Renowned as the city of lights and city of love, Paris is also one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. With plenty of world famous attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, Paris is a joy for photographers! The city is also famous for being home to some of the world’s most important artists, writers and musicians. It’s also a veritable treasure chest, as it has many of the world’s best museums, which no visitor to Paris should miss!
The three most famous museums in Paris are:
- His majesty the Louvre: The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum and its collection contains 35,000 artefacts from prehistory to the 21st century. The museum’s most famous exhibit is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, but do not get too distracted by her magnetic smile as the museum has much more to offer! Schedule at least a full day in the museum (not a Tuesday, it’s closed!), and get a map once you’re in as it’s easy to get lost in this former royal palace, which was the sumptous residence for the Sun King, Louis XIV. In fact, the Louvre has a fascinating history itself as it was only converted to a museum after the French Revolution in 1793.
- Pompidou Centre: This spectacular museum is home to the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum of modern art in Europe. The Pompidou Centre is situated in the 4th arrondissement of Paris in the Beaubourg area and it’s closed on Tuesdays. You’ll recognize it thanks to its ironically colourful plumbing decorating the whole facade. On your way to the museum, grab an all-butter croissant to gather some energy: great masters like Pollock, Mirò, Warhol are waiting for you.
- Musée d’Orsay: This beautiful museum is closed on Mondays and was once a busy train station. In fact, the big clock is still there, and it’s one of the symbols of the museum! It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, including famous works by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Sisley, Van Gogh and Gauguin. Art students come here to draw, and you will see them perched on each available spot, busy with paper and charcoal. Peek over their shoulders if you want as you may very well discover the next Monet!
Three lesser known Paris museums that should not be missed include:
- Musée du Quai Branly: This must see museum is quite young when compared to the previous ones as it was inaugurated in 2006! This black and red modern building contains wonderful indigenous art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The collection has 450,000 mysterious objects, of which 3,500 are on display in permanent and temporary thematic exhibitions. The museum is closed on Mondays. Remember, the first Sunday of each month European students under 25 can enter for free.
- Musée Carnavalet. This museum surrounded by a huge garden houses approximately 2,000 sculptures, 2,600 paintings, 20,000 drawings, 300,000 engravings and 150,000 photographs from the Renaissance to the present day. There is a magnificent sculpture of Louis XIV in the courtyard. It’s in the Marais neighbourhood, home to nice boutiques and to the elegant Place des Vosges. There are many activities for children and adults – it’s perfect to meet new art-loving friends!
- Musée Rodin. This museum is opened Friday to Sunday and it’s dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It contains most of Rodin’s most important works, such as The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell – it’s well worth a visit and a picture or two…hundreds! Many of Rodin’s sculptures are displayed in the building’s beautiful garden. Since the museums opens in the afternoon, you don’t need to rush – have a long breakfast in your Paris Hotel, and plan your day in front of a nice cup of café au lait!