French museums always top the lists of the best museums in the world. This is by no means a definitive look at just a handful of the museums and art galleries we highly recommend on a visit to the French capital. Be sure to return as we fully intend to expand our catalog and list of French words related to this topic.
Musée Du Louvre
The Musée du Louvre is the largest museum in France and one of the largest in the world. Situated on the banks of the Seine, this magnificent palace is a must for art lovers and is packed with an impressive collection of art and artifacts spanning prehistory to the modern day. As the most visited museum on the planet, crowds are unavoidable. Unfortunately, the fantasy of standing alone with the Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile or the Venus de Milo isn’t going to happen because there’ll be lots of avid tourists flocking for a good view.
Some 400,000 other works of art are housed at the Louvre, although not all hang on the walls at one time. The best way to avoid the hordes at the Louvre Museum is to visit at the beginning or end of the day on a weekday during the off-season. But don’t let this put you off; this palace of kings and its art galleries and gardens is quite simply the finest museum in the world.
A stone’s throw over the Seine from the Louvre is the smaller and more accessible Musée d’Orsay. The second most visited museum in Paris, once a railway station constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, this gorgeous art gallery is ranked as one of the best museums in Paris. The collection includes art nouveau, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist works created between 1848 and 1914. Enjoy a day marveling at the masterpieces of famous names, including Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne. If you need to take a break, take time out in the cafe on a giant, see-through clockface.
When it opened its doors in 1977, the Centre Pompidou raised some eyebrows because of its industrial steel-and-glass exterior. However, it is now considered one of the planet’s most important contemporary art galleries and the country’s national museum of modern art. This impressive museum is a must for any modern art lover, as its 100,000-piece collection includes works by the greatest artists from the past century.
As well as admiring the works by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Man Ray, Sophie Calle, Marcel Duchamp, and Andy Warhol, taking the elevator outside the building to the roof terrace offers fantastic views of Paris, Sacré-Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower.
Situated in the magnificent Hôtel Salé, the Musée Picasso was reopened to the public in 2014. Although other museums in France are dedicated to a single artist, like the Musée Matisse, Picasso and his fame among contemporary artists, means a trip to the Hôtel Salé should be high on your list of art museums. As it is located in the famous Marais district of the city, visitors can combine a visit with a bit of shopping and some fine dining.
Musée De L’Orangerie
A former greenhouse, the Musée de l’Orangerie gives more sophisticated art lovers who want to avoid museum fatigue a chance to browse the art collection leisurely. Taking center stage at this small museum is Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. Other Post Impressionist artists on display under one roof include Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Henri Matisse. A cafe inside the gift shop provides refreshments, or why not pack a picnic to enjoy in the Tuileries gardens?
Housed in the Hôtel Biron, the Musée Rodin is one of the best museums in France for fans of the painter and sculptor. The hotel was home to Auguste Rodin towards the end of his life, and after the French government purchased the building in 1911, he agreed to donate antiquities, sculptures, and artworks to be kept on display in the house and its grounds.
Large windows and high ceilings make the art gallery the perfect environment to view the master’s works. Although you may be tempted to make a beeline for Rodin’s most famous sculptures, “The Thinker,” “The Gates of Hell,” and “The Kiss,” be sure to take some time to enjoy the other works of art and take a stroll around the gardens.
Musée Du Quai Branly
Designed to house indigenous art from around the world and as a celebration of non-European culture, the Musée du Quai Branly first opened its doors in 2006 and is situated within strolling distance of the Eiffel Tower. As well as permanent exhibitions, the museum is constantly changing its temporary displays, including exhibits such as textiles from Africa, costumes from Asia, and masks from Oceania. A theatre, cinema, bookshop, two restaurants, and a reading room, are housed in the museum and gorgeous gardens in which to relax.
Musée De La Chasse Et De La Nature
Fans of something a little weirder than the usual galleries hung with paintings and scattered with sculptures should surely put the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature on their itinerary when visiting Paris. Formerly a musty hunting museum, it was overhauled and is now more of an art gallery celebrating man’s relationship with nature. Exhibits include a stuffed hen surrounded by mirrors that replicate the fowl into infinity, drawers visitors are invited to open that contain animal footprints and droppings, and a Louis XVI chair with a fox curled up asleep on it.
Terms And Phrases To Use When Visiting A French Museum
|Art exhibition||Une exposition d’art|
|Art gallery||Galerie d’art|
|Free entrance||Entrée gratuite|
|Gift shop||Boutique de souvenirs|
|How much does a ticket cost?||Combien coûte un billet|
|Is there a cafe?||Y a-t-il un café?|
|Modern art||Art moderne|
|Museum map||Plan du musée|
|Oil Painting||La peinture à l’huile|
|Painting||Une peinture/un tableau|
|Watercolour painting||Une aquarelle|
|When do you close?||Quand fermez-vous|
|When do you open?||Quand ouvrez-vous|
|Very interesting||Très intéressante|
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