The Best Way to Visit Paris Museums
Updated by Farah in February 2022
Enjoying the city itself is fairly straightforward: you can just wander around without a plan or take a walking tour. If you want to enjoy the Parisian museums however, I truly advise you to plan it beforehand. There are two ways to enjoy the museums in Paris: the tourists’ way (you wait, it’s crowded…) and the Parisian way (secret entrances, avoiding the rush days and hours). Here are some easy tips to learn how to take advantage of the museums in Paris. Consider this article the Parisian guide to get the best experience out of Parisian museums.
When is the Best time to go to Paris museums?
First, I would recommend going to the museums early in the day, before the Parisians do. Not because Parisians are not nice, but because they love going to museums often, so museums tend to get overcrowded pretty quickly. Sometimes, visiting museums can be a bad experience, because you can’t see the paintings, you’re bothered by the noise, and you can’t enjoy your visit.
Having worked all week, Parisians invade the museums during their only free time: on weekends, especially during Sunday afternoons. So, if you want to avoid the Parisian crowd, it would make sense to schedule your visits to the museums during the week.
But, the museums can still get crowded even during the week and over the summer period, as there are a lot of people. One major point to note is that on Mondays, the Louvre is crowded because the Orsay Museum is closed; while on Tuesday, the Orsay Museum is completely crowded because the Louvre Museum is closed.
The best way to visit Paris museums and to have a quiet visit is to go in the morning before the crowd gets in and you will be able to enjoy your visit to a peaceful museum. If you’re an early bird, visiting a museum at its opening guarantees you a good visit. At the end of the article, you will find a list of museums and the best hours to visit them.
There is also a tip that only a few people know: at least once a week, many museums are open in the evening. For instance, the Orsay Museum closes at 9:45 PM every Thursday. If you go to the museums in the evening, it will be less crowded than in the day and the atmosphere will be much more intimate.
Should I get my Tickets beforehand?
The answer is most definitely “yes“. If you want to save some money and some time, here are some things you need to remember before queuing to get your ticket. In most of the Parisian museums, if you live in the European Union and are under 26, entrance is free. You don’t even have to queue to get a ticket, you just have to show your Identity Card at the entrance and you can get in.
If you know precisely which museums you want to visit, don’t hesitate to ask the seller if there is any pass for these precise museums, because you could get discounts on your visits. Otherwise, there is a pass called Paris Museum Pass which allows you to visit more than 60 museums and famous monuments throughout Paris and its suburbs. You can choose between 3 different packs : 2-day Museum Pass, 4-day Pass or the 6-day pass.
You can also purchase the Paris Pass with Viator that includes access to all the best attractions in Paris: hop-on hop-off tour, metro tickets and major museum tickets. Read more about this pass!
With this pass, you can also skip the line and you have an unlimited number of visits to the museums included in the pack you pick. However, this pass is useful and the most interesting, only if you know you’re actually going to visit many museums and monuments during your stay in Paris or if you’re addicted to art. If you prefer strolling avenues in Paris to discover the city, this museum pass is not profitable. For instance, for 2 days, to be worth your money, you have to visit more than 4 museums. For instance, visiting Pompidou, Orsay, Louvre and Pantheon would cost you 52€. So my advice would be for you to think about how many museums you want to visit before actually buying a pass.
If you want to visit the museums with a guide in your own language, audio guides are often available in many languages. But if you need a tour guide present with you and explaining in your language, museums have guided tours starting every hour for 2 hours visits. Another option is to get your own tour guide that will plan your tailored visit of the highlights of the Paris Museums.
If you don’t want to spend your time doing mainstream tourism in Paris only, the city is full of beautiful museums. Also, you can always focus on a special theme by picking only the museums related to what you want to visit.
What are the Two Most Famous museums in Paris?
Musée du Louvre
Opened in the late 18th century, the Louvre is France’s most renowned museum and internationally known museums in the world. It’s the most-visited museum in the world, with more than 10 million visitors in 2018, according to Conde Nast Traveller. Part of a palace complex, it is considered one of the world’s largest museums. An iconic museum, every room in the museum has a lot to offer, from Roman sculptures to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People! You’ll need to plan for a few hours here, plus the wait times — better yet, spend the whole day here, you won’t be disappointed! Check out our article on the Louvre Museum.
Housed in a former railway station, this museum is home to a stunning art collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, a vast collection of sculptures, decorative arts such as furniture and architectural elements. It has more than 3 million visitors a year and you can find works by Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and Monet here. The museum regularly has exhibitions and shows by different artists or has show around different art history subjects that make this place worth visiting anytime you’re in Paris! Check out our article to learn more about the Amazing Artworks you’ll see at the Orsay Museum.
More information about the different museums:
- Louvre Museum: Opens at 9.30 am. Closes at 6 pm. Avoid visiting on Monday, because the museum is closed on Tuesday. Buy Louvre e-tickets (with Tiqets) online (fast-track access).
- Orsay Museum: Opens at 9.30 am. Closes at 9 pm. Avoid visiting on Tuesday, because the museum is closed on Monday. On Thursdays, it’s open until 9.45 pm. Join our Montmartre Tour that includes skip-the-line tickets to the Orsay Museum.
- Musée de l’Orangerie: Half a museum, half a monument. This museum is also a must do in Paris if you love impressionism.
- Musée Marmottan Monet: Focused on Monet’s paintings, this museum is a must do in Paris if you love Impressionism. If you go on Friday around 10 am, the museum should be peaceful without all the crowds.
- Musée Rodin: A beautiful museum that present to you the works of the sculptor Rodin to you in a beautiful town house at the heart of the 7th district. Closed on Monday, you should visit it after your lunch on a sunny day to enjoy a walk in the garden of the museum. Get your tickets with Viator.
- Musée Picasso: Open Tuesday to Sundays 9.30 am – 6 pm. In this museum, located in the Marais neighbourhood, you get the chance to see the works of Picasso but also his own collections. Discover Walks runs a Marais Art Tour that includes cut the line tickets to the Picasso Museum. Learn more here!
- Musée des Invalides (Musée de l’Armée): This is the French Army museum. Through the evolution of the weapons and of the soldiers’ equipment, you can see the History of the French army from the Roman era to the WWII. I would advise you to go at 3 pm or 4 pm, and you can stroll down the boulevard des Invalides and rest on the grass afterward. Tickets include access to Napoleon’s Tomb.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the few tips my article provides! You now know the best way to visit Paris Museums! Enjoy Paris. Enjoy its museums, its art, its history!
See you soon in Paris!