Tired of opening your wallet every hour while on vacation in Paris? Paris has some OUTSTANDING free museums that most visitors never think of trying. In this episode I tell you why you should try them! Get out and see more without paying a dime. And remember that in Paris even free municipal museums are world-class, so give your credit card a rest and enjoy some amazing hidden museums in Paris for free.
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France on the Cheap, Free Museums in Paris
- Museum of modern Art of the city of Paris / Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 11 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris. One kilometer to the east of the Eiffel Tower. Open every day 10am-6pm except on Mondays. Contains collections 1915 and newer, much like the Georges Pompidou Museum (episode 42) which isn’t free.
- Maison de Balzac, 47 rue Raynouard, 75016 Paris. Also one kilometer away from the Trocadero, but this time to the west. Open 10 am- 6 pm, closed on Mondays.
- Musée Bourdelle, 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris. Montparnasse area (15th arrondissement) , Bourdelle worked with Rodin and became famous in his own right. This was his home and workshop. A must-see it if you love sculpture and beautiful gardens with sculptures all around.
- Musée Carnavalet, 16 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75003 Paris. Le Marais neighborhood (episode 27), close to Place des Vosges. Enjoy this museum as you go explore the Marais, it has a lot of wonderful artifacts. Currently also the home of a Napoleon exhibit (9€).
- Maison Victor Hugo, 6 place des Vosges, 75004 Paris. Located in the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, it’s gorgeous and will give you a glimpse into 19th Century French Bourgeois life.
- Musee de la Vie Romantique, Hôtel Scheffer-Renan – 16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris. This museum is in the Pigalle area (9ième arrondissement) and is rumored to have a lovely tea house, although it’s not open year-round.
- Musée de la Préfecture de police, Hôtel de police – 4 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, 75005 Paris. 5th arrondissement, close to the Pantheon and the Marie Curie Museum. This one is odd but has some quirky things such as a decommissioned guillotine, weapons and old crime scenes. It’s on the 3rd floor of the Hôtel de police so yes, you have to walk through the police station to get to the museum! Signs are in French and you won’t be surrounded by tourists. If liked the Musée de l’armée or work in law-enforcement, you’ll probably enjoy it.
- Arènes de Lutèce, 49 rue Monge, 75005 Paris. Lutèce is the name the Romans used for Paris and this is a well-preserved amphitheater right in the middle of the Latin Quarter. A nice place to sit and rest for an hour as you discover Paris on foot.
- Mémorial de la Shoah, 17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 75004 Paris. This moving memorial is within walking distance of Notre Dame and the Hôtel de Ville. It’s a sobering place that tries to be as comprehensive as possible. Most of the displays are in French. There is a large section dedicated to deported children and babies, I’m sure it would make me cry, I’m almost crying as I talk about it here. But this is the kind of place we need to visit and we especially need to take our children to so we never forget. Open every day but Saturday.
ALL French museums are open and free to the public on the first Sunday of each month.
Paris Museum Pass (not free, but will save you a ton of time for the museums you do have to pay for). Children under 18 do not pay to enter museums in France. Make sure you have a photocopy of their passport to prove their date of birth. I’ve never been given a hard time anywhere about this even though my daughter is 17 and looks a few years older.