If you are spending some time in Paris, you will want to visit a few galleries and museums. But what are the best museums in Paris?
There are 136 museums in Paris. Some are world famous, such as the Louvre, which remains one of the most visited museums in the world; others are not nearly as well known, but equally worth visiting. If you have a knack for art, history, culture and just about anything else, Paris will have you covered.
I know that the task of picking which museums you want to visit may be quite daunting, so I have selected the best museums in Paris for you – and for each of them I have added information on opening times, and how to get the tickets. My advice is to select only a few of them, starting with the main ones and then the smaller ones that may strike your attention. Don’t try to pack too many into your itinerary – places such as the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay will take most of the day to be properly explored!
TIP: If you are visiting Paris during a national holiday or during Christmas or New Years’, make sure to double check that the museum you want to visit is actually open. Most will be closed!
PRO TIP: If you are planning on visiting many museums in Paris, you may want to invest in a city card. This will give you access to a variety of attractions in town such as the Arc de Triomphe, access to a Seine River cruise, the best museums in Paris as well as a bunch of attractions outside of town, but usually not to the Eiffel Tower. You can get your City Card here.
The 21 Best Museums In Paris
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Wednesdays to Mondays, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays and on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Closing time is at 9:45 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Tickets cost €17 and you need to get them in advance. Get yours here. It’s also included in the list of attractions in the City Card.
If someone tells you that a day is not enough to visit the Louvre, he is not kidding. This is the largest museum in the world, and many will tell you it’s one of the best museums in Paris. I will have to agree – the collection of art and the even the building itself are out of this world. This was originally a fortress, and in fact the residence of the King of France until 1682, when Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles.
After that, it became a gallery for the study and practice of art, and where there currently are some of the most famous art pieces in the world, such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, the Venus of Milo, the Coronation of Napoleon and more. There even is a section that houses ancient Egyptian art and artifacts, including mummies.
Keep in mind that it can take you up to a day to visit the Louvre and that it is a requirement to book a time slot and buy tickets in advance. As it is a vast museum, joining a guided tour may be a good idea.
The following are the best tour and ticket options:
- Louvre Museum timed entrance ticket – it’s the exact same price as on the official site, but much less on an hassle to get. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full refund.
- Louvre Museum skip-the-ticket-line guided tour – a very well reviewed tour. It’s the one I did and I was impressed with how knowledgeable the guide was!
- Priority entrance with audio-guide – a good option if you’d rather go around at your own pace.
- Private tour for families and children – the best option if you are traveling with kids, who will remain entertained throughout.
Check out my post “Nine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre.”
GOOD TO KNOW: Make sure to take a walk around the Tuileries Gardens, which are right behind the museum.
GOOD TO KNOW: Located in the west wing of the Louvre there is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which together with the Musée de la Mode et du Textile is the world’s largest collection of design and decorative arts. The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. It closes at 9:00 pm on Thursdays. Tickets are €14 and must be purchased in advance. You can get a combined ticket for the Musée Nissim de Camondo and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs for €20.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. It closes at 9:45 pm on Thurdsays. Tickets cost €14 and must be booked in advance along with a timed entry. You can get yours here. It’s included in the City Card.
If you love art, you will easily see why the Musée d’Orsay is thought to be one of the best museums in Paris. First of all, the building is impressive. It’s a former train station – Gare d’Orsay, which was built for the universal expo – that was then renovated to house the art collection. Inside, you will see pieces of the best impressionist and post-impressionist artists in the world, such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more.
Make sure to check the website for special exhibits too – they usually don’t have an additional fee, but you may want to schedule your visit in order to see them.
This is a wide museum and it will take you a while to visit. You can get an audioguide once you get there, or else opt for a guided tour. The following are the best tickets and tour options:
- Musée d’Orsay ticket – it costs just as much as on the official site, but with none of the hassle.
- Priority ticket with audio-guide – in case you prefer going around at your own pace, but feel like you need some guidance.
- Musée d’Orsay guided tour – an excellent option if you’d rather have someone taking you around and sharing all the secrets about this museum.
- Guided visit for families and children – a great option if you are traveling with small ones.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Wednesdays to Mondays from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is €14, entrance is timed and tickets must be booked in advance. You can get your tickets here. It’s included in the City Card.
The beautiful, contemporary building of the Centre Pompidou located in the 4th arrondissement hosts the National Museum of Modern Art, Europe’s largest modern art museum and one of the best museums in Paris, where you’ll be able to admire the works of artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky. There is a massive library, and regular exhibits.
