10 Best Musueums to Checkout in France

I’ll never forget my first visit to France. I spent every minute exploring iconic landmarks like the Palace of Versailles and the Tuileries Garden.

On your visit, you’ll want to soak up every bit of France’s culture, which is why I always recommend visiting museums while you’re in a new country. These are the best museums in France to add to your itinerary.

1. Musée de l’Armée

best museums in France
Best museums in France – Army Musueum in Paris

If you’re like me, you probably picture revolutions, cannonballs and flags waving over historic battlefields when someone mentions France. Its history is rich in conflict and growth, all of which you can see during a stroll through the Musée de l’Armée.

The stunning museum has suits of armor and weaponry stretching back centuries. I was most surprised to see Napoleon’s tomb, sitting in an impressive marble room watched by angelic statues. His

 remains were placed inside the museum’s dome in 1840 and still draw tourists today. I know I would have stopped by sooner if I’d known he was resting among the artifacts.

2. Musée National Picasso

The moment I walked into the Musée National Picasso, the open marble ceilings, wrought iron stairwells, and flood of natural lighting dazzled me. The art was even more impressive. Pablo Picasso arranged for his work to start a museum after he died in 1973, so now you can see nearly 300 paintings, 400 sculptures and notebooks used by Picasso himself.

It’s an elegant step back through time you won’t want to miss while you’re visiting the best museums in France. You’ll have a new perspective every time you see his art recreated on postcards, notebooks and more.

3. Cité du Vin

Visiting the Cité du Vin was high on my bucket list. The curving building stretches into the sky with glass panels and yellow stripes. Inside, visitors can experience rotating sensory exhibitions about the history of wine. It was just as striking as when I stargazed in Hawaii or explored the glaciers of Iceland. When I make your tour of France, I know you’ll enjoy the wine tastings and restaurants tucked within the arching walls. 

4. Musée du Louvre  

A group of people looking at statues in a museum.
A group of people looking at statues in a museum.

I’ve seen the Louvre in plenty of films and TV shows, but walking inside its glass pyramid still took my breath away. The spacious galleries and vivid colors bring its famous paintings to life. I spent an entire afternoon browsing exhibitions about the history of French filmmaking and Renaissance paintings.

This is one of the most-visited museums in France because there’s so much to see. It would take one person over 100 days of 24-hour exploring to see everything on display. Set reasonable expectations for your visit so you don’t feel rushed to move through exhibitions. It’s always better to take your time. I’ll forever be glad I did at the Musée du Louvre.

5. Musée National d’Art Moderne

Travelers who want a little bit of everything in their vacations should stop by the Musée National d’Art Moderne in France.

The founders wanted every discipline to have a home under its roof, so it displays modern and contemporary art alongside a public library, musical research, rooms for musicians to create music and tributes to industrialization. I know there’s no end to what I’ll learn when I visit, which is why I’m so excited to return.

6. Musée Carnavalet

I felt like I was in a royal garden when I saw the Musée Carnavalet. It’s one of the best museums in France for more than the pristine shrubs and flowers welcoming its visitors. The expansive museum walks tourists and artists alike through the history of France, so plan your memorable dinner cruises and show reservations later in the evening. I spent hours marveling at statues, artifacts and paintings lovingly displayed on every wall.

7. Grande Galerie de l’Évolution

Anyone who loves science as much as I do must see the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution. The science museum’s collective exhibits showcase how biodiversity is the key to all living things. I snapped a million photos of the floral displays, plus the statues of animals throughout time. The gallery even occasionally has art from surrounding museums, so there’s always something new to see when I visit.

8. Musée National de l’Orangerie

Art awaits within and outside of the Musée National de l’Orangerie. I couldn’t believe I was walking past historic sculptures made over a hundred years ago when I approached the building, but they’re all over the property. Once inside, I adored the high ceilings and unique interior design within each room. Don’t miss out on standing in the middle of Claude Monet’s room-encompassing Water Lillies, which took his entire life to complete.

9. Louvre-Lens

The Louvre has multiple locations, which is why I also made a point of visiting the Louvre-Lens. I couldn’t wait to see what one of the most-visited museums in France could reveal during a weekend trip to Lens. 

It has fascinating Japanese architecture, drawing visitors inside its glass and aluminum walls. Once I walked through its towering doors, I saw sculptures and paintings made between the 4th century BC to nearly the 19th century. They even showcase collections from various cultures since France exists today as a testament to cultural diversity.

10. Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Great domed ceilings, marble hallways and exhibits overlooking other displays dazzle people who visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It’s one of the last museums on my travel bucket list for French adventures. The displays cover all kinds of art, including textiles and fabrics.

I dream about seeing the royal gowns, antique furniture and 18th-century clothing under the museum’s soft lighting. There’s even vintage jewelry and decor from across the centuries. If traveling painters don’t leave inspired to make something new, fashionistas will most definitely finish their tour with a new perspective on their own art.

Learn from the best museums in France

These are some of the most-visited museums in France because they’re as breathtaking as they are educational. Treat yourself to some of my favorite locations the next time you’re in the country. You’ll have an incredible time, no matter what you look forward to seeing from history, science or art exhibitions.

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