Les Musées de Paris

Museum Overview — During my last few weeks in Paris I tried to hit up as many museums as possible.  How’d I do?

  • Louvre – Of course this museum is at the top of the list.  I was fortunate to have a free Carte Louvre so I could go to the Louvre without waiting in line and with an audio guide for free anytime I wanted (and that it was open).  I went to the Louvre about five times and saw maybe half of the rooms…. yes it is that large!  Most tourists simply go in, find La Jacobe (Mona Lisa) and they’re content.  However, I found so so so so so many other great works of art! I personally enjoyed the French paintings section and greek sculptures.  The audio guide is super cool.  It’s a Nintendo DS and it has a locating finder so you won’t need a map.  Furthermore you can click on rooms and it will tell you about the collection you’re looking at.  Then you can click on specific works of art and it will explain them too you.  Overall it’s pretty cool and if you actually want to learn about the art (as opposed to just go see the art, which is perfectly acceptable as well) then I suggest gettting the audio guide. My  main issue with the Louvre is that it is so exhausting.  Literally you can walk for miles and miles looking at art and art and art.  I had to visit multiple times so I could fully appreciate the artwork in the way it deserved.
  • L’Orangerie– This museum is located in the Jardin des Tuileries and it is rather small.  It is famous for the Water Lily paintings.  There are multiple rooms with 360 water lily paintings on all walls.  I found this amazing.  On the lower floors, there are other paintings of the impressionism style and a section full of interpretive portraits.  I’m hesitant to say just portraits because they are not trying to mimic the people, but to portray the person in a different sense.
  • Invalides– This museum has the tomb of Napoléon I.  It is in a small religious building and surrounded by beautiful artwork.  I definitely enjoyed this.  There are other military museums located at the museum.  I chose to see the WW1 and WW2 museum as well as the Napoléon I – Napoléon III museums.  I really was impressed by the World Wars museum.  It had all types of informative material from clothing to wepons to maps to photos ot newspapers to videos to artwork.  I found it very engaging and very entertaining.
  • Rodin– This museum is hidden just off the edge of Invalides.  It has a collection of the sculptures and artwork of Rodin as well as a few of his friends.  The gardens are magnificent.  I saw the Thinker as well as many other well known statues.  They are set up throughout a garden and on a nice day it is a beautiful and relaxing experience.  The price for the garden and the museum are different.  If you are a huge Rodin fan of course you’d want to see both the museum and the garden. For the simple art-enjoyer I’d suggest just staying with the garden.  All of the most imspiring and most impressive work is througout the garden.
  • Carnavalet– This museum is located in the Marais and it is about French history.  There is a wonderful section on the French Revolution that I found particularly fascinating (it even has locks of the royal family’s hair!!).  The main focus is on art, so most of the history is shown through artwork.  This museum is free which is a big plus, but all the signage and explications are in French.
  • Panthéon – This is a building built for the “grand men” of France such as Rousseau, Voltaire, etc.  The inside has paintings and sculptures and underground is the crypt for these “grand men.”  Having studied this building and its significance I enjoyed the experience.  It is similar in some aspects to a church, but yet also has its idiosyncrasies.
  • Centre Pompidou– This is a museum of Modern Art. I found this museum particularly intersting because I had studied much of the art in my sociology class.  The experience of visiting this museum is very intertaining.  The art is set up in creative ways with very thought-provoking displays.  I particularly enjoyed the photography exhibits.
  • Musée du Vin– This museum is located just across the river from the Eiffel Tower.  It is a small museum all about the history of wine in France, wine making, and how wine has influenced French culture. Even after visiting multiple wine cellars and wine tasting, I still think I learned the most from this museum.  I enjoyed the free audioguide which walks you through each exhibit and highlights the main instruments and artifacts.  The tour ends with a wine-tasting!
  • Fragonard – This is a museum about perfume.  It highlights the history of perfume, the global perfume market (and where certain scents come from), the cultural impacts of perfume, etc.  I was fortunate to partake in a Perfume Workshop where I made my own perfume (i posted a blog about this in early December) which was super fascinating and worth the visit.  Unfortunately I believe it is pretty expensive and would have to be booked in advance.
  • Chocostory – This is a chocolate museum.  It is located in the 9th at Bonne Nouvelle.  The museum includes tasting, a demonstration, a video, and the history and makeup of choclate.  Very interesting and fascinating and tasty!!
  • Musée Curie– This is a very small museum talking about the Marie Curie and the effects of Radium.  Probably only 20 minutes would be necessary here.  It’s free and educational.  It has very limited hours so check in advance. It is located near the panthéon in the 5th.  The information is presented both in French and in English here!
  • Anatomie Comparée– This is one of the many museums located at the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th.  I chose this one because it sounded the most interesting for me.  There are huge huge huge animal skeletons all over.  Not only does it have dinosaurs and modern animals, but I also found a super interesting exhibit about deformed animals with two headed animal skeletons etc.  The bottom floors with vertebrates were the most intersting for me.  There were many children visiting this museum and there were also many art students drawing the skeletons.

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