With 45 million visitors each year, Paris is the number one destination in the world, and it’s estimated that half of these travellers come especially to see any of the 250+ museums that call the city home. Some museums are expanding their locations to cater to increased interest, with the Louvre-Lens expected to specifically appeal to those taking ferries to France due to the venue’s proximity to the Calais ferry port.
With so many options, ranging from world class art museums to those of a more quirky nature, it can be difficult to determine what the absolute must-sees are. Here is just a handful of museums that have proven hugely popular among visitors to Paris.
1. La Cinémathèque française
Not only does this museum, dedicated to the history of cinema, house the largest collection of movie-related memorabilia in the world, the head-spinning cubist building was also designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, so it’s a true marvel both inside and out. Permanent collections include costumes and props from some of the biggest blockbusters, while rotating exhibitions have featured the works of Tim Burton and Stanley Kubrick.
2. Cité des Sciences
The largest science museum in Europe, this venue is also one of the largest and most popular in the world, boasting an impressive 5 million visitors annually. The biggest exhibitions are inspired by transport, energy, innovation and the human body, although the section known as ‘Cité des enfants’ is one of the main draws as it aims to educate and entertain 2-12 year olds through the use of interactive activities, workshops and experiments.
3. Musée d’Orsay
This art museum, boasting a prime location on the bank of the Seine, is one of the most celebrated attractions in Paris. Travellers visit not only for the impressive collections by Monet and Manet among others, but also for the stunning 19th Century disused railway station the collections are housed in. Famous works such as Whistler’s Whistler’s Mother and Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over The Rhone can be viewed here.
4. Arc de Triomphe
One of the most famous monuments in the city centre, the Arc de Triomphe houses a museum dedicated to the French army. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a well-visited site, and many visitors make a tour of this museum a priority due to the views from the 50 metre high open air platform that commands unrivalled photo opportunities of the Eiffel Tower, the designer shops of the Champs-Élysées and the bustling and chaotic Place de l’Étoile.
5. Musée du Louvre
No list of Paris highlights would be complete without the world’s most popular museum. Famous not only for its grand palace and signature glass pyramid entrance, as well as for displaying da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the museum is also well known for featuring heavily in the bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code. In fact, when the movie of the same name was released, the Louvre saw visitor numbers jump from 6.7 million per year to 7.3 million!
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