20 must-see museums in Paris

Musées à visiter à Paris

What are the must-visit museums in Paris? Our top 20 museums to visit in the French capital!

Paris, the economic, political and cultural heart of France, is a multicultural city steeped in art and history: to say there are plenty of museums to visit in Paris would be an understatement. With a population of 2.2 million within its walls – and 12.5 million in the Île-de-France region as a whole – it is Europe’s largest urban area after Moscow, Istanbul and London. What’s more, Paris attracts almost 32 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited capitals in the world. To facilitate your marathon of museums to visit in Paris, we recommend you opt for the Paris Museum Pass.

An influential city since Gallo-Roman times, Paris is the « City of Light » to visit, the « Museum City » not to be missed, an incredible concentration of culture where every street, every building, every plot of land has a history steeped in artistic and cultural symbolism. Indeed, Paris is present in all the arts: literature, popular songs, music, theater, cinema, architecture, sculpture, painting, photography and more. The result is an abysmal number of museums to visit in Paris, some of which we’d like to briefly introduce to you.

1. The Louvre Museum

Musée du Louvre, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Elwin van Eede

With over 460,000 timeless works from Antiquity to the present day, the Musée du Louvre is one of the world’s greatest art and history museums. Here you’ll discover world-famous works such as La Joconde, La Vénus de Milo, Le Radeau de la Méduse, La Liberté guidant le peuple, La mort de la Vierge, La Dentellière, Le Sacre de Napoléon, le Portrait de Louis XIV en costume de sacre, and more.

99, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris.

2. Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay au coucher du soleil

Photo credit: Flickr – Joe deSousa

A museum of Western art from 1848 to 1914, the Musée d’Orsay offers an incredible diversity of works of art: paintings, sculptures, architecture, photography, graphic and decorative arts. These include: Les Glaneuses (Millet), Le Bal du moulin de la Galette (Renoir), Autoportrait (V. v. Gogh), Les Joueurs de cartes (Cézanne), Les planotteurs de parquet (Caillebotte), Les coquelicots (Monet) and many more.

1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris.

3. Center Georges Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

Designed by French President G. Pompidou (1911-1974), the building – also known as Beaubourg – houses Europe’s largest collection of contemporary art. The Centre Pompidou also houses a large number of major works of modern art.

Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, 75004.

4. Quai Branly Museum

Musée du Quai Branly

Photo credit: Flickr – cwywy007

The museum houses an extensive permanent collection dedicated to the arts of non-Western civilizations (the Americas, Oceania, Asia and Africa). Works from all the world’s communities are on display. A must-see museum in Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly showcases the cultural specificities and history of each continent.

37 quai Branly, Paris, 75007.

5. The Grand Palais

Grand Palais, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Fred PO

Erected for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, it was built for the glory of French art, and became a historic monument in 2000. The Grand Palais presents four temporary exhibitions a year.

3, avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris, 75008.

6. The Petit Palais

Le Petit Palais, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Bertrand Duperrin

A veritable Musée des Beaux-Arts de Paris, 1300 works are on display (sculptures, paintings, tapestries, objets d’art), from the ancient and medieval periods to the 19th century, including the French, Italian, Flemish and Dutch Renaissance: Delacroix, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and others.

Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris.

7. Palais de la Découverte

Palais de la Découverte, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Col Ford and Natasha de Vere

This museum is dedicated to all the sciences, with the emphasis on presenting experiments in a fun and interactive way: astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, earth sciences, one of the must-sees on the list of museums to visit in Paris, for young and old alike.

Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, 75008 Paris.

8. Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

Cités des Sciences et de l'Industrie, La Géode, Paris

Flickr – coolmonfrere

This famous museum in the Parc de la Villette is a vast complex dedicated to the discovery of science, with experimental protocols that are both educational and fun, with a focus on popularizing science for children.

30, avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris.

9. National Museum of Natural History

Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Formosa Wandering

In the Grande galerie de l’évolution, you can contemplate life-size skeletons and stuffed representations of species that have disappeared or are on the brink of extinction: dinosaurs, birds of prey and mammoths sit peacefully, making you feel very small indeed. Animals from 5 continents, from prehistory to the present day.

