Art Museums in Paris – Guide to the Best Museums in Paris
Paris, France is a city with the best of the best- from food to fashion, the French capital has it all. Art is no exception, and Paris is home to some of the world’s most famous museums and works of art! With so many art museums in Paris to choose from, it can be hard to decide which to visit on your trip to France! Even after living in Paris for 6 months, I still felt like I didn’t have enough time to explore all of the art museums in Paris! I’ve created this guide to some of the best museums in Paris to help you choose which to visit, featuring tourist classics like the Louvre and less-visited favorites like the Rodin Museum! Every museum in Paris is closed one day during the week – normally on Monday or Tuesday – so be sure to check the hours of the museums you want to visit when planning your trip.(Almost) all museums in Paris offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month. If you’re visiting Paris during the first week of the month, I recommend checking out one of the less popular museums on Sunday to avoid huge crowds! I’ll start my guide to the best museums in Paris with an overview of the most popular museums before talking about some of the less visited art museums in Paris!
Is this your first trip to Paris? Check out my guide to visiting France for the first time!
3 Major Art Museums in Paris
The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Centre Georges Pompidou are arguably the three biggest (and most well-known) art museums in Paris, and each focuses on different time periods and artistic styles.
No list of the best museums in Paris would be complete without a mention of the The Louvre museum. The Louvre houses the world-famous Mona Lisa, among other works dating from antiquity to the 18th century. The museum was originally a castle, built during the 1200s, and the stunning architecture is just one reason this building is a Parisian icon. As the most famous Parisian museum, the Louvre is also one of the most crowded attractions in Paris! I highly recommend getting your tickets ahead of time via the official website! According to the site, you shouldn’t have to wait in line more than 30 minutes if you book your tickets online! The Louvre is an amazing museum with so many impressive works, and you can even take a Beyonce-inspired tour based on her 2018 music video that was filmed in the museum!
The Musee d’Orsay is probably the second most popular museum in Paris! The museum is housed in a beautiful old train station that was built at the turn of the 20th century. This museum houses works that were created from approximately 1848-1914, so you can find incredible paintings from Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Degas, and more! This museum also draws huge crowds, so buy your tickets online ahead of time so you can save time in a much shorter ticket and security line! I saved at least 30 minutes in line (on a low-crowd day) and was able to walk right into the museum because I bought my ticket ahead of time! I love this museum because you can see the works created by the artists who used to live in Montmartre, which you can see across the river from the windows on the top floor!
Centre Georges Pompidou
The Pompidou Center houses several organizations within its modern structure, but it’s National Museum of Modern Art probably draws the most visitors to this attraction, located near Les Halles. This museum houses the second biggest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world (after NYC’s MoMA). The works date from 1905 to present, and the museum features artists like Andy Warhol, Matisse, and Picasso. This museum doesn’t draw as many tourists as the other major art museums in Paris listed here (in 2017, the Pompidou museum had 3.3 million visitors while the Louvre had 8.1 million), but long lines can develop on busy days! You can find tickets here!
Less Popular Art Museums in Paris That Are Worth a Visit
There are several less popular art museums in Paris that are well worth a visit! I would even say that these museums are really the best museums in Paris because you can have a more intimate experience with the art as there are fewer tourists! In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the art museums in Paris because the collections are unmatched worldwide, but the best museums in Paris to me are those where you can have a immersive experience and enjoy engaging with the art.
Although this isn’t a hidden gem by any means, the Orangerie Museum is often overlooked by visitors coming to Paris for the first time! This museum houses Monet’s massive waterlilies in an impressive 360 degree gallery designed by the painter himself. This museum also houses an impressive collection from a Parisian art dealer from the early 1900s whose clients included Matisse, Picasso, and more! You can buy a combined ticket online via the link above to see both this museum and the d’Orsay for a lower price! More impressionist art for less!
Palais de Tokyo
The Palais de Tokyo houses another modern art museum in Paris! The temporary exhibitions at this museums are definitely edgier and more current than the exhibitions at other museums, so you can find some really interesting art here! This museum is open until midnight, so this is a great late-night museum option if you’re looking for something to do in the evenings!
Grand Palais (and the Petit Palais)
The Grand Palais and Petit Palais are a museum complex located near the Champs Elysees. The exhibitions at these locations are always changing! (Fun fact: The Grand Palais is a frequent location for Chanel shows during fashion week!)
As a lover of Picasso’s art, I really enjoyed the Picasso museum. Located in the Marais, this museum is housed in an old aristocratic residence. The Picasso museum has a wide range of his works, including paintings, sketches, and more. This museum is often less crowded than other popular art museums in Paris!
The Rodin Museum is another great museum to visit if you’re a fan of Rodin’s sculpture. I’m especially a fan of the beautiful outdoor sculpture garden. The collection, made up of Rodin’s sculptures and works of art that the artist himself collected, is also housed in a beautiful old mansion.
Louis Vuitton Foundation
The Louis Vuitton Foundation museum is one of the newest of this list of the best museums in Paris, opening in 2014. The art museum and cultural center has art from some famous contemporary artists as well as some commissioned pieces from lesser-known current artists. The Louis Vuitton Foundation is located in the Bois de Boulogne on the left side of the city.
Musee Marmottan Monet
In case you didn’t think this list of the best museums in Paris had enough Impressionist artwork, here’s one final museum featuring the largest collection of Monet’s works. This museum also shows works from Degas, Sisley, Renior, and more. This museum, like the Orangerie, offers a great selection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in a smaller setting than the d’Orsay!
The Best Museums in Paris – A Guide to Art Museums in Paris
Paris has an incredible selection of museums, featuring artworks from the most famous artists across many centuries. I personally love Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, so I really love visiting the l’Orangerie when I’m in Paris. On my most recent trip to Paris, I really enjoyed checking out the cutting-edge art at the Palais de Tokyo exhibitions. Whether you like admiring statues from antiquity or seeing what current artists are creating, you should definitely visit one of the many art museums in Paris while visiting the French capital.
Have you been to any of these museums before? Which would you like to visit?