You don’t always have to go to a museum or art gallery to see a work of art. In fact, Paris is a veritable open-air work of art in itself. Art is everywhere: in gardens, on quaysides, in tram stations and on walls around the city.
All you have to do to enjoy it is keep your eyes open! Or have a look at our Open-air art and heritage in Paris guide.
The gardens of museums are naturally privileged places for outdoor works.
This is the case at the garden of the Musée Rodin, a few steps from Invalides. This verdant 3-hectare setting is home to many masterpieces by the father of modern sculpture, such as the world-famous ‘The Thinker’ and ‘The Gates of Hell’. New for Summer 2020: four late-night openings, and the chance to enjoy a picnic on the grass amidst the sculptures, as well as a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Two steps from Luxembourg, the Musée Zadkine extends into a wonderful garden full of sculptures by the Cubist artist. It can be visited free of charge. Same goes for the garden of the Musée Bourdelle in the Montparnasse district: it is filled with bronze statues by Antoine Bourdelle.
Paris districts where you can see outdoor art
In the heart of Paris, the Tuileries Gardens showcase some twenty or so works by the great French sculptor Aristide Maillol. As you saunter along the pathways, you will perhaps come across "Les Trois Grâces" or the "Jeune fille allongée".
At the foot of the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Musée de la Sculpture en plein air is an open-air sculpture museum in the Jardin Tino Rossi, a pleasant area along the banks of the River Seine. Admire some thirty modern sculptures, including works by famous names like César, Brancusi and Zadkine!
La Défense is the biggest business district in Europe and also the largest open-air museum in France. The La Défense Art Collection comprises 70-odd monumental artworks including such iconic pieces as Alexander Calder’s ’Great Red Stabile’, Joan Miró’s colourful ’Deux personnages fantastiques’ and César’s giant ‘Thumb’ sculpture. This set of sculptures is intimately linked to the history of La Défense and is now inseparable from it.
Indeed, today, many works of modern art are an integral part of the urban landscape and we could not imagine Paris without them. Prime examples are "Deux plateaux" by Daniel Buren, more commonly known as the Buren columns, sited in the Cour d'honneur of the Palais-Royal since 1986; and, next to the Centre Pompidou, the Fontaine Igor-Stravinsky and its mobile sculptures, created by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle in 1983. At Abbesses, the I Love You wall, by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito, is the rendezvous point for lovers from around the world.
Art along the tramway line
The T3a tramway line (also known as Tramway du Maréchaux sud) doubles as an outdoor contemporary art trail, featuring a number of artworks along its route from Pont du Garigliano to Porte de Vincennes.
"Tchaïkovski" is a work by the French artist Claude Lévêque. This installation comprising four crumpled stainless steel panels placed on the roof of a 1930s building in stone is visible on the Vanne aqueduct at Montsouris station.
The T3b line linking Porte de Vincennes and Porte de Clichy also has works of contemporary art along the route, including the sound art installation ‘Les Voix du monde’ (Voices of the World), with a different voice announcing each stop.
Guided outdoor art tours
If you wish, you can also see these outdoor art and architectural treasures in the course of a fascinating tour led by a professional tour guide.
For example, you can go to see the street art on some pedestrian-only streets in the Belleville district:
Or you can put on a motorcycle helmet, climb into a sidecar and whizz around the city with Retro Tour on a fun and unusual open-air tour:
See a list of our partners offering themed tours:
List of tour guides offering tours in the language of your choice