10 must-visit art galleries in Paris

  • History & culture
  • France
  • 6 min read
10 must-visit art galleries in Paris

From great municipal museums to minimalist modern galleries, Renaissance portraits to pop art, Paris has everything to offer the art lover.

Paris might be the city of love, but it’s also the city of art. So many artists made Paris their home and found inspiration there that it could hardly be anything other than one of the world’s great cities of the visual arts.

There are around 130 museums and galleries in Paris, and these are just 10 of them. Some are hard to miss, others might take some seeking out, but we would recommend a visit to any one of them (and some might even be free).

The Louvre

The Louvre museum with the Eiffel Tower in the background and a fountain in the foreground

The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world and one of France’s leading tourist attractions. Its highlights speak for itself: the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo are worth the entrance fee alone (sadly you won’t be alone in wanting to see them), but there is much else to pack in.

The Louvre displays 35,000 works of art, including masterpieces by Caravaggio, Massys, Raphael, Vermeer, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. If you are doing Paris on a shoestring, the Louvre palace and iconic glass pyramid are worth seeing just from the outside. Entry to the Tuileries Garden is also free.

Nearest Metro: Louvre – Rivoli.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Specialising in contemporary artists, Thaddaeus Ropac has two galleries in Paris, one in Pantin in the northern suburbs and the other in the 3rd arrondissement. The latter is the one that makes our list, its four floors full of arresting modern art from the likes of Andy Warhol, Antony Gormley, Gilbert and George and Elaine Sturtevant.

The gallery holds exhibitions throughout the year and is open from Tuesday to Saturday. The Marais area is a haven for galleries and museums, along with hip cafés, shops and restaurants.

Nearest Metro: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart.

The Centre Pompidou

A striking modern building, with stairwells and pipes visible on the outside, and people in the foreground taking photographs

Less a gallery, more a futuristic city in itself, the Pompidou Centre is unforgettable on first sight – its exposed colour coded pipes, elevators and stairwells out of step with the carefully arranged boulevards it sits amid. But that is the point. When opened in 1977 it was a revolutionary concept in multi-disciplinary artistic space. It houses the National Museum of Modern Art – the largest collection of modern art in Europe – a vast public library and a centre for music and acoustic research. 
On the first Sunday of each month entry to the permanent collection of the Pompidou Centre is free.

Nearest Metro: Rambuteau.

Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

Just around the corner from Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is another shrine to modern art. Young art lover Emmanuel Perrotin opened his first gallery in the 3rd arrondissement in 1990, and he now has galleries in Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai.  Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin celebrates contemporary art and design, with a strong emphasis on Japanese and French artists. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be challenged by what you see in Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin.

Nearest Metro: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart.

Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

Neo-classical gallery or museum building on a wide city street with a French flag flying

The Grand Palais is one of Paris’s great buildings. It was built in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition. The glass roof is its signature feature, but so huge is the Grand Palais that restoration work went on for ten years from 1994 while exhibitions continued in other wings of the building.

What will you see here? Major international exhibitions (past shows have included Monet, Turner, Chagall and Gaugin) and museum space dedicated to the fine arts, photography and graphic design. Stepping into the great space of the vast entrance hall is a moment to savour.

Nearest Metro: Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau.

Galerie Daniel Templon

Galerie Daniel Templon was another breakthrough gallery, founded by 21-year old Daniel Templon in 1966. Templon helped to introduce conceptual, minimalist and pop art to France in the late 60s and early 70s, showing the work of Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein among others. His gallery remains committed to the best in contemporary art. Close to the Pompidou Centre, this unassuming gallery could not be more different – sandwiched between a burger restaurant and a locksmiths on one of the more humdrum streets of the Marais district. But step inside and you will be amazed by the art on show.

Nearest Metro: Rambuteau.

Musée National Rodin

NBronze sculpture ‘The Thinker’ on a plinth among ornamental bushes in front of a stately house

The sculptor Auguste Rodin bequeathed his works to the French state in 1909 and asked for them to be displayed in the Hotel Biron, an 18th-century mansion in the 7th arrondissement where he had lived for a time. In 1919 this became the National Rodin Museum.

The museum and gardens house all of Rodin’s great works, including The Thinker and The Kiss, along with thousands of casts, drawings and photographs. Rodin collected voraciously, and paintings by Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir are here too. Many of the famous sculptures are displayed in natural settings in the attractive gardens. If all you want to see are the gardens separate tickets are available.

Nearest Metro: Varenne.

Galerie Marian Goodman

Marian Goodman opened her first gallery in New York in 1977, with the Paris gallery following in 1995. Goodman has represented over 50 contemporary artists including Steve McQueen and William Kentridge, and this space in the Marais reflects her passion for modern art in all its forms.

One of the finest contemporary art galleries in Paris, Galerie Marian Goodman is more than just an exhibition space; Marian runs an educational program with art teachers in New York and Paris, nurturing young artists and developing an interest in the arts among students and children. The Paris gallery has an art library on the same street.

Nearest Metro: Rambuteau.

Petit Palais

The Petit Palais is the sister building to the Grand Palais. They are directly opposite each other on the Avenue Winston-Churchill and were both built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. ‘The Little Palace’ has been Paris’s Musée des Beaux-Arts since its inauguration, and houses fine collections of artworks from antiquity to the 20th century. Masterpieces by Rembrandt and Dürer are some of the highlights of its paintings, sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, fabrics and furniture. Once you’ve had your fill of art, take the air and relax in the tranquil courtyard and garden.

Nearest Metro: Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau.

Musée d’Orsay

A large station-like building on the banks of a wide city river as the sun sets

Look over to the left bank of the Seine from the Tuileries Garden and you will spy another monumental art museum. The Musée d’Orsay was a railway station until it was converted into a museum in 1986. Focusing on French art from the 1840s to the early 1900s, it holds the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, including works by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas.

Walking round the Musée d’Orsay you realise that a former railway station makes a brilliant gallery space. Sunshine streams in through the huge windows and glass roof, flooding the main station hall with natural light and giving new perspectives to the items on display.

Nearest Metro: Solférino.

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