Free things to do in Paris: Museums and exhibitions
Budget travel is a great way to travel a lot and explore new countries. And although Paris is not unreasonably considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, we tell you where you can save money on entertainment, which free museum is worth checking out, how to get to the exhibition, and in which passageway is better to take shelter in case of bad weather. For your convenience all mentioned places are marked on the interactive map at the end of the article.
Even more imbued with the atmosphere of Paris and learn a lot of interesting things you can on walks with an audio guide! A personalized tour for the price of a cup of coffee? Download the app at this link for iOS and at this link for Android.
Free museums in Paris
Museum of Modern Art
The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is within walking distance of the Champs-Elysées and the Place du Trocadéro in the Palais de Tokyo. Free of charge you can visit its permanent collection of paintings by artists of the first half of the 20th century (Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Chagall and others). And from the steps of the museum you have a great view of the Eiffel Tower without the crowds of tourists.
Address: Avenue du Président Wilson, 11 (16th district) Metro: Alma-Marceau or Iéna (line 9) Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; Thu-10pm Website: www.mam.paris.fr
Little Palace (Petit Palais) appeared in Paris as an exhibition pavilion of the World’s Fairs. Now it is the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, the permanent collection which can be seen for free. Inside there are collected artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, medieval household items, old books, jewelry, unique furniture and paintings. For example, you can see Rembrandt’s “Self-Portrait with a Poodle”. Also in the museum there is a beautiful garden in the courtyard, a good souvenir store and a cafe.
Address: Avenue Winston Churchill (8th district) Metro: Champs-Elysées Clemenceau (lines 1 and 13) Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Fri 9pm Website: www.petitpalais.paris.fr
Theater Atelier Brancusi – basement of the Centre Pompidou
Constantin Brancusi was a Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer who became famous in France. He has been called the pioneer of modernism. Brancusi bequeathed his studio to the French state, and it has been fully recreated in the basement of the Pompidou Center. Here you can see the master’s work in a completely free exhibition. If you also want to see the main collections of the center, we advise you to buy tickets online and not to stand in line at the entrance.
Address: Place Georges Pompidou (District 4) Metro: Rambuteau (line 11) Open daily from 2 to 6 p.m. Website: www.centrepompidou.fr/en/Collections/Brancusi-s-Studio
Museum of Romantic Life
Only in Paris could a museum with such a pretty name appear. It is located near the famous cabaret Moulin Rouge. Once lived in a mansion at the foot of Montmartre court painter Ari Schaeffer. He taught drawing to the children of King Louis-Philippe, was friends with Delacroix and Ingres, with Chopin and Liszt, and hosted Turgenev and Dickens in his house.
Today at the Musee de La Vie Romantique, the first floor is devoted entirely to the writer Georges Sand and the second to the life of the painter Schaeffer. Here you can see a cast of Chopin’s hand. Also in the museum there is a fashionable cafe – Rose Bakery tea salon, the walls of which are decorated with paintings. And in good weather you can sit at a small table in the garden, coffee costs 5, a muffin at 7-8 euros.
Address: Hôtel Scheffer-Renan, Rue Chaptal, 16 (9th arrondissement) Metro: Pigalle (lines 2 and 12) or Blanche (line 2) Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm Website: museevieromantique.paris.fr
The Zadkine House Museum
Near the Jardin du Luxembourg, you will find the house where the sculptor and poet of Russian origin, Osip Zadkine, lived and worked for nearly 40 years. The museum (Musee Zadkine) displays cubist wood and stone works exhibited in Tokyo, London and Grenoble. Photos from Zadkine’s minimalist home and garden would grace any Instagram profile.
Address: bis Rue d’Assas, 100 (6th district) Metro: Notre-Dame des Champs (line 12) or Vavin (line 4) Opening hours: Fri-Sun 10am-6pm Website: www.zadkine.paris.fr
Bourdelle House Museum
Emile Antoine Bourdelle was a famous sculptor and student of Rodin. His house-museum (Musée Bourdelle) contains many works in plaster, bronze and marble. In addition, Bourdelle not only created but also collected works of art, so you can admire works by Rodin, Monticelli, Ingres and Delacroix himself inside the mansion for free.
Address: Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 18 (15th district) Metro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe (lines 4, 6, 12, 13) or Falguière (line 12) Opening hours: Sat 10am to 6pm Website: www.bourdelle.paris.fr
Balzac House Museum
Balzac lived in a modest mansion on Rue Reinoir, where the museum (Maison de Balzac) is located today. In addition to the personal belongings of the writer you can see paintings and furniture of the 17th-18th centuries and from the garden you can admire the Eiffel Tower and the Parisian rooftops.
Address: 47 Rue Raynouard (16th arrondissement) Metro: Passy (line 6) or La Muette (line 9) Opening hours: Mon-Fri from 10:00 to 18:00 Website: www.maisondebalzac.paris.fr
Victor Hugo House Museum
In the Marais area you can find the house-museum of one of the most famous French writers – Victor Hugo. This is where the famous “Les Miserables” was written. You can visit the permanent collection of the museum for free and see the writer’s library, manuscripts, drawings and paintings. And for true admirers of Hugo’s work we have compiled an itinerary of walks in places from Hugo’s novels.
Address: Place des Vosges, 6 (6th District) Metro: Bastille (lines 1, 5 and Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Website: www.maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr
The Musée Curie near the Panthéon is a history and science exhibition with exhibits on the discovery of radioactivity and its medical applications. Explore the photos and diaries of the couple, the chemistry lab of the Radium Institute, and learn how the Curie Foundation helps fight cancer.
Address: Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 1 (5th district) Metro: Place Monge (line 7) or Cardinal Lemoine (line 10) Opening hours: Wed-Sat 1pm to 5pm (closed July 29 to September 4 for the summer vacations) Website: musee.curie.fr
Museum of Fragonard perfumes
Not far from the Opera Garnier is the most famous perfume museum (Fragonard Musée du Parfum). Here you will learn a lot about the history of perfumery and the origins of the Fragonard brand, look at antique distillers, admire the chandeliers and the openwork staircase railings inside the mansion. And though the museum visit is free, prepare for expenses, because you won’t want to leave without buying spirits after the tour.
Lovers of fine French perfumes will also find a list of the best stores in Paris useful. And on an individual tour with a Russian-speaking guide (you can sign up here) you can choose a unique fragrance and learn about the rarest ingredients used to create compositions.
Address: 3-5, Square de l’Opéra-Louis Jouvet (9th arrondissement) Metro: Opéra (lines 3, 7 and Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm (last access 5pm) Website: musee-parfum-paris.fragonard.com
Exhibitions of paintings in modern galleries of Paris
Paris has always been and remains a city of artists. Look at the paintings of contemporary painters is often free, and sometimes you are also treated to cheese and wine: just come early for the opening of the exhibition. Paris’ best galleries are concentrated in the Marais, but check the posters on the streets of the city – an exposition may well be organized in a flower shop or clothing store.
Addresses of the most famous galleries:
- Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac: Rue Debelleyme, 7
- Yvon Lambert Paris: Rue Vieille-du-Temple, 108.
- Galerie du Jour – agnès b: Rue Quincampoix, 44
- GDM: Rue Saint-Gilles,17
- Galerie Chantal Crousel: Rue Charlot, 10.
The Most Beautiful Covered Passages in Paris
The indoor Parisian passages can be called the first shopping malls. They began to appear in the city at the beginning of the 19th century and became a favorite place for walks and shopping. Passages preserved in the city allow you to feel the enchanting atmosphere of ancient Paris. There are always a variety of stores, patisseries and cafes hiding inside, but most importantly – there is no rain and wind. And it’s a great place for photo shoots if you get there early.
- Passages des Panoramas (1800): Boulevard Montmartre, 11
- Gallerie Vivienne (1823): Rue de la Banque, 5
- Passage du Grand C erf (1825): Passage du Grand Cerf, 8
- Passage Véro-Dodat (1826): Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 19
- Passage Jouffroy (1836): Boulevard Montmartre, 10-12.