GOOD TO KNOW: Right behind the center, there is a truly lovely square where you’ll be able to spot a bit of local action.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Picasso Museum is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets cost €14 and must be bought in advance. You can get them here. It’s in the list of museums in the Paris City Card.
Located in the beautiful Marais, this museum contains the largest collection of works by the Spanish artist, including painting, drawings, sketches and even photographs.
Musée National Rodin
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. General admission is €6; garden only admission is €1 and special exhibits are €7. You need to book your visit ahead of time and can get your tickets for all of the three here. Tickets are included in the Paris City Card.
The beautiful 1730 Hôtel Biron/mansion and the estate where it is located, where Auguste Rodin used to live are the world’s largest exhibition of the artist’s work. The garden is where you will be able to see his famous statues such as The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, The Walking Man, The Cathedral and more. It’s a fabulous place to relax for a few hours, taking in art and a pleasant walk in the park at the same time. With so much to see, and such a great atmosphere, this is one of the best museums in Paris.
GOOD TO KNOW: Together with Rodin’s work, there also are those of his pupil (and later on mistress) Camille Claudel. Inside the mansion there are paintings by Rodin himself, and artists such as Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh.
The following are the best ticket and tour options:
- Rodin Museum entrance ticket – at €13 you get access to the garden, the museum and any special exhibit.
- Rodin Museum guided tour – a great option if you are a fan of the artist.
- Private guided tour – it’s a bit more expensive, but keep in mind the price is per group.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Access to the permanent exhibit is free; special exhibits cost €9.
Located in the apartment and studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle – who used to be a pupil of Rodin – this museum is dedicated to his works. The museum is located in the Montparnasse District and includes the apartment and studio of Bourdelle, and several other wings. The most interesting one is the one designed by Christian de Portzamparc, where you can see many beautiful bronze statues. Yet, it is the gardens that house the best works of Bourdelle. This is one of the best free museums in Paris.
Musée de l’Orangerie
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day except Tuesdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €6.50 and visits must be booked in advance via the official website. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour such as this one.
The Musée de l’Orangerie was built upon orders of Napoleon III and currently hosts impressionist and modern art. You will be able to admire the works of Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne. Yet, the pieces that gets the most attention here are the eight Water Lilies murals painted by Claude Monet and donated to the French government. The museum is located inside the beautiful Jardine des Tuileries, from where you can also access the Louvre.
GOOD TO KNOW: Also located in the Tuileries Gardens you will find the Jeu de Paume, aka Centre National de la Photographie since 2005.
Musée de Cluny (National Medieval Art Museum)
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open daily from 9:15 am to 5:45 pm, except on Tuesdays. Admission is €5, or €9 when there are special exhibits. You can get tickets online on the museum’s website.
Known as the National Museum of Medieval Art, the museum is located inside the Hôtel de Cluny — a 15th century Gothic-style mansion built on top of 1st century Gallo-Roman baths. The museum is known for its collection of medieval enamels, sculptures and for the incredible Lady and Unicorn tapestry cycle. If you are a fan of medieval art, this definitely will be one of the best museums in Paris for you.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Friday it closes at 9:30 pm. Admission is €8 and you must buy tickets on the official site beforehand. It’s included in the Paris City Card.
Founded in 1794 by Henri Grégoire, this is Europe’s first science museum. Since 1819 it is housed in the former Benedictine priory of St-Martin-des-Champs. The museum has an incredible exhibit of things such as scales, barometers, clocks, calculators, and even scale models of buildings. There is the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph, an TV set that dates back to 1938 and even the first steam-powered aircraft built by Clément Ader. It’s a truly fun place to visit and marvel at the progress of technology.
Musée National Gustave Moreau
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €7. It’s included in the Paris City Card.
Among the best museums in Paris, Gustave Moreau is a great combination of the historic residence of the Symbolist painter and of the gallery that showcases his works. The museum was first opened in 1903. The museum is divided into three floors. The bottom one is where you will find the boudoir devoted to Alexandrine Dureux, who Moreau very much loved, though unrequited. The second floor has an exhibit of other paintings. On the third one you will find his masterpiece Jupiter et Sémélé.
Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day except Tuesdays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. It closes at 9:00 pm on Thursdays. Tickets are €8 and must be booked in advance on the museum’s website here. It’s on the list of the museums included in the City Card.
This museum, which first opened in 2007, is one of the biggest and altogether best museums in Paris. It’s an homage to the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world, with the exhibit on the ground floor showcasing life-size replicas of buildings such as cathedrals. The upper floor exhibit has full-scale replicas of murals and stained-glass windows dating back to the middle ages and renaissance. There even is a replica of Le Corbusier’s apartment Cité Radieuse in Marseille. The museum is found at the Trocadero Center, right in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Palais de Tokyo
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day except Tuesdays, from 12:00 to 9:00 pm. Tickets cost €12 and must be pre-booked.
