How to get the most from a Parisian art trip
The city of lights is known for many things. From its decadent café culture to moonlit walks along the Seine, there is no shortage of reasons to plan an extended holiday to Paris. The city’s rich historical, architectural, culinary and artistic history is another point of interest, and many immediately rush to the more famous museums first, including the Louvre
It’s possible to find amazing Parisian holiday deals while exploring this vibrant city’s artistic community.
Begin with the Big Names
Some of the most expensive, impressive and beloved works of art from across Europe are housed in a few of Paris’ most well-known museums. No holiday in this artistic hub would be complete without spending at least a few days exploring these artistic repositories:
The Louvre – Otherwise known as the most exquisite and famous museum in the world, the Louvre is the best, albeit most obvious, first stop on your artistic trek through Paris. From the “Mona Lisa” and the “Venus de Milo” to works by the biggest names in painting and sculpture, including Rodin, Rembrandt and Vermeer, the Louvre is one of those places everyone should experience.
Musee d’Orsay – You’ve taken in some of the world’s most elegant examples of classical art at the Louvre. Now it’s time to literally bridge the gap between classical and modern art by visiting the Musee d’Orsay. The tranquil, airy three-story museum houses the world’s most important collection of impressionist and post-impressionist artwork, including Monet’s famous “Water Lilies.”
Petit Palais – Within footsteps of the fabled Champs-Elysees lays the Petit Palais, which houses a massive 1,300 piece collection of artwork and sculpture. From Courbet and Delacroix to Monet, the newly-renovated structure is an art enthusiast’s paradise. The best part of this experience is the price, as admittance to the permanent collection is free.
Explore the Lesser Known Museums of Paris
You’ve performed your due diligence by exploring the most historically significant artwork housed in Paris, now it’s time to take a few steps off the well-worn track and explore some of the city’s lesser-known museums:
Musee de la Curiosite et de la Magie
You might not find Paris’ Museum of Curiosity and Magic in the Marais district in your guidebook, but this quirky little collection is worth checking out. The interactive exhibits will keep the kids entertained while you explore fascinating curiosities owned by some of the world’s greatest magicians, including Harry Houdini.
Le Musee des Egouts de Paris
If you speak French, you’re probably scratching your head and rereading the museum’s name a few times. You’re not seeing things though, as this is in fact the Museum of Sewage from Paris. The first sewers were constructed in Paris during the 14th century, although major improvements and expansions didn’t occur until almost 1850. Walking through the now defunct sewer systems provides a unique perspective of this otherwise cosmopolitan city.
The Cuisine of Paris
You’ve seen every famous painting, sculpture, modern art exposition and installation imaginable, now it’s time to explore the second best reason to holiday in Paris, the food. Luckily you don’t need to travel too far to sample some of the city’s best cuisine. The Grand Louvre is stored inside the museum’s main lobby and offers you a respite from the claustrophobic crowds along with some modestly-priced entrées. Originally a 20th century railroad station, the Restaurant de Musee d’Orsay presents you with a more formal atmosphere, although dining on the expensive cuisine also requires holding onto your museum ticket.
Explore Your Artistic Side
From Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter to Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde, Paris has ignited, invigorated and inspired some of the great artists, authors and poets of the last few centuries. Even if you have trouble with a stick figure, don’t hesitate to explore your artistic side while visiting the city. Many tour groups provide you with the necessary tools to help capture some of Paris’ most beloved landmarks.
The atmosphere of Paris is forever evolving, so don’t tie yourself down to the past and instead explore the city’s contemporary art scene. This can be as simple as walking down the streets, as many of the most promising artists throughout the city express themselves through graffiti and outdoor murals.
About the Author: Marie Sampson is a travel blogger and frequent visitor to Paris. Marie is planning her next trip to Paris to include a tour of the city’s lesser-known art galleries. She lives most of her time, however, in her native Galway.