History and culture are something of a Parisian obsession and it seems to be infectious, judging by the number of tourists queuing up to visit museums in the capital. If you are heading to the City of Light for a holiday, you won`t want to miss out, so here is a guide to the top five museums in the capital.
A jewel of the Left Bank, the Musse d`Orsay was housed in an old railway station, the Gare d`Orsay, in 1986. The stunning conversion is as delightful as the contents and it is a great place to visit if you don`t have time for the Louvre Museum. It holds a mouthwatering collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. Highlights include Monet`s gardens at Giverny; Degas` ballerinas; Renoir`s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette; Toulouse-Lautrec`s icon posters of the dancers at the Moulin Rouge and Van Gogh`s self-portraits, Bedroom in Arles and Starry Night. It is impossible not to enjoy a trip here, even if you know very little about art.
This overlooked museum houses many of August Rodin`s greatest works, in the HHtel Biron, a grand house set in three hectares of beautiful gardens. These provide a backdrop to works such as The Thinker and The Gates of Heaven and Hell. You can see another of his most famous works, The Kiss, as well as other exquisite works, such as The Danaad and Fugit Amor. This quiet, peaceful museum is a wonderful addition to your Paris itinerary.
The Louvre Museum
It is not hard to be intimidated by the 60,600 square meters of the Louvre Museum, so it is best to plan ahead and choose what you most want to visit before arriving. There are 380,000 objects in total, including works from just about every artist you care to name and artifacts from every century. Don`t let the crowds put you off seeing Da Vinci`s Mona Lisa, which more than lives up to its reputation. It positively glows. Find her in Room 6, 1st floor, Denon Wing. The best way to explore is by joining a tour, which saves time and is a foolproof way of ensuring you don`t miss the highlights.
Musse National du Moyen Age and Thermes de Cluny
The Museum of the Middle Ages holds some of the most beautiful Medieval art in the world. It is housed in the Gallo Roman Bath Complex which dates from the first to the third centuries and the late 15th century Cluny Abbey, a wonderful Gothic-looking building, which is a perfect setting for the collection. Here you will find the famous tapestry The Lady and the Unicorn and be able to explore the Roman baths which date back to 200AD.
The Musse Picasso can be found in the Hotel Sall in Rue de Thorigny, in the Marais district. It holds in excess of 3000 different works of art by Pablo Picasso including paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures in both wood and metal. You will also find paintings from Picasso`s own art collection, including Czanne, Rousseau, Seurat, Matisse and Degas. African art and sculpture, which inspired Picasso during his early Cubist period, is also on display. A huge collection of work from Picasso`s later years, after his seventieth birthday in fact, is housed here and give a real sense of the creative energy which typifies so many of his works.
It is wise to check that museums and galleries are not undergoing renovation when you wish to visit, although there are countless museums to visit if your favourite one is closed. Try the little Museum of Montmartre (18th district), the Musee de la Vie Romatique (9th district) and the Cognacq-Jay Museum (3rd district).
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