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Top pick for 2 museums in Paris... that aren't the Louvre or d'Orsay

Hi all,

Headed to Paris today! We've done the Louvre and d'Orsay on previous trips but haven't settled on which museums we may visit this time around... There are so many to choose from. My current thoughts are the Army, Jaquesmart, or the Jewish Museum (but I'm traveling with 6 other people, so I'm not the only chooser!). We will be visiting Versailles on one of the days, if it helps. Suggestions/recommendations welcome! I love reading others' Top 5/10 lists and why!

Posted by
5142 posts

My daughter and I enjoyed visiting the Orangerie Museum. It’s very small but Monet’s panoramic paintings of the water lilies are very captivating and peacefully beautiful.

We also liked the Rodin Museum as it has stunningly beautiful sculptures inside and on the surrounding gardens.

Enjoy your time in PAris!

Posted by
13 posts

Yes! I will add Orangerie to my "short list". I love the Rodin museum so if the weather's not terrible maybe we can visit...

Posted by
6858 posts

The garden at the Rodin museum was absolutely beautiful when we were there in June, tons of beautiful roses and loved the placement of the sculptures in the garden. The museum itself was also very interesting if you are at all interested in the impressionists. Also the Marmottan or l'Orangerie for Monet lovers. I'm partial to art museums so I'm totally prejudiced in that direction. Actually, come to think of it, my two favorite museums in Paris are not really art museums, but unfortunately both are closed for renovations right now - the Cluny and the Carnavalet.

Posted by
3946 posts

Pompidou. If you hate "contemporary" art, you can indulge in scornful laughter. Fine view across the city from the top floor and the building itself is unusual to say the least. Usually buskers will be working in the sunken plaza at the front entrance.

Arts et métiers is a romp for gearheads. How many museums can you say that about?

Ditto the military museum for fans of armed history.ée_de_l%27Armée

Posted by
11294 posts

The Picasso Museum is having a special exhibit on the Guernica. The painting itself remains in Madrid, but they have a lot of information about its history, works inspired by it, etc. If that is of interest, you will want to see this exhibit. Covered by Museum Pass.

I second the recommendation of the Petit Palais - not only free, but not too crowded when I went, with some very good pieces.

The Rodin Museum was very crowded when I went last month (not "Impressionists at the Orsay" crowded, but still not pleasant). However, it is very good, and the gardens were less crowded than the interior. Covered by Museum Pass.

I wasn't taken with the Army Museum, as it's a lot of reading (felt like a textbook more than a museum). But, if this is an area of interest, you may like it better than I did. Covered by Museum Pass.

The Nissim Camondo museum is very interesting, and is covered by the Museum Pass.

The Orangerie not only has the Water Lily Rooms and the Walter Guillaume collection, but right now is having a special exhibit on Monet's influence on Abstract Expressionism. They have a few later Monets on loan from the Marmottan, as well as some great stuff by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollack, and others. It was also interesting to learn just how vitriolic the initial reaction to the Water Lilies was; the Abstract Expressionists were being quite "avant garde" by championing Monet when they did. Both the regular and the special exhibit are covered by the Museum Pass.

Not a standard museum, but the Gobelins Manufacture is having an exhibit on 100 years of tapestries. What's fascinating is that as techniques advanced and painters started making designs for tapestries, the tapestries look like paint rather than thread. Even up close, they are able to simulate the appearance of a watercolor wash, or (even more amazing) the look of paint put on with a palette knife. Totally fascinating, and as a benefit totally uncrowded. The only catch is that they don't have a bag check, and if you have a backpack you must wear it on the front for the whole museum (not too comfortable for me). Entry is €8, and it's not covered by the Museum Pass.

I haven't been in about 10 years, and it seems they've expanded since then, but I liked the Museum of Counterfeits (Musée de la Contrefaçon). It not only has fake purses and such, but more sinister things like fake car parts and fake medicines, that have caused fatalities. As a bonus, it's near the Porte Dauphine metro, which has one of the few intact glass metro canopies. Not on the Museum Pass; entry €6; limited hours (website says Monday to Saturday, 14:00 to 17:30).

Note that at all museums, expect security checks. These will vary - metal detector, x-ray, hand-wanding, or some combination of these are all possible. They do take time, so allow for this.

Posted by
7617 posts

I like the Marmottan a lot.

