International Destinations

A Guide to the Museums of Paris

Paris is home to around 130 museums. Of course, we did not have the chance to visit all of those during the Johnson Progeny European Adventure, but we were able to see a handful. Every museum is different, covering a different subject matter. So, as you are planning out your visit to Paris select the ones that would be of most interest to you. A few tips, museums have free admission on the first Sunday of every month, so if you plan to go on that day – go early! If you desire to see as many museums as possible, then I recommend the Paris Museum Pass, which grants you access to 60 museums in the city.

Musée du Louvre

When contemplating Paris’ museums, the best place to start, in my opinion, is with The Louvre. Why is The Louvre the best starting place? Because it is the worlds largest art museum in the world and it would take days to see all of the 38,000 objects housed there. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II, and opened its doors as a museum in 1793. Bring your walking shoes, and be prepared to stay for hours. This is a great place to spend the day if the weather is less than desirable.

Musée de l’Orangerie

The Musée de l’Orangerie was my favorite museum. Located on the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens, this museum is home to impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Built in 1852 the museum is now the permanent home to Claude Monet’s eight Water Lily murals, which were installed in 1927. (In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Monet fan.) The museum is houses works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and others. And don’t miss some of the Rodin sculptures out front and along the Tuileries Gardens.

Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is located in the former Gare d’Orsay, a railway station built between 1898 and 1900, and opened as an art museum in 1986. The architecture alone made it another favorite of mine – the most famous feature is the clock. This museum primarily houses French art from 1848 to 1914 and includes artists like Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh and more.

Also, don’t miss the bronze statues around the exterior of the museum representing six of the seven continents.

Hôtel National des Invalides

Hôtel des Invalides is a complex of buildings that contains museums and monuments all relating to France’s military history, as well as a veterans hospital and retirement home. Due to time constraints, and my lack of interest in France’s military history (sorry!), we opted to see only the Dôme des Invalides. The Dôme is a church in the complex that is the final resting place for some of France’s most notable war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte. Definitely worth the visit just to see this gorgeous demonstration of French Baroque architecture.