Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea.” We’d have to agree with Ms. Hepburn.
Whether you’ve been to Paris before or you’re a first time guest, the city has something new and culturally exciting to offer. There are the landmarks, such as the infamous Eiffel tower, the romantic Seine River and the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. There are the historical cathedrals, such as the Sacre Coeur and the Notre Dame. And, of course, there are the museums.
Paris has a long history as an artistic hub for painters and artists, and the impressive museums and galleries available to tourists today are a great way to get in touch with the artsy side of The City of Lights. Here are our absolute favorite Paris art museums and galleries:
Probably the most famous museum in Paris, the Louvre is heaven for art history buffs, and the building is a masterpiece in and of itself. It’s home to classics, such as the Monet Lisa and Venus de Milo, as well as sculpture, drawings, and art objects. Tip: It can get very crowded, since tourists flock in the millions each year to see the famous works, so we recommend going there in the slower months if possible.
For those who love the French impressionists, such as Monet and Manet, don’t miss Musee d’Orsay. Built inside a converted train station on the banks of the Seine River (just across from The Louvre), this charming museum is a must-see for architecture fanatics, as well. You’ll be able to stand face to face with some of the most famous impressionist and expressionist masterpieces by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas and Gaugin. Tip: Grab a glass of champagne at the cafe to look out at the city through the beautiful clock windows.
One of the globe’s most important and prestigious permanent collections of modern art can be found at the National Museum of Modern Art (MNAM) at the Centre Georges Pompidou. With more than 50,000 works from famous twentieth-century artists, including Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Magritte, Warhol, Pollock, and countless others, there is much to see here. Plus, they continuously recirculate their collection, which means you can visit several times and never repeat the same exhibitions.
If you love contemporary art, you must visit the city of Paris’ museum of modern art, which opened in 1961. The museum features thousands of works spanning the 20th and 21st century, as well as exciting temporary exhibits exploring recent artists and photographers. Bonus: The terrace just outside the museum offers a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.
5. Rodin Museum
For sculpture lovers, the Rodin Museum is a dream. Dedicated to French sculptor August Rodin, the museum explores Rodin’s complex body of work, in addition to works from some of his famous students, such as Camille Claudel. Most people come to see Rodin’s iconic piece “The Thinker,” as well as the ground’s beautiful sculpture garden. Not a bad place to spend the afternoon!
Originally housed in the Palais du Luxembourg that Marie de Medici built between 1615 and 1630, the Musée du Luxembourg was the first French museum to be opened to the public in 1750. Since then, this museum has become one of the leading spaces in Paris. It features many European artists, including masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphaël, Gauguin, Matisse, Vlaminck and Modigliani.
Situated in the heart of historic Paris, this museum has a collection of several thousand works by the one and only Pablo Picasso. In addition to Picasso’s paintings, the top floor of the museum consists of his personal art collection, which is very interesting to see. It includes works by other great artists, including Degas, Matisse and Renoir.
Having just opened in October 2014, the FVL is one of Paris’ newest and most talked about contemporary art museums. Designed by Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, the building is becoming a landmark for architecture and art lovers alike. The art collection is a combination of works owned by LVMH and Bernard Arnault, including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons.