Discover History In Paris At A Dozen Interesting Museums

After 2,000 years there's a lot of history — and it takes a lot of museums to cover it. What better place to brush up on the history of Paris than at specialized museums geared to telling the complicated story of Paris? There are museums covering very aspect of the history of the city. Some are large, others are small.

Some history museums specialize in the Big Picture, like Musée Carnavalet, where the sweeping story of Paris is told through art, architecture and artifacts. Others cover a specific period or event or focus on a specialized topic in the history of Paris, such as the National Naval Museum. Then there are the quirky museums, like the Postal Museum where you'll learn about the role communication has played in the history of France.

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Cluny – Musée National du Moyen Age

Musee National du Moyen Age

The Cluny Museum, more properly the Musée National du Moyen Âge, is unusual in that it is essentially two museums housed in two radically different structures. Some of the exhibits are housed in the remains of the largest extant Roman baths in France, complete with massive Roman arches.

Most of the medieval collection of the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is in a large 14th-century building that was built by the Abbot of Cluny, an order of Benedictine monks. The Cluny features the largest collection of medieval arts and artefacts in France, including the very famous tapestry, The Lady and the Unicorn.

Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet

600,000 exhibits. 100 rooms. 5 centuries of history. This is the place to discover the history of Paris. It's rarely crowded and when you've had your fill of history, there's a pretty garden to relax in. There are often fascinating special exhibits, such as a recent one about the the story of Paris during World War II. As a City of Paris museum, entrance is free! (Except for special exhibits.)

Musée Carnavalet closed for renovation until 2019

  • 23 rue de Sévigné, 75003
  • Metro: St-Paul, Chemin Vert
  • Open: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Closed: Monday and public holidays

Arts et Metiers Museum

Arts Et Metiers Museum

Loaded with machines, scientific devices, and other objects from the era of invention and innovation, this is a fascinating museum to visit as a family. Arts et Metiers shows off the earliest airplanes, the first model of the Statue of Liberty, the earliest computers, even Foucault's original pendulum. Lodged in a former church and priory, it's a fascinating glimpse into how our world today was created.

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La Vie Romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique

In a pretty garden in the 9th are two small hôtels particuliers where you can take a trip back to early 19th-century Paris, when artists and writers frequented cultural salons and Paris was expanding north in a new district known as Nouvelle Athènes — the New Athens. That era is now called the Romantic Period (at least by certain historians).

Musée de la Vie Romantique celebrates some of the icons of the period. What is now a museum was once the home and studio of Romantic painter Ary Scheffer. Guests at his regular Friday night salons included George Sand, Frederic Chopin, and the likes of Delacroix, Ingres, Liszt and Charles Dickens.

Musée Jacquemart André

Musée Jacquemart André

Take a trip back in time to the 19th century to visit the world of rich & famous Parisians of the Belle Epoque. Musée Jacquemart André takes you to that earlier era and into the life of Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, wealthy art collectors who built a magnificent mansion in the 8th Arrondissement and filled it with art from around the globe. It's one of the greatest private art collections you're ever likely to see, but the chance to explore the opulent house is alone worth the price of admission.

Nissim de Camondo Museum

Nissim de Camondo Museum

Nissim de Camondo Museum shares a certain similarity with Musée Jacquemart André. Both museums were formerly mansions of wealthy families who were art collectors. In the case of the Camondo, a wealthy banker named Moïse de Camondo specialized in the collection of 18th-century French are & furniture. Tragically, his son Nissim was killed in an air battle of World War I. But greater tragedy was to befall the Camondo family in the Second World War of 1939 to 1945.

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The Best Louvre Museum Tours

Skip-the-line Guided Tour of the Louvre Museum
Skip the Louvre lines with an expert guide to get past the crowds and into the museum to visit the masterpieces.
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Evening Louvre Tour & Wine Tasting
Skip the line on an evening tour of the Louvre. Afterwards, attend a guided tasting of French wine at a classicParisian bar.
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The Cognacq-Jay Museum

Cognacq-Jay Museum

The Cognacq-Jay Museum is the place to go in Paris to see arts and decoration from the Age of Enlightenment, the 18ty century. It's filled with paintings, sculpture, furniture, and fascinating small objets. As interesting at the museum is the story of founders, department-store magnate Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay. They amassed a vast fortune from La Samaritaine, their department store on the banks of the Seine, and spent it on art and philanthropy.

Cité de la Musique – Music Museum

Musée de la Musique

Out in the 19th Arrondissement, in the former meat-packing district of northeast Paris, is where you'll find this all-thing-music complex. There are a number of performance halls plus the Musée de la Musique, a museum of the history of music with over 1,000 instruments in its fascinating collection.

L'Adresse – Musée de la Poste

Musée de la Poste

Postal Museum — boring? Not at all. Semaphore, telegraph, and telephones, this fascinating museum covers all aspects of the story of communications over more than three centuries. Of course it also contains a lot of interesting exhibits about postal communications, but it includes works by Alexander Graham Bell.

Musée de la Poste knocks down preconceived notions and shows off the quirky and fascinating history of communications in France. And, in its brand new building, everything is presented in a modern, state-of-the-art manner. We'll tell you ten things not to miss.

Musée National de la Marine

National Naval Museum

Voyage through the history of French navy frigates, steamers and battleships at the National Naval Museum. The artifacts and exhibits date back to Louis XV and capture the spirit of naval adventure. You have a chance to see the royal barge that transported Napoleon II to his inauguration as emperor.

Musée Jean Moulin

& Mémorial du Maréchal Leclerc

Musee Jean Moulin

Learn about World War II as it happened in France and Paris. This museum covers many aspects of the history of that conflict. It tells the poignant stories of two iconic French WWII leaders: Marshal Leclerc and resistance leader Jean Moulin. Also, it acts as a sort of unofficial repository of the Liberation of Paris in August 1944.

  • Above the Montparnasse train station
  • 23, Allee de la 2e DB, Jardin Atlantique, 75015
  • Metro: Montparnasse-Bienvenue
  • 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Closed Mondays and holidays
  • Free admission
  • Website…

The Paris Story

Plunge into the history of the city we love at this unique museum that takes you on an 3-D interactive journey through prehistoric settlements, Middle Ages, revolutions and wars. This is a good choice for families.

  • 11 Rue Scribe, 75009
  • Metro: Opera
  • Daily 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
  • Website

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