Paris Museums and Galleries
Musée du Quai Branly
37 Quai Branly, 7th
Opened in 2006 in a soaring space designed by Jean Nouvel, this is part museum and part research/education center. You'll see a compendious display of objects and art from African, Oceanic, Asian, and American cultures that truly appeals to all ages. We always make any trip here revolve around lunch in order to take a pitstop at Les Ombres on the 5th floor: It has great views of the Eiffel Tower.
Galerie Chantal Crousel
10 Rue Charlot, 3rd
This is Chantal Crousel's second location, offering the same reliably excellent mix of emerging and established artists from the contemporary art scene: In the past, she's exhibited talents like Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Sophie Calle, and Richard Prince.
Galerie Chez Valentin
9 Rue Saint-Gilles, 3rd
Chez Valentin may be small in size, but it's big on ambition: The contemporary artwork here always pushes the envelope in the most compelling way.
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
76 Rue de Turenne, 3rd
Best known for giving Damien Hirst his first solo show in 1991, Galerie Perrotin trailblazed in the Asian art market (they also gave Takashi Murakami his first exhibition outside of Japan). Over the intervening years, Galerie Perrotin's pace hasn't dwindled: They continue to launch up-and-coming artists from around the globe.
La Gaîté Lyrique
3 Bis Rue Papin, 3rd
In a wildly compelling juxtaposition, this museum pairs electronic music and digital arts with the facade of an original 19th-century theatre. While the exhibitions are great, try to catch a concert here—and cap it off with a cocktail at the bar.
Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
261 Blvd. Raspail, 14th
The Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, situated in a Jean Nouvel-designed glass building and fronted by a soaring garden wall, houses an important—and growing—contemporary art collection. Don’t miss their Nomadic Nights, when the Foundation invites contemporary artists to host evenings of concerts, screenings, lectures, and performances.
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.
5 Quai Anatole, 7th
Sited in the former Gare d'Orsay, a soaring, glass-ceilinged Beaux-Arts railway station built in the late 19th-century, the permanent collection here spans from neoclassicism to art nouveau. The big draw, though, is the museum's deep collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art, which includes works by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Seurat, and more.
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.