The Best Art Museums in France
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
If you’re after some of the world’s best art, there’s really no better place to be than France. The country is home to a wide variety of world-class museums, from stalwarts like the Louvre, the Musée D’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou to lesser-known but equally remarkable institutions like the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours and the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Whether you want to see the famously French works of the Impressionists, paintings by Italian and Flemish masters, or more contemporary pieces by the stars of today, you’ll find them all in France.
Rue Homme de Bois, 14600 Honfleur, France
Founded in 1868 by French painters Eugène Boudin and Louis-Alexandre Dubourg, this small museum, housed in a 19th-century chapel, pays homage to the Normandy artists who spent time in Honfleur, like Monet, Courbet, Friesz, and Boudin...
Espl. Marcel Duchamp, 76000 Rouen, France
The jewel in Rouen’s crown, this impressive museum is home to France’s largest Impressionist collection outside of Paris. Here, you’ll find three stunning works from Monet’s famous Rouen Cathedral series, along with other...
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
The Centre Pompidou, France's national museum of modern art, led the way for steel-and-glass buildings in the 1970s. Now the museumleads the way in modern art with its extraordinary collection, currently the world's second largest. Masterpieces...
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, France
With its swooping glass panels that resemble a kind of space-age ship's sails, Frank Gehry's design for the Louis Vuitton art collection, which opened in fall 2014, is worth the Métro ride to the far-flung 16th arrondissement. The multiple...
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
This former royal palace is one of the largest museums in the world, and its art collection is considered one of the most comprehensive. It contains around 400,000 works, although—mercifully, perhaps—not all are on display at any one...
18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris, France
The tiny Bourdelle Museum was once the atelier and home of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, whose monumental art deco masterpieces are a highlight of the Champs-Élysées Theater. The museum displays works the artist purchased for his...
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Small enough to get around without being overwhelmed, the Musée d'Orsay is a favorite stop in Paris not just for its size but for its collection of Impressionist, Postimpressionist, and art nouveau art. Perfectly set in the center of the city, on...
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France
The largest contemporary art space in Europe is also the coolest place to be for kids of every age. Teens come in flocks, lining up for the vintage Fotomaton, exploring the experiential art exhibitions, and waiting for the opening of the YoYo...
1 Parvis des Droits de l'Homme, 57020 Metz, France
The hip sister of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, this modern and contemporary art museum has become one of France’s most visited cultural venues since opening in 2010. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the 54,000-square-foot...
18 Place François Sicard, 37000 Tours, France
Housed in the former archbishop’s palace, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours features one of France’s most extensive art collections, with works by everyone from Rubens, Rembrandt, and Rodin to Monet and Degas. Outside, the...
5 Rue Laboureur, 84000 Avignon, France
Although Van Gogh painted his famous Wagons de Chemin de Fer while living in Arles, the painting actually hangs in the Musée Angladon in Avignon, along with a sumptuous collection of paintings and furniture inherited from visionary fashion...
Place Saint-Jean de Malte, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Art lovers will have to wait until at least 2121 for the opening of Aix’s Jacqueline and Pablo Picasso Museum, which will include 2,000 works from when the artist was married to his second wife. Until then, they can find Picasso on the walls...
164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, 06000 Nice, France
Henri Matisse was already a successful artist in 1917 when he left Paris behind tosettleinthe suburbs of Nice. It was here that in 1941—too infirm to hold a brush steady—Matisse developed his cut-paper artworks. The Matisse Museum, set in an...
36 Avenue Dr Ménard, 06000 Nice, France
Born in Russia, Marc Chagall lived in Paris and the U.S. before moving to Vence in 1950, where he remained until his death in 1985. Today, his namesake museum in Nice, built to display the biblical series he donated to France in 1977, stands as an...
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