8 of the biggest Paris museums
Many people visit Paris for the great restaurants, for the romantic streets and for the main attractions like the Tour Eiffel or L’Arc de Triomphe. However, you simply cannot visit Paris and not go to at least some of the amazing museums that guarantee to enrich your experience. You could be standing only inches away from exhibits of great value for Paris, for France or for the whole of humanity. Make the time and make sure to set aside some of your trip budget for the entrance fees. You can choose between historical, art, industry and natural history museums. Most chances are you will not get to see them all in one trip, but it is good to know what your options are.
The interior court of the Palais du Louvre and the pyramid entrance to the museum
The Louvre is the biggest art and history museum in France and one of the most important museums in the world. It holds collections of ancient Greece, Rome, Iran, Egypt, some of the most famous sculptures and paintings in the world. Its most famous piece is La Gioconda (Mona Lisa). The museum is open every day except on Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 9:45 PM on Wednesdays and Friday and to 6 PM on the rest of the days. A ticket costs €15 and an audio-guide is €5.
2. Musée d’Orsay
Inside the Musée d’Orsay
If upon stepping inside the museum you are taken back by the size of it, know that this building used to be the Gare d’Orsay. The giant arch ceiling used to shelter travelers and the ground floor was a platform with trains. Now, the Orsay Museum holds some of the most important works of art of painters such as Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne, Renoir, Seurat, Degas, Manet and many more. A full rate museum ticket costs €12. It is open from 9:30 AM to 6 PM on most days except Thursday when it is open until 9:45 PM and Mondays when the museum is closed.
3. Musée Rodin
Gardens of the Rodin Museum
This is an amazing place to spend a sunny day. You can walk in the garden and admire some of Rodin’s famous sculptures like The Thinker, The Gates of Hell and The Kiss. There is even more to see inside, as, apart from Rodin’s works, you can also admire a collection of paintings from Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh from the sculptor’s personal collection. The museum is very well connected to the rest of the city.
4. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
The Grand Palais as seen from the Alexandre III bridge
The Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais host some of the biggest exhibitions in Paris, due to its vast spaces. Car shows, equestrian shows, Paris Fashion Week shows are hosted here and there is always something interesting to see. Just to give you an idea of how big it is, think that Nazis used to keep tanks inside. The building was erected in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle and it underwent restoration works in 2005.
5. Musée National du Moyen Âge
Interior courtyard of the Musée Cluny
The Musée National du Moyen Âge used to be called Musée Cluny as it used to be the town house of the abbots of Cluny in 1334 and was part of a large complex of buildings. The construction combines elements of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. What is more, it is built over the remnants of the third century Gallo-Roman baths. The museum is open every day, except Tuesday, from 9:15 to 17:45. It costs €9 to visit the museum, tariff including the audioguide.
6. Petit Palais
Petit Palais in Paris
Located just across the street from the Grand Palais, hosting the Galeries Nationales, the Petit Palais is home to the City of Paris Fine Arts Museum. This is an architectural Belle Epoque gem you simply cannot miss out on. There is a Lalique and Gallé Belle Epoque jewelry exhibit, a Hector Guimard furniture exhibit and a Jean Carriès ceramic display. Permanent collections have free admission. Even more reason to visit the Petit Palais.
Centre Pompidou (Photo by Oh Paris@Flickr)
With its high-tech architecture, Centre Pompidou cannot pass unnoticed. It houses the Public Library and the National Museum of Modern Arts. It was named after Georges Pompidou, president of France between 1969 and 1974 who commissioned the construction. The building is unique with its exposed network of colored pipes and it certainly stand out on the background of historical buildings in Paris. Access fee is €14.
8. Musée des Arts et Métiers
An airplane on exhibit in the chapel of the Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Musée des Arts et Métiers was originally thought of as an establishment where the students could observe objects of science and engineering. It was opened in 1794 and it has come to hold some of the most interesting designs, machines and models that have marked the 19th and 20th centuries. You can visit everything in a Neo-Gothic décor, which is always impressive. The admission fee is €8. The museum is closed on Mondays, has long hours on Thursday, from 10 to 21:30, and its regular hours are 10:00 to 18:00