Whether you are a tourist or a Parisian, you have most definitely visited museums such as Le Louvre or Le Musée d’Orsay. Yes, they are absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth a visit but we are lucky enough to also have some hidden treasures in Paris – over 100 all-but-unknown museums! Not only you can discover some amazing things but also a lot of them are free or inexpensive and you don’t have to queue for hours to get in! It’s also fun to do non-touristy things and explore less famous spots in a city.
Here is a list of 10 lesser known museums in Paris that are definitely worth checking out!
1) Le Musée Cognacq-Jay
The museum’s collection was formed by Théodore-Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, founders of the iconic department store La Samaritaine. At his death, Cognacq gave the collection to the City of Paris. The museum is located in the Hôtel Donon in the Marais, where the collection is displayed in twenty paneled rooms in the styles of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The museum contains an exceptional collection of fine art and decorative items. It is free entry and it also hosts temporary exhibitions (these are not free though). Very nearby, Rue Payenne, you can visit a lovely garden that belongs to the museum. It’s very peaceful there!
Address : 8 rue Elzévir, 75003 Paris
2) Le Musée de la Magie
The Musée de la Magie is a private museum located in the 4th district. You will find items related to magic shows, including optical illusions, secret boxes, wind-up toys, magic mirrors, see-through glasses, posters, etc. Expect some surprises during your visit! Indeed, you will also be able to see some ongoing magic shows! It will please both adults and children. While you are there you can also visit the Musée des Automates (it’s 12 euros for the 2 museums instead of 9 euros just for The Musée de la Magie for 1 adult).
Address : 11 rue Saint-Paul – 75004 Paris
Mundolingua is a museum devoted to language, languages and linguistics, suitable for everybody. It is fairly new as it was inaugurated in 2013 ! It is ideally located between the Luxembourg Gardens and the Saint-Sulpice church ! We actually wrote an article about it so check it out here for more information.
Address : 10 rue Servandoni – 75006 Paris
4) Musée du parfum Fragonard
The perfume museum, which opened in 1983, occupies a very lovely Napoleon III town house built in 1860 by Lesoufaché, a student of Garnier. The decoration is entirely of that period. Its rooms contain period furnishings and perfume exhibits, including antique perfume bottles, containers, toiletry sets, etc. You can enjoy a free guided tour of this prestigious museum just a few steps from the Opéra Garnier.
Address : 9 rue Scribe – 75009 Paris
5) Musée du Hard Rock Café
Yes of course, you can go to Hard Rock Café Paris to enjoy the all-American food while sitting on the outside patio Parisian. But inside the restaurant, you will find beautiful rooms surrounded by authentic memorabilia from music legends. It is a real gem for Rock music lovers! You can see gorgeous electric guitars which belonged to the most famous bands in the world among other things. My personal favorite item is one of Elvis’ shirts from the 50s. Of course, you need to have a drink (at least) if you want to be able to see the Museum of Rock Music. Note that there is also a Hard Rock Café in Nice and Marseille.
Address : 14 Boulevard Montmartre, 75009 Paris
6) Musée Edith Piaf
The Musée Édith Piaf is a private museum dedicated to singer Edith Piaf located in the 11th district. The museum was created by Bernard Marchois, author of two Piaf biographies, and occupies two rooms within a private apartment where the singer lived at the start of her career. It contains memorabilia including her china collection, gold and platinum records, dress and shoes, photographs, fan letters, sheet music, posters, and recordings. Note that it is open by appointment only but the admission is free.
Address : 5, rue Crespin du Gast – 75011 Paris, +33 1 43 55 52 72
7) Musée Marmottan-Monet
Of course, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie are known for their beautiful collection of Monet’s paintings but the Musée Marmottan Monet, located in the 16th arrondissement, houses one of the city’s largest Impressionism collections: 100 of Claude Monet’s masterpieces (from Impression, Sunrise to the water lilies) as well as numerous works from the artist’s personal collection (Gauguin, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, etc.) ‘Grand dame’ of Impressionism Berthe Morisot is represented by a number of oil paintings, pastels and watercolours. The Musée Marmottan Monet’s temporary exhibitions, held regularly, are one of the highlights of Paris’s cultural season. It is personally one of my favorite museums. It is sometimes difficult to enjoy the beauty of Monet’s waterlilies in Musée de l’Orangerie as it is generally too busy but Musée Marmottan-Monet is, most of the time, extremely quiet! The Waterlilies’ display is just as impressive, only the paintings are smaller. It is a must see for impressionism lovers!! A full price ticket is 11 euros but it’s well worth it.
Address : 2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris
8) Espace Dali
Espace Dalí, located in the heart of Montmartre, exhibits the largest collection of artworks by Salvador Dalí in France. The collection is the fruit of the emblematic surrealist artist’s extravagant inspiration: theatrical sculptures, erotic, dreamlike or irresistibly humorous engravings, poetic objects and furniture, are all part of the phantasmagorical universe of the inventor of soft watches. My favorite piece is the gorgeous sculpture of Alice in Wonderland. While you are there, you can also visit the Galerie which is an extension of the exhibition and offers a unique collection of limited editions Dalí sculptures and engravings. A full-price ticket costs 11.50 euros.
Address : 11 Rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris
9) Musée Jacquemart-André
The Musée Jacquemart-André is a public museum located in the 8th district of Paris. The museum was created from the private home of Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart to display the art they collected during their lives. They both gathered a breathtaking collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, objets d’art and rare furnishings. The visit is divided into five major parts: The State Apartments, The informal Apartments, The Winter Garden, The Italian museum and The Private Apartments. An audio tour of the permanent collections and the temporary exhibition will cost you 12 euros.
Address : 158 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris
10) Musée Bourdelle
The Musée Bourdelle offers to its visitors a unique range of exhibition areas, along with welcoming gardens that are ideal for a relaxing stroll at the heart of the Montparnasse district. From the intimacy of Bourdelle’s apartment, where the sculptor worked, to the immensity of the Great Hall full of plaster casts bathed in soft light, visitors are free to follow their own path among the sculptor’s work. The museum contains more than 500 works including marble, plaster, and bronze statues, paintings, pastels, fresco sketches, and Bourdelle’s personal collection of works. If you like to sketch, this museum offers excellent material. No cost for this museum with a complete free access to the permanent collections.
Address : 18, rue Antoine Bourdelle -75015 Paris
Here is a list of some other lesser known museums in Paris that are definitely worth a visit :
Maison européenne de la photographie
Musée du Thé
Musée de la préfécture de police
Musée national Eugène-Delacroix
Musée des arts forains
Musée de la poste
Musée du vin
Maison de Victor Hugo