Bonjour! Today, I’m starting the “Paris Picks” series where I focus on one theme and write about my favorites. I’m starting it off by sharing my two cents about Paris museums (musées, en français).
Though I haven’t stepped foot in the City of Lights for about three years now, I still have a treasure trove of information stored in my brain. My hope is that this series will be a helpful resource for friends and strangers alike. [Note: Make sure you Google any of these places before you visit! As I said, it’s been a while since I’ve visited and museums are notorious for closures, renovations, etc.]
Before going any further, be forewarned that Paris is chock full of museums, and I am chock full of museum/art enthusiasm. This basically translates to having a ton of favorite museums, or at least a bunch of favorite tidbits about almost every museum I’ve visited. I won’t be able to fit all my tips in one post, so this is just Part I of my introduction to Paris museums.
This first post on Paris museums will consist of my absolute favorites of all time and some special mentions.
Favorite Paris Museums of All Time, Ranked in No Particular Order:
- Musée Gustave Moreau
- This is one of my favorite museums because it’s so well put together. It makes sense, though, since the artist planned it in advance of his death.
- When you step inside the main area, you feel like you’re walking into a studio, rather than a museum. You’ll find the walls covered with Moreau’s paintings, both finished and unfinished, but you’ll also have access to a bunch of his sketches and drafts. I loved looking through these and imagining the artist at work, making hasty lines and forming ideas.
- Expect to find: fantastical paintings, a spiral staircase and a glimpse into an artist’s life work.
- Extra cookie points: It’s a smaller museum, in the 9th arrondissement (close to Métro Saint-Georges, Ligne 12), so you likely won’t deal with ridiculous crowds. It’s really a gem of a museum!
- Musée Carnavalet
- Maybe I like Carnavalet because it’s in the Marais. Maybe I just like its architecture. Or maybe it’s the FANTASTIC (caps needed) collection of old street signs and objects from the Paris of decades/centuries past, along with its fabulous assortment of paintings and artworks.
- WARNING: There are renovations going on until (sadly) 2019!! BUT, they still have events and things going on, so still check their schedule! 🙂
- Musée de Cluny
- I can’t sing enough praises about this beautiful, wonderful museum focused on the medieval time period. Everything from the building to the contents (and the neighborhood!) are wonderful. If you want to see stunning (recently renovated) tapestries, golden roses, medieval sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, remnants of ancient Gallo-Roman baths, there is SO MUCH TO SEE.
- In addition to being a Francophile, I’m a Moyen Age-ophile, so you might want to take my advice with a grain of salt. HOWEVER. I’m telling you, this is an EXCEPTIONAL museum!
Museums That Deserve Special Mention:
- Musée de la Mode/Palais Galliera
- This is a case of Catch-Me-If-You-Can. A lovely showcase of fashion, this museum only opens when they have a temporary exhibition. They don’t have permanent hours, so check before you go to see if they have anything showing! I attended a 50s Fashion Exhibition, and it was beautiful. The original Dior dresses. Ugh. Can’t someone just give them to me? Pretty, pretty please?
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs
- This is a great museum that’s a bit out of the box. I mean, how often do you get to see amazing, wacky, beautiful furniture and decorative items from a bunch of different centuries? Their collection of modern/contemporary chairs are sure to please the whole family!
- Extra cookie points: As you travel upwards, there are some windows with great views over the rooftops of Paris!
- Musée Jacquemart-André
- Located in a gorgeous hôtel particulier, this is a private museum housing a lovely collection of paintings. However, what makes it a “special mention” has little to do with the artworks – they have a marvelous salon de thé! I remember going to this museum for some assignment while studying abroad and loved sitting down at their café. Their website boasts that they are one of the most beautiful cafés in Paris – they might be right!
That’s all for this edition of Paris Picks! If you ever have a chance to visit Paris, give these museums a try. I’m sure you’ll love them!
For the next in the Museum series, I’ll talk about some delightful, but less “flashy”, museums that I’ve enjoyed visiting. Eventually, I’ll talk about some of the museums I’m hoping to visit when I get the chance!