57, rue Cuvier, 75 005 Paris.

10. Musée des Arts et des Métiers

Musée des Arts et des Métiers, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – urban_lenny

Since 1819, the museum has housed a vast collection of inventions of all kinds: astrolabes, celestial spheres, barometers, clocks and calculating instruments, scale models of machines, the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph, Clément Ader’s steam plane, Louis Blériot’s monoplane, and more.

60, rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris.

11. Picasso Museum

Musée Picasso à Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Tom Graham

Inside the Musée Picasso, access the world’s largest collection of works by Pablo Picasso. In this important building among the museums to visit in Paris, you’ll explore La Célestine, La Suppliante or the Portrait de Marie-Thérèse Walter, between cubism and strabismus of the famous artist.

5, rue de Thorigny, 75 003 Paris.

12. The Montmartre Museum

The aim of the Musée de Montmartre is to explain in painting how the Butte Montmartre became what it is today: great artists stayed here – such as A. Renoir – and this is an opportunity to relive important parts of Paris history, such as the Paris Commune (1871), for example, of which the Butte Montmartre – a charming little village in Paris – was the epicenter.

12-14, rue Cortot, 75018 Paris.

13. Musée national des arts asiatiques (Musée Guimet)

Musée Guimet, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Sébastien Bertrand

The museum boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of Asian art: Khmer works from Southeast Asia, Buddha collections, rooms devoted to Chinese art and to Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Korea.

6, place d’Iéna, 75 016 Paris.

14. Musée de l’Orangerie

Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Bjørn Giesenbauer

A temple to Impressionist art, the Musée de l’Orangerie houses a collection of paintings by world-famous artists such as Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani and Cézanne. A timeless journey through the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Jardin des Tuileries, 75 001 Paris.

15. Museum of Modern Art

Musée d'Art Moderne paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Enzo Ferrante

Permanent exhibitions of works from the 20th century, exploring the major pictorial movements of the period, as well as artists less well known than those exhibited at the Beaubourg center. Temporary exhibitions focus on international contemporary art.

11, Avenue du Président Wilson, 75 116 Paris.

16. The Museum of the Middle Ages

Musée du Moyen-Âge, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Tory

An unusual museum dedicated to medieval art, it catapults visitors through 15 centuries of French and European art history. The Hôtel de Cluny also houses the Arènes de Lutèce, the only Gallo-Roman remains in Paris: the Thermes de Cluny. This is one of the most important collections of medieval art in the world, representing both Gothic and Romanesque styles.

6, Place Paul Painlevé, 75 005 Paris.

17. Museum of Decorative Arts

Musée des Arts Décoratifs paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

The museum highlights the evolution of techniques throughout history, exhibiting a collection of 150,000 works ranging from woodwork to ceramics and glass. A temple for lovers of antique furniture, modern architecture and art deco.

107, rue de Rivoli, 75 001 Paris.

18. Museum of Architecture and Heritage

Musée de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

This museum in the heart of Paris introduces visitors to the major French architectural movements from the Middle Ages to the present day. One of the must-see museums in Paris, it exhibits gigantic life-size reconstructions of religious and civil buildings. Wall paintings, stained-glass windows, church portals: a journey through the corridors of time.

1, Place du Trocadéro, 75 016 Paris.

19. Rodin Museum

Musée Rodin à Paris

Photo credit: Flickr – achbine

Once the great sculptor’s studio, this imposing 18th-century mansion in which the Musée Rodin is housed is one of the finest museums in Paris, and contains over 7,000 sculptures by Rodin, including his great masterpieces The Thinker, The Kiss, The Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell, alongside 8,000 drawings and gouaches by the artist.

77, Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris

20. The Louis Vuitton Foundation

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Photo credit: Flickr – Damien

Rising above the Bois de Boulogne like a magnificent vessel with undulating crystal sails, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by architect Frank Gehry, has been the most captivating sight on the Paris skyline since the unveiling of the Centre Pompidou in 1977.

8, Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris

Main photo credit: Flickr – Randy Connolly