If there is one thing that Paris is long on, its museums. They range from institutions like the Louvre and the DOrsay, to the lesser known gems like Le Musée de la Vie Romantique and the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature.
We encourage recent transplants to check out any and every museum that strikes their fancy, ASAP. Why? ? Because the longer you stay in Paris, the less often youll visit them. Once you get a life, museum attendance will decline, sharply.
Where to find them
If you want the official list of Parisian museums, look no further than the citys website which provides an exhaustive list of not only museums, but also temporary exhibitions.
If youre lacking a computer or Internet access, then you can always go to a point de presse and pick up a copy of Pariscope or LOfficiel des Spectacles, two weekly magazines that provides information on just about every cultural event going on in town. At 40 cents, theyre both great deals.
Museum going in Paris can get pricey. Unlike New York, admission is never based on suggested donations, and unlike London, the permanent collections arent free. In Paris, getting in at a discountor for freecan be a bit tricky
The first Sunday of every month all museums are free. This is a great way to check out places that you might not be willing to pay the museum entrance fee for. Word to the wise: expect to wait in line, especially if youre going to any of the major museums.
Are you an EU citizen aged 25 and under? Well, youre in luck, because you will be able to get into most major museums in Paris for free (this does not always apply to temporary exhibitions). Just show your passport or id card and enjoy!
Most major museums (aka, the Louvre, the DOrsay, Beaubourg) sell year-long cards that give you a years worth of access to the museum and its exhibitions for a flat fee that usually pays for itself in a few visits. Sam did this once for Beaubourg (with a special discounted rate for 18-25 year olds) and loved it.
Art History Card
If you are studying Art History, your university can get you a card that gives you 100% free access to every museum in Paris. This is also done in some study abroad programs, as the definition of Art Historian is apparently very loose. Find out from your school/study abroad program if you are eligible and then have them fill out the necessary paperwork for you.
The lasting legacy of Jack Lang, former culture minister, will be the many events he created that brought art out of museums and into communities. Below, here are some of Frances annual cultural events.
Les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine
For an entire weekend in September, major French and European institutions open their doors to the public for les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine. This is the time to check out the Senate, the Moulin Rouge, and that fancy looking mansion in your neighborhood for free.
La Nuit Blanche
The Nuit Blanche (French for White Night or colloquially, an all-nighter) is an all night art festival, held on the first Saturday in October. Artists from all over the world are invited to do installations in museums, bars and schools. Sam once saw the quirky Belgian artist Eric Duyckaerts perform an all night long, comic philosophical lecture at the Sorbonne.
If you live in Paris, its almost impossible to escape the commotion of La Nuit Blancheone piece of advice: go to the bathroom before going out.
Le Mois de la Photo
Following Octobers Nuit Blanche is Pariss photography month in November, held every other year. All month long museums, art galleries and even bars and cafés feature works done by photographers from all over the world.
La Nuit des Musées
La Nuit Européenne des Musées is held for one night in mid-May. All over Europe, museums open their doors and feature special events (mainly performance art). Its a lot of fun.
La Fête de la Musique
The Fête de la Musique is held on June 21st and is open to all amateur musicians. In Paris, every arrondissement has at least one official event, and dozens of unofficial streetside concerts. By its very nature the Fête de la Musique can be dicey (and it should be noted that after midnight it usually degenerates into teenage binge drinking and house music) but nevertheless you can end up seeing a fun, surprise concert. One year, Sam saw an amazing Klezmer concert in the Marais, and another year she just hung out on the street listening to classic Beastie Boys albums and eating barbecued sausages. If the weathers nice, it can be great fun.