Written by Linda R. Moore in Europe
Viewed by 7 readers since 07-15-2009
Paris is famous for its “couture,” its cafes and chic fashion and style. Part of that style is its deep and varied history; Paris is home to scores of museums. Here we will talk about some of the most interesting: Not just the most famous and lavish, but the quirky ones that capture the heart of Paris in all her diversity.
To explore the work of thousands of artists, many of whom made Paris their home, the Louvre is a must-see destination. You’ll never see the Mona Lisa alone, but fortunately you’ll find an ever-changing array of exhibits and themes from ancient Egyptian art to war photography for a much less crowded experience. Admission starts at six Euros, but it is not uncommon to spend an entire day browsing the Louvre.
Le Musée de la Préfecture de Police is a police museum located on the rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. The exhibits build a picture of police work in the city. Its exhibits include evidence, uniforms and stories of day to day policing in Paris, which often consisted as much of maintenance as it did of crime and punishment. If you’ve always wanted to see a guillotine, there is one here!
The Perfume Museum
The Fragonard perfume museum, on rue Scribe, has displays of objects used in perfume-making in an elegant old town home. You can even learn how perfume is made today. Not only is the subject matter fascinating, the setting is lavish and beautiful; the museum offers free guided tours. The horror movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer brings the trade of perfumer to life in macabre detail.
History of Medicine Museum
Located at the Faculty of Medicine at Paris Descartes Univeristy, the Musée d’histoire de médicine offers an intriguing look at healing through the ages. While this museum is an offshoot of a medical school, you don’t need to have medical knowledge to enjoy the exhibits which include an ancient acupuncture dummy and the kind of surgical equipment that looks like it should really belong in a torture chamber.
Museum of French History
No historian’s trip to Paris would be complete without at least one visit to a state museum. The huge Musée de l’Histoire de France, housed in two large historic hotels, covers French history from its earliest times. There is a fee to enter but, just like the Louvre, you could easily spend an entire day exploring here. You can find the only sketch of Joan of Arc here, the will of King Louis XVI, and artifacts from the infamous Bastille. Temporary rotating exhibits always ensure that your visit to the museum will be fresh.
This is just a short introduction to a handful of the fascinating museums in Paris. Dozens of venues showcase famous people and museums dedicated to the arts and trades of a thriving, centuries-old city. When visiting Paris, be sure to include a museum or two in your itinerary. There are so many that you are guaranteed to find something that reflects your interests.