it's difficult to imagine being in paris without going to the louvre, but if you've been once or twice before don't feel compelled to go back just because it's the place to go. there's way too much to see, the miles of walking completely tires you out and time just gets eaten in that massive black-hole of a gallery. i quite like going to the grounds, hanging near the tuileries and maybe looking in on musée des arts décoratifs beside it. but i can do without the thousands of tourists nowadays. it's a bit more pleasant in winter when it's quiet, but there's so much to do and see in paris that i'd just avoid it competely. the following places are museums i would recommend going to, that me and my sister have seemed to enjoy the most. i haven't discovered any wonderful little independent galleries, most of these you will find in any travel guide. but i have sieved through the ones that aren't so good and have left the best. here are my top six:
1. POMPIDOU CENTRE
it took us a few trips to paris before going to see the permanent collection at the pompidou centre, but i wish we had gone sooner. they have an amazing collection of modern art, lots of it american such as warhol, rothko (which made me and tasha really happy), jackson pollock and robert rauschenberg. they also have some really good temporary exhibitions on, this is where we saw 'munch: the modern eye' a couple of years back before it went to the tate in london. i'm also gonna rate these places on the café and shop because these are obviously very important aspects of any museum or gallery, i feel i can say that with some authority after having done a degree in history of art. the café ain't great, i'm not gonna lie, but they have a great shop and this is one of the best places to get your postcards from to send home. they have a massive collection.
2. RODIN MUSEUM
this is another newcomer, we only went for the first time on our last trip. i'm not sure if it's because we were skint and the cashier waved tasha's entrance fee but we really enjoyed ourselves here. the gardens are sort of the main thing with rodin's statues just kind of dotted around the place. it provides many great photo opportunities and it's definitely a more relaxed place to go in the centre of paris. you can just kind of sit down for an hour in the gardens or get a coffee and feel content. there's an indoor museum, it was okay, nothing extremely interesting but that may have just been because i was tired. it's quite small so it doesn't take up much time anyway. i'd say the main point about this place is that if it's a warm day and you want a cheap picnic lunch, you can have it here and it makes for very nice surroundings. the café(s?) and shop are nothing to write home about.
3. MUSEE D'ORSAY
yeah obviously. way better than the louvre, there's less to see so you're not as overwhelmed, and they've got all the good stuff here. all the impressionism and post-impressionism, the masterpieces by renoir and manet, but other good ones like toulouse-lautrec. the good thing about all these places is that they are free for people under twenty six which is a great opportunity to take advantage of. i like it because it makes you feel like you're not compelled to see everything like you would if you were paying. the café on the ground floor is rubbish. i'm not sure what it is with paris and big galleries, but they always serve coffee in paper cups out of the machine and then charge you four euros for it. they need to sort it out! i know there's another one on the top floor, maybe it's a restaurant, i have a feeling that one would be better. the shop is fairly good, you can get postcards of your favourites.
(photo credit: tasha rouse)
4. SWEDISH INSTITUTE
i mentioned this place in my previous post on places to eat, but the gallery itself is also really good. it's just a couple of rooms, you can quickly pop in and pop out after you've gone to the café. it's worth your while to see what they have on as we once saw a small jockum nordström exhibition. i think it's good to find a balance between large galleries that will take up a morning or afternoon, and then smaller ones that will only take twenty minutes. this is one of those smaller places, and it's really near rue vielle du temple so there's plenty of other things to do in the area.
(photo credit: tasha rouse)
crossed between a taxidermy museum and a shop, in deyrolle you can buy all the pieces on show. it feels a bit like walking into a natural history museum full of glass cabinets and strange skeletons and i'm always amazed by the range of animals they have, from life-sized tigers to the smallest butterflies. i love imagining the sorts of people who buy the animals from deyrolle and what kinds of homes they end up in. they also sell some cool posters and notebooks that make great gifts to bring back for people. tasha took me here on our first trip and we have went back every single time. deyrolle appears in the woody allen film 'midnight in paris', so i'd recommend watching that before your trip and then coming here.
6. MUSEE DES ARTS DECORATIFS
this museum has put on some of my favourite exhibitions that i've ever been to. last year i went just in time, literally i think the last day it was on, to see the marc jacobs and louis vuitton exhibiton. and it was wonderful! i love seeing the most extravagent and beautiful clothing in museums, it really gives you the time to look as long as you want and examine every aspect from the fabric to the jewels or netting or whatever else the embellishment may be. we also saw a free babar exhibition that was full of original drawings and paraphernalia about the children's books, although i remember babar as a tv programme. it was a great insight to learn the history of babar that i didn't know existed at all, and some of the old books (like the one you see below) were so pretty. it really did feel like a very unique exhibition.