A living museum, a moveable feast or an open-air art gallery? This is Paris, a city having a long history with all kinds of museums. “Tasty”, provocative, weird, curious and 100 % kid-friendly, our “off-the-beaten-track” list of worth-checking Parisian museums guarantees you will have a great time exploring!
The meaning: musée = museum
Famously housing some of the world’s most significant and historically important art collections, the most celebrated Parisian museums might often be too crowded to be properly enjoyed by you and your family. However, there are other no less interesting sites in the City of Light. More surprising, atmospheric, mystical and enchanting, these lesser-known and unexpected fascinations are a real gem to be discovered by little ones and adults alike.
Let’s start our discoveries with a walk by the river. Perched up on a walkway along the banks of the Seine, Naomi the African, Ayako the Japanese and Jim the New-Yorker (among many others) are all waiting for you to meet them! Meant to showcase different cultures and nationalities, these 21 bronze statues are all part of the project “Les Enfants du Monde” (Children of the world), created in 2001 as a symbol of respect for all children and their rights. Besides meeting the statues crafted by manhole covers, cobblestone patterns and other materials coming from the foreign cities’ streets, this encounter would also send you on a journey to an exciting new land.
(Address: Parc du Bercy (Metro station: Bercy, line 6, 14) Open daily; Admission: free)
The trendy one:
As a fashion capital, Paris couldn’t go without its very own Fashion museum. To have a glimpse of the garments worn by Queen Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVII, Napoleon’s wife the empress Josephine and Hollywood sweetheart Audrey Hepburn’s dress from the iconic “Breakfast in Tiffany”, go to Musée Galliera for a fashion reel from the 18th century to present time.
(Closed for major renovation, Musée Galliera is scheduled to reopen in September 2013. Located on 10, avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie ; Open daily except Tuesdays; An admission fee is charged)
The “crimi” one:
Want to touch the blade of a real-life guillotine? Then the Musée de la Préfecture de Police is the place to be! Other exhibited curios include pistols and uniforms, records of famous criminal cases and characters, evidence and memorabilia, reflecting major events of the French history and relics of World War II.
(Located in the Hôtel de police at 4, rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève. Open daily except Sunday; Admission: free)
The scary one:
If you’re a fan of vampires, supernatural forces and strange stuff in general, The Vampire Museum, located just on the edge of Paris, offers an unusual tour. With many bizarre and spooky props to be found (most notably a mummified cat found in the Père Lachaise cemetery and the autographs of each actor who’s played Dracula in a Hollywood movie), this small private museum, devoted to the study of the vampires’ place both in folklore and in today’s culture, covers the origins and folktales surrounding vampirism. Every night from 8pm till midnight, it also hosts a dinner event, accompanied by a guided tour and vampire-related games and discussions (on reservation only).
(Le Musée des Vampires is open by appointment only. Call 06 20 12 28 32 to fix one. Tours at 12:30, 3pm and 7:30pm. Located on 14, Rue Jules David, Les Lilas, accessible by metro lines 3,11 (Porte des Lilas), it’s a 15 min ride from the center of Paris. An admission fee is charged)
The tasty one:
For all the chocolate lovers out there, there’s a three-story heaven to tickle your fancy. Explaining 4000 years of chocolate history, cultivation and fabrication, Choco-Story, the Gourmet Chocolate Museum exhibits a vast collection of cocoa-related objects and paraphernalia. The live demonstration showing the making of filled chocolates and, of course, the tasting are the highlights of your visit, but the best is that you could learn how to make chocolate popsicles and figurines yourself in one the museum’s workshops.
(Choco-Story is open every day from 10am till 6pm (last entry at 5pm). Located on 28, Blvd Bonne Nouvelle; Ticket fee : Adults 9 €, children 6 €)
The “mini” one:
If you can’t cover all of France in one go, then opting for a tour of France Miniature is a wise choice. This 5-hectare outdoor attraction park, featuring scale models of popular French landmarks, is designed in the shape of France and contains around 160 models of animated French monuments. Located in Élancourt (40km away from Paris), this is the biggest park of miniatures in Europe and your only chance to visit sunny Saint Tropez, the castles of the Loire valley and the Roman arenas of Arles in less than a day!
(The park works every day from 10am to 6pm. Address: Boulevard André Malraux, Élancourt , Ticket fee: Adults 19,50 € ; Children 13,50 €)
The magical one:
Inhabiting the 16th century cellars underneath Marquise de Sade’s house sounds supernatural enough, does it not? And yet there’s more to Paris’ Curiosity and Magic Museum where the ancient crafts of magic, optical illusion and nifty tricks are tackled. Get lost among the see-through glasses, wind-up toys, magic mirrors and secret boxes, but do keep your breath for the magic show included in the admission fee. If you’d like to become the next Harry Potter yourself, enroll in their General Magic class for 20 euro.
(The Museum of Magic is at 11 Rue Saint Paul (Nearest metro: St. Paul or Sully Morland) Open on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 7pm Ticket fee: Adults 9 € ; Children 7 € )
The “fake” one:
Established by an organization of manufactures fighting against counterfeiting, nowadays the Musée de la Contrefaçon (Museum of Counterfeit) exhibits a diverse array of about 350 conferfeit objects, each paired with the original. Walk beside Rodin bronze sculptures, toys, perfumes, clothes, dictionaries and luxury goods and learn how to spot the difference and tell true from false in this amusing museum.
(Located on 16, rue de la Faisanderie; Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 2pm to 5:30pm; Entry fee: 4 €; Children younger than 12: free)
The cute one:
Containing a permanent collection of more than 500 French dolls from 1800 to the present, the Musée de la Poupée (The Doll Museum) is a girl’s paradise of sorts, exhibiting cloth, rubber, bisque, plastic and celluloid dolls arranged chronologically. A special room in the museum casts some light on the doll-making process. You could have your favourite doll repaired or even celebrate your birthday in the museum! In a creative atelier during the party you can craft your own “No worries” doll, which would make all of your problems magically go away.
(Located on Impasse Berthaud, Quartier Beaubourg, Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm; Ticket fee: Adults – 8 €. Children – 4 €)
The weirdest one:
Probably the most fascinating of all (yet unfortunately very rarely open to the public), is the Petit musée des objets trouvés (Lost and Found Department of the Paris Police). This tiny museum of unusual articles is the public “Lost and found” repository, containing odd items not yet claimed by their owners. Choose among a lobster (!) found at Paris-Orly-Airport, a skull, a wooden leg, a wedding dress, a fireman’s helmet, a fake NY driver’s license and a funerary urn lost somewhere in the underground platforms near the Père Lachaise cemetery. Bizarre, isn’t it? This museum is the ultimate evidence that life, as ever, proves much stranger than fiction…