If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve likely been to one of its most famous, big museums – perhaps the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay or Musée Rodin. But the City of Lights has a universe of smaller collections and cultural offerings, if you only know where to look.
We discovered The Little(r) Museums of Paris: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems – an indispensable tool for culture seekers. Written and illustrated by Emma Jacobs, this pocket guidebook is decorated with charming paintings, vital visiting information and packed with interesting details. Emma divided the sites via domain, like science, art and fashion, so you can easily fine-tune your hit list.
Here, we pick out three of our favorite smaller Paris museums. Turn to page 56 of the January/February 2020 issue to discover more of these hidden treasures.
Musée Gustave Moreau
Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau opened his three-floor family home in the 9th arrondissement of Paris as an art museum in 1903. The site features around 6,000 of his works – including watercolors, landscapes, family portraits, drawings and sculptures – as well as pieces given to him by other famous painters such as Théodore Chassériau and Edgar Degas.
To remind visitors of the site’s origins, the first floor remains preserved as Moreau’s apartment, complete with a dining room, office-library, hallway, bedroom and den.
14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009
Musée de la Vie Romantique
A gorgeous, green-shuttered former residence in an 1830-hôtel particulier located at the foot of Montmartre hill, the Musée de la Vie Romantique (or the Museum of the Romantics) is undeoubtedly one of the cutest smaller Paris museums. Opening its doors as a literary museum in 1987, it holds a vast collection of romantic mementos, furniture, jewelry, artworks and objets d’art (check out the plaster casts of George Sand‘s right arm and Chopin’s left hand!).
Previously the home of prominent Dutch-born painter Ary Scheffer, the property also boasts a beautiful garden, a greenhouse and rose-filled courtyard. The site is famous for his salons attended by contemporary creatives such as George Sand, Frédéric Chopin, Charles Dickens, Eugène Delacroix, Franz Listzt, Charles Gounod and many more. It is one of the city’s three literary museums, along with Maison de Balzac and Maison de Victor Hugo.
Don’t miss the seasonal tearoom in the museum’s garden, open from March to October.
16 Rue Chaptal, 75009
Musée Nissim de Camondo
In 1936, Moise de Camodo, a Jewish banker with a penchant for 18th-century furniture and decor, turned his elegant private mansion into a grand museum of decorative arts in honor of his son Nissim, who died in the First World War. A three-floor time capsule of stunning cultural objects, this grandiose, immaculately preserved residence is modeled on Le Petit Trianon at Versailles.
Marvel at the Savonnerie carpets, ornate silver and porcelain table settings, stunning landscapes and crystal chandeliers. This smaller Paris museum is a veritable time capsule and a feast for the eyes at every corner.
63 Rue de Monceau, 75008