Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a center for architecture, history, food, fashion and, of course, art. The Louvre, the Pompidou, the Orsay. Some cities have one great museum. Others, like Paris, have ones that you can get lost in for days. Here is a quick guide to the ones you should not miss.
Spanning works from the classical world to the Renaissance, the Louvre is a mindboggling encapsulation of human artistic achievement. The buildings themselves, several wings named for famous historical figures, are works of stunning magnificence that surround a central courtyard with the now iconic pyramid entrance. The Louvre is not a place to be taken in during one visit, it’s just too gigantic. It is a place to savor again and again. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t be over ambitious. Pick a few periods and wander from room to room. The famous Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa always attract large crowds, but you may find that some of the endless galleries can be deserted.
34-36 quai du Louvre, 1e
33 (0) 1-40-20-53-17
Metro – Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre (not the Louvre-Rivoli)
9am – 6pm Sun, Mon, Thurs, Sat
9am – 10pm Weds & Fri
€911(adults), €6 evenings after 6pm (special exhibits extra)
Free first Sunday of every month
Across the Seine from the Louvre is the Musée d’Orsay, housed in the former Gare d’Orsay railway station. This museum houses the most comprehensive collection of Impressionists anywhere in the world in a setting that is simply spectacular. All the greats are here – Monet, Degas, Gauguin, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Manet and Renoir – with often comprehensive coverage. Make sure to go to the top of the museum and look down from the gangway to get a sense of how the former station was laid out.
62, rue de Lille, 75343 Paris 7e
33 (0) 1-40-49-48-14
Metro to Solferino and RER to Musee d’Orsay
9:30am – 6pm Tues, Weds, Fri – Sun,
9:30am – 9:45pm Thurs
€9 (adults), 18 and under – free
€5.50 after 4:15pm (except Thurs) and after 6pm on Thursdays
Joint ticket with the Rodin Museum (same day admission) €12
A building turned inside out, the ultra-modern Pompidou was infamously plunked down in the middle of an old Parisian neighborhood and is still completely out of character for the area. Nonetheless, the museum has become an important showcase for modern and contemporary art. It recently underwent an extensive overhaul and now displays its 20th and 21st century collections chronologically. The rooftop café has great views of the city and riding the exterior escalators is a trip.
Place Georges Pompidou, Paris 4e
33 (0) 1-44-78-12-33
Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet-Les Halles
11am – 10pm Wed-Mon, closed on Tuesdays
€13 (adults over 25), €8 (students with ID), free under 18
Free the first Sunday of every month
Admission includes Atelier Brancusi, a recreation of the famous sculptor’s studio across the street.
At the opposite end of the Tuileries Gardens from the Louvre, sits the recently enlarged L’Orangerie. The museum is best known for housing Monet’s Water Lilies. The galleries hold tremendous collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including works from Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir, Picasso and more. Off-the-beaten path, the museum is compact and rarely overrun like some of Paris’ better known attractions.
Address: Jardin des Tuileries, 75001 Paris 1e.
33 (0) 1-44-77-80-07
9am-6pm daily (galleries start closing at 5:45pm)
Closed on Tuesdays as well as May 1st and Dec. 25.
€ 7.50 (adults over 25), € 5.50 (students with ID),free under 18
€2 surcharge for temporary exhibits
Free on the first Sunday of every month