/ / 16 Best Free Museums in Paris Worth Visiting

16 Best Free Museums in Paris Worth Visiting

Are you traveling to Paris on a budget but still want to immerse yourself in the city’s art world? This post will show you all the best free museums in Paris you should check out!

As the promised land of art and culture, Paris is home to many iconic museums, some of which are well-known globally.

An integral part of the sightseeing in the city, it would be a shame to go to Paris and not spend quality time exploring the plenty of museums and learning more about the breathtaking art that lives there.

Petit palais is one of the best free museums in Paris.
Petit Palais

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While it’s an essential component of being a tourist in Paris, the constant museum visits can get heavy on the pocket, especially if you’re hoping to visit as many as possible.

However, there are a plethora of free museums in Paris that you can check out to fulfill the artist in you without spending too much!

From the famous ones to some hidden gems, keep on reading to learn more about the best Paris free museums, where to find them, and what to expect!

Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips

WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)  

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Best Free Museums in Paris

1. Petit Palais, 8th Arrondissement

Petit palais is one of the best free museums in Paris.

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Home to the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, the Petit Palais is one of the top places to visit to immerse yourself in French artists’ intricate art and culture.

It is located in the 8th Arrondissement, fittingly opposite the Grand Palais, both of which were initially built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle and later converted into museums.

Petit Palais houses an extensive collection that dates back to the ancient times of sculptures, tapestries, antiques, and more.

The exhibitions are constantly rotating, so check the official website to know what’s on schedule.

Also, the exterior of the Palais is equally as beautiful as its larger counterpart (but not as expansive), making it the perfect place for a stop while sightseeing near the area!

Regardless, don’t be misled but its name to think that it’s small! It’s actually quite big with various rooms dedicated to paintings and sculptures from the beginning of French art till now. You can easily spend 1-2 hours browsing this Parisian museum.

2. Musée Carnavalet, 3rd Arrondissement

Musée Carnavalet is one of the best free museums in Paris.

Photo by Shadowgate/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

One of the most insightful parts of traveling anywhere is that you get to immerse yourself in the history and culture of the locale and expand your knowledge about the world, and Musée Carnavalet gives you a chance to do just that!

Located in the 3rd Arrondissement, this is one of the best free museums in Paris, France, as it hopes to immortalize the history and story of Paris itself.

It is built in two neighboring houses and connected via a gallery and houses artifacts, art, and recreations of events that narrate Paris’ origination to its visitors.

Particularly the exhibits on the storming of the Bastille, France during World War II, and specific writer rooms are great fun to observe!

3. Musée Cernuschi, 8th Arrondissement

Musée Cernuschi is one of the best free Parisian museums.

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

Located in the house of Henri Cernushi, a French-Italian banker and collector of Asian art, Musée Cernuschi is a one-of-a-kind establishment that houses a vast Asian art collection.

A lot of the pieces in the museum are, in fact, a part of Cernuschi’s personal art collection.

As you tour the place, you’ll get to observe antiques and world-class art that represent the history and lives of the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese people.

The walls are aptly adorned with a royal red color, representing East Asia and its culture.

One of the most iconic free museums in Paris, a couple of hours spent here would be ones you won’t regret!

4. Musée Bourdelle, 15th Arrondissement

Musée Bourdelle is one of the best Paris free musuems.

Photo by travelnutty/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Located in the past home and studio of French sculpture Antoine Bourdelle, Musée Bourdelle is dedicated to showcasing Bourdelle’s work and life story.

An essential contributor to the Art Déco, Bourdelle was not only a brilliant sculptor but a teacher and guide to many young French artists who went on to be well-known globally, like Henri Mattise.

The attached courtyard, with beautiful sculptures, is also an excellent place for an evening stroll, especially in the fall when the leaves turn all sorts of orangey colors.

One of the best places to explore in the museum is the artist’s studio to get a glimpse of how studios and ateliers were structured way back when Bourdelle was creating art.

5. Musée Cognacq-Jay, 3rd Arrondissement

Musée Cognacq-Jay is one of the best Paris free musuems.

