Some tips for getting to know Paris better

The Institut du Monde Arabe, the Canal Saint-Martin, the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Grande Mosquée de Paris …

Every season Paris has something new to offer. Little-known places of interest and districts, the latest exhibitions … discover some of the less touristy places and outings! For a weekend, the Paris Museum Pass makes your stay easier and opens the doors to 60 sites and monuments throughout the French capital. The hardest thing will be choosing!

Day one

Why not begin with the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and continue with the nearby Musée d’Art Moderne. The cafe with its terrace is an ideal spot for lunch.

Next, head to the north-east of Paris for a cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin with Canauxrama or an outing on an electric boat with Marin d'eau douce. Followed by an apero at Chez Prune and a picnic by the water. There is a neo-guinguette trend in this district … Parisians meet up by the water and spend hours chatting and putting the world to rights.

Day two

... and still so much choice: Begin, for example, by admiring Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lilies) at the Musée de l’Orangerie, and then wander up through the Tuileries Gardens to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. An opportunity to take a break at the restaurant there, Le Saut du Loup

In the afternoon, head southwards to the Jardin des Plantes. Children and adults will love the glasshouses and zoo here. Close by, the Grande Mosquée de Paris is the perfect place to sample delicious pastries and mint tea in its tea room. To continue on an oriental theme, visit the Musée de l’Institut du Monde Arabe and dine at the rooftop restaurant Le Zyriab. The view from there is simply magical.

If after dinner you feel like dancing, opt for the Batofar barge or the festival Paris Danses en Seine. The latter takes place all summer, outdoors, on the quai Saint-Bernard. 

Day three

Don't miss the Maison européenne de la Photographie and the Musée Carnavalet, in the Marais. And this is a great opportunity to enjoy this district full of endless charm. You could also take the opportunity to have lunch at the As du Fallalel, in rue des Rosiers.

And to round off this weekend in Paris, try a guided tour with a difference: theatrical, by bicycle, on rollerblades, in a 2CV convertible … Everything is possible!

MAM: as in Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 

Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Paintings, sculptures, installations, photos, videos: housed in a monumental palace across from the Eiffel Tower, MAM celebrates all types of contemporary creation. With a rich collection of more than 8,000 works, its permanent collection, free and open to all, features the works of great artists

 (Picasso, Delaunay, Matisse, Giacometti, Braque, Klein…) and the major trends of the 20th century.

Equally impressive are the temporary exhibitions and the terrace of the cafe restaurant that make MAM one of the most popular museums in Paris!

And for more contemporary creation, go to the west wing of the Palais de Tokyo.

More info about Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris

The Musée de l’Orangerie: the temple of the Nymphéas

Musée de l'Orangerie - Salle des Nymphéas, Paris © Sophie Boegly

A haven of peace at the far end of the Tuileries Gardens, next to Place de la Concorde. Both monumental in scale and intimate, the Nymphéas (Water Lilies) by Claude Monet have, since 2006, found a fitting showcase in the oval rooms of the Musée de l’Orangerie. The evanescent Nymphéas, which provide pleasurable moments of contemplation, are the result of a prodigious project by a painter who wanted to explore all the variations of light in his garden at Giverny.

The museum also hosts fine temporary exhibitions and collections, with important works of modern art from Renoir to Picasso.

More info about Musée de l'Orangerie


The Tuileries Gardens: an open-air art gallery

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc

Created in 1564, the gardens were redesigned in 1664 by Le Nôtre, who turned them into a masterpiece of the French garden style. The gardens extend over 25.5 hectares from the Carrousel du Louvre to the Place de la Concorde and are full of wonderful features: sculptures by Maillol in a green maze, white marble ornamental ponds, fountains, flowerbeds and borders, statues and contemporary works.

The wide avenues, planted with horse chestnut trees and lime trees, are delightful places to stroll or jog. Refreshment kiosks offer a welcome pause. And there are pony rides for children.

At the end of the two long terraces lining the gardens are two pavillons: the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume – an art venue.

More info about Jardin des Tuileries

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs: between the Louvre and the Tuileries

Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Housed in a magnificent restored wing of the Louvre Palace, this museum boasts one of the world’s most important collections of decorative arts. All periods are represented, from the Middle Ages to Gothic, art nouveau and the contemporary era.

The apartments reconstituted by Jeanne Lanvin and the 150,000 or so other works on show are a perfect invitation to dream: graphic arts, jewellery, toys, ceramics, furniture …

The museum’s restaurant, with the pretty name ‘Le saut du Loup’, is also a delightful place to eat and has a view of the Tuileries Gardens.

