Museum Crawling in Paris, France
By: Dahlia Saenz
How to become an expert art observer while getting the best deals on admission rates and entry times.
So you have found yourself studying abroad in the city of love, you know that it is chock-full of museums and an overwhelming amount of history, but you don’t know where to begin chipping away at this monstrous city of exhibitions, galleries, and shows. No matter what budget, student status, interests, attention span, or energy you have, there is something for everyone to explore in the bottomless pool of Parisian museums.
I know many of our minds drift straight to the Louvre when we think of Paris and art, but this isn’t the only museum worthy of skimming. I found Musee D’orsay slightly more captivating as it houses the world's largest collection of impressionist paintings. This museum used to serve as a railway station in 1898, and today it is home to the many painters that have given Paris its sort of “Mecca for artists” reputation. This leads me to my first tip: Go nocturnal! Many museums in Paris offer a discounted admission rate depending on what time you go. For example, the special rate in this case is a “nocturnal rate” that only takes place on Thursday evenings. You have access to the entire museum from 6 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. for only ten euros. This is a wonderful and unique experience, not only due to the significantly shrunken crowd at this hour but because you get to experience the golden hour within the actual museum. This occurrence feels like its own artistic procession.
While golden hour rays beam through the tall window panes of this antiquated train station, one can observe sprawling arrays of statues and weave through the labyrinth of sculptures. Many museums are open late at night but it is important to confirm which museums are open on certain nights of the week. For example, the Pompidou Center (which houses the largest collection of modern art in Europe) is open Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday evenings while other museums are open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Visiting a museum during “nocturnal” hours is a fantastic option for those who like to go out with friends in the evenings but might not want to fully commit to “going out.” Nightlife in Paris is rambunctious and can get overwhelming, so having the option to scope out a museum well into the evening is a wonderful nighttime activity for those who might not want to dip into the clubbing scene or stay up too late.
Another stress-free way of experiencing museums in Paris is by saving money. Nothing beats a gratuit and cool experience in one of the most eccentric cities in the world, that’s why educating yourself on free museums/exhibitions is such a spectacular way to experience culture at no monetary cost. Museums like the center Pompidou, Rodin Museum, Louvre Museum, and Musée de l’Orangerie, offer free admission to students and young professionals. There are also many museums that are free for anyone, among these are Maison de Balzac, Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée de la vie Romantique, Musée Curie, the Shoah Memorial, and Petit Palais. Sometimes these museums also have temporary exhibits that cost a few euros but are completely worth the visit if you are already in the vicinity.
No matter your budget or schedule, I promise there is something for every type of student in Paris to be entertained and in a cost-friendly manner. Many of my evenings in Paris have been filled with paintings, sculptures, and meditative pondering of artworks coupled with long strolls along the river Seine. I hope this blog post has offered you an unconventional perspective on museum-going and has gotten your gears turning on ways you may be able to absorb the cities around you. Good luck and happy exploring!