A guide to art galleries in Paris

You can’t go to Paris and not explore or appreciate the extensive art culture that courses through its veins. Originally, Paris was one of the most influential cities for art in the world and has inspired masters of the profession from Picasso to Monet, Renoir and Dali. Famously, Montmartre used to be the bohemian hub where artists discussed their revolutionary theories and techniques; bringing on movements from the Renaissance through to Impressionism, Dada and Surrealism – and many more. Paris is littered with art galleries and museums celebrating the works of these artists and their masterpieces, so to make sure you cover them all and to get a real feel of the artistic undercurrent that runs through the city, we’ve put together a guide to art galleries in Paris so you don’t miss a thing! Orsay Museum An impressive building both inside and out, this old turn of the century train station is one of Paris’ most outstanding art galleries. With its Beaux Arts architecture and vaulted glass ceiling it’s a masterpiece in itself, sitting on the bank of the River Seine. Within the museum, the Orsay Museum houses large collections of drawings, paintings, photography and sculptures from 1848 to 1915. Housing the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world there is plenty to see sprawled over three floors. The painting collection dates back to 1818 highlighting masterpieces by Gaugin, Renoir, Manet, Monet and many others, while the sculptures are similarly aged at the mid-19th century. Famously, the Orsay Museum was the first in France to display a photography gallery in a fine arts museum in the 1970s – a somewhat controversial feat in those days. Louvre The Louvre is no doubt the most famous art gallery in Paris; arguably even in the world as it sees the most visitors than any other art gallery around the globe. With its eight different departments, there is plenty for everyone ranging from Ancient Egyptian Antiquities including sphinx, mummies and jewels; to Greek and Etruscan, sculpture from the Middle Ages in the Richelieu wing and the foreign works in the Denon wing; to 7,500 paintings covering nearly 600 years – the majority of which by French artists – including Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and the Mona Lisa. The building was originally a fortress and then a palace, before turning into a museum in 1793 during the French Revolution. Admire the ruined fortress walls in the crypt and the modern glass pyramid in the front courtyard for a sense of Paris’ past and present. Centre Pompidou Centre Pompidou is the largest and most renowned art gallery of modern art in Europe bursting with late 19th-20th century pieces. Explore over 50,000 works from Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism by Picasso, Duchamp, Ernst and Miró – among others – and enjoy visuals, videos, prints and murals. The gallery lies over six floors and houses two libraries over three floors – so if you want to learn a little more after your visit, you’re more than welcome to divulge in the vast amount of information at your disposal. Other qualities of the Centre Pompidou are its un-missable façade which rather controversially features all of its facilities such as elevators, pipe work and air-conditioning, on its external front. Some say it’s an eyesore, others an extension of the quirky art works you will find within... National Museum of the Renaissance Château d'Écouen is one of the more unknown chateau in Paris, but one of the best preserved of the Renaissance. Built in honour of Anne de Montmorency in the first half of the 1500s it was inspired in style by Fontainbleu and designed by architect Jean Bullant. Bullant brought the architectural design of the ‘colossal order’ to France, and some say was first debuted in the pavilion at Château d'Écouen. The construction of the building largely remains a mystery as nothing was documented; although the stained glass windows date to 1542 and the frescoes, in the style of The School of Fontainbleu, from 1550s. Now, the museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Renaissance pieces; from furniture, ceramics, silverware, paintings, tapestries and even weapons. The ten tapestry series l'Histoire de David et Bethsabée (The Story of David and Bethsabe) can be found here, too. Dalí Exhibition The Dalí Exhibition in Montmarte explores the fascinating life of Salvador Dalí and his most surreal masterpieces. A relatively small and intimate exhibition, it is the only permanent exhibition in France dedicated to Dalí and his works. The exhibition and gallery displays Dalinian sculptures from his bronze collections including a melting clock and giant sofa in the shape of a red lips, as well as some more unknown sketches and drawings. Discover the life Dalí led in Montmarte and the bonds he made with Picasso and other surrealist artists living in the bohemian hub on the hill. Fancy all of the above? With The Paris Pass you can visit all of these five art galleries in Paris for free – and you can even skip the queues at the Louvre, Orsay Museum and Centre Pompidou, saving you hours in the summer months. Tempted? Find out about the other benefits, here...

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