Paris museums you have to see

The huge number of museums in Paris can stump even the most experienced tourists and art lovers. How can you find your way amongst these tourist attractions and choose the most interesting and memorable ones? We’ve made a list of the best museums in Paris that have world-famous art pieces and architecture.

Louvre

The Louvre is the most important and famous museum in France. The building used to be a royal palace. In its 200-year history, the museum has earned its name as the most visited and famous museum in the world. This is where many pieces of world-famous art are kept, including the Mona Lisa and statue Venus de Milo. The museum has so many exhibits it’s impossible to see them all in one visit. So before you go to the museum, plan a route that includes the pieces that are most important to you.

» See more – Tips for visiting the Louvre: how to get in quickly and avoid the lines

The address is Palais Royal, Musee du Louvre, 75001 Paris (metro station Palais-Royal Musee du Louvre).

Working hours: from 9 to 6. Closed on Tuesdays. Open ’til 9:45 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Tickets cost 17 Euros. July 14th has free entrance. You can book a ticket here.

Orsay Museum

The second most visited museum in Paris, Musee d’Orsay, isn’t far from the Louvre. It has European artwork from the end of the 19th century to the start of the 20th. The museum is in a former train station, and the building itself is no less interesting than its contents.

The pride of Orsay is the collection of impressionist paintings, including works by Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, Renoir and many more.

» See more the 10 most important paintings and tips to get through with ease

The address is 62 rue de Lille, 75007 Paris (Solferino metro station).

Open from 9:30 to 6:00 (closed Mondays). Open ’til 9:45 on Thursdays.

Tickets cost 16 Euros. You can buy them here.

Versailles

Versailles (Parc et chateau de Versailles) is the historical residence of French kings that amazes tourists with its luxurious interior and grandiose architecture. At first, it was a small hunting lodge that belonged to King Louis XIV. His successors turned Versailles into a royal palace and repeatedly rebuilt the palace and expanded its territory. If you want to see all the halls, side buildings and park, you’ll have to spend a whole day at Versailles.

The address is Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France.

You can get there on the RER C train, and you’ll arrive at Versailles Chateau Rive gauche station. The SNCF leaves the Paris Montparnasse station and goes to the gare de Versailles-Chantiers station. The ride is about 30 minutes to Versailles in a rental car or taxi.

Open from 9:00 to 5:30 (closed Mondays).

Tickets cost 18 Euros. You can look at tours of Versailles with transport, a guide and priority entrance using this link.

Pompidou Center

Centre Georges-Pompidou is a cultural complex that was built in the 1980s by president Georges Pompidou. The building draws your attention with its avant garde style. All the utilities (pipes, air ducts, elevators, stairs and escalators) are outside the building.

The Pompidou Center includes a modern art museum, exhibitions, a library, an arthouse movie theater and concert squares.

The address is Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris (metro station Rambuteau).

Working hours from 11:00 to 9:00 (closed Tuesdays). Open ’til 11:00 on Thursdays.

The museum ticket is 15 Euros, the viewing platform is 5 Euros, and a movie ticket is 5 Euros. You can buy tickets here.

Our Paris audio guide can provide you with many interesting tours and information about many of the city’s sights, including information about the many things to see at Pompidou. Download it here.

Invalides

Hotel des Invalides is a place where French veterans from the army under Louis XIV found refuge. Now, the complex houses the Musee de l’Armee (you can buy tickets here), Musee des Plans-Reliefs, a large church, cathedral and rooms where WWII veterans lived. The main attraction in Hotel des Invalides is the sarcophagus with the remains of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

The address is Hotel national des Invalides, 129 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (Invalides metro station).

Open every day from 7:30 to 7:00, and until 9:00 on Tuesdays.

Entrance is 12 Euros.

Grand Palais

Grand Palais, Large Palace, is a large cultural center that was built to be used for the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Now it holds a variety of exhibitions, like fashion shows, live concerts, book fairs, car shows and more. In the Grand Palais you can also find an art gallery and the Palais de la Decouverte.

The address is 3 avenue du General Eisenhower (metro stations Franklin-D.-Roosevelt and Champs-Elysees-Clemenceau).

