Top Cultural Places in Paris
Whether you are a true art lover, or you just want to experience the cultural aura of a place, museums should be part of your journeys, as they offer a glimpse in history, while incorporating modern elements that truly give insight on a civilization. As a relentless traveller, I have visited several museums and art galleries, both inlands and abroad which lead me to appreciate even the slightest form of cultural authenticity. While in Paris, I couldn’t resist a visit to some of the most renowned cultural sites in the world. On my week long trip, I managed to visit these 4 museums/ galleries, which I highly recommend.
Hordes of travellers have queued for hours over the years, outside of the glass pyramid shaped end of the emblematic Museum of Louvre. On a rainy February day, I was one of them. The museum is located centrally and is easily reached by metro line x Stop Palais Royal / Louvre or metro line 1 Stop Louvre / Rivoli. The general ticket admission for the permanent collection is 12€ but if you are a European Union citizen under 26 entrance is free (yay!)
Now, you probably have heard how enormous the Louvre is. Well, this is arguably true. With a great variety of art objects, paintings & sculptures, spanning across 4 floors, the museum of Louvre, is almost impossible to be explored in a day. I spent 5 hours (!) on my visit there and I probably still missed or passed a few notable pieces. The museum of Louvre is a building that constitutes from 3 sides: Richelieu, Sully & Denon, composed of many rooms on several levels. On the ground floor, you will find French sculptures from the 5th to the 19th century, Antiquities from the prosperity period of Mesopotamia, Iran, Egypt, Greece, Roman Empire, as well as sculptures from Italy and North Europe during the 16th – 19th centuries.
GROUND FLOOR NOT TO MISS: The sculptures of: Aphrodite of Milos, Statue of Ramses II, and Michelangelo’s dying Slave.
The 1st floor mainly consists of paintings from Spain & Italy, as well as art objects from Greece, Egypt and France.
1st FLOOR NOT TO MISS: The glorious sculpture of Victory of Samothrace as well as the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting, The Mona Lisa or La Giocconda, presumably the world’s most visited work of art.
Proudly standing in front of Victory Of Samothrace.
The 2nd floor is actually a lot smaller consisting exclusively of paintings from west Europe (France, Germany, the Netherlands, etc) from the 15th – 18th century. On the -1 (underground) floor, you will find another vast collection of French, Italian, Spanish & North European Sculptures, as well as art works from the Islamic (7th – 19th cent), Greek Preclassical and Egyptian Eras, while discovering the medieval history of the Louvre itself. Additionally, there is another level beneath that (something like a semi-floor), where you will find the Inverse Pyramid (Yes, the one from Da Vinci code!), as well as more artworks, paintings & sculptures.
Tips for the Louvre Museum:
With all those masterpieces and artworks, a visit to the Louvre Museum might sounds pretty exhausting. Well, it is. Unless you:
1. Plan your visit really early (museum opens at 9am) to avoid the crowds and queues.
2. Book your ticket online – so no waiting time!
3. Visit the Museum website, study about the artwork. Be prepared and note the works that you really want to see or the paths you will follow – otherwise you are doomed to just wonder in which chamber you are!
4. Because of the crowds, the Louvre Museum is a great place for pickpockets. Make sure to be aware of your belongings at all times.
A post-modern building right in the heart of the 4th district of Paris, which houses the Public Information and The National Museum of Modern Art, surely cannot be missed. It is situated close to Métro stations: Rambuteau and Les Halles and ticket admission starts from 14€.
The National Museum of Modern Art of the Pompidou Centre consists of about 50,000 works of art, of which about 2,000 are exposed publicly, including painting, sculpture and photography. As part of its ongoing exhibitions, different art movements are represented extensively to the public, such as Fauvism, Surrealism or Cubism. In addition, it houses an important collection of industrial design.
Main interior space of Pompidou Centre.
Musee d’ Orsay
While, most travelers tend to skip this museum (probably due to lack of time), I have checked some reviews online and a visit there was highly top on my Paris list. Upon arrival, the museum seems majestic both on exterior & interior. The museum collections boast the famous works of impressionism & post-impressionism lead figures: Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, as well as collections in sculptures, photography and visual arts.
The museum has 4 levels: Ground floor (Level 0), Level 2, The Pavillon Amont level & Level 5. On level 0, you will find early works of Monet, Degas and Manet, as well as pieces by Delacroix & Moreau. On Level 2, you will be transported into the era of naturalism on the side of Seine, while admire the beautifully arranged works of the Neo-Impressionist & Post-Impressionist era with the works of Van Gogh, Seurat & Gauguin.
On this level, I was truly astounded by the amazing works of Vincent van Gogh. The agony of his troubled life, can be seen through his visionary paintings. Dreamy landscapes, expressive colors and portraits filled with sensitivity, Vincent van Gogh managed to balance between intelligence and alienation, providing us with his astonishing world of art. Undoubtedly, out of van Gogh’s works in Musee d’ Orsay, my favorite painting is Nuit étoilée sur le Rhône. With limited colors but intensive brush strokes, its beauty and simplicity made me dream.
Vincent Van Gogh, Nuit étoilée sur le Rhône (1888).
At the next level, the Pavillon Amont, Art Nouveau masterpieces can be found traced back in different parts of Europe and America. By the end, the spacey level 5, is home to some of the greatest pieces in the Impressionist movement around 1860-1900: Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Manet, and Caillebotte.
Tips while visiting Musee d’ Orsay
1. The Museum closes at 6pm, but exhibition halls start closing at 5.30, so I suggest to clear your schedule and pop up for a visit at around Midday, hopefully avoiding the crowds.
2. Be careful with your carry ons and respect the rules: don’t carry any food / drink, umbrellas or big bags on. Ideally, there’s a cloakroom to leave all heavy stuff.
3. Although, photography is currently allowed, however be descript and leave your selfie stick at home!
The Picasso Museum, dedicated to the work of the artist Pablo Picasso, is an art gallery located in the magnificent Hôtel Salé in the Marais district of Paris. The general admission ticket costs around 15€ and it is located very close to Pompidou Centre.
The Picasso Museum is house to over 5.000 works of art by Picasso including 3.700 works on paper, ceramics, sculptures in wood and metal, engravings and paintings. It is additionally complemented by Picasso’s own personal art collection of works by other artists, including: Cézanne, Degas, Rousseau, Seurat, de Chirico and Matisse. Expanding from the artist’s early works to paintings even a few years prior to his death, the visitor gets a full caption of Picasso’s artistic perpective and maturity: from The Rose and Blue Period, to Cubism & Surrealism.
Pablo Picasso, Collage: Mujeres en el aseo (1937-1938)
Extra Tip: Make sure to visit the Museum shop for some interesting Picasso inspired souvenir!
There are plenty of other choices in terms of Museums in Paris: Musée Rodin, Orangerie Museum, etc. My choice on these 4 is based on the variety of artworks, their popularity and of course my personal experience. When in Paris, i hope you enjoy them as much as i did.
Till the next post,
L’art est un mensonge qui nous fait comprendre la vérité […]