Free Museums in Paris, France

Are you traveling to Paris on a budget? Museum hopping is one of the best things to do in Paris, and while visiting the most popular museums is not cheap, there is a little list of free museums in Paris that you can always pop into for zero euros — at least for their permanent collections.

From arts to science museums with some artists’ workshops in between, you can visit interesting museums in Paris without feeling financially drained! Some of these Paris free museums are well known by the public while others are hidden gems.

Here’s the list of the best free museums Paris has to offer for any kind of traveler.

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Arts & Culture Free Museums in Paris

1. Musée Bourdelle

Bourdelle Museum - Paris
via Flickr CC @Corinne Moncelli

This museum is dedicated to the work of Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), a French sculptor and teacher. Bourdelle was an important figure in the Art Déco movement and the transition from the Beaux-Arts style to modern sculpture.

Antoine Bourdelle was a student and friend of Auguste Rodin, who marked his style considerably. Later, he became the teacher of Giacometti and Henri Matisse.

The museum is set in Bourdelle’s apartment and studio. Apart from the beautiful sculptures, this museum is a great opportunity to see what an artist workshop looked like in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

Address: 16 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, Paris 15; Metro station Montparnasse – Bienvenüe lines 4, 6, 12, and 13. Closed on Mondays.

2. Musée Cognacq-Jay

Ernest Cognacq was the founder of the historic Grands Magasins La Samaritaine. He and his spouse, Marie-Louise Jay, decided to donate their art collection to the City of Paris. The collection is hosted in a beautiful private mansion of Le Marais.

The rich Cognacq-Jay collection consists of artworks from the 18th century, including paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Fragonard, and Boucher. This museum is also a good opportunity to see what a private mansion of Le Marais looks like. This one, in particular, has a beautiful attic with a wooden ceiling reminiscent of the nave of an overturned ship.

Address: Hôtel Donon – 8 Rue Elzévir, Paris 3; Metro station Saint-Paul line 1. Closed on Mondays.

Free Museums in Paris

3. Musée Cernuschi

Cernuschi Museum - Paris
via Flickr CC @Tom Flemming

Among the Paris free museums, this one stands out for the beauty of the building and its collection. The Cernuschi Museum is located in the private mansion where Henri Cernushi (1821-1896) lived, and it shows his private collections of Asian art. Especially remarkable are the rooms dedicated to ancient Chinese art.

Come to this museum if you like Asian art. This free museum in Paris is also a good excuse to visit the beautiful Parc de Monceau, very close to the museum, afterward.

Address: 7 Avenue Velasquez, Paris 8; Metro station Villiers, lines 2 and 3. Closed on Mondays.

4. Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris

Petit Palais - Paris

The Petit Palais is an architectural gem located on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The building was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris with sculptures, paintings, tapestries, art objects, and icons.

The artistic panorama is very large, encompassing Ancient and Medieval collections, works from the French and Italian Renaissance, and Flemish and Dutch paintings.

Come to this museum for an excellent alternative to (the expensive) Grand Palais, also built for the Exposition Universelle. Don’t miss its charming inner outdoor garden, perfect for a coffee or tea break.

Address: Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8; Metro station Champs Elysées – Clemenceau line 1. Closed on Mondays.

5. Musée de la Vie Romantique

Musée Vie Romantique - Paris
via Flickr CC @Ottavi Alain

The Musée de la Vie Romantique is definitely the most romantic of the free Paris museums! It’s a lovely museum located in the former home of the painter of Dutch origin Ary Scheffer, a place for romantic inspiration during the first part of the 19th century.

On the pavilion’s ground floor, the museum exhibits the memories of the novelist George Sand, Scheffer’s neighbor who often visited the painter. Upstairs, the rooms evoke the memories of Ary Scheffer as well as those of his contemporaries.

Don’t miss the museum’s beautiful garden, perfect for a coffee break (and some cakes) in a very romantic atmosphere.

Address: 16 Rue Chaptal, Paris 9; Metro station Pigalle lines 2 and 12. Closed on Mondays.

6. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Modern Art Museum Paris

The Musée d’Art Moderne, located in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo, is devoted to Modern Art in all its forms: paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, and videos.

This is one of the best free museums in Paris, with more than 8,000 works of art showcasing the diverse art trends of the 20th century: Cubism, École de Paris, Abstract Art, and New Realism.

Come to this museum to see works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, and Yves Klein.

Address: 11 Avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16; Metro station Iéna, line 9. Closed on Mondays.

Artists and Writers’ Workshops

7. Atelier Brancusi – Centre Pompidou

Atelier Brancusi - Paris

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) is one of the major artists in the history of modern sculpture. He created most of his works in his workshop in the 15th arrondissement.