Open from 10:00 to 8:00 (closed Tuesdays).

Entrance is 10 Euros.

Conciergerie

La Conciergerie is the first French royal castle, and it was later made a prison. Marie Antionette, the revolutionary Maximillian Robespierre, the writer Emile Zola and the spy Mata Hari once were locked behind these walls. Now, the Conciergerie castle is part of the Palais de Justice. The parts you must see are the 4 towers (Clock, Silver, Caesar and Bonbec).

The address is 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris (metro stations Cite and Saint-Michel).

Working hours: from 9:30 to 6.

Entrance costs 11,50 Euros. You can buy tickets here.

Fontainebleau

There’s another former royal residence not far from Paris called Chateau de Fontainebleau. Along with the castle, the complex has many patios, gardens and a royal park. Fontainebleau has four museums: the museum of Napoleon, the Chinese museum, and art and furniture galleries. There are tours of the castle available, and you can see them all here.

The address is 77300 Fontainebleau (the train leaves from the Gare de Lyon station to Fontainebleau Avon station).

Open 9:30 to 5:00 March-October, and April to September until 6:00. Closed on Tuesdays.

Tickets cost 12 Euros. You can buy tickets here.

Book a hotel near Fontainebleau

Picasso Museum

The Musee national Picasso is located in a magnificent building from the 17th century in the Marais quarter. It opened in 1985, with the basis of the collection made up of Picasso’s works. The collection grew thanks to donations from private collectors. If you visit this museum, you’ll be able to witness Picasso’s development as a painter, since his paintings are presented in chronological order.

The address is 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris (metro stations Saint-Paul, Saint-Sebastien-Foissart and Chemin Vert).

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, weekdays from 10:30 to 6:00 and weekends from 9:30 to 6:00.

Tickets cost 14 Euros. You can buy tickets here.

Musee Carnavalet

If you want to be submersed in Paris’s history, visit the Musee Carnavalet. It has 140 halls with pieces that describe the lives of both famous and typical Parisians. Paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, sketches, archeological findings, coins, furniture and decor are just some of the things you can find in the museum.

The address is 23 rue de Sevigne, 75004 Paris (metro stations Saint-Paul and Chemin vert).

Open from 10:00 to 6:00 (closed Mondays).

Entrance is free.

Petit Palais

The rich decor of the Petit Palais may mislead you. It was never royal. This beaux-arts style building (the same one as the Opéra Garnier) was built in 1900 for the World’s Fair, but it was built to last – it was not to be dismantled like the Eiffel Tower. The Museum of Fine Arts took over the building.

If you are not ready to visit the Louvre, you can try this art museum. Its exhibitions include a small but important collection of Roman and Greek antiquities, a collection of 18th-century furniture, sculptures by Rodin, and paintings by great artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Géricault, Delacroix, Engrère, Modigliani, Cézanne, Courbet, and others.

Address: Av. Winston Churchill

Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00, Monday – off.

Ticket price: 11 €

Museum of Contemporary Art at Tokyo Palace

This small museum contains 8,000 works by 20th-century artists, including some of the most famous. They might well have graced the halls of the Pompidou Centre or the Petit Palais, but at the Tokyo Palace they are on display free of charge.

Address: 13 Av. du Président Wilson

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:00, Monday – off.

Ticket price: free of charge

Guimet Museum

Founded by an industrialist collector in the 19th century, the museum evolved from a private collection of curiosities into one of the largest museums of Asian art in the world.

Emile Guimet’s collection included artistic and religious artifacts from Greece, Egypt, Japan, India, and China. It was supplemented by finds from scientific expeditions to Korea, Tibet, Siam, and Cambodia. But the most significant addition was the exchange of Greek and Egyptian objects for the Louvre’s Asian collection. You could say that the Guimet has become the Louvre of Asian art.

Address: 6 Pl. d’Iéna

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:00, closed on Tuesdays.

