Although Paris may be one of the most luxurious and expensive cities in the world, many travelers may be surprised to learn that you can visit many free museums in Paris!
We will introduce and discuss sixteen of the best free museums in Paris below, with each location offering unique and exciting exhibits, especially welcome on a rainy day in Paris.
There are many free things to do in Paris, and this guide will help you decide which free museums in Paris to explore during your next visit!
Still, if you want to visit a paid museum, like the Louvre (after all, who doesn’t want to see the most famous painting in the Louvre? Hint: Mona Lisa!), be sure to buy a skip-the-line ticket to save time or the Paris Museum Pass to save time and money. (Buy it here).
16 Best Free Museums In Paris Worth A Visit
Here are all the Parisian museums with free entrance. Still, here’s a list of the best museums in Paris, regardless of the entrance fees.
1. Maison De Victor Hugo (Victor Hugo’s House)
While better known for his literary work Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo’s biography extends to poetry, playwright, statesman, congressman, and human rights activist.
In celebration of Victor Hugo’s extraordinary life and accomplishments, the Maison de Victor Hugo was a previous homestead of Hugo before the manor’s conversion into a literary and biographical museum in 2013.
You can see works of art and furniture from his personal collection and even a bust of Auguste Rodin in the small writing room.
Address: 6 Pl. des Vosges, 75004 Paris – 4th arrondissement
2. Musée Cognacq-Jay (Cognacq-Jay Museum)
Although originally a private collection started by Théodore-Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ between 1900 and 1925, the beautiful collection was given to the city of Paris upon Cognacq’s death and was reimagined as a free public museum in 1929.
Musée Cognacq-Jay, another free Paris museum, has over 1,200 Europe and Chinese pieces from the 17, 18th, and 19th centuries, but the primary focus is on the 18th century.
It includes but is not limited to antique furniture, paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewels, and decorative pieces, all within the confines of a French Renaissance manor (including two Rembrandt paintings.)
The entrance fee includes free entrance to the permanent collection, while limited exhibits may be subject to an entrance fee.
Address: 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris – 3rd arrondissement
3. Musée Cernuschi (Cernuschi Museum – Asian Arts Museum of the City of Paris)
Translated as the “Asian Arts Museum of Paris,” the Musée Cernuschi focuses on displaying Asian art, pottery, furniture, antiques, jewelry, and sculptures (despite paradoxically being listed as a free museum in Paris, France!)
Originally started as a private collection, mostly of Chinese pieces, the conversion of a privately owned mansion to a museum led to the introduction of art pieces from Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, therefore transforming the previous elitist space to one of sharing, discovery, and inspiration for everyone!
Some notable highlights of the permanent exhibitions include the Buddha of Meguro and ceramics from the Tong and Song dynasties.
While some of the museum’s pieces are part of permanent exhibitions, many of their artworks and artifacts are showcased in special collections, often subject to an entrance fee.
Address: 7 Av. Velasquez, 75008 Paris – 8th arrondissement
4. Musée Des Beaux-Arts (City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts)
Beginning life after the French Revolution in the Jesuit Church, the expansion of the Musée des Beaux-Arts led to the transfer of the museum’s extensive collection to the Petit Palais.
However, the ongoing collection expansion resulted in numerous renovations and extensions to the museum.
A highlight of the museum’s extensions includes the sculpture garden, which doubles as a venue for social and business events, making it one of the most diverse free museums in Paris.
Consequently, Musée des Beaux-Arts is a space of learning and discovery and a modern venue to meet like-minded people, engage in business discussions, and establish networks in one of Europe’s most iconic cities!
While the permanent collections are free, special temporary exhibitions which are typically shown after 7 pm, require an entrance fee.
Address: Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris – in the 8th arrondissement near the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
5. Musée De La Vie Romantique (Museum of Romantic Life)
Translated as the museum of the Romantic, Musée de la Vie Romantique is a literary museum that features literature, poems, and artwork from the Romantic Period (namely, the early to the mid-19th century.)
While attendance to the museum during its initial opening to the public in 1982 was small, renovations to the property allowed the museum to host more people and exhibitions, which has translated into larger attendance.
Some notable artists whose work forms part of the permanent exhibition include George Sand, Ary Scheffer, Jean August Barre, Francois Debon, and Camille Roqueplan, to name a few!
While permanent exhibits are free and have time, special collections are subject to an entrance fee.
Address: 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris – 9th arrondissement
6. Musée D’Art Moderne De Paris (Paris Museum of Modern Art)
Although it may seem paradoxical to include the words “modern” and “museum” in the same sentence, the Musée D’Art Moderne, the MAM, is dedicated to modern art exhibitions from as far back as the 1960s.
Consequently, it is both a celebration of older styles of modern art and its evolution and progression as contemporary art into the 21st century; thus, the Musée D’Art Moderne creates a historical timeline and predictions, unlike other free museums in Paris.
