Which Paris Museum is Best to Visit?
Which Paris museum is the best to visit? That’s the question we’ll ponder here, & hopefully I can help you find the one most suited to YOUR taste. Because museums are great & all….but they can also be terribly boring if you’re in the wrong one! What we’ll do here is break down the merits of each museum, cover the highlights, show photos so you know what to expect (sometimes in Paris, the actual museum building is just as beautiful as the art inside), & then suggest who will most enjoy each…& who may not. Then below each museum, I’ll list the nearest fabulous hotel stay, like the sumptuous Shangri-La Hotel, which you’ll find by the Paris Museum of Modern Art.
A little bit of Paris trivia: Which famous Paris hotel did Carrie Bradshaw stay at in “Sex in the City?” Answer: the Hotel Plaza Athenee, which is set along the famed Champs-Elysee.
Map of Paris Museums
Musee De L'Orangerie
Paris Museum of Modern Art
Overview of Top Paris Museums
Below you’ll find a quick overview of each Parisian museum along with their current hours. In parentheses, I’ve noted how long you may want to spend in each. For more information on a particular museum, simply click on the name & it will take you to their website.
Note: The only museums mentioned below that are OPEN on Mondays are the Louvre & the Musee de L’Orangerie.
The Louvre’s unique pyramidal-glass exterior is nearly as famous by now as anything in its interior…
- The Louvre (4-5 Hours) = Quite Possibly, the Most Famous Museum in the World. There is the Louvre: & then there is everything else. The most famous painting here is of course Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” which is oddly small in real life, & always surrounded by a gaggle of tourists ~ but it’s still worth it to see in person! The “Winged Victory” statue is also extremely popular, as is that of “Venus de Milo.” This is one of the largest museums in the world, so if you’re easily overwhelmed ~ you’ll need to hone in on what you really want to see (i.e. the Denon Wing, where much of the most famous artwork lies). They say that to see everything in the Louvre would take more than a WEEK! So pace yourself…
Louvre Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, & Monday, 9AM-6PM. CLOSED on Tuesdays.
- Musee D’Orsay (2-3 Hours) = Home to Great Works by Van Gogh & Monet ~ Set in a Former Rail Station. I LOVE the Musee D’Orsay. It’s my favorite Paris museum: I find it much more accessible & intimate than the Louvre. And it has so many bonuses: the gorgeous upstairs cafe with views of Paris through giant clocks; more recognizable & relatable art than most of what’s in the Louvre; & it’s so close to the Musee de L’Orangerie, so you can visit both in the same afternoon. Plus, they’re open late on Thursdays: come make an evening of it.
Musee D’Orsay Hours: 9:30AM-6PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday; 9:30AM-9:45PM THURSDAYS. CLOSED on Mondays.
- Musee de L’Orangerie (1-2 Hours) = Known for Monet’s Famous “Waterlilies.” Set in the Tuilerie Gardens, close to the Louvre & the Musee D’Orsay, is Musee de L’Orangerie. Their lower levels house Monet’s giant Impressionist masterpieces: his collection of “Waterlilies.” There are other things of interest here: but frankly, I can’t remember anything besides “Waterlilies.” This will be your quickest museum tour in Paris!
L’Orangerie Hours: 9AM-6PM Weds-Monday; CLOSED on Tuesdays.
- Versailles (3-5 Hours) = The Most Famous Palace in the World ~ With Over 60,000 Pieces of Art! Versailles is best-known for its opulent gardens & brilliant “Hall of Mirrors,” but not everyone knows that it houses some of France’s most important art: its massive collection illustrates more than five centuries of French history. Plan to spend a whole day here if you’re a history-lover & interested in viewing their collection, in addition to the palace itself.
Versailles Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9AM-6:30PM; CLOSED on Mondays.
- Paris Museum of Modern Art (2-3 Hours) = Featuring Art of the 20th & 21st-Centuries. Perhaps, history just isn’t your jam. For those more interested in contemporary art by masters such as Matisse, Suisse, & Dufy: the Museum of Modern Art will be more to your liking. And it’s set in a beautiful location along the Seine, in the 16th Arrondisement.
Museum of Modern Art Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-6PM; CLOSED on Mondays.
Photos of the Louvre in Paris
The Louvre is Best For: The first-time Paris visitor ~ who just wants to visit one museum: make it this one. It’s also great for historians & architecture lovers, & those with plenty of time; if you’re in a rush, the Louvre may not be worth it. May be enlightening for older children (12+), but young kids are likely to get bored here, particularly if you want to spend a good chunk of time exploring.
Photos of the Musee D’Orsay
The Musee D’Orsay is Best For: Those who love something a little more intimate & charming: choose the Musee D’Orsay over the Louvre. And if either Monet or Van Gogh is one of your favorite artists: I’d definitely head there. Architecture-buffs will love the grand former railway arches here. And “ladies who lunch” will enjoy partaking in the grand cafe upstairs…
Hotel by the Musee D’Orsay: Caddy-corner to the museum is the sumptuous Hotel D’Orsay.
Photos of L’Orangerie & Versailles
Musee De L’Orangerie is Best For: Monet or Impressionist-lovers who are short on time.
Versailles is Best For: EVERYONE! Garden & nature lovers, history buffs, even children should be mesmerized here & have plenty of room to roam & explore. Plan to spend at least a half-day here ~ or spend the night nearby so you don’t have to rush. If you only have a limited time in Paris, skip it until next time.
Grand Hotel Stays by Versailles: Check into the luxurious, 5-star Waldorf Astoria Versailles ~ Trianon Palace, which is set on the edge of the Versailles gardens, in a historic 1907 building.
Paris Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is Best For: Those who are tired of historical exhibits & anything old: if you want fresh & NEW, more contemporary, & colorful art ~ try the Museum of Modern Art. They also offer workshops & “Discovery Visits” for families, so this is a good option if you’re traveling with children.
Great Hotel by the Paris Museum of Modern Art: The stunning Shangri-La Hotel is just a few blocks from the museum, & offers views of the Eiffel Tower from several rooms. It’s also one of the top brunch spots in Paris.
Other Notable Museum Mentions…
Three of the most famous artists in the world have museums dedicated to them in Paris: Picasso, Monet, & Rodin. These are, the Musee National Picasso-Paris, the Musee Marmottan Monet, & the simply named, Rodin Museum, which is known for its beautiful Sculpture Garden. If you have a particular affinity for one of these artists & don’t mind missing out on some diversity: then a visit to one of these museums may be well worth it.
Which Paris Museum is Best for You to Visit?
I hope this article has helped you hone in on which Paris museum is the best choice for your visit! To read about a handful of amazing hotel stays near the Louvre, read this. For information about some of the most beautiful chateaux in the Loire Valley, click here. Or if you’re interested in checking out a more “haunted” Paris, read my tips for enjoying the city’s creepy catacombs,
Read Next: Best Brunch Spots in Paris, France