And don’t forget that in Paris you can visit many attractions and all the churches for free, including Notre Dame Cathedral and the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur.
Now you know where the best free museums and galleries in Paris are located. Even more useful tips about Paris, you can find in our app Paris10 for Android and iPhone. Enjoy your vacation!
Free museums in Paris
The list of museums free to visit in Paris has offerings for all tastes. What particularly appeals to me about them is the sparseness and chamberiness of the setting. You can go in for a while, take a look, wander around leisurely, without the tourist frenzy.
In the capital of France there are several dozen world famous, popular (and expensive) museums: the Louvre, Jacques-André, d’Orsay, Orangerie and others. The city can be proud of its rich historical and artistic heritage, but it has also made culture accessible to everyone.
Permanent exhibitions of museums belonging to the city are free. In Paris, there are 13 municipal museums open to the public free of charge.
Historical Museum of Carnival
This remarkable museum reveals to the general public the history of life in Paris. The Musée Carnavalet is the largest of all the free Parisian museums. It is located in the Marais quarter, in the Renaissance mansion Hôtel de Carnavalet and its neighboring building. Surrounded by old houses, it hides cozy courtyards with rose gardens, flowerbeds and beautiful statues.
There are a hundred rooms in the museum. Through its collections, organized in a strict chronological order, you can trace the rich history of life in Paris. There are elements of furnishings of palaces, secular salons and stores; items of celebrities, old signs, engravings, documents and maps are exhibited. At Carnival exhibitions you can see three-dimensional models showing what Paris looked like in different times. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 16 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris. Web site: carnavalet.paris.fr. The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00, closed on Mondays.
Map of free museums in Paris
Museum of Modern Art
Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris
The eastern wing of the elegant Palais de Tokyo is home to the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris. Here are more than 8,000 outstanding works of art. Among them are paintings by Picasso, works by Malevich, César and Modigliani. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum regularly holds temporary exhibitions and research seminars. There is a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower on the outdoor terrace of the Palais. Read more about the Palais de Tokyo here.
Address: 11 Avenue du Président Wilson 75116 Paris. Website: mam.paris.fr. Open from 10:00 to 18:00, on Thursday until 22:00. Mondays off.
Petit Palais – Museum of Fine Arts
Le Petit Palais
Le Petit Palais, between the Champs-Elysées and the Promenade, facing the Grand Palais, was built in 1900. Since 1902 it has housed an exhibition of the Musée des Beaux-arts, covering the period from antiquity to the 20th century. Permanent exhibitions feature Dutch and Flemish paintings, Italian and French Renaissance works. Temporary exhibitions are free for children up to 13 years old. The permanent Petit Palais exhibition is free. For more information on the Petit Palais, click here.
Address: Avenue Winston Churchill , 75008 Paris. Web site: petitpalais.paris.fr. Open 10:00 to 18:00, Wednesday until 20:00. Monday is the day off.
Honore Balzac House Museum
Maison de Balzac
In Paris, there are three free museums dedicated to writers. The most famous of them is the Maison de Balzac. In a modest building on rue de Reynoir the great writer has lived since 1840. The founders of the museum were able to preserve the atmosphere of the era and convey to their contemporaries the complex inner world of Balzac. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 47 Rue Raynouard 75016 Paris. Web site: paris.fr. Working hours: from 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is the day off.
Hugo House Museum
Maison de Victor Hugo
On the former Place Royal (now Place des Vosges) a vintage 17th century hotel has been preserved. Victor Hugo lived here since 1831. The writer and his family occupied apartments on the second floor. This house witnessed the creation of his best novels; great men such as Mérimée and Rossini, Franz Liszt and Honoré Balzac came here.
The Hugo Museum was opened for the 100th anniversary of the writer (in 1902). The first exhibits were provided by Paul Meris, a friend of the writer. Today, four rooms of the former apartment are available to the public. The desk behind which his immortal works were created, is still there. Learn more about the house-museum here.
Address: Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, 6 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris. Website: maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr. Opening hours: 10:00 to 18:00. Mondays are off.
