Most museums are free in Paris on the first Sunday of the month (except during summer months when some of them charge) but there are few that are free all year round. You may have to pay for access to temporary exhibitions but here are 5 great free museums in Paris that are well worth a visit.
An architectural jewel of the 19th century, this museum has a magnificent collection of paintings, graphics and etchings from antiquity to the 20th century. Some of the greatest artists the world has known are featured from Monet and Renoir to Rembrandt and Cezanne.
Don’t miss the gorgeous gardens with mosaic lined pools and a lovely coffee shop. A stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysées, it feels like a tiny oasis of tranquillity.
Metro: Champs Elysees Clemenceau; Website: www.petitpalais.paris.fr
In the Marais area, just steps from the picturesque Place des Vosges with its mansions of the seventeenth century and houses from the Middle Ages. The Carnvalet museum is dedicated to the history of Paris, what it looked like before Baron Haussman reorganised the streets and the history of the world’s most popular city from prehistory to today. (Read our review of Musee Carnavalet).
Metro Bastille Saint-Paul or Chemin-Vert; Website www.carnavalet.paris.fr
Musée de la Vie Romantique
A museum in a charming mansion in the heart of the district known as “New Athens”. At the bottom of a tree-lined driveway, next to a flower garden, you will discover two ateliers covered with wisteria and surmounted by a canopy. This is where the Dutch painter Ary Scheffer welcomed Romantic artists of the early twentieth century. This is the neighbourhood of Delacroix, Géricault and George Sand as well as Chopin and Liszt who would meet here at 16 rue Chaptal to exhibit their works and conduct readings. (Read our review of the Museum of Romantic Life)
Metro: Saint-Georges, Pigalle, Blanche, Liège; Website: www.vie-romantique.paris.fr/en
Victor Hugo’s House
Victor Hugo was 30 years old when he moved here with his wife and children. The writer remained there for 16 years on the second floor of the Hotel de Rohan-Guéménée Place des Vosges writing many major works including much of “Les Miserables.”
You can visit the rooms and see many personal belongings.
Metro Bastille Saint-Paul or Chemin-Vert; Website www.maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr/en
Maison de Balzac
In the heart of the 16th arrondissement is the home of one of France’s greatest writers – Honore de Balzac. Now a museum, you can see many of his personal belongings and visit the study where from 1840-1847 he wrote many novels.
Metro: Passy; Website: parismusees.paris.fr/en/balzacs-house