Best secret museums in Paris

Home » Best secret museums in Paris
Best secret museums in Paris

For every travelers to Paris, they always want to visit the Louvre Museum, the Orsay Museum, and all the greatest landmarks ! But if you want to experience more from the city, you can visit some of Paris highlights off the beaten tracks. Museums that are only known by the locals, or by just a few visitors, will give you new perspectives on the city, its history and culture.

Musée Carnavalet is located in the famous Marais area, the « old Paris » as to call. It is dedicated to the history of Paris. You will be able to walk in over the hundred exhibition rooms displaying items that contribute to the understanding of the history of Paris. You will go through from Paris Roman roots, its medieval era, and how Revolution happened in the city. It is very pleasant to explore the nicely decorated « interior » of the building as well.

Not far from it, just 10 mn walk, you will arrive to Victor Hugo’s pied-à-terre, the author of Les Misérables .This is a charming apartment on place des Vosges, which gives you an insight on how bourgeois Parisian used to live in the XIXth century.

Another nice museum and free entrance is located at the Petit Palais at the opposite side of the « Grand Palais », the beautiful building come from the universal exhibition of Paris in 1901, you can find a pretty garden with a café inside. The museum includes a variety of work of art such as paintings, sculptures and objects from greek antiquity to WWI.

Musée Nissim de Camondo is a must see for all art history lovers: decorative arts, Rococo paintings, antique furniture in a Belle Epoque-style period house.
The museum has a tragic backstory. The Camondo family were Jews from Istanbul who came to Paris at the end of the Second Ottoman Empire. Moise de Camondo loved and collected 18th century French art, and in 1911, he tore down the Parisian home his father bought, and built a new one to exhibit his collections. After the death of his son Nissim during WWI, Moise left home and gave his collections to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which manages the musée, and named it in honor of Moise’s son. The home was opened as a museum in 1936 and has been preserved as it was during Moîse’s life. The Camondo family line sadly ended when Moïse’s daughter Beatrice and her family perished in the Nazi contration camps of WWII.

Another personal-collection-turned museum is Musée Jacquemart-André, private home. Nélie was a painter and he a collector, they met when she painted his portrait. Together they traveled the world, building up their art collection. Upon their death, having outlived her husband by nearly 20 years, Nélie left their home and its contents to the Institut de France, having taken care to detail exactly how she wanted the museum to be run-including opening hours-and insisted that the museum be open to everyone. This is one museum where it’s absolutely worth it to pay the extra money for an audio guide, to get the full experience, and then enjoy lunch in the lovely tea room.

Rodin museum is one of my favorites, as this is a typical French house and a nicely decorated garden with some of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures. The Hotel Biron in central Paris was Rodin’s workshop and where he subsequently donated his entire collection of sculptures to the French state.
The house is worth the visit as it was built in 1727 for the French financier Abraham Peyrenc de Moras, the mansion is a brilliant example of the rocaille architecture movement, fashionable at the time. Here are some works that you shouldn’t miss:
The Kiss
The Gate of Hell
The Thinker

Musée Marmottan is dedicated to Impressionism. It is located in the luxurious 16th arrondissement, overlooking Jardin du Ranelagh. The permanent collection features work by Impressionist masters, Manet, Berthe Morisot, and Renoir. Enjoy the masterpieces in the breathtaking interiors of Musée Marmottan, adorned with Haute époque furniture, and high ceilings. You will also see the beautiful Nymphéas Monet’s painted at the end of his life.