Paris is an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for culture vultures. But admission fees can start to add up in a city with 130 museums, only a few of which could be described as duds. Sorry, les duds.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of noteworthy institutions that don't charge admission, inviting you to gorge yourself on several centuries of art, history, literature, and architecture without having to tighten your budgetary belt.
Below, we've gathered 9 Frommer's-recommended museums that are free to see all year round, followed by 12 more that are free on the first Sunday of each month. That's 21 museums down, only 109 to go.
Note that in many cases you'll need to reserve a time slot in advance online even if admission is free. It's wise to go to the museum's website before your visit and make arrangements accordingly.
(Musée Carnavalet in Paris | Credit: Moskwa / Shutterstock)
Recommended Paris Museums That Are Free Every Day
• Maison de Victor Hugo (6 pl. des Vosges, 4th arrond.): house museum dedicated to the author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables (permanent collection free; temporary exhibits may charge admission). maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr
• Musée Carnavalet (16 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 3rd arrond.): repository of objects, paintings, and interiors chronicling the history of Paris from the prehistoric to the present (permanent collection free; temporary exhibits may charge admission). carnavalet.paris.fr
• Musée Cognacq-Jay (8 rue Elzévir, 3rd arrond.): small but impressive collection of 18th-century art and elaborate furniture (permanent collection free; temporary exhibits may charge admission). museecognacqjay.paris.fr
• Musée de la Vie Romantique (16 rue Chaptal, 9th arrond.): preserved villa once frequented by 19th-century luminaries including George Sand, Eugène Delacroix, and Frédéric Chopin (permanent collection free; temporary exhibits may charge admission). museevieromantique.paris.fr
• Petit Palais (av. Winston Churchill, 8th arrond.): manageable sampling of European fine arts covering the ancient Greeks to Art Nouveau (permanent collection free; temporary exhibits may charge admission). petitpalais.paris.fr
• Musée Zadkine (100 bis rue d’Assas, 6th arrond.): tiny showcase for 20th-century sculptor Ossip Zadkine, whose works "combine abstract geometry with deep humanity," per Frommer's author Anna E. Brooke (permament collection usually free, but entrance fee charged during temporary exhibits). zadkine.paris.fr
• Arènes de Lutéce (at rues Monge and Navarre, 5th arrond.): ruins of a Roman amphitheater and gardens; not quite a full-dress museum, but historical (and so perfect for a picnic)
(Vincent van Gogh self-portrait at the Musée d'Orsay | Credit: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock)
Recommended Paris Museums That Are Free on the First Sunday of the Month
- • Centre Pompidou
- • Musée des Arts et Métiers
- • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
- • Musée National Eugène Delacroix
- • Musée Gustave Moreau
- • Musée de Cluny - Musée National du Moyen Âge
- • Musée de l’Orangerie
- • Musée d’Orsay
- • Musée Picasso-Paris
- • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
- • Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
- • Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet
For more help plotting your stay in the French capital, pick up a copy of Frommer's EasyGuide to Paris, available in paperback and e-book versions.