Paris, France is defacto one of the world’s best cities for art lovers, with a mix of elegant modern galleries and timeless global treasures like the Louvre equally accessible to those living in or exploring the city.
The cultural predilection for avant-garde aesthetics and simultaneous access to antiquities, moreover, make discovering art in Paris a real treat for creatives, design lovers, and art history buffs, alike.
Whether you’re seeking an edgy hole-in-the-wall gallery experience or the quintessential immersion in fine art that is a staple of tourism in the city, this list can help you out.
Below, we spotlight a handful of essential Paris art galleries for you to add to your Bucket List. You haven’t experienced the art scene in Paris until you’ve visited them all. These are the classics, old and new. (Trust me.)
Bookmark this list for easy reference later.
Amelie Maison d’Art
Amelie Maison d’Art on Rue Clauzel is a Parisian hipster’s minimalist paradise. For those who like abstract art, feminism, formless shapes, and a pop of color, this gallery is delightfully welcome, if evocatively simple.
This little-known-outside-the-city contemporary gallery allows visitors to “discover artworks of various artists in warm, home interiors”. In that way, it hybridizes both design and art in perfect aesthetic union.
In my opinion, this is one of Paris’s best galleries for design lovers and those who want to bask in beautiful spaces. The layout is almost more of a draw than the art itself; it’s a whole vibe. Go for the experience (if not the ‘gram).
Beautiful spaces like this teach visitors how to see spaces differently, and to appreciate the power of aesthetics on mood and well-being. It’s a great gallery for inspiration and contemplation alike.
Beautiful building, tastefully curated, the d’Orsay Museum is possibly the most iconic Paris art gallery outside of the Louvre.
The establishment has held past exhibitions on masters like Gaudi, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, Edvard Munch, and more. They’ve famously hosted iconic works like Degas’ 1880 La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (aka “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer”), Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait (1889), and Claude Monet’s Poppies (1873).
They also offer popular culture programs like cinema nights and magnificent dining (this is Paris, after all).
Ultimately, the building’s architecture itself is also stunning and worth checking out in its own right. (The Musée is housed in a former gilded-age train station with a lovely Terrasse d’Été– aka summer terrace– that looks out over the Seine. In the spring and summer, it’s absolutely fabulous.)
Either way, no matter when you do, be sure to take in the views from the iconic Orsay Museum Clock. (Above shown.)
Ketabi Bourdet‘s stonewashed gallery in the 6th arrondissement will endear those who love NYC’s carefully-considered gallery district minimalism and the chic, commanding cool that only the contemporary Paris art scene can offer.
This gallery in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés is housed in the city’s historic art and design district, which makes it a great place to see esteemed as well as inspiring up-and-coming artists alike.
Recent exhibits feature young, exuberant, color-focused artists like Inès Longevial and Julien Saudubray, among others, while elsewhere in the gallery the focus is tied to contemporary art and design from the 80s and 90s. As a relative newcomer in the Paris art scene, the gallerists nevertheless have already made a strong impression.
Exhibits here are usually quick to unfold, typically only on display for about a month, which means you’ll always see something new, fresh, and exciting at this gallery.
Ultimately, the balance of art and design on display makes Ketabi Bourdet a variable force in the city’s already-impressive landscape of aesthetically-pleasing creative work. Basically, if you want to see soul-stirring art at a “hot new gallery in Paris”, this one is your best bet.
The city of Paris museum of fine art, Petit Palais, is THE fine art institution in the city. This gorgeous and otherworldly setting is full of OG masterwork and hidden gems of antiquity just waiting to be discovered.
It’s no surprise, then, that the city’s real art lovers and creative directors flock here for inspiration. This national museum is still somewhat underrecognized by foreigners, who tend to head instead to the Louvre or d’Orsay Museum for their mainstream Parisian art experience.
Nevertheless, those looking for a thorough experience of the city’s art offerings would be remiss not to schedule an afternoon visit to The Petit Palais, where admission to the permanent collections is free.
We love the North Wing sculpture gallery, where wandering amongst the figures feels like an otherworldly experience.
