Arts and Culture

An art lover’s guide to Paris

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Paris, the city of love, is renowned for being a hub of culture and romance, drawing devotees from around the world to witness its beauty. It is this same beauty that has inspired countless artists throughout the ages to bring their vision and talent to the city, and now you can see the fruits of their labour on your own Parisian art tour. 

Musee des Arts Decoratifs

107 Rue de Rivoli

Just next door to perhaps the most famous of all museums, the Louvre, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is less of an obvious first choice when heading into Paris. Housed in the palatial Rohan and Marsan Wings of the Louvre, the Museum of Decorative Arts houses about 150,000 objets d’art from ceramics to sculpture, furniture and much, much more. 

A sure highlight is the glittering display of jewellery from throughout the ages, carefully curated in the Galerie des Bijoux. Don’t miss the incredible mastery of the paintings from the Italian Renaissance – the Museum offers a less crowded, more intimate viewing experience than the Louvre.

Depending on the timing of your trip, it is highly recommended that you pencil in time to see whatever exhibition is on show, which have showcased art from around the world, including the work of acclaimed fashion designers. 

Musee de Cluny | Musee national du Moyen Age

6 Place Paul Painlevé 

The Cluny Museum, also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is a gem of a find tucked away in the intellectual Latin Quarter, just around the corner from the university of La Sorbonne.

Step off the cobbled street and into this tranquil museum, set inside a Gothic Museum filled with ornate, elaborate works from mediaeval times. Not to be missed is the remarkably intricate tapestry of La Dame a la Licorne, or the Lady and the Unicorn, created in the late 15th century from thousands upon thousands of tiny, complicated stitches. 

There are also centuries-old stained glass windows to admire, illustrating various religious scenes from Christianity in enchanting detail that seems to glow from within. 

Musee Rodin

79 Rue de Varenne 

Set in the venerable mansion house that was once the Hotel Biron, the Musee Rodin is a must-see on your visit to Paris. You’ll find a retreat from the bustling streets inside the walls of the estate, with its sizeable grounds making it easy to forget you are in the middle of France’s most populated city. 

Inside the grand building, you’ll be able to go up close and personal with some of the sculptor’s most famous works, such as The Age of Bronze, which, when it was first revealed in the early 1900s, saw Rodin being accused of using a life cast of the model too achieve such perfect proportion. 

You’ll also spy several iterations of what is perhaps Rodin’s most well-known piece, the Thinker, both indoors and out in the garden.

Musee de l’Orangerie

Jardin des Tuileries

Tucked away in the corner of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Orangerie is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful places in Paris. Its whitewashed walls form a soothing backdrop to the impressionistic masterpieces that are Claude Monet’s Nympheas, or Water? Lilies. What makes this permanent exhibition unique, is that the paintings arch around the curved space, creating a soothing optical illusion.

You can easily lose track of time awash in the blue and green hues of the pond and the willow trees, the rippled patina of the water sometimes making it difficult to tell what is a reflection and what is not. Head downstairs and you’ll find more impressionist and post-impressionist works.

Musee d’Orsay 

1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur

One of the most beloved museums in Paris, the Musee d’Orsay started life as the train station Gare d’Orsay. Now the lofty art deco building houses a wide range of art from classical sculptures to works of impressionists, modernists, Renaissance artists and Dutch masters. 

Stroll through the main sculpture gallery, encased by the glass roof that crowns the building and gaze upwards to where the station clock still hangs, in perfect working order. Some of the stars of the d’Orsay include works by Edgar Degas, such as his Small Dancer sculpture and the Ballet Class painting. 

Master sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux is also well-represented here, as are painters William Bouguereau and Edouard Manet. It’s well worth the walk up to the top floor for the view out over the river Seine. 

Musee du Louvre 

We hardly need to explain the allure of the Louvre, in all its magnificence, but there are a few things you should know. You’re more likely to have a quieter experience during off-peak seasons away from summer and the school holidays, but it’s also worth remembering that the museum is open late until 9:45 p.m on Wednesdays and Fridays, when all the school and tour groups will have cleared out. You’ll also get to see the museum bathed in golden light, a treat in itself.  

Additionally, the museum is closed on Tuesday, and you’ll get free admission from October to March on the first Sunday of the month. Try getting to the Passage Richelieu entrance underground early to skip the mammoth queues. 

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