Best Free Museums in Paris

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 where you can always pop into for absolutely free. At least for its 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 museums are well known by the public while others are hidden gems. We invite you to go off the beaten path, you will find out that Paris has much more to offer than the Louvre Museum or the Orsay Museum . . . and for free.

Here’s the list of our favorite free museums Paris has to offer.


Free Museums in Paris – Arts & Culture

Musée Bourdelle

16 rue Antoine Bourdelle, Paris 15 – Metro Station Montparnasse – Bienvenüe Lines 4, 6, 12, 13 ; Vélib Station #15.002

Bourdelle Museum - Paris

via Flickr CC @Corinne Moncelli
  • District: Paris 15
  • Subject: Sculpture
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

This museum is dedicated to the work of Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), French sculptor, and teacher. He was a student and friend of Auguste Rodin, who marked his style considerably, and a teacher of Giacometti and Henri Matisse. Bourdelle was also an important figure in the Art Déco movement and the transition from the Beaux-Arts style to modern sculpture.

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


Musée Cognacq-Jay

Hôtel Donon – 8 rue Elzévir, Paris 3; Metro Station Saint-Paul Line 1; Vélib Station #3.013
  • District: Paris 3
  • Subject: Painting
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

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

The collection consists of artwork of the 18th century with paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Fragonard or Boucher. This museum is also a good opportunity to see how 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.

Free Museums in Paris


Musée Cernuschi

7 avenue Velasquez, Paris 8 – Metro Station Villiers Lines 2, 3; Vélib Station #8.037

Cernuschi Museum - Paris

via Flickr CC @Tom Flemming
  • District: Paris 8
  • Subject: Asian arts
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

Amongst the Paris free museums, this one outstands 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.


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

Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8; Metro Station Champs-Elysées– Clemenceau Line 1; VÉlib Station #8.001

Petit Palais - Paris

  • District: Paris 8
  • Subject: Beaux-Arts
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

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, from Ancient and Medieval collections to 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 Universal Exposition. Don’t miss its charming inner outdoor garden, perfect for a coffee or tea break.


Musée de la Vie Romantique

16 rue Chaptal, Paris 9; Metro Station Pigalle Lines 2, 12; Vélib Stations # 9.028 and 9.026

Musée Vie Romantique - Paris

via Flickr CC @Ottavi Alain
  • District: Paris 9
  • Subject: Arts and Litterature
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

This is definitely the most romantic of the free Paris museums! The Musée de la Vie Romantique is a cute museum located in the former home of the painter of Dutch origin Ary Scheffer and a home of romantic inspiration during the first part of the 19th century.

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

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


Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

11 Avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16 – Metro Station Iéna Line 9; Vélib Station #8.046

Modern Art Museum Paris

  • District: Paris 16
  • Subject: Arts
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

This museum 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.

The museum’s permanent collections, with more than 8,000 works of art, show 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. This Paris Museum is one of the best free Paris museums.


Paris Free Museums – Artists & Writers’ Workshops

Atelier Brancusi – Centre Pompidou

Place Georges Pompidou /Rue Saint Martin, Paris 4; Metro Station Rambuteau, Line 11; Vélib Station #4.021

Atelier Brancusi - Paris

  • District: Paris 4
  • Subject: Sculpture
  • Opening times: from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on Tuesday.

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) was a major artist in the history of modern sculpture. He created most of his works in the workshop which he occupied 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!


Maison de Balzac

47 rue Raynouard, Paris 16; Metro Station Passy Line 6; Vélib Station #16.112
  • District: Paris 16
  • Subject: Litterature
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

The Maison de Balzac is the last famous Parisian novelist’s house to exist today. It was in this house where he wrote “La Comédie Humaine”. Honoré de Balzac left many original editions, manuscripts, and illustrations exhibited in this house today.

We like the house by itself, especially its terraced layout and the surrounding garden with fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower.

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


Musée Zadkine 

100 bis rue d’Assas, Paris 6; Metro Station Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Line 12; Vélib Stations #6.008 and 6.018

Zadkine Museum Paris

via Flickr CC @Pierre Lannes
  • District: Paris 6
  • Subject: Sculpture
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

This museum is a hidden gem, not far from the Luxemburg Gardens. Ossip Zadkine, a Russian sculptor, arrived at Montparnasse in 1909. After some time here and there he moved with his wife, also an artist, to this studio located on Assas Street. They lived and worked in this house until their last days. Head here to read our article on this museum.

Come to this museum to discover a hidden, picturesque place that few Parisians know.


Maison de Victor Hugo

Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée – 6 place des Vosges, Paris 4;  M. Bastille, L1, 5 and 8; Velib Station #4.101
  • District: Paris 4
  • Subject: Litterature
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

Maison de Victor Hugo is the writer’s house-museum, located where Victor Hugo lived for 16 years between 1832–1848. 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.


Free Museums in Paris – History

Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris

23 rue de Sévigné, Paris 3; Metro Station Saint-Paul, Line 1 or Metro Station Chemin Vert, Line 8; Vélib Stations #3.013

Musée Carnevalet - Paris

  • District: Paris 3
  • Subject: Hisotry
  • Opening times: TBD. Currently closed for renovation works.

The Musée Carnavalet is dedicated to the history of the city of Paris from its origins to our days. The museum occupies two neighboring private mansions linked by a gallery on the first floor.

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

The Carnevalet Museum is an excellent introduction to Paris for first-timers.

Musée de la Libération de Paris – Musée Jean Moulin – Musée Général Leclerc

4 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14; Metro Station Denfert-Rochereau, Lines 4 and 6

Musée Libération de Paris

  • District: Paris 14
  • Subject: Hisotry
  • Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.

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.

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 underground tunnels.

Other Paris Free Museums

Musée Curie (Institut du Radium)

11 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 5; Metro Station Cardinal Lemoine, Line 10 or Place Monge, Line 7; Vélib Station #5.012

Marie Curie Museum - Paris

  • District: Paris 5
  • Subject: Science
  • Opening times: Wednesday to Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Sunday.

The Curie Historical Museum 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 like when she used them. The museum consists of a permanent exhibition where visitors can learn about the history of the discovery of radioactivity by Pierre and Marie Curie and its first medical applications with radiotherapy.

We 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.


Nouveau Musée du Parfum Fragonard

3-5 square de l’Opéra Louis-Jouvet, Paris 9; Metro Station Opéra, Lines 3, 7 and 8;  Vélib Station #9.106

Fragonard Museum Paris

  • District: Paris 9
  • Subject: Perfumes
  • Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. Closed on Sunday.

Paris wouldn’t be Paris without a museum dedicated to Perfume! 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 it is necessary to 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. Head here for our full article about the Fragonard Perfume Museum.

So there you have it, the list of the best free museums in Paris! Who needs to see the must-visit museums in Paris when there are so many little gems to explore for free? Now all you need to do is decide which free museums you will do on your trip to Paris (but we suggest to do them all!).

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