The Best Museums to Experience in Paris

See works by Picasso, snap a photo of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and marvel at the beauty of the Panthéon.
 

1. Centre Pompidou

Photo by Galit Seligmann/Alamy

Designed by a trio of architects, this contemporary art museum has a distinctive façade covered in colourful pipes and external escalators. The permanent collection focuses on 20th- and 21st-century art, including works by Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Wassily Kandinsky. The Pompidou has a massive public library and a chic restaurant, Georges, with terrific views over the nearby rooftops.

District: 4e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Rambuteau

centrepompidou.fr

 

2. Musée d’Orsay

Photo by Incamerastock/Alamy

This collection of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist works is housed in one of Paris’ grandest beaux art buildings—a former train station built at the turn of the 20th century. Explore this renowned collection of paintings, photographs and sculptures before heading outside to stroll along the Seine or check out the neighbourhood’s antique stores.

District: 7e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Solférino

musee-orsay.fr

 

3. Musée Picasso-Paris

Photo by Fabien Campoverde

Housed in the magnificent 17th-century Hôtel Salé, this museum is dedicated to the works of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The museum reopened in 2014 following a renovation which doubled the size of the exhibition space. View sketches, studies, engravings, photos and sculptures—as well as works Picasso collected by artists such as Paul Cézanne and Joan Miró.

District: 3e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Chemin Vert

museepicassoparis.fr

 

4. Musée du Louvre

Photo by Theresa Scarbrough/Alamy

The Louvre’s massive collection includes work from Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, and is famous for masterpieces you’ll recall from textbooks, like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. A former royal palace, the Louvre has been through many modifications in its 800-year history.

District: 1e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre

Fun fact: Architect I.M. Pei designed the Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid.

louvre.fr

 

5. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

Photo by Photononstop/Alamy

Opened in 2006, this modern, Jean Nouvel-designed museum is surrounded by carefully cultivated gardens and a vibrant living wall covered in a variety of plants. The space is a tribute to indigenous arts and culture across Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas, with more than 700,000 photographs and 320,000 artifacts telling the story of several civilizations.

District: 7e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Alma-Marceau

quaibranly.fr

 

6. Panthéon

Photo by Madalin Stancu/500px

This former church—constructed in the late 18th century and dedicated to Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris—serves as a tomb for some of the most iconic figures in French history, including scientist Marie Curie, writer Victor Hugo and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, massive stone pillars and large frescos inspire a hushed gravitas.

District: 5e arrondissement

How to get there on Métro: Cardinal Lemoine

paris-pantheon.fr

 

[This story appears in the June 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]

 

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