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Paris museums

I’m obsessively planning for the Paris and the Heart of France tour in October, preceded by three extra nights in Paris and followed by time in Chartres, Chantilly, and Senlis. I see that the tour formally includes the Louvre, and recommends the Orsay, the Orangerie, and the Pompidou for afternoon free time. I certainly want to visit all of those, and also want to see the Cluny, Quai Branly, Halle Saint Pierre, Marmottan, and Guimet. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

Posted by
4148 posts

Unquestionably great choices and ,will probably consume your time , If you do have any time , try to squeeze in The Petit Palais . Often overlooked , it has a great collection of art .

Posted by
6363 posts

We enjoyed the Musée des Arts et Métiers, usually called the Museum of Arts and Crafts in English, which is NOT what it sound like. It's a delightful review of the history of technology and invention, really. Mechanical, electric, almost any kind of technology you can imagine, and some you can't! We spent an entire afternoon there, finally being run out when the staff insisted they wanted to go home. Oh, and be sure to check out the Metro stop of the same name.

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1679 posts

An interesting, small one is the Dalí museum in Montemarte.

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3199 posts

Another vote for Musée Nissim de Comondo. it is more like entering a private home than a museum. Of the many worthwhile museums in Paris, don’t overdo it! Choose the ones with the exhibits you feel reach out to you. Visiting a museum just because it’s a museum can become very boring and waste valuable time.

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683 posts

There is a Gustave Moreau museum. If you like this painter, it is well worth a visit.

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4062 posts

In advance, check the opening hours and days. Museums can vary as to days they are closed. Google is your friend.

Friends who live in Paris say the city museum, Musée Carnavalet, has reopened after a massive renovation and was worth the wait.

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14161 posts

The Cluny is still closed from it’s reno…supposed to reopen this spring but nothing has changed on the website in ages, lol. Do check that website as your tour time nears.

https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/

I went to the Carnavalet in October and it is good. Closed Mondays, free admission as it’s a City of Paris venue but you need to book a timed entry ahead of time. Even though it’s had a complete reno, they didn’t really plan well for lines for security so take an umbrella if it’s raining. It’s also a little confusing inside but the content is quite interesting.

Depending on your interests I’d recommend Cluny and Marmottan over your other choices. You’ll not be able to do everything!!

Posted by
561 posts

Musee du Montremarte & the Nisson Camondo. My favorites. Both small. They both felt like I was witnessing a piece of history. Like I had just dropped in for a visit.
I found the Carnavalet interesting, but a bit confusing to navigate.

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1070 posts

Interested in military history? Musée de l'Armée at Les Invalides ... includes Napoleon's Tomb.

Glad to see Cluny and Marmottan on your list. They are often missed but we loved them.

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852 posts

Carnavalet was amazing! Free, although timed tickets are needed, but such an amazing building and the displays, etc., are wonderful!

Posted by
2475 posts

More great suggestions! Everything I originally suggested does reflect my interests (not just museums for the sake of museums), and I’m also intrigued particularly by the Nissim de Camondo and the Petit Palais. Thanks! I hope that with three extra nights preceding the tour, and some time between the last tour breakfast and needing to catch a train to Chartres, I’ll be able to get a lot of this in.

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2475 posts

Thanks so much, Janis and Steven. My local public library has that de Waal book, so I may venture on over to check it out.

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19 posts

The Orsay, Marmottan and Cluny would be my choices. Your tour hotel may be within walking distance of the Cluny and two hours would be plenty of time to visit. I recommend you look at the locations of the museums on a map, the hours of operation and if you need to reserve a timed entry and then plan your days. There is an exhibit hall on the north side of the Palais du Luxembourg, adjacent to the Angelina restaurant, that sometimes has wonderful exhibits. We happened to be there when there was a Pissarro exhibit, and it was a real treat getting to see his work up close and in an uncrowded gallery. We enjoyed Chantilly. It was easily accessible by train but a bit of a walk to the palace. I recommend you walk through the town if you want to grab a snack or meal before or after your visit. There was an equestrian performance in one of the stables however the stable is about a ten-minute walk from the main building. You are smart to plan obsessively so you can make the most of your visit however don't overschedule or you'll wear yourself out trying to take it all in! You'll most certainly have to go back to Paris - there's so much to see and experience. Enjoy!!!

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2475 posts

Oh yes, I’ve been map-reading obsessively, which is mostly how I came up with my list of museums. I have a notion of spending certain days in close exploration of a particular area of the city, including a museum. So for instance, a day for Montmartre would include the Halle St. Pierre, a day for Luxembourg Gardens and the Latin Quarter would include the Cluny, and since our final hotel is in the Trocadero area, I would like to spend the time between breakfast and departure from the city by visiting the Marmottan and possibly also the Guimet. Never having been, I’m not sure how this will actually work, but have hopes.