Photo by isogood/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

An ode to the creator of La Samaritaine, one of the top departmental stores of Paris (located in the 1st Arrondissement), and his wife, Musée Cognacq – Jay, is the place to go if you’re in search of free admission to Paris museums.

The museum is located in the couple’s private residence in Le Marias and houses their extensive collection of art, sculptures, and other timeless pieces from the 18th century, along with signature pieces by Fragonard, Boucher, Tiepolo, Watteau, and more.

With its wooden ceiling, typical Haussmannian architecture, and stylish attic, the house is a work of art itself and it’s worth adding to your Paris bucket list.

6. Paris Museum of Modern Art, 16th Arrondissement

Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris is one of the Paris museums with free admission.

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.) & Thursday (10:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.)

Located in the iconic 16th Arrondissement in the eastern wing of Palais de Tokyo and within proximity of other Parisian landmarks like Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Élyées is the Paris Museum of Modern Art.

Also called Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris or MAM Paris is one of the most popular free museums in Paris as it houses nearly 8000 monumental art pieces, particularly from the 20th and 21st centuries, and features artists like Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Marcel Duchamp, etc.

As a signature municipal museum dedicated to contemporary art, it sheds light on important movements of the 20th century like New Realism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, and more.

7. Musée Curie, 5th Arrondissement

Curie Museum is one of the best free museums in Paris.

Photo by mike/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday (1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Focused on radiological research, Musée Curie is undoubtedly one of the top free Paris museums!

Renovated in 2012 due to a donation by Ève Curie, the museum has exhibits that illustrate the history of research in radioactivity, its uses in the world, and other studies conducted by the Curies.

You’ll be able to observe Marie Curie’s original laboratory, her old office, artifacts that led to her being a pioneer in radioactivity research, and even old scientific apparatus used as part of the studies.

An insightful establishment irrespective of whether you’re a Curie family fanatic or know nothing about them besides the basics, your time at Musée Curie is bound to be well-spent (without spending any money!). 

8. Maison de Victor Hugo, 4th Arrondissement

Maison de Victor Hugo is one of the best free Parisian museums.

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Victor Hugo, the world-renowned French novelist, poet, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, fittingly lived in Paris for nearly 16 years, and his house was shortly converted into a museum.

While residing in the beautiful Parisian apartment, Hugo produced many works that went on to immortalize him as a significant contributor to the art of the Romantic period, including a part of the ever-so-popular Les Misérables.

The museum is organized chronologically, and each of the seven rooms depicts a different part of Hugo’s life, including his life during exile.

It is a great place to visit, especially if you’re a literary buff and want to immerse yourself in the life of a famous Parisian artist.

9. Musée de la Libération de Paris, 14th Arrondissement

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Inaugurated on 25th August 2019 on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Nazi forces during World War II, this is one of the unique places you’ll find in all of Paris.

The museum will take you through the lives and narration of events through the perspectives of Jen Moulin and Général Leclerc, two different French resistants who played a vital role in the liberation of the country.

The museum was constructed on a heritage site that dates back to the 18th century and houses exhibits like the command station of Colonel Rol-Tanguy, documents and photographs from the tumultuous week of the liberation, and more.

As the museum hopes to educate as many people about the atrocities faced due to the occupation and concurrently celebrate the nation’s freedom, the permanent exhibits of this landmark are free for all!

10. Maison de Balzac, 16th Arrondissement

Maison de Balzac is one of the best Paris free musuems.

Photo by Michele Belfanti/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

The former residence of famed writer and novelist Honoré de Balzac, Maison de Balzac, is one of the only remaining homes of the artist and is one of the three well-known literary museums in the city.

The house has been dedicated to La Comédie Humaine, a play that he wrote while residing in this home, and is accompanied by several historical artifacts like sculptures, original manuscripts, discarded drafts, doodled books, and more.

The house is an architectural marvel, with an expansive green garden that boasts spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower, making it a lovely place to visit while in the area for an art and literature-filled afternoon!

11. Musée de la Vie Romantique, 9th Arrondissement

Musée de la Vie Romantique is one of the best free Paris museums.

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

One of the most typical museums you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, but the city of love, Musée de la Vie Romantique, is free for all and a top place to visit while in Montmartre.