The Louvre, of course, is an essential bucket list destination in Paris. (But you already knew that.) The Musée du Louvre, moreover, is THE Paris museum– it’s the Beyonce of Paris Museums! If you only visit one Big League art institution in the city, let it be this one.
What you may not already know, however, is how to best navigate it. You could easily spend days here!
At the Louvre, you’ll see iconic works like the Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci’s 1503 work that is easily the world’s most famous painting) as well as the armless Venus de Milo statue, and the Coronation of Napoleon (the 1807 work by Napoleon’s official painter Jacques-Louis David, which depicts his coronation at nearby Notre-Dame).
^ Naturally, it’s very touristy and these works typically draw a crowd, so if seeing them is important to you, plan your allotted time accordingly. It usually takes about 2-3 hours to get an overview of the Louvre’s collections– but staying too long (say, a whole day) can lead to sensory overload.
Either way, on your way in or out of the Louvre, be sure to appreciate the details of I. M. Pei’s iconic glass Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre)– one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.
Galerie Templon is sort of “out there” and funky, and more like Venice Beach than Paris in flavor, for sure. Fans of street and interactive art will happily find a home in this boundary-pushing staple of the Paris art scene, which has been around for over five decades.
The gallery has two Paris exhibit spaces: one at 30 rue Beaubourg and the other at 28 rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare.
Here, expect to see works from a number of internationally regarded contemporary artists, the likes of whom also display at international art happenings like the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennale, and Art Basel.
Over the years, moreover, this gallery has played host to a number of iconic artists’ work, from Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Andy Warhol to Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Richard Long. (The gallery’s founder, Daniel Templon, is credited with introducing many contemporary American artists to the French public in the 1970s, and that world-class legacy looms large. Templon now has galleries in Brussels and New York City, as well.)
Musée de l’Orangerie
The Musée de l’Orangerie is located right next to the Tuilleries and is known for its iconic display of some of Claude Monet’s largest paintings from the Water Lilies series.
Housed in a striking oval room that gives the viewer a panopticon perspective, Water Lilies may be the museum’s biggest tourism draw; but repeat visitors love the cultural programming that often takes place in that gallery, from avant-garde interpretative dance to lectures by esteemed art world icons.
Ultimately, l’Orangerie is a real painting-lovers museum, featuring a wide variety of canvases from the great painters of the School of Paris and beyond.
Plus, the location is adjacent to the Tuilleries Garden (a beautiful place to stroll en route to the Louvre or Place de la Concorde), which makes it a great one-stop spot to take in some of Paris’ most iconic sights in the 1st arrondissement.
Galerie Cecile Fakhoury
With additional locations in Abidjan and Dakar, the Paris outpost of Galerie Cecile Fakhoury is one of the most intriguing Contemporary Art galleries in Paris. The space is super sparse and minimalistic, but the works are quick to pack an (often controversial) punch.
If you’re looking to see art that challenges the norm, go here. Recurring motifs include critiques of Western imperialism, cultural and gender appropriation, Black figuration, global development, and colonization.
The works, moreover, often challenge pervading notions of the inherited iconography from these tropes. Ultimately, they speak for themselves.
Musée du quai Branly
For indigenous art and epic exterior landscaping, head to Musée du quai Branly, which is just a few steps from the Eiffel Tower along the Seine. The Quai Branly museum collects works and artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas– which, like all museums that do this, is an increasingly controversial pursuit but one that draws visitors from all over the world nevertheless.
Nevertheless, the works and presentations here remain one-of-a-kind. I personally just love the green wall exterior of the building’s northwest facade.
^ Here, architecture lovers can marvel at a 200-meter-long by 12-meter-tall fluffy green wall, designed by French botanist Dr. Patrick Blanc. The biodiversity of organisms living within the display here echoes the geographic diversity that defines the art inside the museum. (For this commission, Blanc collected a variety of specimens from across the world’s main temperate zones, so that they would all thrive in Paris.)
Today, it’s one of the most photographed vertical gardens in the world, and it’s worth seeing. You don’t even have to go inside. C’est magnifique!
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