The Best Cultural Finds in Paris

Every international city has its iconic landmarks and cultural institutions. In Paris, most travelers would cite the Louvre as the must-visit artistic emblem but look beyond the usual suspects and explore the less-familiar names: The Musée de la Vie Romantique, the Jewish Art and History Museum, the Cinémathèque Française and the Fondation Cartier are among the cultural highlights to add to your itinerary.

261 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris, France
Little needs to be said about Paris‘s peerless art scene and the iconic museums that greet throngs of visitors each day but we hear very little about spaces like the non profit Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art nestled in the 1'4th arrondissement, a hike from the city’s artistic epicenter. My enthusiasms run more toward the impressionist era so the offbeat styles housed within the Centre Pompidou and countless galleries across the city are often lost on me. Gearing up for my first visit to the Fondation Cartier several years ago, I expected much of the same. Instead I found myself surrounded by fascinating and evocative works spanning multiple disciplines, from photography to performance art. An exhibit on street art and graffiti hooked me in and I’ve been a fan ever since. Creative workshops and family visits are also offered (kid friendly!)
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
When in Paris, of course you must visit the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and L’Orangerie to see the classics and impressionist masters of Europe. But a trip to France’s capital should not be complete without a stop at the inside out Pompidou modern art museum. Take the escalators to the top floor for the wonderful moving exhibitions, but also take a few moments outside along the window-lined hallway to look out over the city and then inside into the skeleton of a fascinating piece of architecture.
77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
My wife and two friends were tired of “museums” so they mistakenly decided to go shopping while I went to the Rodin Museum alone. It was breathtaking, the flowers were all in full bloom, the art on display inside was rare and beautiful, but the sculptures outside were displayed the way art should be seen. Here in three planes is the original design by Eiffel for the Tower, Rodin’s Thinker, and mid ground with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The gardens were just perfect, and I was sorry for my friends who’d decided to go into a department store to shop instead.
28 Rue du Sommerard, 75005 Paris, France
The Cluny Museum, located in the 5th arrondissement, is one of my favorite museums in Paris. It was formerly the town house (hôtel) of the abbots of Cluny, started in 1334. The structure was rebuilt by Jacques d’Amboise, abbot of Cluny from 1485-1510. The building combines Gothic and Renaissance elements. In 1843 it was made into a public museum to contain relics of France‘s Gothic past. The museum houses the famous La Dame à la Licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn) tapestries as well as beautiful stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts and other artifacts from the Middle Ages. Be sure to check out the Gallo-Roman baths dating from the third century which were recently excavated as well as the fabulous vaulted gothic chapel. Take some time to explore this interesting small museum.
7 Rue Drevet, 75018 Paris, France
Within the 18th arrondissement in Paris France, high atop the city, resides the wonderfully beautiful, hilly neighborhood of Montmartre. This diverse and eclectic section of the city can be a bit busy with tourists, but the views of Paris and the splendor of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur are certainly worth it. Riding the funicular is rather novel, but not necessary if you’re willing to climb the 300+ steps to the summit. This is an area to be explored on foot, as is nearly all of Paris. The shops, theaters, and forever famous Moulin Rouge should not be missed. The streets are intimate, the shops unique, and the overall feel of this place speaks of a youthful, colorful Paris.
Jardin Tuileries, 75001 Paris, France
Flanked by three Rodin statues, the glass and stone Musee de l’Orangerie is home to paintings by the greatest modernists - Picasso, Monet, Cezanne... There are only two floors in this white-walled museum. The second floor consists of two oval rooms where the walls are covered by Monet’s Water Lilies - Clouds. Fans of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris may remember the scene from the movie in front of these meditative masterpieces. Downstairs, one can see the evolution of modern art from Renoir to Modigliani. This museum also houses temporary exhibits. This fall the museum hosts paintings by Frida Kahlo - the only female artist in the museum.
60 Rue des Écoles, 75005 Paris, France
Welcome to Finland! Well, sort of. L’Institut Finlandais, a non-profit organization situated in the heart of the Latin Quarter, gives pride of place to Finnish culture, savoir-faire, creative fiber, language and gastronomy in all its forms. With the recent opening of Instituutti, a boutique-cum-Nordic café, visitors are invited to immerse themselves a little deeper. The luminous, design-forward space was designed by Linda Bergroth, named the 2012 young designer of the year in Finland. Explore the boutique, enjoy a specialty coffee (Coutume) and stick around for one of their regularly rotating exhibits.
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AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe