Are you hoping to discover the best free museums in Paris? Paris is home to some of the world’s best museums. There’s the Louvre, the Orsay, and the Pompidou Center to name a few. But visiting these cultural centers can often be expensive. If you’re not careful, a large portion of your vacation budget will get eaten up by admission fees. Fortunately, Paris is also home to some amazing museums that are every bit as interesting as the city’s major museums. In this article we’ll give you the INSIDR information on the best free museums in Paris. You’ll learn about what to expect and where to find them plus some special tips! With so many free museums in Paris, there’s something for everyone. For general info on visiting museums in Paris, check out the INSIDR pocket guide to Paris museums!
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Free Museums in Paris: Petit Palais
What to see
One of the best free museums in Paris is the Grand Palais’ little sister, the Petit Palais. Located in the 8th arrondissement, this museum is also one of the city’s most stunning pieces of architecture. At the Petit Palais you’ll find masterpieces by Monet, Cezanne and Eugène Delacroix among many others. The ornate building with its iconic gold doors was constructed in the year 1900 for the Paris World Fair. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture and boasts impressive marble hallways, ceiling fresco’s, and a stunning garden.
INSIDR tip: the museum’s cafe, Le Jardin du Petit Palais, overlooks this beautiful garden and is a great place to grab a light lunch and coffee and relax at anytime of day. If you’d like to find out about all of INSIDR’s favorite museum cafés and restaurants, you should grab a copy of our Paris Musems Guide!
When to come
While entry to see the permanent collection is always free, tickets must be purchased to view temporary exhibitions. Upcoming expositions at Petit Palais include Romantic Paris and Romantic Germany. These twin exhibitions showcase some of the more memorable works from Paris and Germany during the Romanticism movement of the late 18th century. You can check out these exhibition at the Petit Palais from May 22-September 1, 2019.
- Address: Avenue Winston-Churchill 75008 Paris
- Metro: Line 1, 3 Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Closed Mondays and public holidays.
Free Museums in Paris: Musée du Parfum by Fragonard
What to expect at the museum
Fragonard’s Musée du Parfum is in the 9th arrondissement. At the museum, you can take a free guided walking tour in many languages (French, English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian) where you learn about the history of Fragonard’s perfume making that has lasted for generations. There are English tours about every 30 minutes until 5pm. The tour guide will also provide a comprehensive account of the origins and the development of perfumes. The museum also houses a unique collection of perfume antiques dating back from ancient Egypt with rarities such as decades-old beauty kits and unique perfume bottles designed by famous artists like Dali.
Before ending the free guided tour, you’ll get the chance to test your olfactory sense and identify different flower fragrances! You’ll also walk out of the museum smelling wonderful as you won’t leave without a sampling of a variety of Fragonard perfumes. This is a unique, prestigious museum that you can enjoy completely free of charge.
INSIDR Tip: If you fall in love with Fragonard’s perfumes after the tour, make sure to buy your perfume bottles here as the museum sells at factory prices meaning they’re cheaper than purchasing at Fragonard boutiques! Download your exclusive gift voucher* or download your 10% discount voucher* when you shop at the museum’s boutique!
*Vouchers may not be used at the same time.
Another tip: After your free museum visit here, take time to walk around the Opera District! From Musée du Parfum, you’re not too far from Parisian landmarks like the Palais Garnier.
When to come
Musée du Parfum also offers ‘Olfactory Talks’ every Thursday. For just 15€, you can learn about how fragrances are developed to create beautiful colognes and perfumes. The museum also hosts a Perfume Apprentice workshop on Saturdays where you can learn how to make your own perfume from scratch. The workshop normally costs 95€ but for a limited time, you can take the course for free by downloading this INSIDR voucher! Slots are limited so hurry up!
If you would like to plan a tour with a larger group, make sure to call or email ahead of time. You can reach Musée du Fragonard by phone from Monday to Friday at + 33(0) 493 36 44 66 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address: 3-5 square Louis Jouvet, 75009 Paris
- Metro: Line 3, 7, 8 Opera | RER A : Auber station
- Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, Sunday 9am to 5pm, last entry 1 hour before closing.
Free Museums in Paris: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
What to see
Musée d’Art Moderne is the best of free modern art museums in Paris. It was first opened in 1961 as the home of the Paris Biennale until 1982. The museum has amassed a collection of more than 13,000 works. Must-sees include La Danse by Henri Matisse, Nu Couché à la Toile De Jouy, and Rythme No.1 by Robert Delaunay. The museum itself is a world-class example of modern architecture that is just as stunning as the art inside.
Musée d’Art Modern is housed in the same building as Palais de Tokyo. Palais de Tokyo is also a stunning museum that is dedicated to contemporary art and holds truly thought-evoking exhibitions each season. While entry to the Palais de Tokyo’s exhibitions is not free, you can still enter the museum’s gift shop that’s decked out with truly eye-catching postcards and posters worth framing, accessories and other stationery items. We also love their on-site photobooth which prints black & white portraits! And if you stir up an appetite after your museum visit, Palais de Tokyo has a couple of great restaurants! We recommend coming to either The Readymade or Les Grands Verres for a casual lunch and to Monsieur Bleu in the evening for something a little more special. If your feet are itching to dance, Palais de Tokyo also has a club called the Yoyo.
- Address: 12-14 avenue de New York, 75116 Paris
- Metro: Line 9 Alma Marceau
- Opening Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, open late on Thursdays until 8pm
Free Museums in Paris: Musée de la Vie Romantique
What to see
Musée de la Vie Romantique in Montmartre is a museum dedicated to the Romanticism movement of the late 18th century. The museum houses numerous mementos once owned by artist George Sand including family portraits, jewelry and miscellaneous household items. The museum’s main attraction is its collection of paintings, sculptures, and objects d’art. At the museum, you can take a walk through the Romantic Era and emerge an expert in the artist movement and its people. True to its name, this is the most romantic of free museums in Paris.
If you’re planning to visit Musée de la Vie Romantique, make sure to stop by their Café de la Vie Romantique. This on-site cafe is run by the famous Rose Bakery and sits inside a light-filled glass conservatory. It’s the perfect spot to sit, relax, and enjoy a coffee and a slice of cake before you head back out into the city. And if you’re up for walking that cake off, explore the nearby neighborhood of Montmarte with our Montmartre Map!
- Address: 16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
- Metro: Line 2 Blanche & Pigalle | Line 12 Saint-George & Pigalle
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm, closed Mondays
Free Museums in Paris: Atelier Brancusi – Centre Georges Pompidou
What to see
Born in Romania in 1876, Constantin Brancusi was a modernist sculptor who lived and worked in Paris from 1904 until his death in 1957. In his will, he bequeathed his entire studio to the French state. Brancusi thought that the relationship between the studio and its sculpture was of crucial importance. All of his works were always arranged in his gallery in a specific way to create what he called “mobile groups”. When Brancusi died in 1956, he donated his studio and all of his collected works to the city of Paris on the condition that they always be displayed according to his exact specifications. In 1977, the Atelier Brancusi was opened at the Centre Georges Pompidou. This last wish of Brancusi’s has been honored for more than 40 years.
Atelier Brancusi is housed in the Centre Pompidou, Paris’ premier modern art museum. Although entry to the Pompidou is not free, if you plan your visit on the first Sunday of the month, you can enter the Pompidou free of charge. Head to the Pompidou first thing in the morning on Sunday to skip the lines then, once you’re finished with the main galleries, head over to Atelier Brancusi to complete your visit. Wherever you go, you can save money by downloading the Pompidou app to receive their free audioguide. And don’t forget! The Centre Pompidou’s rooftop also has one of the most amazing views of Paris! Because the museum is located right in the center of the city, you’ll be served up with some awesome views of Paris’ best landmarks. You’ll see unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Cœur among many others!
- Address: Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
- Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet
- Opening Hours: 2 to 6 pm every day except Tuesdays and the 1st of May
Free Museums in Paris: Musée Cognacq-Jay
What to see
At the Musée Cognacq-Jay, you can see the vast collection of eighteenth-century art once owned by the successful businessman Ernest Cognacq. His collection, which offers a unique series of works about the Enlightenment, was donated to the city of Paris upon Cognacq’s death in 1928. Since then, the late businessman’s collection has been accessible to the public. The museum is housed in a gorgeous 16th-century residence that was once Hotel Donon, a hotel particulier. It’s one of the least-crowded free museums in Paris that you can visit while in town.
The Musée Cognacq-Jay is located in the heart of the popular Le Marais neighborhood. Despite its busy location, the museum is nevertheless off the beaten track, probably due to its proximity to the very famous Picasso Museum. The museum has a beautiful garden just next to it and is also merely steps away from many picturesque roads, stores and cafes. After visiting the museum, we recommend taking a stroll through the Marais area with our Le Marais Map. Perfect for shopping, taking photos, or eating out after a day of museum visits!
- Address: 8 rue Elzévir, 75003 Paris
- Metro: Saint-Paul, Chemin-Vert, Rambuteau
- Opening Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm