutch paintings with notable works by such artists as Botticelli, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt.
Children are more than welcome, and are handed a special activity book in which “Filou the Mouse” gives them their own personalized tour.
Location: 158, Blvd. Haussmann.
Metro: Saint-Augustin, Miromesnil or Saint-Philippe du Roul
Hours: daily, 10am to 6pm
5. La Gaité Lyrique
As the newest museum member of Paris’ museum community since December 2010, la Gaité Lyrique is dedicated entirely to the digital arts and modern music. Housed in a legendary 1862 theatre that can claim patrons such as Victor Hugo, it was transformed after eight years of careful redevelopment.
Whether you adore the digital influence or not, it’s one Paris museum that gives neon art a world-class showplace. The museum is an alluring maze, where any room walked into can go from high-tech exhibition galleries filled with selected artwork from festivals to 3-D installations, to “soundscapes,” and even cinemas.
Experience that abundance of wow-factor touches at la Gaité Lyrique, such as quotes that run along the floor in bright LED lights or eye-popping neon walls.
Location: 3 bis Rue Papin
Metro: Réaumur – Sébastopol
Hours: Tue-Sat 2pm to 8pm, Sun 2pm to 6pm, Closed Mon