Even though the Louvre has a bit of everything, sometimes it’s nice to go to a museum where you don’t feel overwhelmed. These specialty museums offer a look at one topic at a time, some of them just one artist.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
This museum is next to the Louvre and they will make sure you know it’s not the Louvre. This museum shows off the decorative arts. There are tapestries, desks, chairs, clocks, enamel plates, cups and bowls as well as perfume bottles and all sorts of different types of glass. The closest metro lines are 1 and 7.
The Picasso museum shows a variety of Picasso’s work over his life. It’s also air conditioned which is a nice perk in the summertime. It is located in the heart of the Marais. There are many metro lines that lead here.
This museum is all about inventions. They have typewriters, flying machines, telescopes, and scales. Arts-et-Métiers also has looms, radios, clocks, as well as information and models of the Statue of Liberty. This museum is in the 3rd arr. and is off the metro 3 or 11 line.
Museum of Honor
Also known as Grande Chancellierie De La Légion D’Honneur this museum is filled with medals and jewelry from all over the world. Make sure to open all the drawers in the main room to see medals and jewelry from many countries. There are also some of Napoleon’s clothes sewn with gold thread. The museum is located next to Musee d’Orsay, across from the Tuileries Garden. Metro line 12.
The Cluny Museum is a playground of medieval art. Their collection includes the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestry. It’s made up of six pieces and woven circa 1500. Each tapestry represents one of the five senses and the sixth one is up for debate, possibly love. The Cluny is located in the 5th arr. with the metro line 10 right outside.
One of my favorite museums because there are samples of chocolate throughout. The exhibits walk you through how chocolate went from being sacrificed to the Mayan Gods to an everyday indulgence. You can read more about the museum on my post Choco-Story Paris. The museum is located in the 10th arr. off metro lines 8 and 9, only a few blocks from Passage Jouffroy.
Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
The Gallery of Evolution is filled with life like creatures from the ocean to the Savannah in Africa, and even the Dodo Bird. The building itself is fascinating as well. It’s a grand iron structure from 1889 with three balconies overlooking a great hall. There is also a glass ceiling. This Gallery is located in the 5th arr. near the metro line 7.
Les Invalides is a combination of many small museums. There is a one room museum of music used in battle. Another room or museum of army figures. Also included in these museums is armor for humans and horses, a relief map museum and the grand display of Napoleon’s tomb.
Grand and Petit Palais
These two museums, which are across from each other both host interesting temporary exhibits. I have seen an exhibit about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and French artists exiled to London between 1870 and 1904. The latter had an art class right in the middle of the exhibit that anyone could join. These museums are located off the Champs-Elysee. Metro line 1 and 13.
The Conciergerie was a huge medieval palace that became a prison where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned. You can explore old jail cells and see where the cavalry was kept. You can use a histo-pad, an iPad video/audio tour, to see what the rooms would have looked like in medieval days. The Conciergerie is on one of the two little islands in the Seine so there are many ways to get there including metro lines 1, 4, 11, and 14 as well as many busses.