Top Paris Museums, Paris (Self Guided)

The following tour comprises a few great museums situated along the Seine. As France has a rich historic past and a vast cultural background, there are a lot of museums exhibiting collections that prove that. You can visit some of them by taking the suggested walking tour presented below.
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Top Paris Museums Map

Guide Name: Top Paris Museums
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km
Author: karen
1
Musee Rodin

1) Musee Rodin (must see)

The Musée Rodin in Paris, France, is a museum that was opened in 1919 in the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds. It displays works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Rodin used the Hôtel Biron as his residence from 1908, and subsequently donated his entire collection of sculptures to the French State on the condition that they turn the building into a museum dedicated to his works. The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin's significant creations, including The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell. Many of his sculptures are displayed in the museum's extensive garden. The gardens around the museum building contain many of the famous sculptures in natural settings. Behind the museum building are a small lake and casual restaurant. The museum has also a room dedicated to works of Camille Claudel. Some paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh which were in Rodin's personal collections are also presented.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum's setting makes for a pleasant, laid-back viewing experience where you can forget about checking the time on your watch or rushing around to see the items on display.
The gardens give intimacy to viewing the sculptures. There is also an open area with benches to chill, a café & gelato shop, and a small pond.

Tip:
Do stop in the entry garden to pose for cheesy photos of yourself looking pensive next to the massive statue of The Thinker!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5:45pm; closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Musee d'Orsay

2) Musee d'Orsay (must see)

Located on the left bank of the river Seine, Musee d’Orsay is a famous museum in Paris which houses many sculptures and paintings, both impressionist and post-impressionist. Many of these works had been held here even before the museum was established in 1986. At the turn of the 19th century, two large railway stations were built in Paris, namely: Gare de Lyon and Gare d'Orsay. The latter had a more important location and was planned by Compagnie d'Orléans. The amount of metal used in its construction exceeded that used to build the Eiffel Tower.

The Gare d'Orsay opened on July 14th, 1900, in time for the Paris World Exposition, and was widely regarded as a jewel of industrial architecture. By 1939, however, it was no longer deemed suitable for new, longer trains, and thus switched to serving suburban destinations only. During World War II, part of the station was used as a mailing centre. Over the years, the Gare d'Orsay has appeared in several movies, and, at one point, housed the Renaud-Barrault Theatre Company. It was completely abandoned from 1961 and escaped demolition only thanks to the French president Pompidou. In 1977, the French government decided to convert the building into a museum of 19th-20th-century art. The Bouygues industrial group took over the construction, done to a design by well-reputed ACT Architecture, whereas the Italian architect Gae Aulenti oversaw the conversion process.

On 1 December 1986, President Francois Mitterrand cut the ribbon for the newly established museum, which thenceforth has been known as the Musee d'Orsay, with a permanent collection spread over four levels, and a terrace. An impressive 20,000 sq. meter floor space on all four levels complements the multitude of great works from the impressionist and expressionist movements, including Naturalism, Realism, Architecture, and Sculpture. The d'Orsay is undoubtedly one of the most stunning museums you will ever have visited!

Why You Should Visit:
For a smaller venue and beautiful artwork by the masters, this is the place!
Houses not only paintings and sculpture but also decorative furnishings that would have only graced a palace!

Tip:
The secret pleasure here is the gorgeous 5th-floor restaurant under the huge clock and with one of the best views of Paris. Great value for money.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9:30am-6pm; Thu: 9:30am-9:45pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Musee du Louvre

3) Musee du Louvre (must see)

The Musée du Louvre is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible. The Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 60,600 m2 (652,000 sq ft) dedicated to the permanent collection. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds. It is the world's most visited museum, averaging 15,000 visitors per day, 65 percent of whom are tourists.

Why You Should Visit:
One of a kind experience & still one of the most wonderful places for an art lover.

Tip:
Like everyone says, buy tickets or museum pass early and don't forget the lesser-used underground mall entrance "Port de Lions".
There are SO many wings, floors, and exhibits that you must plan several hours if you hope to see it all!

Opening Hours:
Mon, Thu, Sat, Sun: 9am-6pm; Wed, Fri: 9am-9:45pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Musee de l'Orangerie

4) Musee de l'Orangerie (must see)

The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Chaim Soutine, Alfred Sisley, and Maurice Utrillo among others. The gallery is on the bank of the Seine in the old orangery of the Tuileries Palace on the Place de la Concorde near the Concorde metro station.

