Paris

Unusual and little-known museums in Paris

Paris is one of Europe's most museum-rich capitals: in addition to the great classics, you can discover incredible galleries dedicated to the most unusual and curious themes.
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Most tourists visiting Paris are attracted by the extraordinary and world-famous museums, first and foremost of course the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, but also the Picasso Museum and the one dedicated to Rodin.

However, there are many other museums that, for various reasons, are worth a visit. Let’s discover them together.

Carnavalet Museum

123 Rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris, France

The Carnavalet Museum, the oldest museum in Paris, is dedicated to the history of the city and is housed in two buildings of historical and artistic value, the Hotel Carnavalet and the Hotel Le Peletier, in a labyrinth of period rooms.
Reopened in 2021 after more than five years of renovation work, the museum houses 600,000 items ranging from works of art, historical artefacts and antiques that tell the story of Paris from prehistoric times to the modern age.

Admission to the Carnavalet Museum is free but temporary exhibitions are excluded. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Mondays and public holidays.

Hotel Carnavalet

This magnificent Renaissance-style palace dates back to 1548 and contains some very interesting pieces. Inside you will find:

Hotel Le Peletier

A covered gallery connects to the Hotel de Peletier, which dates back to the 17th century and houses interesting archaeological collections dating back to the Gallo-Roman period. Here you can see:

Marmottan Monet Museum

22 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris, France (Website)

The Marmottan Monet museum, dedicated to the famous painter’s paintings and drawings, is housed in a magnificent villa, the former hunting lodge of the Duc de Valmy.

Here you will find the studies that the great Impressionist master used as preparation for some of his great masterpieces such as La Banque, Cathedral de Rouen, Londres, Le Parlement and the famous Nynpheas.

The museum also holds a small collection of works by Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and Daumier.

Quai Branly Museum

337 Quai Jacques Chirac, 75007 Paris, France (Website)

France’s colonial past is condensed and manifested in this spectacular museum dedicated to the popular and indigenous art of non-European countries.

If you love exotic places and their cultures, you must not miss the Musée du Quai Branly: it has an astonishing collection of masks, jewellery and sculptures from the four corners of the earth. The museum’s sections:

Jacquemart-André Museum

4158 Bd Haussmann, 75008 Paris, France (Website)

While Versailles is a plunge into the aristocracy and the world of the kings of France, the Jacquemart-André Museum is a small mirror of Parisian high society in the late 19th century.

The museum, housed in a sumptuous residence consisting of 16 rooms with all the original furnishings, will allow you to imagine the life of the time, suspended between collections of works of art and high-class parties: a cross-section of the customs and habits of the period.

The fruit of its owners’ collecting spans different eras: pieces from ancient Gracia and Rome, Egyptian artefacts, paintings by the Flemish artists Rembrandt and Van Dyck, fine furniture, works by Italian painters such as Botticelli, Titian, Donatello, Caravaggio and a magnificent glass greenhouse, a beautifully preserved Jardin d’Hiver.

The residence always hosts wonderful temporary exhibitions of great painters: enquire before you arrive.

Cluny Museum

528 Rue du Sommerard, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

If you want to immerse yourself in the France of the Middle Ages, you cannot miss this beautiful museum housed in theHotel de Cluny, a wonderful example of medieval architecture.

Built in 1330 by the Abbot of Cluny on Gallic-Roman ruins, it still preserves the ruins of the baths that date back to 200 AD.

The museum exhibits a very rich collection of tapestries, armour, illuminated manuscripts, furniture and gold objects from the medieval period.

Within the vast collection we would like to point out:

Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine

61 Pl. du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75116 Paris, France (Website)

Paris is a hotbed of architecture spanning centuries and cultures.

Lovers of urban heritage can visit this wonderful museum housed in the eastern wing of the Palais de Chaillot.

Over 350 plaster models reproducing the most significant monuments not only of Paris but of the whole of France are on display here: this museum was created at the time of the French Revolution, to preserve a memory of buildings and churches that were in danger of being demolished.

