10 Paris Museums for Every Kind of Traveler

The Louvre may be the most popular museum in the world, but there’s so much more to love about Paris’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

People visiting the Louvre in barrel-vaulted ornate hall

The Louvre is one of the top museums in Paris.

Photo by DAT VO/Unsplash

Paris is perhaps one of the dreamiest cities in the world. There are the bakeries, the storied history, the fashion and shopping, and, of course, the museums. The City of Light is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, but there’s so much more to the Paris museum scene than the Louvre. Whether you’re looking to take a deep dive into the idyllic, sun-speckled oeuvre of Claude Monet or wanting to explore the intriguing history of French magic shows, there’s a museum in Paris for you.

These are the 10 best museums to visit on your next trip to Paris.

A airplane prototype hanging from ornate ceiling of the Musée des Arts et Metiers

Science and technology enthusiasts should plan to spend a few hours at the Musée des Arts et Metiers.

Photo by r.nagy/Shutterstock

1. Musée des Arts et Métiers

  • Location: 292 Rue Saint-Martin | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday–Thursday 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. –9 p.m.
  • Admission: $13 per person

Sure, Paris has art museums galore. But there are also many institutions devoted to the scientific arts here—after all, Paris’s nickname, “City of Light,” comes from the important role it played during the Age of Enlightenment, rather than the lanterns that line its streets. Founded in 1794 by the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is devoted to documenting technological innovations throughout the ages. There are 80,000 items and 15,000 technical drawings within the museum’s possession; 2,400 are currently on display and are split into seven collections: materials, mechanics, energy, construction, transportation, communication, and scientific instruments. Museum highlights include the original version of Foucault’s pendulum, the first mechanical calculator, early airplane prototypes, and the original model of Liberty Enlightening the World (aka the Statue of Liberty).

The Louvre's original building behind the glass pyramid in courtyard

It’s estimated that it would take a person about 100 days to properly appreciate all the art in the Louvre’s collection.

Courtesy of Tomas Eidsvold/Unsplash

2. The Louvre

  • Location: 93 Rue de Rivoli | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday–Monday 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.–9:45 p.m.
  • Admission: $24 per person

The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world and for good reason—it’s the largest and most visited museum on the planet and is home to 35,000 works of art, including the Mona Lisa. Many visitors will make a beeline for that portrait and then exit, but it’s worth seeing other iconic artworks at the Louvre, the oldest museum in Paris at 231 years old. They include Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix, and Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters (painted by an unknown artist). Wander around the Louvre, which is 652,000 square feet and could be considered a work of art itself—especially the Louvre Pyramid addition, built in 1989 and designed by Chinese American architect I.M. Pei. Though reservations are not required, this is the most visited museum in the world and advanced bookings are highly recommended. The Louvre tends to be the least busy during its late-night opening on Fridays—to experience the museum more intimately, book a small group, after-hours tour on Viator.

The ornate gold clock in Musee D'Orsay in Paris, France

The building that is home to the Musée D’Orsay is an artwork in and of itself.

Courtesy of Armand Khoury/Unsplash

3. Musée D’Orsay

  • Location: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Thursday 9:30 a.m.–9:45 p.m.
  • Admission: $17 per person

For one of the most impressive museum experiences to be found in Paris, head to the esteemed Musée D’Orsay, which is housed in a former Beaux-Arts railway station scenically located next to the Seine. The museum is completely devoted to French art produced roughly between 1848 to 1914 and houses the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Here, visitors can find works by master painters like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Vincent Van Gogh. Musée D’Orsay is the city’s second most-visited museum after the Louvre, and while reservations are not required (except for on the first Sunday every month), they are highly recommended. The Musée D’Orsay tends to be the least busy during weekday evenings.

Modern, angular glass exterior of the Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by architect Frank Gehry, somewhat resembles an iceberg and has 12 “sails” made of glass and fiber-reinforced concrete.

Courtesy of Michael Heise/Unsplash

4. Fondation Louis Vuitton

  • Location: 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Saturday–Thursday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Admission: $17 per person

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is one of the newer additions to Paris’ storied museum scene and opened its doors in 2014. Located in the city’s large Bois de Boulogne park, the Fondation Louis Vuitton was designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry and displays the art collection of Louis Vuitton Group CEO Bernard Arnault; it includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Dan Flavin, and Joan Mitchell. And in addition to its robust permanent collection, the museum regularly organizes exciting temporary collections by superstar artists. From now until April 2, visitors can experience the first retrospective of Mark Rothko’s work in France at the museum.

The permanent collection of the Musée National Picasso as curated by designer Paul Smith, with patterned stripes of pastel wallpaper

A large portion of Musée National Picasso’s items were donated by the Picasso family after the artist’s death.

