History

Everything you want to know about this magical city, you can learn within the walls of un musée d’histoire (unless it’s how to pick up a Parisian hottie or find the perfect baguette, then you might want to wander elsewhere). These museums take you back in time with their architecture, artifacts, and overall ambiance, so be prepared to spend the day immersed in a history lesson.

Musée National Cluny

This build­ing com­bines medieval archi­tec­ture with 19th cen­tu­ry archi­tec­ture. It not only con­tains old art­work, but it also fea­tures baths and hydraulic sys­tems that date back to the Roman age. They take care to pre­serve as many of Europe’s ear­ly medieval tapes­tries and build­ings as pos­si­ble. Check out a frag­ment of a canoe that rep­re­sents all the known remains  from the Celtic Parisii tribe who were the first to set­tle the mud­dy banks of the Seine and gave Paris her name.

ADDRESS: 28 rue Du Som­mer­ard (5th arr.)

HOURS: Wed. — Mon 9:15a‑5:45p

MÉTRO: Cluny-La Sor­bonne (line 10), Saint-Michel (line 4), or Odéon (lines 4, 10)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Pan­théon

NUMBER: +33 (0)1 53 73 01 73

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INSTAGRAM: @museecluny

Musée Cognac-Jay

Here you can catch a glimpse of what French life was like in the 18th cen­tu­ry through a 20th cen­tu­ry lens. Between 1900–1927, Ernest Cognac, founder of La Samar­i­taine depart­ment stores (which just reopened after 17 years shut­tered!), and his wife Marie-Louise Jay had amassed a mas­sive eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry art col­lec­tion. Upon Cognac’s death in 1928, he donat­ed his col­lec­tion to the city of Paris, mak­ing it avail­able to the pub­lic. The muse­um has con­tin­ued show­cas­ing this col­lec­tion since 1929. In 1990, the museum’s col­lec­tion was moved to the Hôtel Donon, where it still resides to this day.

ADDRESS: 8 rue Elzévir (3rd arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Saint-Paul (line 1), Chemin-Vert (line 8) or Ram­buteau (line 11)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tem­ple

NUMBER: +33 01 40 27 07 21

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INSTAGRAM: @museecognacqjay

Musée Carnavalet

The Musée Car­navalet is also known as Paris’s old­est his­to­ry muse­um and it is ded­i­cat­ed to the his­to­ry of the City of Paris. It opened on Feb­ru­ary 25, 1880, and it show­cas­es over 625,000 works from pre­his­toric times to the present day. As such, like the Musee Cluny, the build­ing has also gone through a lengthy ren­o­va­tion process to make it fit for 21st cen­tu­ry needs. The refur­bish­ments include a café over­look­ing the gar­den, a room that pro­vides an intro­duc­tion to the muse­um itself, and expan­sions to exist­ing areas, leav­ing more room to explore Parisian his­to­ry.  Oh, and it’s total­ly free!

ADDRESS: 23, rue de Sévi­gné (3rd arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Saint-Paul (line 1)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Marais

NUMBER: +33 01 44 59 58 58

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INSTAGRAM: @museecarnavalet

Musée Nissim de Camondo

This place ded­i­cat­ed itself to pre­serve the dec­o­ra­tive aspect of his­to­ry. In oth­er words, you can find unique bits of dec­o­ra­tive 18th cen­tu­ry fur­ni­ture all over this muse­um. Moïse de Camon­do com­mis­sioned archi­tect René Ser­gent to build the man­sion to house the col­lec­tion of fur­ni­ture and royalty’s house­hold items. The man­sion itself took a few years to build between 1911 and 1914. It wasn’t open to the pub­lic until 1936.

ADDRESS: 63, rue de Mon­ceau (8th arr.)

HOURS: Wed. — Sun. 10a‑5:30p

MÉTRO: Vil­liers (lines 2, 3) or Mon­ceau (line 2)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Élysée

NUMBER: +33 (0)1 44 55 57 50

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INSTAGRAM: @madparis

Musée des Arts et Metiers

Since its incep­tion in 1794, the Arts et Métiers Muse­um show­cas­es tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion at its finest. As such, it’s con­sid­ered one of the old­est tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion muse­ums in the world. It has over 2,400 inven­tions (such as watch­es, oven mod­els, a large draw loom, etc.) on dis­play after its 2000 refur­bish­ment. Fun Facts: dur­ing the ear­ly phas­es of exca­va­tion, archae­ol­o­gists dis­cov­ered a series of sar­copha­gi. Also, the audio tours for this muse­um come in eight dif­fer­ent languages.