Right now if you love Paris and are a fan of photography, the free Willy Ronis exhibit would be my choice. Wonderful exhibit. He worked through much of the 20th century and while around the world especially in Menilmontant and Belleville in Paris; probably France's greatest photographer.
It is up till late September.

Posted by
9731 posts

Actually, the Museum National of Modern Art in the Pompidou is Modern but not Contemporary art. It picks up where the Orsay leaves off, from 1905 to 1960–Fauvism, Cubism, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Picasso, Braque, etc.

Posted by
5697 posts

We went to the Picasso Museum in April and there was NO LINE. Enjoyed seeing it, particularly the Guernica details. Had been to Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie, Cluny, Marmatton, Rodin, Military museums on prior trips (all of them multiple times) Also saw Jaquemart-Andre this trip for the first (and probably only) time.

Posted by
10 posts

I was going to add Cluny to the list--the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are just breathtaking, and there are other very worthwhile exhibits. However, I see that it's closed until sometime in July. Maybe next trip! :-)

Posted by
1796 posts

Our favorites are the Rodin museum gardens, the Cluny (unfortunately closed through July), and the Jacquemart Andre (interesting to see art displayed in what was a private home (well, mansion). It's not a museum, but the Opera Garnier is also worth a visit for an in-town dose of over-the-top opulence.

Posted by
1441 posts

The museum of arts and sciences at the Pantheon is great. They have a giant Foucault's pendulum. The natural history museum is also enjoyable because dinosaurs!

Posted by
86 posts

Carnevelet, Nissam Comondo and the Arts Decrotif are my favorite smaller museums.

Posted by
648 posts

Rodin and the Cluny. The later is never crowded. Both are relatively short visits. If you do the Army, make Rodin your second. It's an easy walk between them.

Posted by
134 posts

Another vote for the Pompidou, the Orangerie and the Marmottan. And I'd also recommend Louis Vuitton and the Cartier. The Vuitton was designed by Frank Gehry and if you like architecture it's worth a visit just to see the building and gardens. Cartier is small but has fascinating contemporary art exhibits. And for something completely different I'd highly recommend the Musée quai Branley - the collection is indigenous art stunningly displayed by region (Oceania, Asia, Africa etc) in another fabulous building worth the visit just for the architecture. But more than that, the collection really leaves a huge impact.
We are going back to Paris in September and will go to all of these museums again along with a few we've missed on previous visits - but for us, these are well worth repeat visits.

Posted by
209 posts

Last year we took advantage of the free first Sunday admission and went to a lesser known museum, the architecture and monuments museum. Forgive me for not typing correctly in French......Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimonie. It was a wonderful surprise and we spent quite some time there. Second would be the Rodin, previously mentioned.

Posted by
702 posts

My absolute favorite is Carnavalet but its closed for renovations also. Jacquemart-Andre is a beautiful choice. We went there in January for the first time. I loved it. We also enjoyed the Musee de Montmartre. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
4684 posts

The Arts et Metiers is not at the Pantheon - it's on the opposite side of the river although it is in a former church. You're getting mixed up because the most famous demonstration of Foucauld's Pendulum was at the Pantheon, and there are now examples at both locations.

Posted by
1103 posts

Here's another vote for the Marmottan. Unlike some of the other museums, the Marmottan is much less crowded. This museum holds the world's largest collection of Monet paintings, including one of the most notable; Impression - Sunrise.

The Orangerie has an interesting special exhibit on the relationship of impressionism to abstract expressionism.

Posted by
2500 posts

My favorite was the Marmottan, also Pompidou, then l’Armee and Rodin.

Posted by
1441 posts

The Arts et Metiers is not at the Pantheon - it's on the opposite side
of the river although it is in a former church. You're getting mixed
up because the most famous demonstration of Foucauld's Pendulum was at
the Pantheon, and there are now examples at both locations.

Yes! Thanks for the correction!

Posted by
991 posts

Another vote for Musée Marmottan Monet. It isn't near lots of other tourist sights, so doesn't get nearly as crowded. But it has a huge Monet collection. When I was there last September, it had a temporary exhibit of other paintings from around Monet's time. Including many that were gifts to him, or which he bought. I'm definitely going back! I was in the 6th arr., but took a nice bus to the museum that weaved its way across the Seine, and by many nice sights. I don't remember the bus number, but it was a great way to travel—particularly on a rainy morning.

