Art novice? Same here. But I don’t let that intimidate me. Rather, I take my time whenever in Europe to continuously develop that art connoisseur in me. I know it just needs to be summoned deep down inside me. It does help that the work of arts are housed in iconic locations (Louvre, I’m looking at you!) so that in itself should already serve as an inspiration for you to get to the museum itself.
In Paris though, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of the art galleries and museums in here. So in my first visit, I allowed the 4-day Paris Museum Pass to sort of filter it out for me. Still not easy as it has priority access to over 60 museums and monuments. But hey, it includes the Versailles Palace (covered here) which is already one day for you and the Arc de Triomphe (yep, you take a flight of stairs upward that arc and find a museum there and of course breathtaking city views). It also lets you skip the line so it’s a total bang for the buck. Also, be guided that first Sundays in Paris is a free museum day (for some) so you might take advantage of that when planning your trip.
And with that, allow me to cover some of the museums I went to in Paris:
Musée du Louvre
Hardly needs an introduction- only one of your must-do photo-ops in Paris for sure (check my suggested Paris-in-a-day itinerary here). But have you ever wondered what’s inside that iconic glass pyramid? It’s a city of treasures! Some say, it will take you three days to cover this entire museum and that in itself can already be off-putting. But if you take it in a different perspective, that means that you don’t really have to SEE everything as if your money was wasted if you didn’t (that’s what I initially felt hehe). The Louvre offers a guide on the 5 of their must-sees work of arts and directions on how to get there.
Tip: Take advantage of the audio guides. These guides may incur additional cost but it has informative commentary by curators and lecturers about the pieces in the museum so it’s well worth it. So by the time you reach the crowd that struggles for a selfie with Mona Lisa (the crowd gets crazy I swear), you’ll have a different perspective on why they’re doing that.
And if I haven’t stressed enough that it’s a huge museum, perhaps a little research prior to your trip can be helpful to find which artwork really interests you so you can spend more time in those galleries, art aficionado or not. My recent Egypt trip got me wishing I somehow passed by the Egyptian Antiquities part in the Louvre. But oh well, I’ll just probably go back to Paris on a first week of the month so I can score a free entrance here. Hehe.
If an art museum housed in a train station isn’t cool to you, then I don’t know what is. If the Louvre’s treasure troves which is just a Seine river crossing from this old train station overwhelms you (may or may not visit both in a day but I totally reco the latter) because of its vast art coverage, then may I suggest that you try to narrow down your art introduction to a certain time period? Key word in DÓrsay: Impressionist and Post-impressionist. In this way, the artists are limited only to a certain number: a few names would register like Manet, Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.
You don’t even have to know what Impressionist is before going to the DÓrsay as your brain will probably already tell you from categorization how the style of painting is like in this era. And yes, the vibrant palettes for me make this easily a favorite.
Tip: Allow yourself to wander aimlessly and let an artwork speak to you. While it doesn’t happen to me very often, there’s this one particularly by Manet which stopped me because at first I thought, hey I could very well be the muse in this artwork. Lol. And then it didn’t take long before I went FBI on the history of the painting. Always interesting when there’s an unrequited love factor in any work, eh?
I know I listed it third down here but you can also always start your foray into the world of arts by starting with a singular artist and a well-known one at that – Picasso anyone? It is located in a gorgeous hotel/ mansion in the trendy district of Marais. The beauty of single-artist museums is that it gives you a deeper look into an artist’s life. And here, I found out how most of Picasso’s works are of his wives and mistresses. I find it also shocking that I quite appreciated more his nude cubism paintings more than anything else in the gallery.
Tip: Research says that asking more about the artist’s life is certainly a characteristic question of novices but that’s okay as long as it gets you to understand why the artist did this or that. A little curiosity never hurts.
Another museum that’s situated in a gorgeous mansion is Musee Rodin. Not gonna lie about two things here: I reached the museum just as it was about to close and that sculpture is probably a form of art that will take forever in me to appreciate. I still gave it a chance though by checking out the museum and may I just say that the garden of this museum is a stunning landscape on its own and a pleasure to walk around in. If this very garden inspired the artist’s works, then perhaps it could also inspire you to think about the scattered bronzed sculptures in it. One of the artist’s well-known works – The Thinker (a pensive man in nude) can be found in the garden too. I think about the other gardens in Paris with scattered sculptures too and wonder why people stop here and admire his work less than those of the others in say, Jardin de Tuileries. Hmm.
Tip: When looking at an artwork, don’t force symbolism as if you didn’t appreciate it enough if you were not able to connect it to something deeper. You can think of the Thinker as something that inspired you to think and that can very well be it.
Le Grand Musée Du Parfum
I’m adding this here because it was really fun how I discovered this place. It was my last day in Paris last year and I was just trying to have a last look at some of my favorite buildings (Palais Garnier) and just really wandering around when I passed a corner and sensed a very beautiful scent. It was so strong that naturally you just have to follow where it comes from and it led me to this museum. I found out that they offer a tour of the museum for free and I was ecstatic! It’ll tell you a thing or two about how perfumes are made and basic info about them. Granted in the end I spent something for their perfumes and lotions but they’re some of my most favorite toiletries and ones that I’m trying to preserve until I’m back to my favorite city again. Aaaah.
Tip: Let your whimsy and senses guide you in Paris coz everywhere you turn, is a work of art! Don’t you just love this city? Huhu, I doooo!!!! 😭❤️️🇫