Paris Museums and Galleries

Establishment neighborhood
Château de Versailles
Place d'Armes, Versailles
Located on the Western edge of Paris, which requires a brief train trip or drive, Louis XIV's over-the-top pleasure palace is so ridiculously ornate, you'll want to get dressed up for the occasion, if only because every surface is reflective, from the gilded mirrors to the glittery chandeliers. The gardens are just as impressive as the palace, and, in the summer, offers train rides, rowing, and biking. Don’t miss the Petit Trianon, which were Marie Antoinette’s private quarters. Photograph by Thomas Garnier
Musée du Louvre
Musée du Louvre, 1st
In its original 12th-century incarnation, the Louvre was a fortress (you can still see remnants of this down in the crypt); it morphed over the years into a larger and larger palace until Louis XIV decamped to Versailles and left it to house the royal collection (which already included Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, which was brought into the fold by Frances I in the mid 1500s). It didn't assume its museum status until after the French Revolution, at which point its acquisition pace quickened intensively: The museum has almost 400,000 pieces, of which about 35,000 are on display at any given time. And there's very little filler or fluff in the mix. While the crowds queue up around I.M. Pei's glass pyramid, you can buy advance tickets online. Though it's theoretically possible to marathon your way through the museum in one swoop, we strongly recommend scattering a few short(er) visits across the length of your stay. We haven't tried it, but we hear great things about THATLou—they organize treasure hunts through the museum.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
8 Ave. du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 16th
Located in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry’s gleaming, some say boat-like structure for the Fondation Louis Vuitton is the latest gem to dot the Parisian architectural landscape. Though Bernard Arnault’s foundation opened late last year to much ado—mostly because of its splashy glass construction—it’s really only now that you get to see the collection. Currently, "The Keys to a Passion," packs a punch with major works of art by Edward Munch, Constantin Brancusi, and Matisse on loan from major institutions around the world. Since opening, the museum has been slowly revealing more of Arnault’s own collection—including contemporary works by Tacita Dean, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Bas Jan Ader—the third stage of which opens next month. The staged reveal makes a welcome excuse to return again and again. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton.