art museums | cultural heroes | oddball sights

Art Museums in Paris

Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum★★★ The Louvre - Quite simply one of the world's greatest museums, from ancient statuary—much more than just the armless Venus de Milo—to Renaissance paintings—Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is but the beginning... » more

Musée d'Orsay - Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles★★★ Musée d'Orsay - French art from 18th to early 20th centuries in a converted rail station; this includes the world's greatest and largest collection of those crowd-pleasin' Impressionists and post-Impressionists, such as Monet, Degas, and Renoir... » more

The George Pompidou Museum★★ Centre Georges Pompidou (Pompidou Museum) - A stellar collection of modern art in a giant building that must have looked cutting edge in the 1970s and bears a striking resemblance to a hamster's Habitrail set... » more

Musée Rodin, Paris★★ Rodin Museum - The sculptor's studio and home, the house and its surrounding gardens filled with his greatest masterpieces. [NOTE: partly closed for refurbishment until fall 2015]... » more

Musée Picasso, Paris★★ Musée Picasso - A charming mix of the great artist's works and personal effects—even the master's paint-spattered chair... » more

Monet's Waterlillies in the Orangerie Museum, Paris Musée de l'Orangerie - One of my favorite hidden sights in Paris, packed with Impressionist paintings and preserving in its basement two rooms fitted with 360 degrees of Monet waterlillies... » more

Unicorn tapestry at the Musée de Cluny, Paris Musée National du Moyen Ages - Thermes de Cluny - This museum to the Middle Ages in Paris—including the famous medieval "Lady and the Uncorn" tapestries—is partially installed in the city's ancient Roman baths... » more

Musée Carnavalet (Museum of the History of Paris) - Isn't it grand when one of the freebies in town is a the museum dedicated to the city itself?... » more

Musée du Petit Palais (Little Palace) - A bombastic building left over from the 1900 Universal Exposition stuffed with what would be the greatest museum mixing painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and ancient statuary in Paris—if only the Louvre weren't just down the street... » more

Marmottan Museum, ParisMusée Marmottan-Monet - A small Impressionists museum noted for its 100 Monets, including Impression, sol levant ("Impression, sunrise") the painting that inadvertantly gave the "Impressionist" movement its name... » more

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris) - Nothing wrong with the Pompidou or the Musée d'Orsay—but if you want to get your modern art fix for free, you gotta head for the city's run gallery of 20th-century masters... » more

L'Intitute du Monde Arabe, ParisThe Institut du Monde Arabe - Excellent exhibitions and cultural shows from a variety of Middle Eastern cultures, plus a a tented Arab bazaar and close-up views of the Seine and Notre Dame from a funky, post-modern building... » more

Musée Cognacq-Jay - A private collection of 18th-century art housed in a gorgeous 18th century Marais mansion.... » more

Musée du quai Branly — Combining the old Museum of African and Oceanic Arts with indigenous cultural collections from Asia and the Americas, this ethnographic museum that opened in 2006 near the Eiffel Tower offers a nice break from the wall-to-wall European art, architecture, and history that you are subjected to by almost every other Paris institution. (

Musée National Eugène Delacroix - A museum devoted to the works of 19th-century Romantic master Delacroix in his former studio and home. If for no other reason, you should make time to squeeze it in because the Delacroix Museum is, effectively, free if you go to the Louvre since admission is covered by the same ticket (though you must visit on the same day) (

Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet - One of Europe's greatest collections of Asian art make yet another nice break from all those Western masterpieces. (

Musée Gustave Moreau - Museum devoted to a frankly forgettable 19th-century symbolist painter. Still, if you're into it, the place is free this one day a month. (

Musée des Plans relief - One of the collections within Les Invalides, this is a weirdly delightful gathering of teensy models—at 1/600th scale—of fortified towns and palaces from the 17th to 19th centuries. (

Musée de l'Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris - Celebrating the glories of French medical care, from the Middle Ages to modern socialized medicine in a 17th century mansion, with a courtyard garden of medicinal plants. (

Museums of Cultural Heroes in Paris

Maison de Balzac (House-Museum of Balzac) - The house-museum of towering French author Honoré de Balzac, prodigious of belly and prolific of literary output... » more

Maison de Victor Hugo (House-Museum of Victor Hugo) - The place des Vosges is one of the most elegant of Paris's residential squares, one in one of its elegant houses the great Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables... » more

Musée Curie - Visit the laboratory where two generations of Curies produced three Nobel Prizes, and their good works continue to be carried on by Madame Curie's Institute of Radium... » more

Musée Edith Piaf (Museum of Edith Piaf) - Life was not always so rosy for "the little sparrow," née Edith Gassion in 1915... » more

Oddball Sights—Only in Paris

Musée des Égouts de ParisThe Sewer Museum of Paris - A new way to view the city—and learn some quite disturbing facts about waste management as you tour the sewers made famous in Les Miserables... » more

Musée de La Parfumerie Fragonard (Perfume Museum) - Leave it to the French to have a museum devoted to perfume (OK, leave it to the Fragonard company, who admittedly have a vested interest in the subject).... » more

Musée du Fumeur (Museum of Smoking) - Only in Paris would they have a museum devoted to the art, history, and cultural phenomenon of drying out nicotine-saturated leaves, lighting them on fire, and inhaling the poisonous fumes.... » more