The Louvre is not the only museum in Paris! Here’s a list of my favorite non-Louvre places to find great art in the City of Lights.
This museum sits across the river from The Louvre, and it’s much smaller. You’ll still need a couple of [long] days to get through it, but you can spend one day there and at least feel like you’ve made a dent. I like this museum better than The Louvre because it’s not so overwhelming and because it has a larger collection of some of my favorite artists, including Degas, Cézanne and Matisse. The lines are often shorter here, too.
The art? It’s mostly French, 1848 to 1914.
The experience? You walk through tall rooms, walls covered with stunning art, and think about all the ways these artists have brought beauty into the world. It might make you want to do the same. It’s pure inspiration.
This museum is a national treasure. Zadkine was a cubist artist with what this traveler thinks is an amazing eye for beauty in dark moments. (See the sketch below of a post-war hospital room.) Zadkine lived and worked in this building, which was converted to a museum upon his death. With the gorgeous lighting and architecture, you’ll see why he thrived there. There’s even a large outdoor area, where many of his sculptures are displayed in a garden. It’s a bright, friendly, welcoming place. Spend a peaceful and thoughtful morning here, and enjoy Zadkine’s amazing art.
This museum is smaller even than Musee D’Orsay, but it’s well worth a visit, if only to see the wonder that is eight of Monet’s giant, panoramic Water Lilies. See in the photo, a woman standing in front of one, for scale.
L’Orangerie also contains its fair share of art by Henri Matisse, which makes me very, very happy. (Can you tell I love Matisse?) If you love French art, you must visit L’Orangerie.
This museum contains art from every period of Picasso’s career. And, for added intrigue, it’s set alongside the art of his protege, Alberto Giacometti. The displays move through the two artists’ careers in parallel and shows how each inspired the other. There are sculptures, paintings, sketches, and even doodles.
My favorite moment in this museum was discovering Giacometti’s sculpture of Picasso’s Afghan Hound (see the featured photo for this post!). Turns out, it’s the same dog who reportedly stole a baguette off one of Salvador Dali’s sculptures, prodding Dali to replace it, sadly, with a wax baguette. This story, told between two museums and across two days of my trip, made for a very special and inspiring moment.
By the way? Check out the Wikipedia link about this museum for some fascinating history about why certain work by Picasso was ‘donated.’ (Hint: TAXES.)
The Dali Museum
I talk about this glorious museum in my post about Montmartre. It’s another personal favorite and a must-see.
If you visit any of these places, comment and let me know what you think! And if you’re curious for more, see my other posts on Paris.
~Page Light Studios