5 Places to See Art in Paris That Aren’t the Louvre

By Caitlin Cahill

For anyone visiting Paris, The Louvre is a must see. Its massive collection and iconic architecture make it the world’s most famous and largest museum. I mean even Lorde said, “We’ll be the greatest, they’ll hang us in The Louvre” (and they actually did!). However, all that exposure can overshadow all the other wonderful museums Paris has to offer.

Whether it’s your first time in Paris, a return visitor or just an art junkie, here are the top five places I recommend to see art in the city of lights aside from the Louvre:

1: Musée d’Orsay

Arguably the most famous museum aside from The Louvre, this turn of the century railroad station has been converted to house some of the greatest works of art created between 1848 to 1915. It’s the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist works.

It boasts some of the greatest works by Manet, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, and van Gogh. Some of the most recognizable paintings in the world are in Orsay like van Gogh’s self portrait.

If you like impressionism at all, Orsay is a must see while you’re in Paris. Orsay is on the bank of the Seine and about a 10-minute walk from the Louvre. Even if you don’t have time to check out the inside, it’s a beautiful building to stroll by.

Details: 7e arrondissement | metro: Solférino | € 12

2. Musée de l’Orangerie

Didn’t get enough impressionism at Musee d’Orsay? Want to pretend you’re starring in Midnight in Paris? Look no further than l’Orangerie.

Located within the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries (a Paris must-see in its own right), this gallery is the famous permanent home of Monet’s massive Nymphs (AKA water lilies).

While the water lilies are the main attraction, l’Orangerie is also home to works by masters Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, and Renoir.

Its relatively small in size in comparison to other galleries in Paris, which makes it an easy (and worthwhile) fit into a busy sight-seeing day.

Details: 1e arrondissement | metro: Concorde | € 9

3. Musée de Cluny- National Museum of the Middle Ages

If impressionism isn’t quite your thing, or you want to see remnants of an ancient Roman bath, or you simply crave some culture that is a bit more dated, Cluny is the place for you.

The National Museum of the Middle Ages is housed in a gothic manor house and is full of tapestries, stained glass and beautiful artifacts from daily Medieval life. Its most famous piece is the massive 15th century tapestry La Dame et la Licorne (Lady and the Unicorn).

Surrounded by charming gardens and situated in the heart of the Latin Quarter, Cluny is a tempting stop (also a very quick walk from Notre Dame). So if you’re strolling through one of the cities most famous districts, check out Cluny with its gorgeous architecture and impressive century-spanning collection.

Details: 5e arrondissement | metro: Cluny | €8

4. The Centre Pompidou

Are you bored of all this old stuff yet? Time to check out The Centre Pompidou, Europe’s largest college of modern art.

Though its not a favorite of locals (who consider the museum an eye sore in the midst of their idyllic city), Centre Pompidou is a post-modern style building that houses some of the greatest works created in the past 100 years.  

The museum takes you through the history of modern art, with Primitivism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism up to American Color-Field painting and Abstract Expressionism.

Did I mention its art with a view? From the top floor of the Centre Pompidou, you can catch breathtaking vistas of Paris (and this is included with price of admission.)

Details: 4e arrondissement | metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet |  € 14

5. Musée Picasso

If you’re a fan of the father of Cubism, than this is a place of pilgrimage. The largest collection of works by Picasso are housed in his museum in Paris.

The museum is located in the Marais quartier (historical aristocratic district) in a converted aristocratic home. It contains around  5,000 works by Picasso, 200,000 personal documents and 150 pieces of Picasso’s private collection, including Matisse, Cézanne, Le Douanier Rousseau.

It’s a must-see for any fan of Picasso or for anyone looking to learn more about one of the 20th century’s greatest artists!

Details: Le Marais | metro: Saint-Paul, Saint-Sébastien-Froissart, Chemin Vert | € 12.5

This is only a short list of some of my favorites that are easy to fit into a tight schedule. There are so many great places in the city to consume some culture, so try not to limit yourself to just The Louvre. Au revoir!


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