Museum of Romantic Life
Museum of Romantic Life (Musée de la Vie Romantique)
On rue Chaptal, not far from Place Pigalle, there is an elegant house which houses one of the most original and sophisticated museums of Paris. “La vie romantique” is the Musée de la vie romantique. The mansion, which served in the nineteenth century as a studio for the artist Ari Schaeffer, preserves the atmosphere of that life. The ideas and thoughts of the artist’s famous guests – Géricault, Lamartine, George Sand and Delacroix – hang in this old bohemian salon. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris. Web-address: paris.fr. Working hours: from 10:00 to 18:00. Mondays are off.
Cognac Museum Jeuzeum
A collection of exquisite decorative objects and unique works of art were gathered for a quarter of a century by the husband and wife: Marie-Louise Gé and Ernest Cognac, creators of the Samaritan chain of stores. They bequeathed their collection to the city. Today, the four floors of the Musée Cognacq-Jay display paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and arts and crafts. Collections are placed in historical interiors of the 18th century. Learn more about the museum here.
Address: 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris. Web site: museecognacqjay.paris.fr. Working hours: 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is the day off.
The Musée Bourdelle is located behind the Montparnasse district. It is small. Antoine Bourdelle was a student of Rodin. The museum’s collection numbers about a thousand works by the sculptor in marble, plaster and bronze. The original works, notable for their expressiveness and extraordinary drama, perfectly convey the contrast of light and shadow. There are also paintings and graphic works by Antoine Bourdelle. The so-called heroic portraits occupy a special place. The collection also includes works from Bourdelle’s personal collection. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 18, rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris. Web site: bourdelle.paris.fr. Opening hours: 10:00 to 18:00 each day. Mondays are off.
Near the elegant and pleasant Parc Monceau you will find the Cernuschi Museum, where you can enjoy the mysterious Asian culture. The basis of the collection is the collection of Italian Henri Cernuschi, where there are Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean collections. It is the 2nd most important Oriental museum in France and the 5th largest collection of Chinese art in Europe. Find out more about the museum here.
Address: 7 avenue Vélasquez, 75008 Paris. Web site: cernuschi.paris.fr. Working hours: 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is the day off.
Museum of the Liberation of Paris
Museum of the Liberation of Paris
The Museum of the Liberation of Paris (Mémorial Leclerc – Musée Jean Moulin) is located in the Montparnasse district. The exhibition is dedicated to two heroes of the liberation struggle against the Nazis – Marshal Leclerc, commander of the tank division that entered Paris on August 25, 1944, and Jean Moulin, the organizer and leader of the French Resistance. The museum’s collection includes video documents, photographs, and clothing. Read more here.
Address: 23 Allée de la 2ème Division Blindée, Jardin Atlantique, 75015 Paris. Web site: museesleclercmoulin.paris.fr. Opening hours: 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is the day off.
The Zadkine House Museum
Not far from the Luxembourg Garden is a building surrounded by unusual sculptures. This is the Musée Zadkine, formerly the sculptor’s studio. Osip Zadkine is known as the inventor of a new method of working with three-dimensional forms, the angular plasticity of the exaggerated figures complemented by bizarre breaks in the material and voids. Sculptures in bronze, wood, stone and marble are collected here. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 100 Bis Rue Assas, 75006 Paris. Web site: zadkine.paris.fr. Open 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is weekend.
Museum of Fashion and Costume
Museum of Fashion and Costume (Musee de la Mode et du Costume de la Ville de Paris)
Located in the Palais Galliera, this museum tells the story of French fashion from the 17th century to the present. On display are outfits of the royal family and nobility, simple Frenchmen, a collection of accessories, Sarah Bernhardt’s gloves, Audrey Hepburn’s dress and much more. Famous French fashion houses such as Paco Raban, Jean Paul Gaultier, Anne-Marie Beretta, Christian Dior, Sonia Delaunay Yves Saint Laurent, Mariano Fortuni and Elsa Schiaparelli, etc. regularly provide their collections of accessories and clothing models for the exhibition. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016 Paris. Website: palaisgalliera.paris.fr. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Monday is weekend.
