Gemma King knows a thing or two about the best Paris museums. Since starting her blog Les Musées de Paris in 2011, this muséophile has visited and researched more than 40 museums in Paris and the surrounding area! This is why I was so excited when Gemma agreed to share some of her tips when it comes to Paris museums. Here’s Gemma in her own words.
Favourite free museum
The museums of Paris range from classical to quirky, bustling to minuscule, historical to avant garde. Yet one museum strikes the perfect balance between all these things: the Musée de la vie romantique, or Museum of Romanticism. Nestled in one of the most charming pockets of the rive droite, in the meandering streets of the ninth arrondissement, this little musée can be found down a narrow laneway, in a green-shuttered cottage once inhabited by the Romantic painter Ary Scheffer.
Through the mid-nineteenth century, Scheffer welcomed such influential Romantic figures as Eugène Delacroix, Franz Lizst, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and even Charles Dickens into his home. Today, the house is filled with mementos, artworks and personal items belonging to a range of Romantics. Alongside Scheffer’s own paintings, you will find some of Chopin’s sheet music and a cast of his left hand, as well as portraits and manuscripts of my personal favourite Romantic and all-round fabulous lady, Sand.
Tips for saving money when visiting museums
This is far from a well-kept secret, but any visitor hoping to save money on Paris museum visits should take note of the city’s free Sundays. On the first Sunday of each month, entry is free to a whole host of museums, from the monumental Musée d’Orsay to the cutting-edge Pompidou and smaller, quirkier spots like the Musée des Arts et Métiers and Musée National Delacroix.
The problem with free Sundays, however, is the crowds. It takes a special kind of dedicated traveller to brave the queues at the Louvre or the d’Orsay on those days. If you’d rather tread a calmer path, all of the Ville de Paris museums, including highlights like the Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée Carnavalet and Musée Zadkine, offer free entry to their permanent collections all year round. You can even be savvy about many of the city’s private museums. The stunning Musée Rodin, for example, will set you back seven Euros for a full ticket. However, for access to my favourite part of the museum, the exquisite, sculpture-studded gardens, you’ll only have to hand over a two Euro coin (or a mere one Euro for concessions).
[09/09/2016] Free in Paris Update: The full admissions ticket is now 10 euros while admission to the sculpture garden is now 4 euros (2 euros for concessions).
Museum worth the splurge
Perhaps more than any other cultural institution, museums are designed to be exciting, accessible and affordable for all. As a result, it’s a bit of a stretch to consider any Paris museum visit in itself a splurge. Yet there are some truly luxurious museums experiences to be had in the ville lumière. For instance, a ticket to the beautiful Musée du Luxembourg is on the pricier end of the spectrum at twelve Euros per standard entry. But the price difference is entirely worth it. Located on the grounds of the famous gardens of the same name, the Luxembourg is an impeccably-curated museum space which shows world-class temporary exhibitions.
Once your visit is complete, wander over to the decadent Angelina tearoom in the museum’s courtyard. Angelina makes the finest, richest European hot chocolate in the city, and a range of intricate and delectable patisseries. Finish up your visit with a stroll through the gardens for a sublime and indulgent Paris afternoon.
To learn more about Gemma and her adventures in museum visiting, head over to her blog Les Musées de Paris.