Courtesy of Vinciane Lebrun/Voyez-Vous

5. Musée National Picasso-Paris

  • Location: 5 Rue de Thorigny | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Admission: $15 per person

In the 80 years that Pablo Picasso worked as an artist (a painter, sculptor, and a ceramicist, among other things), he produced 147,800 pieces of art. The Musée National Picasso-Paris, founded in 1985, has the most Picassos of any museum in France with around 5,000 pieces in its collection; many of them were produced when he lived in Paris. Picasso fans can look forward to famous works like Paulo as a Harlequin, a Portrait of Dora Maar, and Woman in the Garden. And a trip to the Musée Picasso is worth it just to see the building that it’s housed in, the Hôtel Salé, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of an old-school French mansion (finished in 1659) in the Marais neighborhood.

The exterior of the Palais de Tokyo, with large, shallow courtyard pool reflecting the building

Palais de Tokyo is more than a museum—it’s also meant to be a hub for young creatives.

Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock

6. Palais de Tokyo

  • Location: 13 Av. du Président Wilson | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Wednesday–Monday 12 p.m.–9 p.m.
  • Admission: $13 per person

The Palais de Tokyo opened in 2002 and is the largest cultural institution dedicated to contemporary art in Europe. Its mission: to celebrate living, cutting-edge artists of all disciplines—visitors can find the works of notable names like Pierre Joseph and Wang Du here. Visiting the Palais de Tokyo is something of an “anti-museum” experience. The bare stone building itself has a raw, edgy vibe and is intended to be more of a meeting place for artsy young people than a traditional museum. Palais de Tokyo regularly holds events and workshops on the premises and is also home to a few well-known on-site restaurants: the Café du Palais, which specializes in sustainable, gourmet meals, Monsieur Bleu which offers traditional French cuisine, and Bambini, with a menu that pays homage to the Italian zest for life.

The red and white exterior of the Museum of Magic

Paris’s Museum of Magic is located in the cellar of the home of the infamous Marquis de Sade.

Courtesy of Hadonos/Wikimedia Commons

7. The Museum of Magic

  • Location: 11 Rue Saint-Paul | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Monday–Friday 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m.–7 p.m.
  • Admission: $17 per person

Those in search of a delightful and quirky museum experience should head over to Paris’s 11th arrondissement, home to the small but mighty Museum of Magic. The museum’s collection is spread out over seven rooms and is devoted to things like fun-house mirrors, optical illusions, antique magic artifacts like wands and magician hats, wind-up toys, and over 100 automatons, aka self-operating machines. Fun fact: The museum is housed in the cellar of what was once the home of Marquis de Sade, who was known for his uh . . . cruel and peculiar sexual appetite—his name is the source of the word “sadist.”

A white statue of Cupid and Psyche among impressionist paintings at the Musée Marmottan-Monet

The Musée Marmottan-Monet is home to one of the city’s largest collection of impressionist paintings.

Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock

8. Musée Marmottan Monet

  • Location: 2 Rue Louis Boilly | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Admission: $15 per person

Although Claude Monet fans should certainly head to Musée de l’Orangerie to see his famed water lily paintings, the Musée Marmottan Monet is worth a trip as well. It houses the largest collection of the painter’s art and holds over 100 of his impressionist and post-impressionist works, along with art from his personal collection with pieces by Renoir, Degas, and Gaugin on display. It displays paintings he created throughout his life, with highlights including Impression, Rising Sun, Japanese Bridge, and Rouen Cathedral at the End of Day, Sunlight Effect.

Ornate gold and white hallway with mirrors and chandeliers, suggesting a mini Versailles

Originally built as a depository for the royal furniture collections and crown jewels, the Hôtel de la Marine reopened as a public museum for the first time since the 18th century in 2021.

Photo by Mary Winston Nicklin

9. Hôtel de la Marine

  • Location: 2 Pl. de la Concorde | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Saturday–Thursday 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
  • Admission: $19 per person to explore the intendants’ apartments; $8 per person to see the salons and loggia

This lavish museum overlooks the Place de la Concorde and occupies the former royal Garde Meuble, aka the office and depository that managed all of the French monarchy’s treasures like jewels, tapestries, and paintings. The building sat vacant and closed to the public for 250 years but reopened in 2021. The Hôtel has been restored to its former glory and visitors can find period-correct furniture and decorations throughout, as well as actors who perform as Garde Meuble employees. Its gift shop is stocked with 18th-century literature as well as French accessories and snacks.

A recreation of an 18th-century salon at the Musée Carnavalet , with floor-to-ceiling windows and large mirror

The Musée Carnavalet encompasses two Parisian mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau.

Photo by Pack-Shot/Shutterstock

10. Musée Carnavalet

  • Location: 23 Rue de Sévigné | Find on Google Maps
  • Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Admission: Tickets start at $6 per person

To learn more about Paris itself, visit Musée Carnavalet, which explores the history of the city from prehistory to the present day. Here, history buffs can find everything from a 6,000-year-old canoe discovered in the Seine to highly detailed Renaissance paintings to artifacts detailing the bloodied progression of the French revolution, including a chunk of the Bastille. It’s a fairly large museum with lots of information to take in, so budget several hours to spend here.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at AFAR. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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