Translated as the Museum of Romantic Life, you’ll find this picturesque 1830s townhouse with a beautiful lush garden not far from the iconic Sacre-Cœur Basilica!

In the museum that is housed in the former home of painter Ary Scheffer, you’ll discover artifacts, objects, photos, art, and literature from across the world that hopes to immortalize romance and love.

Such a sought-after feeling, this quaint museum has done a spectacular job at curating pieces that tell stories of love, admiration, and romance that are sure to make you feel some kind of way.

12. Musée d’Art et d’histoire de l’Hôpital Sainte-Anne, 14th Arrondissement

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Definitely not for the faint-hearted, the Musée d’Art et Histoire de l’Hôpital Sainte-Anne translates to the Sainte Anne Hospital Museum of Art and History and houses exhibits tracing the medical procedures in the fields of psychiatry and brain diseases.

Though not very fitting to the city’s romantic atmosphere, you’ll be able to feed the scientist in you as you observe the various methods of research, study, and surgery that have been discovered over the years, along with several art exhibitions.  

13. Atelier Brancusi, 4th Arrondissement

Atelier Brancusi is one of the Paris museums with free admission.

Photo by Cami/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.), Closed Tuesday

Dedicated to the well-known Constantin Brancusi, who resided and worked in Paris from 1904 until his death, Atelier Brancusi is located around the corner of the iconic Centre Pompidou and is open to all for free.

The artist left his studio for the French state, then converted it into a museum to display his best work.

A pioneer of the modern sculpture movement, his studio contains over a hundred sculptures and drawings, paintings, photographic glass plates, photographs, and more.

The museum is a perfect way to discover the style and work of 20th-century artists through the works of Brancusi!

14. Musée du parfum Fragonard, 9th Arrondissement

Musée du parfum Fragonard is one of the best Paris free musuems.

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

If you’re searching for a quirky museum to visit in the city during a summer afternoon, the Musée du parfum Fragonard is the place to head to!

Offering a free-guided tour, this landmark hopes to showcase the intriguing world of perfumes and trace their journey from historical antiquities to present-day contemporary scents.

A sensory experience that you’re bound to remember, it highlights all aspects of the globally renowned French perfumes and will take you through the various forms of perfumes that existed all over the world before the rise of the quintessential glass bottles that everyone has today.

While the tour is free, the museum also hosts several other activities like this perfume apprentice workshop where you can make your own perfume which though costly, is a great experience to participate in!

15. Musée de la Légion d’Honneur, 7th Arrondissement

Musée de la Légion d’Honneur is one of the best free museums in Paris.

Photo by Only Tradition/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday (1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Located in the gorgeous 7th Arrondissement, Musée de la Légion d’Honneur or the French national museum of orders of merit and chivalry is open to the public with free admission.

It celebrates the story of the Order of Merit and displays the French honors that have been bestowed upon many individuals since time immemorial, and showcases medals, orders, periodic documents, portraits, and other memorabilia.

The museum also has a specific segment highlighting foreign orders and an archive library with several essential papers and literary works.

16. Mémorial de la Shoah, 4th Arrondissement

Mémorial de la Shoah is one of the best Paris free musuems.

Photo by Daniel Carrière/ Flickr

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday & Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.), Thursday (10:00 a.m. – 10 p.m.)

Opened by President Jacques Chirac in 2005, the Mémorial de la Shoah is a Holocaust museum that hopes to pay tribute to the lives lost during this traumatic period.

It is located in the Marais district, which at the beginning of World War II was primarily populated by Jews who faced the brunt of the atrocities that occurred as a result of the Nazi occupation of France.

The museum focuses on the teaching of the Shoah (another word for the Holocaust) and has several different areas, each dedicated to showcasing various parts of the tragedy, including a wall of names that has names of up to 76,000 French Jews that lost their lives during the atrocities.


Final Thoughts on the Best Paris Free Museums in Paris

A trip to the city of light, while always delightful, can inevitably get heavy on the pocket, so paying a visit to some of the exciting and well-constructed free museums in Paris is an excellent way to explore what the city has to offer and immerse yourself in the French art and culture without spending too much!

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