A cycle of Monet's water-lily paintings, known as the Nympheas, was arranged on the ground floor of the Orangerie in 1927. The museum has housed the Walter-Guillaume collection of impressionist paintings since 1965. The Orangerie was renovated in order to move the paintings to the upper floor of the gallery. They are now available under direct diffused light as was originally intended by Monet.

Why You Should Visit:
Although the highlight here is a panorama of Monet's water lilies, there is plenty of first-rate artwork in the basement, too.

Tip:
Go to the l'Orangerie and buy a combination ticket for the Musée d'Orsay. The price is right and you'll be saving time by not waiting in line at the Orsay.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sun: 9am-6pm; closed on Tuesdays
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Grand Palais

5) Grand Palais (must see)

The Grand Palais ("Big Palace") is a large glass exhibition hall that was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Built at the same time as the Petit Palais and the Pont Alexandre III, it involved four architects: the main façade was the work of Henri Deglane, the opposite side the work of Albert-Félix-Théophile Thomas, the interior and the other two ends given to Albert Louvet, with the entire job supervised by Charles Girault. The building's façade is a prototypical example of Beaux-Arts architecture, and the main roof is an expanse of steel and glass. As a whole, the exterior of this massive palace combines an imposing Classical stone façade with a riot of Art Nouveau ironwork, and a number of allegorical statue groups including work by sculptors Paul Gasq and Alfred Boucher. Two monumental bronze quadrigas by Georges Récipon terminate each wing of the main façade.

Why You Should Visit:
What is more Parisian than seeing an exhibition, a parade or a show at the Grand Palais?
It is very chic and the monument with its glass roof – most impressive when illuminated at night – is a magnificent setting that leaves no one indifferent.
Numerous outstanding exhibitions, multiple entrances, cinema, skate ring sometimes, art fairs, fashion shows, restaurant and many more...

Tip:
Check out the Petit Palais just across the street while you're here, too!

Opening Hours:
Mon, Thu-Sun: 10am-8pm; Wed: 10am-10pm; closed on Tuesdays
Last admission 7:15pm (9:15pm on Wednesdays)
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Musee Jacquemart-Andre

6) Musee Jacquemart-Andre (must see)

The Musée Jacquemart-André is a public museum created from the private home of Édouard André (1833–1894) and Nélie Jacquemart (1841-1912) to display the art they collected during their lives.

It features works by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Bellini, Botticini, Luca Signorelli, Cima da Conegliano, Pietro Perugino, Neri di Bicci, Vittore Crivelli, Luca della Robbia, Paolo Uccello, Canaletto, Jean-Marc Nattier, Alfred Boucher, Quentin Massys, Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jacques-Louis David, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Thomas Lawrence, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.

Why You Should Visit:
A lavish place to escape crowds and still experience outstanding works/exhibits. Furnishings and art collection are all as the couple left it.

Tip:
Make sure to have lunch or tea in the terrific café with a Tiepolo ceiling – the original dining room of the house. The setting and the dessert are not to be missed!
Note that it is possible to visit the gift shop and the café without purchasing a museum entry.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 10am-8:30pm; Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Musee Nissim de Camondo

7) Musee Nissim de Camondo (must see)

The mansion was built in 1911 by the Comte Moïse de Camondo, a banker, with architect René Sergent, to set off his collection of 18th-century French furniture and art objects. Its design was patterned upon the Petit Trianon at Versailles, though with modern conveniences. Both house and collections were bequeathed to Les Arts Décoratifs in honor of his son, Nissim de Camondo, killed in World War I, and opened as a museum in 1935. Today, the house is maintained as if it were still a private home preserved in its original condition. Three floors are open to visitors: the lower ground floor (kitchens), upper ground floor (formal rooms), and first floor (private apartments). They can enjoy the impressive interior and wonderful design.

Why You Should Visit:
A place to drift back into time, filled with an exquisite collection of decorative arts; very interesting from both art & human perspectives, as the bitter-sweet story behind the home is just as compelling.
The location near Parc Monceau and the development of the adjacent area are most enjoyable.