As the name implies, modern and contemporary art exhibitions are commonplace at the Musée D’Art Moderne, meaning that it is the perfect location for fans of modern art and anyone looking to see the current state of contemporary art!
The permanent exhibitions are free and consist primarily of paintings from famed modern artists, while the special timed shows and temporary exhibitions are subject to an entrance fee.
Address: 11 Av. du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris – 16th arrondissement
Read next: Best Landmarks in Paris
7. Musée De La Liberation De Paris (Liberation of Paris Museum)
Opened in 1994 to commemorate Jean Moulin and Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque (two significant leaders of the Resistance during the Second World War), the museum is split into multiple rooms, with each exhibition telling the story and experiences of both freedom fighters in chronological order.
Consequently, the museum feels less like a space for documents and artifacts and more like an interactive storybook to move through and explore at your leisure!
The Musée de la Liberation de Paris is a smaller museum with limited timed exhibitions, meaning that it is free of charge.
Address: 4 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris – 14th arrondissement
8. Musée De l’Aviation Et De l’Espace (Air and Space Museum)
As an early pioneer and innovator of aerospace technology, the Musée de l’Aviation et de l’Espace stands as a celebration of France’s contribution and achievements in aerospace travel since the early 20th century.
The Musée de l’Aviation et de l’Espace is one of the oldest aviation museums globally, housing thousands of pieces and numerous aircraft throughout the decades across multiple hangers (including multiple international models, artifacts, and replicas.)
The Musée de l’Aviation et de l’Espace is a must-visit for fans of history, airplanes, and space travel, with free entrance to its permanent exhibitions and paid entrance to special exhibits like the Boeing, Concorde, and Dakota “Boarding Pass.”
Address: Aéroport de Paris-Le Bourget, 93352 Le Bourget
9. Musée Curie (Curie Museum)
Previously the laboratory of Nobel Prize Winner Marie Curie, the Musée Curie was opened in 1964 and housed various exhibitions and instruments to educate visitors on the history, science, and implication of artificial radioactivity.
Following the popularity of the museum, Marie Curie’s actual chemistry laboratory was decontaminated and reconstructed, thus allowing visitors to safely enter and explore the real space and equipment, which was instrumental in improving our understanding of the uses and dangers of radiation and oncology.
Marie Curie remains a central figure in scientific research and a figurehead for improving access to STEM for women in the 21st century.
Although permanent exhibitions are free, the museum does allow visitors to donate money to the Musée Curie.
Address: 1 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris – 5th arrondissement
10. Musée Carnavalet (Carnavalet Museum)
When visiting Paris, there is arguably no museum more critical than the Musée Carnavalet.
The reason is that out of all the free museums in Paris, there is no other museum that is dedicated exclusively to the history of the iconic French capital.
Consisting of a pair of 17th-century mansions, every space is adorned with authentic furnishings from this period in French and Parisian history, meaning that there are thousands of pieces of paintings, sculptures, antiques, furniture, and decorative pieces which tell the story of Paris.
Consequently, the design and theming of the museum are exhibited in such a way as to transport visitors back in time and make them experience the history of Paris and see its evolution organically rather than simply being presented with the information in a traditional sense.
While the museum was closed for renovations, it has been reopened with more rooms and improved exhibitions, meaning that free entry to the permanent collections just got even better! (While unique, timed presentations are subject to an entrance fee.)
Address: 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris – 3rd arrondissement
11. Maison De Balzac (Balzac’s House)
Located in the former residence of acclaimed 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac, the Maison de Balzac is a converted literary museum and one of the best free literary museums to visit during your next stay in Paris!
Renovated in 2012, the literary home come museum includes five different rooms which house the author’s furniture, trinkets, memorabilia, and writing materials from Honoré de Balzac’s writing career in the 19th century.
The first floor includes a library dedicated to Honoré de Balzac’s writing pieces, books about Honoré de Balzac, and historical newspaper and magazine articles from the 19th century that highlighted Honoré de Balzac’s success.
The Maison de Balzac is further situated in the former village of Passy, which until 1860, was located outside of Paris.
Passy was a historic village, with the original Maison de Balzac dating back to the medieval period!
Consequently, the village of Passy is an extension of the history of the museum and its previous residents, making the trip to the Maison de Balzac and its surroundings a historical exhibition in itself!
Entrance is free to permanent exhibitions, while timed special collections charge an entrance fee.
Address: 47 Rue Raynouard, 75016 Paris – 16th arrondissement
12. Mémorial De la Shoah (Shoah Memorial)
Because of the occupation of France by Germany in WW2, Paris has a deep connection to the war and the atrocities committed by the German army during their occupation and subsequent Blitzkrieg of Western Europe.
The Mémorial de la Shoah is a Holocaust museum and memorial that was constructed in the Marias district in 2005.
The location is of great significance, as the Marais district was home to a sizeable Jewish population in Paris prior to the invasion by the Germans and the subsequent persecution of the Jewish families that lived in Marais.
