7 Great Paris Museums Beyond the Louvre

Have you already been to the Louvre? We have a guide to help you find seven more Paris museums you won’t want to miss.

May 7, 2024By Jennie and Nathan Kimbrough, BFA Studio Art, BA Mass Media Communication



Paris is a treasure trove for art aficionados and the Louvre, the most visited museum in the world, is easily its crown jewel.  But after spending a day scratching the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo off their bucket lists, many people find themselves not knowing where to go next.  To help you get the most out of your Parisian experience, we’re going to explore seven Paris museums that are not the Louvre.


1. Paris Museum Dedicated to Modern Art: Musée d’Orsay (The Orsay)

van gogh self portrait
Self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889. Source: Musée d’Orsay


The Musée d’Orsay is one of the top 10 most visited museums in the world. While d’Orsay will always rest in the shadows of the Louvre, it still has enough artistic dynamite to blow away even the most casual art fan.


Sitting on the banks of the Seine, this former railway station boasts one of the most robust Impressionist collections in the world.  Amongst the highlights of these hallowed halls are Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône and Self-portrait, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette (Dance at the Moulin de la Galette), and Gustave Courbet’s A Burial at Ornans.  


For those who confuse their Manet with their Monet, Musée d’Orsay has a special treat that will give you a double take.  If you’re in room 29 admiring Manet’s Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) you may find yourself with a strange feeling of déjà vu a few paintings later when you come across Monet’s Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass).  This isn’t a trick of the mind, or a curator’s typo, but is actually Monet’s tamer homage to his friend Manet’s more daring masterpiece.

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


2. Musée de l’Orangerie (The Orangery Museum)

monet water lilies
Orangerie Int Nympheas. Source: Musée de l’Orangerie


Much like Musée d’Orsay turned a train station into an art Mecca, Musée de l’Orangerie transformed what was originally a greenhouse for oranges grown in the neighboring Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) into the perfect place to find some of Impressionism’s best, and largest, pieces.


Lined with works like Amedeo Modigliani’s Woman with a Velvet Ribbon, Henri Matisse’s The Odalisque in Red Pants, and Paul Cézanne’s The Red Rock, the main draw of Musée de l’Orangerie is found in its eight colossal compositions from Claude Monet.


Designed specifically for the museum’s two oval-shaped rooms, Monet created an octuplet of his iconic Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies).  Known as The Sistine Chapel of Impressionism these paintings collectively cover over 2,000 square feet of wall space, blanketing your eyes in Monet’s liquidy vision of his Giverny gardens.  You can’t help but be awed by the immersive scope. You will find yourself turning round and round, spellbound as you soak in the 360-degree scene.


3. Centre Pompidou (The Pompidou Center)

paris museums centre pompidou
Centre Pompidou, photo by Sergio Grazia. Source: The Centre Pompidou, Paris


Before you’ve even entered, the Centre Pompidou catches your eye as a radical contrast to the rest of the Parisian aesthetic. The colorful box of protruding pipes, ducts, and wiring quickly stands out amongst the surrounding sea of tan structures, which was exactly what the controversial build was designed to do.


Opened in 1971, the Centre Pompidou (also known as the Beaubourg Museum) picks up where Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie leave off, gathering together the largest assemblage of modern and contemporary art in all of Europe.  With some of the biggest and boldest names from the mid-twentieth century and beyond, the museum will engross you with paintings made by Vassily Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, Yves Klein, and Otto Dix.


dubuffet winter garden
Le jardin d’hiver (The Winter Garden) by Jean Dubuffet, 1968-1970. Source: The Centre Pompidou, Paris


Some of the Pompidiou’s most inspiring offerings occur when their exceptional curation pushes past mere paintings, leaving the canvas behind to take form through installations and other mixed media.  By displaying groundbreakers such as Benjamin Vautier’s Le magasin de Ben (Ben’s Store), Jean Dubuffet’s The Winter Garden, Joseph Beuys’ Plight, and Marcel Duchamp’s groundbreaking Fountain, the Pompidou curators have spent the last century challenging viewers, critics, and artists alike to define, and then redefine, art.