Posted by
26 posts

I would recommend the following:

The gardens at the Rodin was very peaceful to walk around. The crowds were not bad when I went two weeks ago. Both are covered by the Museum Pass.

It's not a museum but I would add St Chapelle for a really great church.

I am sad that I missed this museum for Belle Epoche era fair ground pieces.

Posted by
468 posts

We just got back from Paris and went to The Marmottan for the first time and loved it, especially if you like impressionism/Monet.
Smaller museum and wasn't crowded!

Posted by
7 posts

I would add the Orangerie, the Rodin, or the Marmottan. They are all wonderful and it depends on what you are most interested in viewing. The Marmottan is a bit more out of the way, but not hard to get do using the Metro and walking. The Rodin is in a lovely neighborhood and you are near the Seine and it is a beautiful walk.

Posted by
2424 posts

I was just in Paris this April.
Picasso Museum - the exhibit on Guernica was excellent!
Marmottan Museum Monet - wonderful!
We spent half a day at Giverny - everything was in bloom!
Rodin Museum and gardens - we loved it!
One of my favorites is the Cluny - medieval art, the Unicorn tapestries - built on top of Roman ruins

Posted by
5192 posts

The Orangerie is spectacular. I too, enjoyed the Rodin garden. I also went to the Pompidou. I don't love more modern art, but the exterior is fantastic, I had the museum pass so it didn't cost me more, and the museum offers spectacular views at dusk/sunset.

Posted by
136 posts

Actually the Pompidou has both modern and contemporary art. The fifth floor of the Pompidou is modern art, while the fourth floor is contemporary art. The floors are very large, so both types of art are well represented. We were just there last week, and spent a lot of time on both floors because there was so much to see. Interesting - one of the artists was in one of the rooms of the 4th floor and he wanted to know what we thought of his installation! There are also special exhibits, such as one they have now with some of Chagall's work, but these are not accessible through the Paris museum pass, although the museum itself is. As mentioned, the views of Paris are lovely from the higher floors and there is a lovely sculpture fountain on the 5th floor that you can sit next to and relax. If you are at all interested in modern/contemporary art, you should head for the Pompidou.

The Rodin museum is loveliest if the weather is nice and you can enjoy the garden. There is a garden cafe, which has pleasant outdoor seating but the food is not terribly good. Still it's a nice place to sit and have a drink or ice cream and soak up the ambience.

The Picasso right now has a heavy emphasis on Guernica and the influences surrounding it. That's on the first 2 floors. As mentioned elsewhere, the original painting is in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, but there is a full-sized copy here. The third floor is a review of his artistic development, which we found interesting. I thought this was well curated, better than the one in Barcelona IMHO. But I think my favorite part was the 4th floor, which contained his own collection of other artists' works. He admired some artists, like Matisse, and not others. But it is not a huge museum, so if you are not interested in Guernica, you'll probably get more mileage out of another museum.

Cluny is closed for renovations right now.

All of these are accessile by the Paris Museum pass.

Enjoy Paris - I'm sure whatever you end up seeing will be wonderful!

Posted by
13 posts

Hi all!

Thanks for the fantastic suggestions! We ended up choosing l’Orangerie and the Architecture Museum. Both so interesting and lovely I their own way. I forgot to mention that I adored the Rodin Museum the last time I was in Paris, and will definitely want to revisit on my next trip! Also will check out the Marmottan, Pompidou and Cluny. And that “fair artists Museum” looks incredible! So much to see in a lovely and enchanting city!!

Posted by
72 posts

The Rodin and the Army museums are just a few minutes walk from each other (you can see the gold dome Napoleon I is entombed under from the gardens of the Rodin). That’s a good combination.

Posted by
38 posts

Hi Pezz,
The one place in Paris I will be going to isn't a museum in a building. It's Lachaise Cemetery. This cemetery is filled with history of Paris. Guess it's kinda, sorta like a outdoor museum.
Enjoy Paris, Cathy

Posted by
21 posts

I am with you Catherine. Love the Pere Lachaise. It is a museum in it's own right. Jim Morrison, Oscar wilde, edith piaf! I, also, can never miss the Muse d'Orsay. Luckily I am going I. September so the Cluny will be open!