High culture is a quintessential part of Paris’ personality, and nowhere is that better expressed than in the city’s wealth of world-class museums. From art-world heavyweights such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay to the modernist stylings of the Pompidou Center, here are six of the City of Light’s must-see museums.
Among the largest and most visited museums on Earth, the Louvre is also Paris’ cultural crown jewel. In addition to world-renowned masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo, the museum’s collection comprises hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings, jewelry, and more.
How to Visit: Tours with skip-the-line entry will help you sail past the crowds, while private collection-highlights tours make it easier to navigate the colossal institution.
Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay)
As notable for its architecture (the museum is housed in a former 19th-century train station) as its collection of impressionist masterpieces, the riverside Musée d’Orsay is a museum with real personality. Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas, Manet, and Monet are all well-represented in its collection.
How to Visit: Book a VIP tour to browse the museum’s highlights before enjoying a decadent meal in the Musée d’Orsay’s restaurant.
Pompidou Center (Centre Pompidou)
Immediately striking for its unconventional looks, the Centre Pompidou was designed by star architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and made its Paris debut in 1977. The landmark is home to the National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne) as well as other cultural bodies.
How to Visit: Prebook priority-access tickets to enter the museum without delay, or go on a private guided tour to learn more about its modern-art highlights (don’t forget to admire views overlooking Paris from its top level).
Picasso Museum (Musée Picasso)
Following a lengthy period of renovation that doubled its size, the Musée Picasso reopened in 2014 and has since become an unmissable highlight of the arty Marais neighborhood. Fans of the visionary cubist artist can discover the 5,000-plus works now displayed within its walls.
How to Visit: Make Picasso’s masterworks accessible to the whole family on a kid-friendly tour, or pair a museum visit with a walking tour of the surrounding Marais neighborhood.
Orangerie Museum (Musée de l’Orangerie)
Located within the Tuileries Gardens (and just a quick stroll from the Louvre), the Musée de l’Orangerie is one of Paris’ most charming cultural institutions. Its outsize reputation rests on its collection of eight of Monet’s enormous water lily paintings, which are displayed in two light-drenched, oval rooms.
How to Visit: Pair a visit with a trip to the nearby Musée d’Orsay for a full impressionist immersion, or book a skip-the-line tour to spend more time with Monet’s canvases.
Quai Branly Museum (Musée du Quai Branly)
Home to an enormous collection of artworks from Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania, the Musée du Quai Branly is one of the City of Light’s most distinctive museums (its striking building, designed by Jean Nouvel, also helps set it apart).
How to Visit: Book skip-the-line tickets and explore the collections independently. Alternatively, glimpse the museum during a Seine river cruise, or head to its rooftop Restaurant Les Ombres for up-close Eiffel Tower views.