Is art a set of found this and that piled on top of each other?  Could it be a small space specifically designed to induce a stifling claustrophobia or a cavernous black-and-white room that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into an unfinished comic strip?  How about a crudely signed urinal? While no consensus is likely to ever be found, it is the mere asking of the question that pushes art forward. And you can ask yourself about all of these things while roaming around the many rooms of The Centre Pompidou.


After enjoying an afternoon of avant-garde art head upstairs to Le Georges rooftop restaurant and sip on a glass of wine as you drink in a panorama of the Parisian skyline. With a terrific vantage point of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and nearby Notre Dame, it is a great way to wrap up your day. It is Paris at its best.


4. Sainte-Chapelle

paris museums sainte chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle. Source: Sainte Chapelle Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Paris


Situated halfway between the Louvre and Notre Dame, most tourists stroll right by the Sainte-Chapelle without giving it a second thought.  Yet, for those who take the detour, this will become one of their most cherished stops.  Completed in 1248, the church was originally constructed to house medieval relics such as Christ’s Crown of thorns.  After being desecrated during the French Revolution as a symbol of royal opulence, the church was turned into a museum by the French Centre of National Monuments.


The highlight of the Sainte Chapelle is the breathtaking upper level in which 15 stained glass windows, each 50 feet high, surround you in a kaleidoscopic spectacle of color.  With over 7,000 square feet of glass, over 75% still original, you can’t help but stand slack-jawed at the vibrant explosion of hues sparkling down on you when the sunlight shines through.  It is truly an awe-inspiring experience and certainly one you shouldn’t skip while in Paris.


5. Musée National Picasso-Paris

Portrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso, 1937. Source: Musée National Picasso, Paris


While Spanish artist Pablo Picasso might not be the first name you would associate with the City of Lights, you might be surprised to know that the Musée National Picasso-Paris holds more Picasso pieces and paraphernalia than any other place on the planet. Clocking in at an astounding 5,000 objects, including Picasso’s Self Portrait, The Kiss, Woman In The Garden, and Portrait of Dora Maar, the Musée National Picasso-Paris is stuffed not just with paintings, but also sculptures, drawings, and a myriad of other mediums that the prolific master tinkered in.  As an added bonus, the museum is housed in the picturesque Hôtel Salé, whose clean, gilded halls provide a fascinating juxtaposition with Picasso’s abstract palate.


6. Musée Rodin

paris museums rodin thinker
The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, 1881-1882. Source: Wikimedia Commons


For over a hundred years, the Musée Rodin has presented the best of Auguste Rodin, the man considered to be the father of modern sculpture.  While most museums keep their art indoors for protection, Rodin’s metal and stone productions are also set up throughout the museum’s expansive seven-acre garden.  Throughout the museum and its grounds, you’ll catch famous casts of Monument To Balzac, The Gates of Hell, Monument to the Burghers Of Calais, and The Three Shades.  Chief amongst the campus’s features is a stunning six-foot cast of Rodin’s seminal statue, The Thinker.  Placed on a large pedestal, the sculpture towers over you, causing the man to stare down at his viewer, lost in contemplation.


7. Musée Marmottan Monet: Paris Museum Dedicated to Monet

Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression Sunrise) by Claude Monet, 1872. Source: Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris


When it comes to seeing the works of French fixture Claude Monet, the Musée de l’Orangerie may have the collection of his physically largest paintings, but the Musée Marmottan Monet still holds bragging rights for having the largest collection of Monet’s paintings.  Claude Monet’s son, Michel, donated the lion’s share, ensuring his father’s work would remain together in a place the public could forever access.  Now over three hundred Monets, including The Train in the Snow or The Locomotive, The Houses of Parliament London, Reflections on the Thames, and The Japanese Bridge are all gathered in what was once the residence of multi-millionaire Jules Marmottan. The highlight of the museum is the famous Impression Sunrise, which gave the Impressionist movement its name.

Author Image

By Jennie and Nathan KimbroughBFA Studio Art, BA Mass Media CommunicationJennie and Nathan are a nomadic couple currently residing in Michigan. Jennie is an artist, writer, teacher, and photographer with a BFA in Studio Art from Missouri State University. Nathan is a speaker, writer, and consultant with a BA in Mass Media Communication from Missouri State and his MTS in Administrative Leadership from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. With an undying passion for art, culture, food, and travel, they have enjoyed exploring the rich histories of over 30 countries around the world.