No matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, a trip there just isn’t complete without a visit to the city’s museums and art galleries. The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay may be classic must-sees, but there are a number of lesser-known spots to add to your cultural bucket list. Here, everything to fit in on your next art-filled getaway to the City of Light.
An art gallery and cultural hub, the striking Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers-designed Centre Pompidou is a one-stop shop for cutting-edge exhibitions, hands-on workshops, and live performances. You’ll have no problem finding it thanks to an instantly recognizable façade which is covered in exterior escalators, pipes, and tubing, and houses over 50,000 works and multiple temporary exhibitions.
Musee du Louvre
The Louvre is the biggest, busiest, and most well-known museum in the world. In the interest of actually enjoying your time there, we'd recommend tackling a single floor, wing, or section rather than darting around the museum in search of its most popular treasures. Most visitors start at the Denon wing to see the Mona Lisa, Veronese’s Wedding Feast at Cana, and Delacroix’s Liberty Guiding the People. But if you’re not prepared to jostle your way through the crowds, we’d recommend heading for Richelieu—the least crowded of the museum’s three wings—to glimpse its sculpture terraces and the apartments of Napoléon III.
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Students of Impressionism won’t want to miss the Musée d’Orsay whose permanent collection includes masterworks by the likes of Degas, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, and Matisse. The museum occupies the Beaux-Arts Orsay railway station—a stunning, glass-roofed building that floods the galleries in light.
This Belle Époque mansion is the former residence of banking heir Edouard André and his artist wife, Nélie Jacquemart, who wandered the globe collecting Renaissance works by the likes Botticelli, Donatello, and Titian, among others. Today, these fancy finds are on display in the mansion’s resplendent ballrooms and extravagant salons where the couple previously threw quite a few high-society events.
Palais de Tokyo
There’s always a cool, cutting-edge exhibition or performance on view at Palais de Tokyo, one of the largest centers for contemporary art in Europe. Modern French art is is the main draw, along with a bookshop that houses hundreds of independent magazines and specialty books, an exotic garden, and a nightclub called YoYo.
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Musée Nissim de Camondo
After losing his son in World War I, Moïse de Camondo, a successful banker from Istanbul, found his only solace in stocking his showpiece mansion with exquisite objets d’art sourced from around the world. These priceless pieces— Louis XVI chaises, fine silver, ormolu clocks, and canvases by the likes of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun— are on view in the home’s grand salons and gilded private rooms which Moïse donated to the state after his death.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
You’ll have to venture just outside city limits—to the up-and-coming suburb of Pantin—to see art dealer Thaddeus Ropac's fourth gallery (his second in the city). But considering that the gallery is one of the most buzzed-about new arts spaces in Paris, it’s a small price to pay to see some of the world’s most daring, large-scale works. The setting itself is just as monumental as the collection; spread across 54,0000 square feet, there’s a cavernous main gallery (a former ironworks factory), an outdoor sculpture garden, a space for private collectors, and a charming café.
Set inside a 17th-century hotel particulier in the Marais, Galerie Perrotin has one of the most quintessentially Parisian settings we’ve ever seen. But inside, the feel is refreshingly global, with works from artists from all over the world. (No surprise, given that Emmanuel Perrotin, the gallery’s founder, represents international avant-garde artists including Takashi Murakami and Maurizio Cattelan.) Currently on view: kaleidoscopic paintings by LA-based artist Zach Harris, and sculptures by Chinese performance artist Xu Zhen.
Marian Goodman Gallery
If you know your art world references, the name ‘Marian Goodman’ should ring a bell. With galleries in New York, Paris, and London, Goodman is one of the most revered art dealers in the world, representing the German painter Gerhard Richter and the British filmmaker Steve McQueen, among others. Her Parisian gallery occupies a discreet, blink-and-you'll-miss-it location in the Marais.