Open Air Sculpture Museum
Musée de la sculpture en plein air
Over 30 sculptures by twentieth century masters are artistically attracted to the picturesque Tino Rossi garden on the site of the former port. Anyone can come here and admire the creations: Cesar Baldacini, Osip Zadkine, Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Parvin Lurie, Alexander Archipenko, Ruggero Pazzi and Albert Fero
Address: Jardin Tino Rossi, Quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris. Open 24 hours: free entrance.
Paris City Museums are open daily (except Mondays and holidays). Opening hours: from 10 to 18:00.
In addition to those listed, in the capital there are several other museums with free admission. Most offer a private setting and you can view exhibitions in a relaxed atmosphere without being overwhelmed by the crowds.
Police Prefecture Museum
Musée de la Préfecture de Police in Paris
The Musée des Collections Historiques de la Préfecture de Police in the Latin Quarter is known to few tourists, although it has existed since 1909. The exhibition devoted to the history of the Paris police gathered more than 2000 different items in any way related to law enforcement, the criminal world and detective activities. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 4 Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève, 75005 Paris. Web site: prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr. Opening hours: 09:00 to 17:00, Saturday 10:00 to 17:00. Sunday is a day off.
Museum of Fragonard perfumes
Musée de la perfume Fragonard
The Musée de la Parfumerie Fragonard is a private collection about the history of perfumery. It is a factory-shop where you can buy a bottle of your favorite fragrance at the end of the tour. More information about the museum here.
Address: 9 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris. Web site: fragonard.com. Opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 18:00, on Sundays and public holidays from 09:00 to 17:00.
Edith Piaf house-museum
Musée Édith Piaf
The Museum Maison Edith Piaf (Musée Édith Piaf) is dedicated to the life and work of the great French singer. Bernard Marchoix, the artist’s staunch admirer and her former assistant, who for many years collected her personal belongings, bought the apartment for a private museum and placed his collection there. Read more about the museum here.
Address: 5 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011 Paris. Web site: parisinfo.com. Opening hours: Mon – Wed 13:00 to 18:00: Thu 10:00 to 12:00 (by appointment) .
Mariage Brothers Museum of Tea
Mariage Brothers Museum of Tea
The Mariage Frères Tea Museum is one of the famous tea houses. It has a museum and a boutique where you can buy tea accessories and different teas. Now it’s a chain of stores. There are 7 of them in Paris, not counting the tea departments in major department stores.
Address: 30 Rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004 Paris. Website: mariagefreres.com. Opening hours: Every day from 10:30 to 19:30.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris
Learn more about Notre Dame de Paris here.
Address: 6 Parvis Notre Dame – Place Jean-Paul II, Paris. Web site: cathedraledeparis.com. Opening hours: every day from 8:00 to 18:45, on Saturday and Sunday until 19:15.
Paris museums, admission is free the first Sunday of each month
Musée de l’Orangerie The Musée du Louvre (October to March only) Musée Picasso The Musée national Picasso The Musée du Moyen Âge The Musée National Eugène Delacroix The Musée d’Orsay The Musée national des Arts asiatiques- Guimet) Musée National Gustave Moreau Georges Pompidou Centre (Musée national d’Art moderne) Musée du Quai Branly (Le musée du quai Branly) Musée Rodin (Musée Rodin) The Arch of Triumph (arc de triomphe de l’Étoile) The towers of Notre Dame de Paris (tour de la Notre Dame de Paris) The Pantheon (Panthéon) The Conciergerie, the Chapel of Saint-Chapelle (Sainte Chapelle), the Sainte-Capelle (Sainte Chapelle), the Hahnemann Monument (Tour de la Chess et de la Nature), the Jewish Museum (Tour de la Chess et la Nature), the Treasure Troisette. Sainte Chapelle The Château de Vincennes The Château de Versailles
Musée des arts et métiers, free admission every Thursday after 6pm.
How do I save on hotels?
The largest selection of hotels with discounts is on Booking. It offers hotels and apartments worldwide.