ADDRESS: 60 rue Réau­mur (3rd arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun 10a-6p (open ’til 9p Fridays)

MÉTRO: Arts-et-Métiers (lines 3, 11) or Réau­mur-Sébastopol (lines 3, 4)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tem­ple

NUMBER: +33 (0)1 53 01 82 00

HOW TO BOOK: online

INSTAGRAM: @museedesartsetmetiers

Cité de la Musique

If you want to vis­it a place where it’s noth­ing but music 24/7, this place might be right up your alley. On Novem­ber 8, 1793, the instru­men­tal muse­um was open to the pub­lic. The col­lec­tions include instru­ments from peo­ple who had fled the coun­try dur­ing the French Rev­o­lu­tion. In 1995, the col­lec­tions were moved to a new build­ing, la Cité de la Musique. In 2015, the Music muse­um inte­grat­ed itself with Paris’s phil­har­mon­ic orches­tra, mak­ing the instru­ments and oth­er musi­cal col­lec­tions more acces­si­ble to the pub­lic. Part of that acces­si­bil­i­ty to music includes hav­ing live per­for­mances with­in the muse­um itself. Vis­it and find your music!

ADDRESS: 221, avenue Jean Jau­rès (19th arr.)

HOURS: dai­ly 11a-7p (clos­es at 6p Sundays)

MÉTRO: Porte de Pan­tin (line 5)

NEIGHBORHOOD: La Vil­lette

PRICE: €10 per ticket

NUMBER: +33 01 44 84 44 84

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INSTAGRAM: @philharmoniedeparis

Musée Jean Moulin

This place has a few oth­er names, such as the Lib­er­a­tion Muse­um. As many His­to­ry buffs will tell you, France was not immune from war’s destruc­tion. It’s also ded­i­cat­ed to the two men who helped France nav­i­gate itself through the war; Phillipe de Haute­clocque and Jean Moulin. The lat­ter would not live to see his coun­try lib­er­at­ed, but the for­mer nev­er sur­ren­dered and fought along­side the allied armies to set France free from Nazi occu­pa­tion. Both sto­ries are hon­ored and told along­side France’s 1940 exo­dus. As for the build­ing itself, it was used as a com­mand post for the head of the French forces in late August 1944. About fifty or so years lat­er in 1994, it became a muse­um. In 2017, it under­went a ren­o­va­tion before reopen­ing again in August 2019. While France did fall under Ger­man occu­pa­tion, this muse­um is deter­mined to hon­or the peo­ple who resist­ed and ensure that they nev­er be forgotten.

ADDRESS: 4, avenue du colonel Hen­ri Rol-Tan­guy (14th arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun. 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Saint Jacques (line 6) or Mou­ton Duver­net (line 4)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Mont­par­nasse

NUMBER: +33 01 71 28 34 70

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INSTAGRAM: @museedelaliberation

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

This was once a roy­al gar­den ded­i­cat­ed to grow­ing and using plants for med­i­cine, which lat­er became an area known sim­ply as the King’s Gar­den. Then on June 10, 1793, the French Rev­o­lu­tion came along and decid­ed to com­bine the King’s Gar­den with the nat­ur­al his­to­ry cab­i­net, and the rest, as they say, is his­to­ry. Here you can find about 67 mil­lion spec­i­mens to look at, some sci­en­tif­ic research­ing activ­i­ties, and a few more muse­ums and gar­dens nearby.

ADDRESS: 57 Rue Cuvi­er (5th arr.)

