23 May My Favorite Museums in Paris
Some of my favorite museums are located in Paris, and there are many throughout the city to keep you occupied for days. While I have yet to visit each and every one, I have wandered through enough to pick a few favorites. Here is a look at four of my favorite museums in Paris.
My absolute favorite museum is the Musée d’Orsay. I LOVE looking at impressionist and post-impressionist art in person, and this museum displays some of the best pieces ever painted by artists such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Renior. It is home to more impressionist and post-impressionist art than any other museum in the world. Studying these paintings and looking at the way the paint is layered and combined with all the little brush strokes of so many varying colors draws me in. It is mind boggling to me to see how all of this works together to create a beautiful painting–my analytical self loves to study the little strokes to see how they combine to create the overall image. Once Micah was able to pull me away from the the Impressionist Gallery we buzzed through the rest of the building admiring the many other works of art, from sculptures, to furniture, to photography and other paintings. The building is impressive as well–it was constructed inside of an old train station, Gare d’Orsay, which was built in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. The train station closed in 1939 due to the fact that the platforms in the station became too short for the longer trains that were then being used. After its closure, the station had numerous faces, but it wasn’t until 1986 that it officially opened its doors as a museum. The great hall still resembles its past as a train station–it is beautiful with its arched ceiling and giant clocks adorning the walls of glass. The museum is closed on Monday, but open the rest of the week from 9:30am to 6pm, except on Thursdays when it is open late, until 9:45pm. We visited Thursday evening which was a great time because the crowds were less than when I previously visited during the day.
My favorite aspect of the Musée Rodin is that the majority of it is located outside–it is lovely to wander outside and get some fresh air when you are taking in the sights. The most famous sculpture Rodin created is The Thinker, the bronze sculpture that sits on a marble pedestal. The sculpture on display is the first one that was cast out of Rodin’s mold; there were around 28 other versions made from this same cast. The Hôtel Biron is the mansion that is home to the inside portion of the museum; it is a beautiful building and a great place to escape to if the weather isn’t cooperating. There is also a nice little bright and airy cafe located in the gardens–we stopped in the cafe to grab a coffee and croissant and it was enjoyable being able to look at the gardens while we rested. This museum is closed on Monday, but open the rest of the week from 10:00am to 5:45pm, except on Wednesday when it is open late, until 8:45pm.
I think the most interesting part of the Louvre is not necessarily the art, but the actual building itself. Sure, some amazing pieces of art call the Louvre their home, but in my mind the building’s history and beautifully detailed rooms surpass any other aspect of the museum. The pyramid and Gardens Tuileries are both beautiful as well.
The building has changed hands many times throughout its history, but for the majority of its past life, it was a fortress and palace. The Louvre was originally built in 1180 as a fortress; throughout the years, there were defense walls and a moat built around the fort. Eventually, in the 1300s, the Louvre began its transition into a royal residence and switched hands many times for hundreds of years to come. Louis XIV left the Louvre to build himself the Palace of Versailles instead, though it’s no doubt he left his touch on the Louvre. If you have any knowledge of Versailles, you know that Louis XIV goes all out with the fixtures and details when crafting himself a home, so its no wonder the building is a masterpiece. When walking through the museum, you can marvel at the ornate designs of the building itself, and the fortress remnants are still visible in the museum’s basement today, which is also fun to walk through. Some amazing pieces of art make the Louvre their home as well, such as the Mona Lisa; although, due to its small size the Mona Lisa pales in comparison to the Veronese’s Wedding of Cana, the museums largest painting, on the wall opposite it.
The Louvre is closed Tuesday, and open from 9am-6pm the remainder of the week except for Wednesday and Friday when it is open until 9:45pm. We visited the Louvre during its evening hours as well–I really enjoyed doing this because both museums seemed much more relaxed and quiet than during the day.
Musée des Arts et Métiers:
I was pleasantly surprised with this museum. We were not planning on visiting the museum of arts and crafts, but changed our minds when we read the description and realized it was a couple blocks away from our apartment. The museum is dedicated to invention and technology and displays over 80,000 gadgets, instruments and machines from all the way back in the 16th century to today. Both Micah and I enjoy looking at everyday items that were used throughout history, and one of the exhibits showcases items such as phones, computers, cameras and music players from their invention to their modern day counterparts. It is interesting to see all the different versions of these gadgets displayed right next to each other, as it gives you a glimpse at how they have evolved over time. There are also exhibits showcasing cars, planes, robots and even a copy of Foucault’s Pendulum, which proved back in the mid 1850’s that the world rotated. The museum is located right outside the Arts de Métiers metro station, which is an elaborate station that was built to look like you are inside a machine. The museum is closed Mondays, and is open 10-6 Tuesday-Sunday except on Thursday when it is open until 9:30pm.
If you visit any of these museums, always be sure to double check opening and closing times, as they are subject to change!
Have you been to any of these museums? Which Paris museum is your favorite?
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