MUSÉE DU QUAI BRANLY - As a dazzling showcase for art from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, the slick Jean Nouvel–designed Musée du Quai Branly, almost at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, is implicitly intended to rectify the cultural arrogance at the heart of France’s colonial expansion during the 19th century. During this imperial adventure, the country accumulated a rich hoard of what was once known as “primitive art.” Though Nouvel’s design has had mixed reviews architecturally, there’s no denying that the museum houses one of the richest, most interesting, and best-displayed collections of African, Asian, North and South American, and Pacific-island art in the world.
37 quai Branly; 7th; 01-56-61-70-00
MUSÉE MARMOTTAN MONET - The Musée Marmottan Monet is not only one of Paris’s greatest small museums but an international star for its spectacular collection of some 165 paintings by Claude Monet. Formerly the hunting lodge of the Duc de Valmy, it was purchased by Jules Marmottan, a wealthy 19th-century industrialist. Two subsequent donations—a stunning collection of paintings from Victorine Monop de Monchy, daughter of Docteur de Bellio, whose patients included Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir, and the private collection of Michel Monet, Monet’s second son—transformed the museum into the little gem that it is today.
2 rue Louis-Boilly; 16th; 33-1-44-96-50-33
MUSÉE DES ARTS ET METIERS - Founded in 1794 and today occupying the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the offbeat Musée des Arts et Metiers is devoted to scientific discovery and mechanical and industrial inventions, which are organized according to seven themes: scientific instruments, materials, construction, communication, mechanics, energy, and transport. Perhaps the most famous instrument in its collection of some 80,000 objects is Foucault’s pendulum, which was popularized by a novel by Italian writer Umberto Eco.
60 rue Réaumur; 3rd; 01-53-01-82-00
MUSÉE DE LA MUSIQUE - At the Musée de la Musique, in the Parc de la Villette, instruments from the unequaled collection of the Paris Conservatoire—from early horns and Stradivarius violins to modern synthesizers and Gibson electric guitars—come alive through headphones with commentary (in English) on instrumental developments over the past five centuries. The audio program also includes Conservatoire faculty members answering questions and demonstrating, say, the right way to play Javanese temple bells.
221 avenue Jean-Jaurès; 19th; 01-44-84-44-84; www.cite-musique.fr
MUSÉE NISSIM DE CAMONDO - Facing the Parc Monceau, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is one of the most engaging and poignant of the city’s small museums. Built just before World War I by Moïse de Camondo, scion of a family known as the Rothschilds of the East, the house was designed to showcase his antiques. And after admiring the dazzling silver tureens made for Catherine the Great, wander through the spacious, bright kitchens. Restored to an as-built state, the fittings include remarkably modern water purifiers and a copper sink with a steam jacket to keep dishwashing water hot. And the vast stove, with separate ovens and a rotisserie, still inspires envy.
63 rue de Monceau, 8th; 01-53-89-06-40; www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr
MUSÉE CARNAVALET - Housed in two adjacent hôtels particuliers in the Marais, the Musée Carnavalet tells the story of Paris from prehistory to the early 20th century through archaeological finds, paintings, furniture, and objets d’art. There are rooms from the ancien régime, a Revolutionary collection that spans 12 rooms, and a section devoted to French literature that includes letters written by Madame de Sévigné (who lived here from 1677 to 1696) and a replica of Proust’s cork-lined bedroom. The museum’s shop has a fantastic selection of books about the city. (Buy an English-language guidebook here before you enter the museum—the information inside is all in French.)
23 rue de Sévigné; 3rd; 01-44-59-58-58
MUSÉE COGNACQ-JAY- This charming museum, housed in the carefully restored 16th-century Hôtel Donon, in the Marais, paints an interesting portrait of a slightly fussy, early-20th-century bourgeois collector. Ernest Cognacq, founder of the Samaritaine department store, and his wife, Louise Jay, amassed a surprisingly rich and varied collection that includes French Rococo artists like Fragonard, Watteau, Boucher, and Greuze, plus a smattering of Guardis and Canalettos, and a few more “highbrow” works by Rubens and Ruisdael. The paintings are complemented by the couple’s furniture, porcelain, tapestries, and sculpture.
8 rue Elzévir; 3rd; 01-40-27-07-21
MUSÉE DE LA VIE ROMANTIQUE - Housed in an elegant little villa that was once home to the artist Ary Scheffer, the Musée de la Vie Romantique recalls the days when the surrounding neighborhood (between Pigalle and the Gare Saint-Lazare) was known as the “new Athens” because of the many artists, writers, and composers who lived there. Writer George Sand, the focus of the museum, was at the center of this creative community, which included Chopin, Delacroix, the poet Alfred de Musset, and other Romantic figures. The portraits, books, and letters here evoke that passionate age with charm.
16 rue Chaptal; 9th; 01-55-31-95-67
MUSÉE DE L’ORANGERIE - Located in the old Orangery in the Jardin des Tuileries, this is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. It is most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet. The museum was chosen and arranged personally by Claude Monet in two oval rooms to have the correct light and balance for contemplation of these masterpieces. The museum also contains the Walter-Guillaume Collection containing works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Chaim Soutine, Alfred Sisley, and Maurice Utrillo, among others.
Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde; 1st
MUSÉE DU VIN – Located in the 16th arr on Rue des Eaux, named after the mineral water sources discovered herein the 17th and 18th centuries. The exhibits fill a site used in the Middle Ages as a limestone quarry before conversion into cellars by the wine-producing monks of the Minime Order. These cellars were also used for wine storage in the 1950s by the Eiffel Tower restaurant. Today, on a walk through the winding stone-walled corridors, visitors discover historic objects connected with wine production and the evolution of winemaking techniques. The museum also offers wine-tasting classes.
5 Square Charles Dickens - Rue des Eaux; 16th; museeduvinparis.com
MUSÉE DES EGOUTS DE PARIS – or as it is translated, the Paris Sewer Museum, as strange as it seems to want to walk under a city of beauty, it is one of the 50 most visited attractions in the French capital, and has only gained in popularity since Ratatouille (2007). Paris has 1,300 milers of sewers, one of the most extensive in the world. Only aw small part of the system is open to the public and obviously does not involve wading in actual sewage, which is carried in enormous pipelines.
Pont de l'Alma, face au 93 quai d'Orsay; 7th
MUSÉE DU JACQUEMART-ANDRE – is the result of the 19th century Parisian society couple Edouard Andre and Nelie Jacuemart. Housed in their elegant 16-room villa, the museum showcases their personal collection of antiques from their travels and remarkable good taste as amateur art buyers. It also captures the atmosphere of Parisian high society with salons for balls and state dinners, smaller rooms for making and entertaining and lush bedrooms for relaxing
158 blvd Haussmann; 8th; musee-jacquemart-andre.com
FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON - Is Paris' newest Museum. Opened in 2014 it is located on the outer rim of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne. Designed by Frank Gehry the museum resembles a ship with giant glass sails making up the exterior façade, with water traveling towards and right through the building itself; while inside is a series of changing contemporary art exhibitions curated by the LVMH group. The restaurant is top notch with several themed menus in the evenings.
8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne; www.fondationlouisvuitton.com