The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris: Ten of the Best Museums and Galleries inner banner

The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris: Ten of the Best Museums and Galleries

Paris — so many world-class museums and art galleries; so little time. Not sure where to begin? Our regular contributor Ruby Boukabou has written a book that's packed with arty must-sees and dos. Here are ten of her top recommendations.
16 Mar, 2023
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris. Image: Olivia Rutherford

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Visiting the mighty Louvre in Paris is, of course, an incredible experience for art lovers.

You can go back again and again to discover and rediscover art from throughout the ages, housed in the once royal quarters by the gorgeous Tuileries Garden and the Seine River. However, it’s by no means the only cultural cache of note in the French capital. There are dozens of fabulous museums, of all shapes and sizes, dotted across the city.

Here are ten of the best Paris museums and galleries. For more inspiration, pick up a copy of my book — The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris.

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Paris Tours, Activities & Attractions

Purchase a Paris Museum Pass

The Paris Museum Pass offers admission to 30 museums and monuments across the city. Enjoy skip-the-line access at many venues, and use the pass as often as you want for the duration you choose (two, four, or six days).

1. Musée d’Orsay

Located by the Seine in a stunning transformed Beaux Arts railway station, the Musée d’Orsay is likely to be crowded, but it’s worth lining up for. Artistic movements represented here include realism, symbolism and Art Nouveau, but best of all, the museum boasts dozens of original impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces. Dive into the extraordinary worlds of Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, Cézanne and Degas, then stroll down to the Seine and across the ornamental Pont Alexandre III bridge in a reflective mood. 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Musée d’Orsay

2. Centre Pompidou

Contemplate fascinating modern artworks in this iconic inside-out contemporary art complex designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. The works on display at the Pompidou Centre range from early 20th century creations to brand new pieces. Discover small and large-scale experimental works in Dadaism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Cubism, and several other ‘isms’, then climb to the top floor to enjoy the panoramic views from Le Georges restaurant. You can also rub shoulders with the arty crowd downstairs over a foie gras and champagne at Café Beaubourg. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Centre Pompidou

3. Palais de Tokyo

Hobnob with the art world’s elite at the very cool Palais de Tokyo — a large exhibition centre that hosts temporary contemporary shows in its western wing. It’s open daily from midday to midnight. If you can wangle an invitation, the exhibition openings are always very lively, and often feature DJ sets and light shows in the outdoor courtyard with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop. Stay for dinner at the chic Monsieur Bleu restaurant.

Over in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo is the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (Paris Museum of Modern Art). It’s most famous for the enormous La Fée Electricité by Raoul Dufy (which has a room of its own), but you’ll also come across works by Chagall, Dufy, Modigliani, Picasso and Derain, and some intriguing temporary exhibitions. 13 avenue du Président-Wilson, 75116

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: La Fée Electricité. Image: Pixabay

4. Musée national du Moyen Âge

While exploring the Latin Quarter, make sure you pop in to the Musée de Cluny-Musée national du Moyen Âge (National Museum of the Middle Ages), which occupies a 15th century mansion that was the home of art collector Alexandre du Sommerard in the 1830s. Walk through the remains of a circa-200 AD Gallo-Roman bathhouse and gym, gaze at the pretty stained glass window collection, take a peek at the Gold Rose of Basel and other medieval jewellery and paintings, ponder over the Romanesque and Gothic sculptures, then make your way past the charming silk woven tapestry series — titled The Lady and the Unicorn. Afterwards, stroll through the elegant Luxembourg Gardens or head over for a look at the mighty Pantheon. 6 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Musée national du Moyen Âge

5. Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac

Housed in a post modern Jean Nouvel building by the Seine, complete with a dense internal garden, the extraordinary Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac exhibits works from non-European civilisations from the Neolithic period all the way up to the 20th century. Around 3,000 objects are on display at any one time from a total collection of over 300,000, which includes Australian Aboriginal bark and dot paintings, North African jewellery, native American sculptures and African statues. Wander about at your own pace or sign up for a tour, see a concert, take in a reading or attend an opening. Afterwards, dine at Alain Ducasse’s Les Ombres, which offers an incredible up-close view of the Eiffel Tower. 37 quai Branly, 75007

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6. Institut du Monde Arabe

Paris’ cultural richness is partly due to the multicultural make-up of the city’s population, and Arabic influences give many of the quarters an exotic flavour. Celebrating Arabic culture in all its complexities, the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in the 5th has a fascinating museum that houses permanent and temporary exhibitions. Be sure to head up to the rooftop for the fabulous view over Paris. The annual program includes a film festival, concerts and special events. You can’t miss the building – it’s another Jean Nouvel delight, shining from afar with glass walls and external screens complete with camera-style irises that filter light and heat. 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Institut du Monde Arabe.

7. Musée de Montmartre

When meandering through the backstreets of Montmartre, pay a visit to pretty Musée de Montmartre. It’s located by a vineyard in what was once the home of artists Suzanne Valadon, son Maurice Utrillo and friends Auguste Renoir and André Utter. Enveloped in the sweet scent of the vines, you’ll discover the history of once rural Montmartre and the artists who lived, worked and played here. See works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Kupka, Steinlen, Valadon, and Utrillo. Visit the gorgeous inner garden and take a seat on the recreated swing from Renoir’s La Balançoire, which was painted right here. 12 rue Cortot, 75018

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Musée de Montmartre

8. Musée Picasso

Over in the trendy Marais district, Musée Picasso is dedicated to the revolutionary (and often Paris-based) Spanish artist and father of Cubism — Pablo Picasso. Housed in the 17th century villa Hotel Salé, a rotating collection of over 5,000 works are curated in various themes. You can happily spend a whole afternoon absorbing the vivid and game changing works by this much-loved icon of the art world. There are paintings, sketches, studies, drawings, engravings, photographs, book illustrations, and even films. ‘What fascinates people is his diversity. Contemporary artists are still amazed by him,’ says director Laurent Le Bon. 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003

9. Louis Vuitton Foundation

Situated in the Boulogne forest in an astonishing glass sailboat-like building (designed by American architect Frank O. Gehry), and sponsored by the French multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, the Louis Vuitton Foundation presents contemporary art shows that locals and international visitors flock to (buy tickets online to queue in the fast lane). Here you’ll see the works of the likes of Jeff Koons, Basquiat, and other vividly contemporary artists. The complex also offers a dance and music program, kids’ activities, and modern French cuisine at Le Frank — which is under the stewardship of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Louis Nomicos. 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116

Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries
Ten of the best Paris museums and galleries: Louis Vuitton Foundation

10. Petit Palais

Fine art lovers will be thrilled by the Petit Palais, which is housed in a stunning high-ceilinged Beaux Arts building constructed for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. The permanent collection consists of French objets d’art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is free to view (you can usually walk straight in without waiting). Objects to admire include intricate clocks, porcelain figurines, and sculptures. You’ll also find paintings by Rubens, Monet, Delacroix and Rembrandt. Buy a notebook from the gift shop and scribble inspired notes in the delightful inner courtyard. Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008

Need a place to stay?

The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris by Ruby Boukabou is available worldwide. Buy it from your favourite bookseller or order a signed copy from

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best Paris museums and galleries? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Ruby Boukabou

About the writer

Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture, and food writer based between Europe and Australia, and has written for The Age, The Australian, Qantas, Issimo, The Diplomat, Paris Voice, and Inside Film. She has also produced culture and travel stories for the ABC, SBS, and Screen Australia. Ruby’s books — The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris (White Owl Books) — are available in bookshops and to order online.





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