In his will, he left his entire workshop to the French State. Today, we can find this workshop entirely reconstructed on the square in front of Centre Pompidou, featuring his unique collection of sculptures, pedestals, photos, and drawings.

Come to this museum to see how artists worked at the beginning of the 20th century and because Brancusi is Brancusi!

Address: Place Georges Pompidou /Rue Saint Martin, Paris 4; Metro station Rambuteau, line 11. Closed on Tuesdays.

8. Maison de Balzac

This little cottage in the 16th Arrondissement was where Balzac wrote “La Comédie Humaine.” Honoré de Balzac left many original editions, manuscripts, and illustrations, which are exhibited in this house today.

The house is super cute, and its surrounding garden has a café and fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower.

Come to this museum to know more about Balzac and his life in this beautiful house.

Address: 47 Rue Raynouard, Paris 16; Metro station Passy, line 6. Closed on Mondays.

9. Maison de Victor Hugo

Maison de Victor Hugo, located in the elegant Place des Vosges, is where the French writer lived for 16 years between 1832 and 1848. In this apartment, Victor Hugo wrote many of his famous novels and also a big part of Les Misérables.

The apartment is in the form of seven rooms in a row, which chronologically evoke the writer’s journey: before the exile, during the exile, and also his life from the exile.

Address: Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée – 6 Place des Vosges, Paris 4;  Metro station Bastille, lines 1, 5 and 8. Closed on Mondays.

History of Paris Free Museums

10. Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris

Musée Carnevalet - Paris

The Musée Carnavalet is dedicated to the history of Paris from its origins to the present. The museum occupies two neighboring private mansions, connected by a gallery on the first floor.

The Carnavalet Museum’s collections are varied and include archaeological remains, paintings, sculptures, drawings, medals and coins, engravings, old photographs, models of monuments, furniture, signs, and portraits, as well as a unique set of testimonies on the French Revolution in Paris. The reconstruction of some historic Parisian interiors is also very interesting.

The Carnavalet Museum is an excellent introduction to Paris. During the good season, the patio hosts one of the best restaurants in Le Marais!

Address: 23 Rue de Sévigné, Paris 3; Metro stations Saint-Paul, line 1 and Chemin Vert, line 8. Closed on Mondays.

11. Musée de la Libération de Paris

Musée Libération de Paris

This museum is dedicated to the Liberation of Paris from the Nazi occupation (25th August 1944) through the journey of two very different men: Jean Moulin and Général Leclerc. The exhibition is dense but very interesting.

One of the most interesting sites of Paris underground, the museum is built above a defense shelter used as a command headquarters by Colonel Rol (future Rol-Tanguy), head of the FFI in the Paris region. This shelter can be visited in small groups and shows the life of the French Resistants in these tunnels.

Address: 4 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14; Metro station Denfert-Rochereau, lines 4 and 6. Closed on Mondays.

Other Free Museums, Paris

12. Musée Curie (Institut du Radium)

Marie Curie Museum - Paris

The Musée Curie is located in one of the old buildings of the Radium Institute in Paris. The building still preserves Marie Curie’s laboratory and office, just as they were when she used them. The museum consists of a permanent exhibition where visitors can learn about the history of Pierre and Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity and its first medical applications with radiotherapy.

I especially loved Marie Curie’s workspaces, where she spent most of her time. Both rooms face over a lovely and peaceful garden, very dear to Marie Curie, that you can also visit. Marie and Pierre Curie are two of the Grands Hommes and Femmes de France, buried in the Panthéon of Paris for their works and discoveries.

Address: 11 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 5; Metro station Cardinal Lemoine, line 10 or Place Monge, line 7. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays.

13. Nouveau Musée du Parfum Fragonard

Fragonard Museum Paris

Paris wouldn’t be Paris without a museum dedicated to perfumes! Originally opened in 1983, the Perfume Museum was renovated by the historical fragrance maker Fragonard and reopened as the Fragonard Musée du Parfum.

To visit the Perfume Museum, you must join a free guided tour in English or French. During the first part of the tour, scent lovers discover Fragonard’s “savoir-faire” and how perfumes are made, while the second part is dedicated to the history of perfumes. Click here for our full article about the Fragonard Perfume Museum.

Address: 3-5 Square de l’Opéra Louis-Jouvet, Paris 9; Metro station Opéra, lines 3, 7, and 8. Closed on Sundays.

So there you have it — the list of the best free museums in Paris, France! Now, all you need to do is decide which free museums to visit (but I suggest doing them all!).

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Quirky Parisian explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the City of Light! Read more about me.