More info about Arts Décoratifs

The Jardin des Plantes: botanical and natural sciences

Jardin des Plantes, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

The Royal Garden for Medicinal Plants became the first public garden in 1640. Four centuries later, this garden with its exceptional heritage is still a favourite place to walk for those who love Paris. Visitors can admire eleven themed ornamental gardens, flowerbeds and one-hundred-year-old trees. It is also home to the superbly renovated great glasshouses, the Grande galerie de l’évolution, the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, the Galeries de Paléontologie, d’Anatomie Comparée, de Minéralogie et de Géologie … and of course the Grande Ménagerie! 

More info about Jardin des Plantes

The Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes: what a zoo!

Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle - Ménagerie - Panthère Chine - Paris - © MNHM F.G. Grandin

Opened in 1794, the Ménagerie is one of the oldest zoos in the world. Its buildings are listed monuments because the Bear pit, the Rotunda, the Reptile Gallery and the Great Aviary date back to the 19th century, and the Vivarium, Monkey House and Wild Cat House are art deco in style.

The zoo houses 1,800 animals belonging to 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, of all kinds. What’s more, many endangered species are protected here. Yes really, Paris is home to red pandas, snow leopards and turtles from the Seychelles.

More info about Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

The Grande Mosquée: the Orient in Paris 

Grande Mosquée de Paris © Paris Tourist Office - Photographe Amélie Dupont

Inaugurated in 1926, this Hispano-Moorish monument takes its inspiration from the Mosquée el-Qaraouiyyîn in Fes. The mosque’s 33-metre-high minaret, great door decorated with floral motifs and its overall decoration are the work of artisans from North Africa.

Although the prayer rooms are reserved for practicing Muslims, the rest of the mosque welcomes visitors every day except Friday. The hammam is a must, not forgetting mint tea, loukoums and other delicious pastries to sample outside on the patio or in the tea room. As for the restaurant, it serves tajines, and other delicious specialities.

More info about Mosquée de Paris

The Institut du Monde Arabe: art and culture by the Seine 

Institut du Monde Arabe - Facade sud, Paris © Fessy

This museum, whose architecture bears the signature of Jean Nouvel, opened in 1987 and showcases the art and culture of the Arab world: music, cinema, dance, the visual arts, photography, etc. Since 2012, after three years of work, its new spaces further enhance 560 works spread over four levels.

After admiring the bronzes, ceramics, wood panelling, textiles, scientific objects and illuminations, visitors can enjoy the gastronomic Lebanese restaurant ‘Le Zyriab’. Situated on the 9th floor, it offers a breathtaking view.

More info about Institut du Monde Arabe

The Batofar: urban culture and party time

Batofar, Paris © Nicky Bouwmeester

Welcome to one of the last specimens of light-vessels! Built in 1955 to be moored up and down the Irish coast, this 300 m² floating vessel is now moored at Port de la Gare. On board: a heated terrace overlooking the Seine, a 70-cover restaurant and a concert and clubbing room (75 m²) where some 250 events are held annually.

The music of today and the digital arts combine well with dance, slam sessions, the visual arts … and cocktails! From May to September, the Batofar even turns the quayside into a beach with a very musical atmosphere, a bar and restaurant.

More info about Batofar

The Maison Européenne de la Photographie: a showcase for photography

Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Since 1996, the MEP has been housed in the lovely Hénault hôtel particulier, built in 1706. It devotes some twenty exhibitions per year to artists from all backgrounds, major artists and up-and-coming young artists all mixed together.

For photography buffs, it also has a rich library with more than 30,000 titles, a video library, and a high-quality collection of books and magazines.

Visitors also appreciate the cafe in the 18th-century vaulted rooms (open only at the weekend, from 11am to 8pm)

More info about Maison Européenne de la Photographie

The Musée Carnavalet: the story of Paris

Musée Carnavalet, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Built in 1548,  the Hôtel Carnavalet became the residence of Mme de Sévigné in the 17th century. Converted into the museum of the history of Paris in 1880, it tells the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present. Since 1989, the museum and its surrounding gardens extend as far as the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, a neighbouring building dating back to 1688; because no less than one hundred or so rooms were required to show such an exceptional collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture, objects of art and historical artefacts, models, reconstituted historic decor … and even Neolithic pirogues in the Orangery!

More info about Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris