Paris does “free” very well when it comes to museums. With so many top tier, world class museums in the city – the smaller museums tend to just let you stroll on in.
Plus, a lot of the bigger museums have schedules that provide free access once per week or month. For instance, both the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay are free on the first Sunday of the month. You can even do a little Friday night pre-game at the Louvre from 6pm to 945 pm – also totally free.
So it pays to do a little research before you go! Your wallet (or purse) will thank you.
Below is list of museums that are totally free all the time. If you’re doing back-to-back tours in Europe and have Paris as a stop or are doing a city stay here, these are some museums that are worth checking out. Stretch your budget and your stay in the City of Light.
National Museum of Modern Art
Located within weird “inside out” building, the Centre Pompidou, the National Museum of Modern Art is totally free. Within the Centre Pompidou, you will find special exhibitions that cost money, but this museum is totally free. Some favorites in the collection include the works of Picasso and Matisse. Home to the second largest collection of contemporary art in the world, behind only New York’s Museum of Modern Art, this museum is the #9 most visited art museum in the world.
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
Metro: Rambuteau (Line 11)
Museum of Romantic Life
This is one of Paris’ three literary museums (Victor Hugo’s house below is another, and the other being the Balzac museum). Works here come from George Sand, Walter Scott and others but the primary focus is on Sand. Sand is a fascinating literary and social figure that worked in 19th century Paris writing pastoral, romantic novels. The name George Sand, of course was a pseudonym, the authors real name was Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin. George was really a women. Sand had a noteworthy affair with the composer Frederick Chopin and wrote a travel book about their time in Majorca called “A Winter in Majorca”. Her most widely used quote is: “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” This museum is your chance to be part of the Paris literary scene, in a preserved setting – in the very house that hosted Sand, Chopin, Charles Dickens, Eugene Delacroix and many others. And yup, it’s totally free!
Address: 16 rue Chapatal
Metro: Saint-Georges (Line 12), Pigalle (Line 2 or 12), Blance (Line 2), Liege (Line 13)
The House of Victor Hugo
We know you always wanted to see the exact location where Les Miserables was penned. Perhaps, even getting close enough to touch Victor Hugo’s desk, books and other memorabilia of his career on display at this museum. This is the spot where Hugo, the most famous of French authors, lived for 16 years penned a large part of Les MIserables. Paintings, drawing, furniture, sculpture and, of course, lots of books are on display here.
Address: 6 Place des Vosges
Metro: Victor Hugo Station (Line 2)
Fragonard Perfume Museum
Talk about an authentic French experience, visiting a Parisian perfume museum! Learn about the 3000 year history of perfume. You’ll be amazed to learn fun perfume facts. For instance, nearly 440 pounds of lavender flowers are needed to create just two pounds of extract for small batch perfume production. No wonder why Pharrell Williams’ scent “Girl” is so darn expensive! Once you’ve finished learning about the evolution of perfume and the details of how it’s made, it’s shopping time in the museum store – where swank perfumes and cosmetics are on sale. If you ever wanted to sample a near unlimited number of fragrances, you are in the right place.
Address: 9 Rue Scribe
Metro: Chaussee d’Antin La Fayette (Line 7 and Line 9)
The Curie Museum
If you remember anything from science class, you probably remember that Marie Curie discovered radioactivity on her path to being the first woman to earn the Nobel Prize. Sadly, her excessive exposure to radiation ultimately killed her. Today, radiation is an important tool in the fight against cancer and this development all began here. Admission is free and you’ll get the chance to see where Marie Curie and her husband Pierre (also a Nobel Prize winner) conducted their work, the instruments and laboratories they used and much more. Free!
Address: 1 rue Pierre et Marie Curie
Metro: Place Monge (Line 7)
The Paris Police Museum
Famous possessions of criminals, weapons, old school police memorabilia and a collection of guillotines, this is the perfect museum to take a pause from visiting endless streams of art museums. This is a guy’s museum if there ever was one. Plus, you’ll be going to a place where few tourists ever go. Totally worth a visit to satisfy your need for free.
Address: 4 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
Metro: Maubert-Mutualité (Line 10)
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