Five Museums Not To Miss In Paris (That Aren’t The Louvre And Musée d’Orsay)
If you’ve visited Paris more than once, you’ve more than likely already experienced a day-long séjour to the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. However, Paris’ museum culture goes much further than these two powerhouses.
Although these two museums house some of Paris’ most famed art collections, fame also brings crowds, craziness, and bona fide chaos. The best way to see all that Paris’ art scene has to offer in a more laid-back setting? By visiting the city’s lesser-known hidden gems, of course.
We’ve rounded up five unmissable and under-the-radar Paris museums, perfect for charming afternoon escapes for art lovers everywhere.
Musée de la Vie Romantique
The quaint Parisian museum that is Musée de la Vie Romantique is found at the foot of Montmartre in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, located inside a former hotel particulier. Complete with a small garden and courtyard, this tiny museum is ideal for Right Bank resters looking for an escape from the hustle and bustel of the city. Musée de la Vie Romantique is one of Paris’ three ‘literary museums,’ along with Maison de Balzac and the Maison de Victor Hugo.
The museum is best-known for housing the possessions of French writer George Sand, including portraits, casts, jewelry, and watercolours. Paintings by Ary Scheffer and sculptures from Bartholdi, James Pradier, and more can be found on the second floor of the museum. The space also features a lovely salon de thé, located in the museum’s picturesque gardens. Snack on pastries, quiches, and soft boiled eggs, all served alongside piping hot beverages beneath the trees.
Access: Pigalle (métro lines 2 & 12), Blanche (métro line 2), or Liège (métro line 13)
16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
Musée Marmottan Monet
Located in Paris’ swanky 16th arrondissement, the Musée Marmottan Monet is home to over three hundred Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and more. Gaze upon a handful of colorful paintings and manuscripts, as well as a slew of artworks and furniture pieces from the Napoleonic period. Post visit, stroll through the romantic Jardin du Ranelagh, located just outside of the museum.
Marmottan Monet’s present-day holdings are credited to a massive 1966 donation by Michel Monet, Claude’s second son. However, the museum officially opened in 1934, back when Paul Marmottan left his home– and prestigious collection of paintings and furniture – to the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
The layout of the museum’s special exhibition space is largely inspired by the hall at the Musée de l’Orangerie, another famed Paris museum dedicated to Impressionist works. Marmottan Monet’s most famous work is Impression, Sunrise (Impression, Soleil Levant) painting, which was scandalously stolen from the museum (1985) and returned five years later (1991).
Access: La Muette (métro line 9)
2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
For a visit to Paris’ quirkiest museum, look no further than the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature), located in the city’s easily accessible 3rd arrondissement. This museum showcases the unique relationship between humans and the environment around them through the historical practice of hunting.
The museum itself is located inside of a former hotel and is crafted from wood-paneled rooms with bronze décor. Renowned Belgian artist Jan Fabre designed the museum’s infamous roof, which is comprised entirely of owl feathers.
The museum’s unique collection is largely curated from Francois and Jacqueline Sommer’s personal holdings, most of which were gathered by the duo themselves. The collection is broken down into three main themes, focused around weapons/hunting accessories, hunting products, and various art (paintings, sculptures, and more) featuring wild animals and acts of hunting.
Access: Rambuteau (métro line 11)
62 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris
Musée Gustave Moreau
This small namesake art museum is dedicated to the artwork of legendary Symbolist artist Gustave Moreau. Moreau formerly lived in the space and converted it into a studio back in 1895. Visitors can stare upon Moreau’s various drawings, watercolours, and sculptures, all of which are housed in this centrally located space.
Comprised of just three floors and six small rooms, this museum is perfect for those looking for a quick in-and-out art retreat. The museum’s ground floor overlooks Moreau’s former home gardens, while the second floor is dedicated to the family’s former dining room, bedroom, and office space. Although the museum depicts an impressive 1200+ paintings in the collection, the museum actually houses almost 5,000 of Moreau’s works, most of which are tucked away in cabinets and storage spaces within the museum.
Access: Saint-Georges (métro line 12) or Trinité – d’Estienne d’Orves (métro line 12)
14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009 Paris
Left Bank dwellers, fear not. There are plenty of under-the-radar museums for you to visit, too. The Musée Maillol, found in Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement, was created just 25 years ago by Dina Vierny, a former model of modern sculptor Aristide Maillol. Here, visitors can view a broad spectrum of Maillol’s works, including sculptures, paintings, terra cotta works, and more.
In addition to Maillol’s pieces, drawings by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and other famed artists are also on display, as well as watercolours by Paul Gaugin, sculptures by Auguste Rodin, and additional works from Marcel Duchamp, Eric Bulatov, and more. For those who prefer an evening visit, the Musée Maillol stays open until 8:30PM on Friday nights. Starting the weekend off with a dose of culture? Count us in.
Access: Rue du Bac (métro line 12)
59-61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris
(Lead images: Musée Gustave Moreau / supplied)
Published 06 February, 2020