Also on the other side of the Eiffel Tower and facing the Trocadero, this museum which opened in 2002 is entirely dedicated to contemporary art. You will be able to see the works of artists such as Pierre Joseph and Wang Du, among others. The building where it is located dates back to 1937, when it was inaugurated for the Exposition Internationale. There is a terrace from where you can get stunning views.
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Grand Palais is open every day but Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. It closes at 10:00 pm on Thursdays. Tickets to the exhibits cost €15. There is an additional €5 fee for the audio-guide. You need to reserve a time-slot for your visit in advance.
Originally built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, the main draw to this museum is the steel-framed glass roof. The building was closed in 1994 for restoration works and opened again in 2005 as a space for special exhibits. The best to date was the one dedicated to Paul Gaugin.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It closes at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Admission to the permanent exhibit is free.
A beautiful example of Belle Epoque architecture, the Petit Palais houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris and is located right on the other side from the Grand Palais, and like the latter it was built for the 1900 Expo. What makes it one of the best museums in Paris is the fantastic collection of art and sculptures by artists such as Rembrandt, Poussin, Courbet and more. There are also some fine examples of Art Nouveau.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets for the permanent collection are €12, whereas if you want to visit the permanent collection and the special exhibits you will have to pay €15. Advanced booking is required.
This private art museum is located in what was once the house of the André-Jacquemart and that displays their fabulous collection. The building dates back to the 19th century and inside you will be able to admire the works of Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Uccello, Carpaccio, Mantegna and more. There is a lovely adjacent tearoom.
Musée Nissim de Camondo
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Tickets are €12 and must be booked in advance on the museum’s website. You can get a combined ticket for the Musée Nissim de Camondo and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs for €20.
Located in the former residence of Count Moïse de Camondo, who dedicated the collection to his son Nissim, who was killed during WWI, the museum is a fine collection of 18th century furniture, with pieces by the craftsmen of Louis XV and Louis XVI nonetheless. The silvers, porcelain, carpets and tapestries are also worth admiring.
Musée de l’Armée
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets are €14 and must be bought in advance. It’s one of the museums included in the Paris City Card.
Located in one of the buildings of Les Invalides, this museum is dedicated the the military history of France, from Antiquity to WWII. Included in the price of the ticket there’s also Napoleon’s Tomb. This definitely is one of the best museums in Paris for people with an interest in armies and military history.
GOOD TO KNOW: Temporarily closed for renovation works, Musée Carnavalet is of the best museums in Paris to get better acquainted with the history of the city, from the pre-Roman times well into the 20th century, including the times of the French Revolution.
Musée Marmottan Monet
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Musée Marmottan Monet is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Thursdays it closes at 9:00 pm. Tickets are €10.20 and must be booked in advance. Alternatively, you can opt for this guided tour.
Located in an old hunting pavilion, this museum is a collection of pieces that used to belong to Paul Marmottan, who was a massive fan of impressionist art. The collection includes 165 pieces by Monet (this is the largest collection of his work), with a circular room entirely dedicated to the water lily paintings. There also are pieces of Degas, Gaugin, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.
Musée du Quai Branly
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm. It closes at 10:00 pm on Thursdays. Tickets are €12 and all visits must be booked in advance. You can get your tickets here. It’s included in the Paris City Card.
The location of this museum – it’s in a building by Jean Nouvel – and the collection that is so different from that of other museums in Paris – it focusses on indigenous arts and cultures from Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas – make it truly worth visiting.
Musée d’Art Naïf Max Fourny
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open every day. From Monday to Friday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm; Saturdays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sundays from 12:00 to 6:00 pm. It’s only opened on weekdays in August. Admission is €9 and you can reserve your visit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Located in Montmartre, this is one of the lesser known museums in Paris. It entirely focuses on contemporary art with an exhibit of more than 1400 pieces from 55 different countries, and over 500 paintings and around 80 sculptures. It also hosts cultural events.
Musée de la Vie Romantique
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is free, but special exhibits have a €6 fee. You have to reserve your visit and get a ticket for the special exhibit in advance.
This small museum in Montmartre is in the former home of George Sand, famous French writer. The museum explores romantic love, with all sorts of artifacts that inspire romance. There is a lovely tearoom where you can relax after your visit.
Further readings about Paris
Make sure to check out my other posts if you are planning a trip to Paris:
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Paris
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- Paris In 3 Days: A Great Itinerary To Make The Most Of It
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- How To Avoid The Most Common Paris Scams