Ticket price: 11,50 €, children under 18 free of charge

Musée Marmottan-Monet

Fans of Impressionism include this museum in the top five museums of Paris. It consists of three private collections. One belonged to Jules Marmottan, and his son bequeathed the entire house with art objects to the Academy of Arts. The second was collected by Georges de Bellio, one of the first supporters of the Impressionists. And the most priceless donation was made by Claude Monet’s son.

This is the best collection of Impressionism. You will see both – iconic works and rare but no less impressive paintings.

Address: 2 Rue Louis Boilly

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:00, Thursday 10:00-20:00, Monday – off.

Ticket price: 14 €

Orangerie Museum

The former Royal Orangery was set aside as an art gallery to house a series of works by Claude Monet with water lilies. Administratively the museum is a branch of the Musée d’Orsay. Its collection includes works by the Impressionists and post-Impressionists Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani, Gauguin, and others.

Address: Place de la Concorde

Opening hours: from 9:00 to 18:00, Tuesdays off.

Ticket price: 12,50 €, complex ticket with a visit to the Musée d’Orsay: 20 €

Jacquemart-André Museum

The spouses Nélie Jacquemart and Edouard André dedicated their lives and fortune to the creation of this museum. They traveled to Italy every year and added to the collection with which they decorated their new mansion. After her husband’s death, as they had agreed, Nélie Jacquemart bequeathed the house and collection to the Institut de France.

Despite its private origin the museum has an amazing collection of Italian Renaissance, Flemish, and French masters which could be ranked second in importance to the Louvre.

Address: 158 Bd Haussmann

Opening hours: Tue-Fri from 10:00 to 18:00, Sat-Sun from 10:00 to 19:30, Mon from 10:00 to 20:30.

Ticket price: permanent exhibition 12 €, from 7 to 25 years old – 7,50 €

Cognacq-Jay Museum

The history of this museum is similar to the origins of the Musée Jacquemart-André. Successful businessmen and founders of the Samaritaine department store Louise Jay and Ernest Cognacq assembled a collection of 18th-century paintings and art objects and bequeathed them to the city. Now on display at the Hotel du Donon with interiors from the period of Louis XV and XVI.

Address: 8 Rue Elzevir

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:00, Monday – off.

Ticket price: free of charge

Museum of Romantic Life

In the 19th century the artist Ary Scheffer held regular Friday evening salons in this small mansion where aristocrats, royalty, and artists met. Chopin and George Sand, Eugène Delacroix and Auguste Ingres, Rossini, Liszt, and many others were regulars.

In addition to the elegant furnishings the museum offers objects that belonged to the owners and guests of the salons. You can get an idea of what parties were like in the 19th century and what stirred the romantic imagination of the participants.

Address: 16 Rue Chaptal

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:00, Monday – off.

Ticket price: free of charge

Montmartre Museum

The museum in the heart of the bohemian hill tells its history. What was Montmartre like 200 years ago? What drove or attracted artists to the suburbs? How did the cabaret culture come into being? Find the answers in the museum’s halls.

The house occupied by the Montmartre Museum belonged to several generations of artists. Some rooms, such as the workshop, have retained their historic interiors. The garden in the courtyard is dedicated to Renoir and there is a small café to relax in.

Address: 12 Rue Cortot

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 19:00, Tuesdays off.

Ticket price: 13 €, from 10 to 17 years old – 7 €. You canbuy your ticket in advance here.

» Read moreMontmartre: 15 ideas for walks in Paris’ most romantic neighborhood

The Basilica of Saint-Denis

The Basilica of Saint-Denis is far from an ordinary church. Both the architecture of the basilica and its importance as a royal tomb are unique. Historians believe that Saint-Denis was the starting point of the spread of Gothic architecture in Europe. And the kings of France preferred to be buried in this most beautiful church.

The necropolis of the Abbey of Saint-Denis houses a unique collection of medieval funerary sculpture from which you can study the traditions and fashions of different centuries.

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Saint-Denis

Opening hours: from 10:00 to 18:15, on Sundays from 12:00 to 18:15

Ticket price: admission to the basilica is free, to the museum – 9,50 €. You can buy your ticket online at this link.

 

Expand your world view with Paris’s amazing museums!