Despite the fact that they are all reproductions, the museum allows a journey through French architecture among Gothic gargoyles, portals, domes and historiated glass.

Dalí Pari Museum

711 Rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris, France (Website)

This surrealist museum exhibits some 300 works by Salvador Dali, the mad genius who was at once sculptor, painter and designer.

You can also admire some strange sculptures, lithographs and furniture including the famous heart-shaped lip sofa.

In fact, the gallery is particularly oriented towards the artist’s attention to form: some of the sculptures you will be able to admire were in fact made using the ‘lost wax’ technique, which allows metal objects to be made from a wax model such as ‘l’Éléphant Spatial’ or ‘Alice au Pays des Merveilles’.

There are also creative courses to get to know the magical world of this over-the-top artist.

Petit Palais, Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris

8Av. Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris, France (Website)

Like the neighbouring Grand Palais, the Petit Palais was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

Built in a more traditional style, this historic building of great architectural value houses the Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris, which focuses on medieval, Renaissance and French art and also exhibits works by Rembrandt, Colbert and Cézanne.

The building is developed circularly around a central courtyard with a beautiful garden. Admire the large arch framing the central entrance and the dome above it.

Palais de la Découverte

9Av. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 75008 Paris, France (Website)

This science museum is particularly suitable for children and can be an interesting attraction to include in your itinerary if you are travelling with kids and offspring in tow.

Some exhibits are particularly popular with children of all ages, such as the exhibition of life-size reconstructed animated dinosaurs.

Other sections of the museum are interactive and dedicated to astronomy, biology and physics.

But the real attraction of the museum is its famous planetarium that can hold up to 300 people and will take you on a real journey among the stars, planets and constellations thanks to its 15-metre diameter dome.

Institut du Monde Arabe

101 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

If you want to take a plunge into Arab culture, you should not miss the Institut du Monde Arabe, built by architect Jean Nouvel, a building of great beauty intended to create a space dedicated to dialogue and connection between the Arab and Western worlds through the promotion of Arab arts, crafts and science.

Its main feature are the glass walls, which, thanks to thousands of special light-sensitive openings, will allow you to see outside without being seen, thus reconstructing the wooden latticework typical of Arab houses.

To immerse yourself in this world, you can either admire the extraordinary collection of works of art, handicrafts and astronomical instruments or attend one of the many music and dance performances or enjoy one of the typical dishes in the panoramic restaurant.

Don’t forget to go up to the panoramic terrace from where you can enjoy an exceptional view of Paris: your gaze will sweep as far as the Sacré-Cœur Basilica!

Guimet Museum

116 Pl. d'Iéna, 75116 Paris, France (Website)

Little known from the main tourist circuits, it is the largest museum of oriental arts in France and collects unique pieces of exceptional value from every corner of Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan.

Sculptures from Pakistan, Khmer statues from Cambodia, mandalas from Nepal, calligraphic works from Japan trace an ideal journey that reconstructs the Silk Road through art.

Don’t miss the various examples of styles related to Buddhism and the Japanese garden.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Insights

Musée du quai Branly

Musée du quai Branly

The Musée du Quai Branly is a hymn to the arts and civilisations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas: it holds the largest permanent collection.
Musée Marmottan Monet

Musée Marmottan Monet

The Marmottan Monet Museum houses the world's largest collection of works by French impressionist painter Claude Monet, over 100 undisputed masterpieces.
Jacquemart-André Museum

Jacquemart-André Museum

An elegant house-museum, housed in a magnificent hôtel particulier in the heart of Haussmann's Paris, holds an extraordinary private collection.

How to save on transport and entrance fees

City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.

Paris Museum Pass: 2, 4, or 6 Days
Paris Museum Pass: 2, 4, or 6 Days
Visit more than 60 of the top museums and monuments in and around Paris with a convenient and affordable Paris Museum Pass. Explore famous sites, like the Louvre and Versailles, and visit the Centre Pompidou.
From 79,00 €