Tip:
If you've read Edmund de Waal's book "The Hare with the Amber Eyes", you'll enjoy this gem of a building even more.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 10am-5:30pm; closed Monday & Tuesday
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Paris, France

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Creating your own self-guided walk in Paris is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Louvre (1st Arr) Walking Tour I

Louvre (1st Arr) Walking Tour I

The capital of France is made up of 20 administrative districts, commonly referred to as “arrondissements”. The 1st arrondissement of Paris sits mainly on the right bank of the River Seine and is one of the city's oldest, smallest and least populated areas. It is home to some of Paris's major landmarks, while the remainder of it is taken up by business and administration offices....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Champs-Elysees Nightlife

Champs-Elysees Nightlife

A haven for the arts in Europe, with its influence felt worldwide, Paris boasts a steady stream of visitors to its fine city. After dark, guests to the City of Light can enjoy a multitude of great nightlife establishments that is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a hot night on the town. Whether its live DJs spinning intense electronic beats or a live acoustic jazz band you’re looking for...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Le Marais Walking Tour

Le Marais Walking Tour

The district Le Marais used to be a bourgeois area in the past and a major center of the Paris Jewish community that still exists today. Here, you will find different bookshops specializing in Jewish books, restaurants with traditional Jewish food and a synagogue. You may consider taking the self-guided city tour presented below to visit all the important attractions in Le Marais.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Palais-Bourbon Walking Tour

Palais-Bourbon Walking Tour

The 7th arrondissement of Paris is the most affluent and prestigious residential area in France, home to the French upper class, plus a number of French national institutions, government offices and diplomatic missions. This neighborhood boasts typically Parisian architecture complete with vibrant cafes, restaurants and gourmet shops which draw foodies in their numbers. Among other attractions on...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Souvenirs Shopping Walk I

Souvenirs Shopping Walk I

It would be a pity to leave Paris without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. Being one of the world's premier shopping cities and a great "get your cash out" destination, Paris attracts thousands of shopaholics every year. Even people who hate shopping, enjoy doing it in Paris. In addition to fabulous designer shops and luxury items, it...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Pantheon (5th Arr) Walking Tour

Pantheon (5th Arr) Walking Tour

The city of Paris is divided into twenty "arrondissements municipaux", administrative districts, more simply referred to as arrondissements. The twenty arrondissements are arranged in the form of a clockwise spiral, starting from the middle of the city, with the first on the Right Bank (north bank) of the Seine. The 5th arrondissement of Paris (also known as "arrondissement du...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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15 Places for Tasting Best French Desserts in Paris

15 Places for Tasting Best French Desserts in Paris

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10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

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8 Best Food Markets in Paris for Authentic French Produce

8 Best Food Markets in Paris for Authentic French Produce

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Top 16 Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris

Top 16 Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris

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Paris Souvenirs: 19 Distinctively French Products to Bring Home from Paris

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Paris for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Paris has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Paris's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Paris Pass, Paris Explorer Pass, Paris Museum Pass, or Paris Night Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Paris' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Paris hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Novotel Paris Les Halles, Les Rives de Notre-Dame, 9Confidentiel.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Paris, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Paris typically costs from around US$20 up to US$200 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Paris from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Alternatively, you can cruise along the river Seine on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat viewing Paris's top attractions from a different angle, able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the eight stops along the Seine riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to two days (48 hrs).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Paris on a bike tour. In the course of 4 hours you will visit the city's most spectacular sights stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a walk around Paris with a knowledgeable guide for an alternative view of the French capital. Over the course of this 2-hour walking tour you will get insights and hear stories about every major classic sight of this fascinating city. A complete overview of Paris from the ground up!

- Come see the best of the French capital in just one day in a combo of a Seine river cruise and historical walk of Paris. You may start either with the Eiffel Tower or the Notre-Dame Cathedral making your way around the iconic sights of the city: the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Alexandre III bridge, Invalides, Concorde Square, Orsay Museum, etc.

- Missing out on the French food, whilst in Paris, would be worse than a crime – it would be a mistake! If you don't want to make such a mistake, consider a private 3-hour food tour of Paris complete with a set of 10 unforgettable tastings the memories of which will last you a lifetime. Just make sure to bring along your appetite to make the most of the savory treats awaiting!

- Live a chocoholic’s dream right at the heart of Paris! Follow your sweet tooth sense on this 2-hour guided “chocolate walk” in central Paris visiting some of the best chocolate boutiques of the French capital, learning about peculiar chapters in the history of the city and the place delectable chocolate played in it. Adding to the excitement is a round of free tastings.

Day Trips


If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Paris, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Versailles, Fontainebleau, Champagne region, Loire valley, Normandy, or a combo of Honfleur and Giverny. For as little as US$90+ to US$200+ per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, see the favorite residence of the French royalty, world-famous vineyards, charming castles, and historic battlefields of World War II. For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or any other place in Paris, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned minivan or train (whenever applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.