The French are proud of their cultural heritage – and they have something of a right to be. Paris is the second city in the world in numbers of museums and the range is wide; from art to literature, from science to history…even a hunting museum: nothing is too unusual for Parisians. Join us on a guided tour through a selection of Paris’ finest museums.
The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and is certainly the most visited, filmed and written about. The Louvre’s most famous piece of art is the Mona Lisa, but there are actually over 400,000 other objects and artworks besides this attraction. You’d better make sure to wear some good shoes.
Not to be missed during your stay in Paris is the Centre Pompidou. Even if contemporary art is just not your cup of pastis, the structure and architecture are worth a visit. In the worst case you could always head to the top floor for a drink accompanied by a stunning view over Paris.
For lovers of French art, the Musée d’Orsay is the hot spot to be. Housed in a former Beaux-Arts railway station, the museum holds a large collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces from big names such as Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh. The roof top terrace has an amazing view of the Sacre Coeur basilica.
Hôtel des Invalides
Admirers of France’s military history will eat their heart out visiting The Invalides. Imagine yourself in war times while wandering around between canons and other dangerous stuff. You could just take it easy and have a look at the structure’s amazing golden dome, the courtyard or the tombs and vaults where France’s warriors are buried.
Palais de Tokyo
With a 22,000 square metre surface, the Palais de Tokyo is one of the largest contemporary art spaces in France. The concept is based on creativity and, besides a museum, the structure houses a ‘laboratory’ and experimentation space. Although the name might sound a bit exotic, the story behind it is far from that. The Palais owes its name to its location; the building can be found on the Avenue de New York, which from 1918-1945 was named Avenue de Tokio.
Catacombes de Paris
If you’ve seen one too many paintings during your museum hunt, why not take a tour around the catacombs of Paris. Deep down beneath the beautiful streets of the city, you can check out the remains of 6 million people. Located at what’s called la Porte d’Enfer (the gate of Hell, what’s in a name…), this museum surely is different. Bringing younger kids with you is not recommended; bringing a warm sweater is.
Musée de l’Histoire de France
When it comes to history museums, France is well equipped. In Paris, you’ll find one at the Chateau de Versailles, but if you prefer to stay in the city centre, the Musée de l’Histoire de France at the Hôtel de Soubise is a rather good option. Although the name might suggest differently, this is not a hotel but a city mansion, which later became state property. The museum consists of 2 buildings, which show selections from the permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. As the museum is a part of the National Archives, you will mainly find all kinds of documents, but apart from that the building’s rooms are still in their original state and are definitely worth a visit if you feel like reliving the old times.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
If you’re on a hunt for something different, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature might just be what you’re looking for. This private museum focuses on the relationships between humans and the natural environment, mainly through the traditions and practice of hunting. The exhibition space contains 3000 hunting-related objects and has been described as one of the most inventive museums in Paris. Worth a shot!
Institut du Monde Arabe
To house the Institut du Monde Arabe – the institute of Arabic culture around the world – prize winning architect Jean Nouvel designed a building that curves along the Seine. Here you can find almost anything related to the cultures of the different Arabic societies around the world. Stop by to have a closer look at the amazing design of the windows; their concept creates a light effect often used in Islamic culture.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
Bring out the kid in you and go on a fun exploratory tour to the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. At the biggest science museum in Europe you will find plenty of cool stuff, such as a planetarium and even a submarine. This museum works closely together with another science museum, the Palais de la Découverte, for even more discovery fun! For the young Einsteins amongst us, there are labs to do research. Let us know what you invented!
Everything you always wanted to know about Paris and more – you’ll find it at the Carnavalet Museum. This is the oldest municipal museum in France and it will give you all the ins and outs about the history of Paris, from its humble beginnings as a little village to the booming and blooming city as we know it today.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo’s legacy extends way beyond the capital…all the way to Disneyland Paris, in fact. Even further if you count Broadway, the West End, and a million and one amateur dramatics theatres across the globe. The man who brought us the epic story of Jean Valjean and the tragic tragedy of Quasimodo is honoured in his former residence on Place des Vosges. Victor Hugo lived here from 1832-1848, and you can visit this museum to see where the great master of French literature was inspired to write novels that changed French history forever. Who knows what great ideas it might bring you…
Fondation Cartier Pour l’Art Contemporain
Who thinks Cartier, thinks watches. Not entirely wrong. The exhibition space was founded by the Cartier family in 1984 and moved into the current building in 1994. The impressive glass and steel structure was designed by Jean Nouvel, who was also responsible for designing the Arab World Institute we navigated earlier. The Fondation Cartier is all about promoting and raising awareness of contemporary art and exhibits works from both established and debuting artists. In a fortuitous twist of coincidence, the current exhibition is about Cartier jewelry.
The best thing about Paris’ museums is that there is something for everyone. Although you do have to pay for it, it’s more than worth every centime. To make it even better, Easytobook.com offers you the best places to stay, so you’re all set and ready to start your exploratory tour through the cultural streets of Paris. Do you have any other recommendations for unmissable Paris museums?