With over 150 museums in Paris, there is certainly no shortage of history, art, and cultural relics in the City of Lights. Be sure to do your research, as some museums are always free and many others are free on the first Sunday of each month or during certain evenings.
Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museum Pass is absolutely the best value and time-saving purchase we made during our visit. With the pass you gain unlimited entry to 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris for 2, 4, or 6 consecutive days. One of the biggest perks of the pass? At most locations, you don’t have to wait in the long entry lines!
What trip to Paris is complete without a stop at the world-famous Louvre?
We ended up getting there minutes before it opened and because we had our museum passes, we were among the first people inside.
We went straight to the Mona Lisa, because we knew that particular painting always drew a crowd!
After taking our obligatory photo in front of the tiny famous painting, we then wandered the various levels and wings of the 675,000 square feet museum.
Spending a little under 2 hours in the Louvre certainly wasn’t enough to even scratch the surface.
Seeing the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo were definite highlights of our visit. It was an overwhelming experience to visit one of the world’s greatest museums!
The Cluny Museum
Looking like a castle on the outside, and nowhere near the size of the Louvre, the Cluny Museum was another stop on our whirlwind 2-day museum tour.
The Cluny museum, beautiful in design and architecture, houses many rooms of medieval artifacts.
The Rodin Museum
The grounds at the Rodin Museum are beautiful and peaceful, including rose gardens and a stunning fountain.
Rodin’s famous bronze statues can be found both inside the museum and throughout the gardens.
The most notable of Rodin’s work (“The Thinker”) is located within one of the property’s most beautiful rose gardens.
The Orsay Museum
Once we had our fill of statues, we moved on to the Orsay Museum.
Having the museum pass again proved its worth! We bypassed the massive line and walked right in!
The museum is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay railway station built in the late 1800’s.
Its contents are mostly sculptures, photography, furniture, and paintings.
It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters such as Monet and Van Gogh.
The top floor leads out to a rooftop, which provides beautiful views of the city, specifically the nearby Louvre. (For tips of where to find more great views of Paris, check out this post.)
Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou (included in the pass) remains one of the quirkiest museums we’ve visited to date.
From the outside of the structure to the exhibits inside, it was certainly interesting to say the least.
It was pretty much all modern art, some of which was neat and unique and some of which was just strange.
Maybe we’re in the wrong profession if all it takes to be an artist is to paint one solid color on a huge canvas!
To be honest, we hurried through this museum because the art was simply strange, but more so because we visited at the end of a long day of exploring.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe, located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, took over 30 years to build in the early 1800s.
Fortunately the Arc is one of many monuments included in the Paris Museum Pass. And thank goodness there is an underground tunnel to the Arc, so you don’t have to attempt to cross the hectic traffic circle at the base of the monument!
It was about 5:30 PM (17:30) when we arrived at the Arc and there was no wait to go to the top. Little did we know what we were getting into. Instead of an elevator, we had to climb a spiral staircase with 284 stairs. Although our legs were shaking when we got to the top… it was totally worth it!
It was a clear day and we had a 360º view of all of Paris including our first full view of the Eiffel Tower.
We could also see the Sacré Coeur in Montemarte. (Later in the week, we spent a rainy and windy day in Montmartre, read here about how we managed.)
Opera National de Paris
Not technically a museum per say, however the Opera National de Paris (Paris Opera House) is definitely worth a mention and a visit.
The opera house was more incredible and breathtaking than we could have imagined.
The grand staircase, the foyer and the auditorium were absolutely stunning.
Although we visited many museums and monuments during our 4 days in Paris, we barely scratched the surface! There is so much more that this beautiful city has to show us and we can’t wait to go back for another visit!
For a (printable) quick-reference destination guide to what we did during our entire stay in Paris (where we stayed, what and where we ate, activities, money saving tips, etc.), click here.