The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artworks and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV, he decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is divided into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see some of the most famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Liberty Leading the People.
Millions of visitors come to see Musée d'Orsay's mammoth collection of French art every year. The building itself, called the Gare d'Orsay, was built as a railway station in 1900, is a striking Beaux-Arts edifice. At 138 meters long (453 feet) and 32 meters tall (105 feet), the opulent principal gallery of the ground floor is a reminder of the building's history. Among the masterpieces in this gallery are the Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet and the Gleaners by Jean-François Millet. Fans of impressionism should head directly up to the fifth floor, where works by the greatest masters of this genre can be found.
Hidden beneath "The City of Light" is a dark underworld, the final resting place of more than six million Parisians. The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries formed of a network of tunnels, caves, and quarries filled with mortal remains, where the former citizens of Paris now form a part of its foundation. As Paris went on its way to becoming an important hub, thousands flocked to the city. This spurred justified concerns about the limited cemetery space, leading to the creation of the catacombs in 1810 at the site of the old Montrouge stone quarries. Although in use as an ossuary as early as the 1780s, it was not until this time that the catacombs were organized. The bones were arranged as per the cemeteries they were taken from, creating a subterranean skeletal world, where the last of the lot were brought down in 1860. During World War II, this network of galleries was used as a hideaway for the Résistance movement; its vastness and the discretion of its entrances were great assets indeed. These ossuaries, illustrated by texts, create a chilling atmosphere and describe some of the defining events in the history of Paris, giving visitors substance for meditation. It is also occasionally used as a macabre venue for concerts, parties and other events.
Artist Nélie Jacquemart gave up her brushes after her marriage to Edouard André. Her passion for art however, continued to blossom, fired by her equally enthusiastic husband who commissioned the building of this elegant house in 1869. During their travels across Europe, they collected artifacts, paintings and contemporary treasures. Upon her death, Jacquemart entrusted the entire collection to the Institut de France, who opened a museum at the former residence. Most of the works exhibited date back to the Italian Renaissance but there are also examples of the Flemish and French schools from the 17th and 18th Centuries. Frescoes, delicate pieces of furniture and tapestries are worth the visit. Works by famous artists, such as Rembrandt, Donatello and Fragonard, are also on display.
The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris opened its doors for the first time in 1937. Since then, the museum has been dedicated to modern art (from the 1960s on). Its permanent exhibition, which is free, houses over 8000 works, among them you will find Picasso, Braque, Picabia, Delaunay, Klein and many others. The Musée d'Art Moderne is situated in the left wing of the Palais de Tokyo, an Art Deco-styled building, which is also an art hub not to be missed! Temporary exhibitions run every six weeks with nominal admission fees. There is also a café, bookshop and various concerts that take place here.
If you're curious about non-Western cultures, go to Musée du Quai Branly, which opened its doors in 2006. Its location alongside the Seine River and near the Eiffel Tower is exceptional. The permanent collection includes a selection of over 300,000 objects coming from various part of the world. The museum is divided into four sections, each related to a different area: America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Admire the sculptures and masks from African or South-American civilizations. Among the 8000 music instruments, take a look at the flutes from New Guinea or tom-toms from Mali and Senegal. Extraordinary textile pieces like Chinese palanquin, shaman coats from Central-America or Asian tapestry will enchant you. If you have some time left, hang out in the garden before concluding your visit.
This museum is supported by the Cultural Ministry of France and most of its collections come from the Jewish museum at Rue Des Saules and from the Culture Ministry who gave it the Isaac Strauss Collection. The museum has symbolic objects that give a glimpse of the ancient Jewish civilization. There are several audio-visual documentaries that reflect the various facets of Jewish life, beliefs, culture and religion. It also has an auditorium where lectures and discussions are held.
Divided into seven sections, the displays at the Musée des Arts et Métiers cover different aspects of city infrastructure and scientific innovations from the past to present. Here, you get to explore diverse sections of the museum, namely scientific instruments, construction and transport. Through these thematically arranged exhibits, you would get to know how this busy city functions. Guided tours are offered along with provision of audio guides for those who want to explore the museum at their own pace. There are rental spaces for meetings and conferences as well. To know more about the place, check the website.
Located on Place des Vosges, the Maison de Victor Hugo is the former home of the famous French writer. From 1832 to 16 years hence, Hugo and his wife occupied the second floor of this building. Now a museum, it houses several rooms restored to their original decor as well as memorabilia of his life and times. Explore the well-preserved Gothic furniture, ornate chandeliers, printed wallpaper and regal furnishings. Take the antechamber to the bedroom where he passed away in 1885. In addition, peruse the exhibitions of family memorabilia, manuscripts, publications and art by Hugo.
This splendid museum now has a few rooms dedicated to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and some jewelry. The collections mostly focus on religious art and the representation of bourgeois lifestyle from the 13th to the 16th Century; for example, a reproduction of an ornate Gothic bedroom, furnished with tapestries and grand furniture as well as a Renaissance-style room, decorated in imitation marble. The latter very closely depicts life in France and Italy in the 15th Century. To make the visit more enjoyable, there is a library and a shop at your disposal.