If you’re an art lover, or if you just appreciate art (which, honestly, probably means that I’m including the whole human population), Paris is one of the best places in the world to do so. There is so much art history, more prominently during the Renaissance period and more recently, during the 19th-20th century where Paris was the hub for modern art – and because of that, there are so many art museum and art spots all over the city.
With that said, here are some places in Paris to visit for fellow art lovers:
Musée du Louvre
If there’s one art museum that has the most recognition in the world, it’s the Louvre, followed probably by the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The Louvre was built in the 12th and 13th century as the Louvre palace and only became a museum in 1793, following the French revolution. The Louvre has over 600,000 pieces in its collection, while displaying only 35,000 at a given time. They house some of the most well-recognized paintings, with the Mona Lisa being their most famous painting (which, let’s be real, is the most famous painting in the world).
The Louvre is one of the top attractions in Paris, especially for tourists, so there is typically a lot of people in the museum at a given time. For reference, I went on a Monday at 1pm, and I stood in line outside for 2 hours to get a ticket. They close at 6pm. I thought I was being smart by getting there later during the day, but apparently, a lot of people thought the same.
I didn’t mind the two-hour wait, because I would still be able to enjoy the museum for a couple of hours, which is about the time limit for how much I can endure an art museum.
Since there is literally no way for a person to see the whole museum in one day, let alone two hours, I wanted to make sure that I made their most-famous painting(s) a must-see priority. Just in case I never make it back to the Louvre (let’s hope that’s not the case!). So I made a mad dash to the Mona Lisa.
Guys, there was a line, a literal line, roped-off and everything, with a security guard yelling at people to direct traffic. Holy hell.
Thankfully, the line moved pretty quickly because the guard really was doing his best job at getting people through the line. No one was allowed to linger at the front, and many people did so that they can take a picture of it. Honestly, it felt so surreal how many people took selfies with it, that I felt out of place not doing the same. So on my way out, I hurriedly took one!
Afterwards, I stepped out of line and stood in the far distance for a few minutes, hoping to take in the moment of being in such proximity to the Mona Lisa. I would have loved to have studied it closer, like how one typically studies another painting, but alas…
Funnily enough, just outside the room with the Mona Lisa are two other paintings by Da Vinci, and one of them, La Belle Ferronnière, hardly has anyone viewing it! Practically the same pose, the same painting technique, and completely abandoned, save by the tour guides.
Aside from seeing some amazing art work, the Louvre was absolutely overwhelming. There were so many people in general that at times, I felt like a sardine, which isn’t the most relaxing way to study works of art. And the sheer number of pieces to see… I don’t think I even made it through one section.
If you plan on going, my advice is to pick a collection, an area, or make a list of pieces you want to see and be okay with only seeing that. Otherwise, it just gets to be too much.
Originally a railway station, the D’Orsay museum was established in 1986. It’s an art museum right on the Seine, almost right across from the Louvre. It’s a much smaller museum compared to the Louvre, but less people to elbow made visiting D’Orsay much less stressful, in my opinion. This isn’t to say that there aren’t many amazing pieces here, as well. In fact, there were plenty of well-known pieces here, including a lot of impressionist paintings.
One of my favorite piece by Claude Monet is La Rue Montorgueil. I love the movements depicted of the flags and the joviality of the celebration, and the vibrant colors of the French flag compared to the beige French architecture.
If not for the art, just walking around and experiencing the old train station’s architecture was neat enough.
Auguste Rodin is a sculptor borne in 1840, known for several pieces such as “The Thinker” (pictured above), “The Gates of Hell”, and “The Kiss”. All of these can be found in his art museum in Paris. What’s more, his museum houses many more of his work, even in chronological order, so that visitors can see the progress of his work throughout his life. Rodin works mostly in bronze, where he used molds to make multiples of his work (with “The Thinker”, there are 28 total statues scattered around the world).
Musée Rodin consists of a two-story estate with all the charms of the typical Parisian buildings – large and dreamy original windows, black and white checkered floors, intricate moldings, and of course, no air conditioner. And surrounding the house is a lovely garden that houses some of the more well-known pieces – an amazing way to spend some outdoor time.
While all of Paris can be quite the beautiful experience for art lovers, Montmartre is the place for those spontaneous little moments. From the graffitis on the walls, to art installations like the “Wall of Love” (pictured on the right), to the artists that set up shop on the streets while creating and selling their art.
I’m actually staring at a lovely watercolor of the Eiffel Tower during sunset, all orange and purple, that I’ve framed and situated on my living room console table. It’s one of my favorite original art piece, and it’s a piece I purchased for an artist in Montmartre.
And if I haven’t convinced you yet, maybe some of the views from the hills of Montmartre will!
Claude Monet’s House
While Claude Monet’s house is not in Paris itself, it’s only an hour and a half away via shuttle bus in the quaint town of Giverny! Monet’s estate is just like his paintings – green, picturesque, and full of water lilies. You’ll be able to walk all around the gardens and the the pond, as well as tour his house where some of his original paintings still hang on the walls, allowing this to be more of an experience than just an art museum. It’s honestly no wonder why his residence is one of the focal point of his paintings – it’s absolutely a dream to visit.
All In All
I hope you find some art inspiration whenever you visit Paris. There is no shortage of creativity among the city. But if you find yourself wanting see art in a more condensed way, I hope these museums and locations tickled your fancy. I’m sure there are plenty of places not mentioned here that would be perfect for art lovers, but these are just the ones I’ve had the chance to experience myself and can attest to.
Are there any places you recommend checking out otherwise?