Notable areas of the Mémorial de la Shoah include the Wall of Names, which has the inscriptions of over 76,000 French Jews that were evicted and executed by the Germans during the occupation of Paris, the Crypt, which houses the ashes of victims of the various death camps and the Warsaw Ghetto, and various exhibits which house historical documents and artifacts.
Entrances to permanent exhibitions are free, as well as most temporary exhibitions. However, visitors are allowed to make donations to the Mémorial de la Shoah.
Address: 17 Rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 75004 Paris – 4th arrondissement
13. Musée De La Préfecture De Police (Paris Police Museum)
Like other major cities like London or New York, Paris has a long and chequered history of crime and punishment throughout the centuries.
The Musée de la Préfecture de Police houses the history, stories, characters, and true crime scenarios throughout the city’s history, along with historical photographs, police equipment, letters, memorabilia, uniforms, forensic tools, and methods of execution (such as France’s notorious use of the guillotine!)
The Musée de la Préfecture de Police further covers the occupation of Paris by Germany, the crimes they committed during the occupation, and the role French police, soldiers, and civilians played as members of the French Resistance.
Address: 4 Rue de la Montagne Ste Geneviève, 75005 Paris – 5th arrondissement
14. Musée De La Légion D’Honneur (National Museum of the Legion of Honour and of Orders of Chivalry)
Due to France’s long and troubled history with monarchs, military achievements, scientific endeavors, and artistic expression, it’s not surprising to learn that France has a national museum dedicated to orders of chivalry and merit.
Opened in 1925, the museum houses thousands of honors, medals, decorations, and awards dating back to King Louis XI to the present day.
Consequently, the Musée de la Légion d’Honneur is a must-visit for anyone interested in French accomplishments throughout history and the tales of the people that made them possible!
Although permanent exhibitions are free, the museum does allow visitors to donate money to the Musée de la Légion d’Honneur.
Address: 2 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris – 7th arrondissement
15. Musée D’Art Et D’Histoire De L’Hôpital Sainte-Anne (Saint-Anne Hospital Museum of Art and History)
Commonly known by its abbreviation (MAHHSA,) Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de l’Hôpital Sainte-Anne is the first “hospital museum” in France and stands in testimony to the artwork and the accomplishments of patients suffering from mental illness through the 20th century.
Consequently, it is a space to understand and engage with the thoughts, feelings, emotions, struggles, and creativity of mentally ill persons; while humanizing their struggles and uncovering the beauty and artistry that can be found within the deepest and darkest corners of the mind.
Address: 1 Rue Cabanis, 75014 Paris – 14th arrondissement
16. Musée Bourdelle (Bourdelle Museum)
The popularity and the diversity of pieces on display make it one of the best free museums in Paris, meaning it should be on anyone’s radar once it has been reopened to the public!
The museum pays homage to its namesake, renowned sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, by housing over fifty beautiful sculptures while preserving his original studio.
The purpose is to showcase Bourdelle’s artistic evolution and life story chronologically.
Bourdelle, a pupil of Auguste Rodin, was a French artist who mentored Alberto Giacometti.
While the museum has bronze, marble, and plaster sculptures from other artists, it also has various paintings and sketches from Bourdelle’s private collection.
On top of Bourdelle’s personal collection, the museum also showcases over 500 works of French artists, like Eugène Delacroix, Auguste Rodin, and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
While permanent exhibitions are free, limited exhibits may be subject to an entrance fee.
Address: 18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris – 15th arrondissement
More Free Paris Museums Worth Checking Out
- Atelier Brancusi – Constantin Brancusi’s sculptures are located in the 4th arrondissement
- Musée Zadkine – former studio of Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine converted into a museum in the 6th arrondissement
Paid Parisian Museums With Free Entrance On The First Sunday Of The Month
- Musée Rodin
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
- Musée National Delacroix
- Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet
- Musée du Quai Branly
- Musée Albert Kahn
- Musée des Années 30
- Musée de l’Orangerie
- Musée National Gustave Moreau
- Musée des Arts et Métiers
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée National de la Renaissance
- Centre Pompidou
- Musée National Jean-Jacques Henner
- Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
- Musée Cluny-National Medieval Museum
- Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration
- Musée de l’Assistance Publique
- Château de Malmaison
- Musée National du Moyen Age
Did you like this article about free museums in Paris? Then share it with your friends!
16 Best Free Museums in Paris
- Maison De Victor Hugo
- Musée Cognacq-Jay
- Musée Cernuschi
- Musée Des Beaux-Arts
- Musée De La Vie Romantique
- Musée D’Art Moderne De Paris
- Musée De La Liberation De Paris
- Musée De l’Aviation Et De l’Espace
- Musée Curie
- Musée Carnavalet
- Maison De Balzac
- Mémorial De la Shoah
- Musée De La Préfecture De Police
- Musée De La Légion D’Honneur
- Musée D’Art Et D’Histoire De L’Hôpital Sainte-Anne
- Musée Bourdelle
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