Paris is one of the best museum cities in the entire world, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who actually thinks otherwise. This city boasts over 150 museums, and several of them are considered to be some of the best museums in the entire world. I mentioned in my Paris travel guide that visiting some of these museums is one of the best things to do in Paris, but with so many museums throughout the city it can be tough to decide which ones to visit during your stay. In my experience, here are the ten best museums in Paris.
The Louvre is the most prestigious museum in all of Paris, and it is one of the most highly regarded museums in the entire world. The Louvre is an art museum that contains some of the most iconic artworks in the world, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. While many visitors come just for the Mona Lisa, there is so much more to see. In fact, the Louvre is so big that you could spend several days exploring it and you would still have more to see.
The Louvre is so globally elite that it recently opened its second location in Abu Dhahi. If you read my Abu Dhabi travel guide, you know that it is the ritziest place I have ever visited. This level of prestige is what you can expect when you visit the Louvre, and if you only have time for one museum in Paris, I recommend you make it the Louvre.
While the Louvre is Paris’ top museum, the Musée d’Orsay isn’t too far behind. This art museum holds the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the entire world, and the building is as elegant as it gets. The Musée d’Orsay is much smaller than the Louvre, making it a much easier place to visit in a single afternoon. If you are a leisurely museum-goer and not an art expert, the Musée d’Orsay may be a better option for you than the Louvre, as it is much less overwhelming in size.
The Petit Palais
If you are looking for an art museum that has more than just paintings and sculptures and can be visited in one afternoon, the Petit Palais might be the place for you. This palace was built at the start of the 20th century for the Universal Exhibition, and it became an art museum shortly thereafter. The Petit Palais is filled with murals, sculptures, stained glass, mosaics, wrought iron works, and paintings. The Petit Palais has a little bit of everything, and I think it is one of the best museums for people who enjoy looking at and appreciating art but don’t really have much expertise beyond that.
The Rodin Museum
Rodin is one of Paris’ own artists, and the Rodin Museum exists to pay tribute to his many works from throughout his life. His most famous work, The Thinker, is displayed here, as well as every other work that the museum was able to locate. This museum is unique in that it is dedicated just to the work of Rodin, rather than all of the artists that worked during his time period. Rodin was mainly a sculptor, and this museum is therefore predominantly filled with sculptures.
The Carnavalet Museum
If you are looking for a history museum in Paris, it doesn’t get any better than the Carnavalet Museum. This museum is the oldest one in all of Paris, and it is dedicated principally to commemorating the history of Paris. As Paris is one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the Western world, you can only imagine how many incredible pieces of information are housed here. The Carnavalet Museum is my personal favorite museum in all of Paris, but maybe that’s just because I’m a history guy. Still, if you want something other than art, don’t think twice. Just head to the Carnavalet Museum!
The Jacquemart-André Museum
The Jacquemart-André Museum is a nice blend of art and society, as it is located in the preserved residence of old Parisian nobles. The museum is dedicated to displaying the owners’ private art collection, but seeing the residence itself is one of the main reasons to go, in my opinion. I always love museums that offer a window into the society and culture of a certain time period, and this museum does exactly that. The art is nice, but the residence is the main draw.
The Arab World Institute
France has a long history with the Arab World, as many of France’s colonies were scattered around the Middle East and Northern Africa. The Arab World Institute is a cultural institute dedicated to preserving and educating about Arab culture. From language, to art, to history, to religion, to science and more, this center is one of the coolest informational centers in Paris. There are always events going on here, and I highly recommend checking their calendar before visiting. They also offer Arabic classes and other instructional sessions throughout the week.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton is one of the most popular names in fashion, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton is a museum and cultural institute sponsored by the Louis Vuitton company and its conglomerate. Personally, I think that this museum is cooler from the outside than it is from the inside, as the building is striking and unique. The museum was only opened in 2014, and it has quickly become one of the most iconic buildings in Paris. Still, the art on the inside is worth checking out, too, and this is a nice museum to visit if you have already been to some of Paris’ other art museums.
The Palace of Versailles
If you are looking for a taste of grandeur, there is no better place to go than Versailles. While Versailles is not technically in Paris, it is only 45 minutes outside of the city and is one of the best places to visit in the area. Versailles is one of the most majestic palaces that we have ever visited, and seeing the degree of luxury and wealth within its walls is really something special. If you like both art and history, Versailles is a place that you don’t want to miss.
The Cluny Museum
The Cluny Museum is the premier Middle Ages museum in Paris, and it is definitely worth checking out if you like history. From stained glass to paintings, this museum contains a wide collection of interesting things, and it is one of the more unique museums on this list. If you like history and have already visited the Carnavalet Museum and Versailles, I think the Cluny Museum should be next on your list.
Thanks for reading my post on the ten best museums in Paris. Hopefully this post helps you to determine which museums to visit on your next trip to France’s capital city. If you have any questions about visiting Paris at all, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’ve got you covered.