HOURS: Wed. — Mon. 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Jussieu (lines 7, 10) or Place Mon­ge (line 7)

NEIGHBORHOOD: ST Vic­tor

NUMBER: +33 1 40 79 56 01

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INSTAGRAM: @le_museum

National Marine Museum

Land ho, here’s your one-stop for French mar­itime cul­ture with a dash of roy­al opu­lence like only all those  Louis’ could. This just-recent­ly reopened muse­um has every­thing: a tro­phy hon­or­ing sail­ing around the world in less than 80 days, paint­ings and mod­els of ships, and two libraries: one ded­i­cat­ed to all you could learn about sail­ing, yacht­ing, and oth­er sea­wor­thy fun and the oth­er pro­vides a resource for anato­my and nat­ur­al sci­ences. The build­ing and décor offer a taste of the sump­tu­ous­ness of the Château de Ver­sailles  (with­out the train ride) as this used to be the stor­age build­ing for extra roy­al fur­ni­ture (Lol no won­der the starv­ing mass­es revolt­ed…). A decent view of the Eif­fel Tow­er is  the cher­ry on the cake. Locat­ed right in the Place de le Con­corde (where Marie Antoinette and thou­sands of oth­ers lost their heads) this muse­um wasn’t open the last time you were here, so take advan­tage to have some­thing to flex on your  friends back home who have been to The Louvre.

ADDRESS: 17 Place du Tro­cadéro et du 11 Novem­bre (16th arr.)

HOURS: CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS

MÉTRO: Tro­cadéro (lines 6, 9)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Chail­lot

NUMBER: +33 1 53 65 69 69

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INSTAGRAM: @museemarine

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Ah, l’amour, tou­jours amore, am I right? Well, if you’re expect­ing to find any cupids shoot­ing arrows here, then no, I’m not right. How­ev­er, if you’re expect­ing to find a time cap­sule of the clas­si­cal Roman­tic move­ment, then you’ve come to the right place. Orig­i­nal­ly a house lived in by Dutch artist Ary Schef­fer in the 18th cen­tu­ry, it was sold to the state in 1956 and remains a muse­um. What can we say? We want to keep our title as City with the Most Muse­ums on Earth.

ADDRESS: 16 Rue Chap­tal (9th arr.)

HOURS: Tues. — Sun. 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Pigalle (lines 2, 12)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Saint-Georges

NUMBER: +33 1 55 31 95 67

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INSTAGRAM: @museedelavieromantique

Musée de l’Armée

This is one of the largest col­lec­tions of mil­i­tary his­to­ry you can find in Paris. You can see a great col­lec­tion of uni­forms, weapons, bat­tle armor, draw­ings, and every­day objects such as hel­mets, bugles, note­books, a BBC AXBT mic, and a cryp­to­graph­ic machine. You can also watch some short films and learn every­thing about the French armies from Napoleon to WWII and beyond.  Locat­ed in the Invalides com­plex, aka that build­ing with the shiny, real gold dome, it’s worth a vis­it inside and out.

ADDRESS: 129 Rue de Grenelle (7th arr.)

HOURS: Mon. — Sun. 10a-6p

MÉTRO: Varenne (line 13), Invalides (lines 8, 13) or La Tour Maubourg (line 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Invalides

NUMBER: +33 8 10 11 33 99

HOW TO BOOK: online

INSTAGRAM: @museearmee_invalides

La Conciergerie

Here, we have one of the old­est ves­tiges of the Palais de la Cité. Once a medieval res­i­dence for roy­al­ty, per­haps it’s more well-known for being used as a prison dur­ing the French Rev­o­lu­tion. Most famous­ly, or rather infa­mous­ly, it’s the last place Marie Antoinette stayed before her date with the guil­lo­tine. Now, I’m not sure if they’ll let you eat cake there in her mem­o­ry, but you could see her memo­r­i­al, which was erect­ed near her cell in 1816.

ADDRESS: 2 Boule­vard du Palais (1st arr.)

HOURS: Mon. — Sun. 9:30a-6p

MÉTRO: Châtelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11, 14) or Cité (line 4)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Ile de la Cité

NUMBER: +33 1 53 40 60 80

HOW TO BOOK: online

INSTAGRAM: @la_conciergerie_paris

Hôtel de Ville

Mys­te­ri­ous, cen­tral, and beau­ti­ful, Paris’ main admin­is­tra­tive build­ing, or town hall, also hap­pens to house excel­lent free exhibits on var­i­ous top­ics like Paris his­to­ry, pho­tog­ra­phy, street art, etc., in its Sain-Jean hall. Also, don’t miss its gor­geous his­toric library, which is also open to the public.

ADDRESS: Place de l’Hô­tel de Ville (4th arr.)

HOURS: Mon. — Fri. 8a‑7:30p

MÉTRO: Hôtel de Ville (line 1)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Le Marais

NUMBER: +33 1 42 76 40 40

INSTAGRAM: @hoteldeville_paris