Posted by
1340 posts

I second or third Carnavalet,. Since it has been reopened it is even more of a gem (I had a hell of a time finding the exit when I went! HA)

I also really love the Musée Jacquemart-André, mostly because their tearoom is sensational.

Also I highly recommend the Musée Bourdelle. I once had the horrible luck of taking a total philistine to Paris that even found joy in this one.

Posted by
82 posts

Keep in mind that many of these museums (eg the Orsay, the Picasso, the Pompidou) are enormous and no matter how much you may love art (and I’m a museum docent speaking from experience) they can be exhausting. You may find that two museums a day maxes you out! That said, my favorites are the d’Orsay, the Marmottan and the Jacquemart-Andre. Check out what exhibitions will be on view in Paris when you’re going to be there as that might shape your choices too.

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2475 posts

Good point, Elizabeth. Whenever I’ve gone to the (extremely enormous) Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I’ve made it a point to choose two or three areas on which to concentrate, and not worry about the rest - doing so makes it much less overwhelming. It’ll probably be more difficult to do that in another country, with my feeble French, but I’ll certainly work on figuring it out. Another consideration for me in choosing and enjoying museums is whether the building they’re in appeals to me particularly. The Orsay certainly falls into that category.

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14161 posts

The best advice I have for seeing the Orsay (after you pick up a floor plan just past the entry area)is to walk through the ground floor directly to the back. Go to the left of the Cafe and take the well-hidden escalators up to the 5th floor. This starts you with the Impressionist galleries, then continue through to where the Van Gogh’s live and work your way down. This is what Rolinka, the Rick Steves guide for my Best of Paris tour suggested and I’ve done it that way every time since, lol.

Marmottan, they kind of route you through and then you wind up in the basement where the good stuff is.

Posted by
4549 posts

Agreed, most people are at the Orsay for the impressionists who are stuffed way, way upstairs. So would make OK sense to start up there and work your way down. There's a very good restaurant up there as well, right near those galleries. And you can go outdoors on a nice day and take some pix of the Right Bank. Frankly the entry level lobby is confusing, there are two separate strings of galleries to the left and the right, you kind of have to ping-pong back and forth. And if you don't make it to the Rodin museum, several of his works at in the Orsay. Be prepared to have to check some of your stuff, their list is a bit random but just follow their instructions.

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2475 posts

Thanks, phred! I like the idea of looking over the River from the fifth floor of the Orsay, and that restaurant looks really pretty as well as tasty.

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2475 posts

In scoping out museum hours, I discovered that the Quai Branly museum is open until 10:00 p.m. on Thursdays (other days, it’s open until 7:00). So now it’s on the agenda for Thursday.

Posted by
6622 posts

Inbsig, I can't wait to read your trip report about all those museums! ;-) Too bad you don't have more days to spread them into. I love some of those museums, like others, and haven't visited others. As you say, a lot of the choice is about an individual's interests.

You may want to dip into some of these threads on this forum to help your feet through this plan. ;-)

Posted by
116 posts

Wonderful suggestions already mentioned. Additionally, if you have any interest in photography:
MEP – Maison Européenne de la Photographie
One of the largest collections of photographs in Europe is found in this pleasant building next to the St Paul Metro station, close to the Seine. The changing exhibits at MEP usually
And Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Over the years I have seen amazing exhibits at these venues that are rare and valuable and would never travel outside of France.
Enjoy your time in Paris.

Posted by
2475 posts

Oh now, Dick - I have been thinking about footwear mostly in terms of climbing up and down Mont-Saint-Michel without taking a tumble, but you’re right, visiting museums without killing my feet - priceless! Mark, I’m very much interested in photography, and appreciate your suggestion of the MEP very much! I see that it is very close to the Île-Saint-Louis, which I also want to visit, so that could work nicely. Thanks!

Posted by
27352 posts

In my experience every major European city has a few museums--usually not more than a small handful--that nearly everyone feels they must see, while the rest are echoingly empty unless a school group happens to choose the same day you do. It is a joy in a city like Paris or Barcelona to have a museum nearly to yourself. You can pretty much count on a lot of visitors at the museums you had heard of before you began your trip research. You can be equally sure you'll be nearly alone in any museum of photography.

Posted by
1162 posts

All museums listed are great. But I would be worried if you visited all of these, you would miss Paris itself.

Posted by
2475 posts

Yeah, I don’t imagine actually getting to all of these, but I like knowing what’s out there and thinking about what really appeals to me. I plan to walk ‘most everywhere, have lots of picnics in parks and gardens, and most definitely not miss Paris.

Posted by
3301 posts

Insbig,
I am doing this same tour in April and also have an ambitious museum list, but my favorite thing is to wander and look. I plan to do a TR and so you will see what I manage to get to. I do have a few more days however as I am also doing the Best Of Paris tour after the Paris & HOF tour.

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2475 posts

Thanks, Tammy - best wishes for your tours, and I’ll look forward to reading your report.