Best Way to Visit the Pompidou Centre in Paris
The Centre Pompidou is one of Paris’ most renowned art establishments. The museum sits proudly in le Marais, with a facade that is a work of art in its own right. The building has been called one of the 20th century’s most influential examples of architecture.
A visit to the museum is a must for anyone who is visit Paris for the first, second and even third time. It’s very much a piece of history, and should it cease to exist for any reason in future, it will be quite something to be able to claim to have seen it during its prime.
Currently, the museum houses collections spanning from Matisse to Marcel Duchamp, along with some of the finest photographic works in the world. Here’s how to take on this artistic wonder in a single day:
Hours: Wednesday to Monday — 11am to 9pm
ADDRESS: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
Metro STATION: Rambuteau
Take an Early Start
There are 7 levels to the Center Pompidou. It’s expansive, though not impossible to conquer in a single day if you time things properly.
If you do intend to see the museum start to finish, I highly recommend you make an early start. Consequently, the museum actually only opens at 11am daily, so by early, I mean get there at 10am so that you can get your tickets and gain access.
Starting at opening hour means you’ll have around 10 hours during which to complete all 7 floors, which is ample time. A break in between is necessary, but I’ll elaborate further on this shortly…
Get Ahead of the Queue
Upon arrival at the center, you’ll see two distinct lines forming on either side of the entrance. The shorter is the line for people who booked their tickets in advance, and it moves much faster than the other.
The longer line is for those who need to buy tickets at the door, and this can come with quite a wait if you are visiting during peak season.
A tip? While standing outside the museum, use your phone to purchase tickets online. This way, you can report directly to the shorter queue, and avoid having to wait in the longer one. If you’ve come from an international country and do not have service on your phone, there are a number of cafes lining the outside stress to the center, and they will let you use their WiFi to connect.
You’ve got a long day ahead of you, and ti will be a good few hours before you break for lunch during your visit. I recommend having a hearty breakfast prior to heading to the museum, and upon arrival, make your way to the cafe at the top of the center for a tea and croissant.
This is just a bit of extra fuel to get you through the first few floors. Your body will thank you for the extra energy, and you’ll find yourself less distracted by your stomach as you move through the space.
Work Your Way Top to Bottom
There is much debate about the best way to view the museum itself; bottom up, or top down.
Personally, I find that starting at the top of the center, and working your way to the bottom, is the most enjoyable path for this particular museum layout. You can use your discretion, but they upper levels tend to fly by, which makes the rest of the museum feel palatable even before one has stopped for lunch.
There are some exhibits at the Center Pompidou that work off of time slots. Ask about these upon arrival, so that you can make your way to the respective floor in time.
Opt for Comfy Shoes
While there are lifts available, much of this museum is bound together by the intricate interconnectedness of the colorful stairwells that line the walls of the building. It’s a lot of walking, and you’ll be grateful to have left your hells or clogs back at the hotel.
Boots that are broken in, and sneakers are the most suitable choice of footwear when visiting the center. Try not to carry too many items during your visit, too. Even a moderately packed handbag can start to feel like a sack of potatoes by level 3.
Take Advantage of the Coat Check
The museum does well in keeping the space very well regulated when it comes to temperature. In the summer it’s cool, and in the winter its toasty.
Make use of the coat check that is available to all ticket holders on level 1.
Enjoy Lunch in le Marais
While there are two dining spots within the museum itself, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either of them for a true Parisian lunch during your visit to the center. The food is to-go style, and consists mostly of sandwiches and a few pastries.
You’re in the heart of Paris, and just outside the museum are streets lined with some of the best cuisines the city has to offer. Your admission ticket is valid for the entire day, so you are allowed to enter and exit as you please.
When it’s time to eat, walk yourself out onto the main road and find somewhere to put your feet up for an hour or so. Your body and brain will be grateful for the break, and you’ll feel more prepared for the final floors when it comes time to go back inside.
Visit for Free…
…on the first Sunday of the month! This is a wonderful perk that the museum offers, and will save you the €14 cost of admission.
Arrive early; there is no way to pre-book your entry on this day, and it’s first come first serve.