Last Updated on 12th January 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’re not normally a museum person, then don’t worry, because I’ve put together a list of the best of small museums in Paris! Whether you’re looking for a glimpse of Paris of the past, or simply want to learn more about the workings of the French capital, then there’s surely a museum for you somewhere in Paris!
Counterfeit Museum (Musée de la Contrefaçon), 16 Rue de la Faisanderie, 75116
In a city known for luxury and high-end goods, it can’t be at all surprising that there is a large demand for high-quality fake goods. The counterfeit museum was created in 1951 by a group of manufacturers. As buying counterfeit goods is actually illegal- even for a counterfeit museum-, the museum relies on donations only. Objects in the museum collection range from counterfeited Rodin bronzes to car parts to dictionaries.
Tuesday- Sunday 14:00- 17:30 | Metro Porte Dauphine
Paris Sewer Museum (Musée des Égouts de Paris), Pont de l’Alma, 75007
Paris’ sewers are unique in the World. There have been sewers in Paris since the early 1300s, making them some of the oldest and most unique in the World. In popular fiction, the Parisian sewer system has been mentioned multiple times, including in Victor Hugo’s world-famous novel ‘Les Miserables’.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to visit Paris’ underbelly, here’s a quick guide to the Musée des Égouts. The Paris sewer museum is currently closed for renovations and is due to be reopened at the beginning of 2020.
May- September 11:00 -18:00 / October- March 11:00 – 17:00 | Metro Alma/ Marceau Line 9
Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures (Musée des Vampires)
Okay, so although this museum isn’t technically in Paris, it’s still close enough that it’s made the list and besides, it can still be reached by metro! One of only a handful of museums in the World dedicated to vampires, it’s run by a ‘vampirologist’.
Opening hours: This is a private museum accessible by appointment only. | Metro Mairie des Lilas
Museum of Romantics (Musée de la Vie Romantique), 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009
If Paris really is the land of love, then what better place to find a museum named ‘The Romantics museum‘?! There are two artist’s ateliers and a number of works of art to see. The house museum really captures the spirit of Montmartre and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon… Of all the small museums in Paris included in this article, the Musée de la Vie Romantique is easily my favourite…
Tuesday- Sunday, 10:00- 18:00 | Metro Saint-Georges/ Pigalle/ Blanche
Fairground Museum (Musée des Arts Forains), 53 Avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012
This private museum has one of the world’s largest collections of fairground rides, attractions and other fairground themed art. As such, the museum is a treasure trove of vintage fairground rides and there’s even the opportunity to ride on some of them!
Opening hours: This is a private museum accessible by appointment only. More details can be found here. | Metro Cour Saint-Émilion
59 Rue de Rivoli, 59 Rue de Rivoli, 75001
This one isn’t necessarily a museum but actually an artist’s atelier in the very heart of the city. There are 20 permanent artists in residence as well as 10 artists who are on 3-6 month contracts. Every weekend, concerts are held, thus meaning that no two visits to 59 Rue de Rivoli will be the same.
If this isn’t enough to convince you that the place is worth a visit, maybe the fact that up to 4000 people a week visit will. After all, that many visitors can’t be wrong. If you need even more convincing, then here’s what a trip to 59 Rue de Rivoli is really like! The art space is free to visit but donations are always welcome.
Tuesday- Sunday, 11:00: 20:00 | Metro Chatelet
Museum of Magic (Musée de la Magie), 11 Rue Saint-Paul, 75004
Situated in the heart of le Marais, the museum of magic not only contains all objects magic related, but also puts on regular shows, making it one of the best small museums in Paris. The private museum is housed in the cellars of the house that once belonged to Marquis de Sade- a French aristocrat and politician.
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, 14:00- 19:00 | Metro Saint-Paul
Musée Jacquemart André
There’s a museum in Paris’s oh so chic that you would never believe it was once a home. The former mansion house was first opened to the public in 1913 and has been impressing visitors for well over a century. Highlights of the 8e arrondissement residence include an impressive Italian Renaissance art collection and plenty of sumptuous. French furniture.
All Week, 10:00- 18:00 (Monday 10:00 – 20:30) | Metro Miromesnil
Museum of Eroticism (Musée de l’Erotisme), 72 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018
Now, the Museum of Eroticism really has to be one of the most unusual museums in Paris! Located in the Pigalle Quarter of the city, not far from the quirky Villa des Platanes and steps away from the bottom of the Butte of Montmartre, this museum is dedicated to the erotic art collection of antique dealer Alain Plumey and teacher Jo Khalifa.
Opening hours: Monday- Sunday, 10:00- 02:00 | Metro Pigalle
Victor Hugo’s House (Maison Victor Hugo), 6 Place des Vosges, 75004
Situated in the exclusive Place des Vosges in the very heart of Le Marais, Victor Hugo lived at No. 6. The Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame author lived here between 1832-1849 before his exile to Jersey and Guernsey in 1851 (due to his staunch support for Napoleon I).
Hugo’s ashes are now interred in the Pantheon and the permanent collections in the museum itself are free to visit. If you’re looking to experience the 5e arrondissement like a local, while visiting the Maison Victor Hugo, then here’s a self-guided walking tour of Le Marais.
Tuesday- Sunday, 10:00- 18:00 | Metro Saint-Paul
All times and prices were correct on the date of publication.
More tips for visiting Paris
Paris Pass: If you’re looking to visit a number of different museums and cultural attractions, then you might end up saving money by purchasing the Paris Pass. This 2,4, or 6-day pass gives you access to over 60 museums, and in many cases, offers skip-the-line options at many of these institutions. Check prices and more information here.
Wear comfortable shoes: When visiting any European capital city, comfortable shoes are a must. This is especially true of areas like Montmartre and Le Marais where cobbled lanes can be found in abundance. I personally recommend these shoes as they go well with both jeans and dresses. I would also add that any kind of tennis shoes, i.e. ones like these, are really practical for wandering around the city.
Book your Paris accommodation well in advance: If you’re planning a trip to Paris, then you should bear in mind that it’s an extremely popular destination all year round. This means that you should probably book your hotel/ hostel/ guest house well in advance. You can find the best deals for Paris accommodation here.