Paris is perhaps best-known as one of the most romantic cities in the world, but it’s also home to some of the best art. Catering to all manner of artistic tastes and sensibilities, Paris offers everything from the Rococo to the avant-garde at the drop of a hat. Culture Trip has selected the must-visit cultural destinations for a whirlwind 24-hours in the City of Lights, leaving you time to grab something to eat without fear of missing your connection.
Musée du Louvre
Home to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre boasts one of the most enviable art collections in the world. Set within the former royal residence, meander through the internal sculpture garden, explore opulent interiors once belonging to Louis XIV, and lose yourself in front of monumental paintings by Jacques-Louis David, Caravaggio, El Greco and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. It would take about 100 days to see everything the Louvre has to offer, so it’s worth focusing on specific rooms. While an in-person glimpse at the Mona Lisa is a must in your lifetime, we recommend saving it for a longer trip to Paris – unless you want to spend your time in a sea of selfie sticks.
Insider Tip: Try the museum’s additional entry points to skip the crazy queues at the main pyramid entrance. There’s the underused Porte de Lions (which can be randomly closed), Carrousel de Louvre through the shopping centre, and Passage Richelieu for groups and passes. But if you want to avoid the usual hoards of tourists inside, then consider visiting late on a Wednesday or Friday evening when the museum stays open until 9.45pm.
Musée du Louvre, 75001 Paris +33 1 40 20 5050
Celebrating its 40th birthday in 2017, the Centre Pompidou houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne, one of the largest museums of modern art in Europe. Here, you can see the most famous toilet in the world – Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal, which gave rise to the ‘ready-made’ and conceptual art. With a regularly-changing display to show the wealth of works in the collection – including formidable examples of Fauvist and Dadaist works – no one visit to the Renzo Piano-designed building will ever be the same.
Insider Tip: If you use the lift to George Restaurant you can beat the entrance queues.
Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris +33 1 44 78 1233
Set within the sculptor’s former residence and studio, Musée Rodin is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the larger art museums. Surrounded by peaceful gardens, Rodin’s sculptures, paintings, and drawings are placed throughout the mansion known as the Hôtel Biron, where writer Jean Cocteau and painter Henri Matisse once rented rooms. Rodin also placed his work in the gardens, which makes for a romantic setting to while away an afternoon. Outdoor highlights include The Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais.
Insider Tip: Get free entry on the first Sunday of the month if you’re an EU resident aged 18 to 25. There’s also a little-known automatic machine inside the entrance. Ask the guard to purchase your ticket here, and skip the queues.
Musée Rodin, 79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris +33 1 44 18 6110
Cafe La Palette
On the corner of Rue Du Seine, Cafe La Palette has carved out a reputation as the artist, gallerist, and art student hangout since it was frequented by Cézanne, Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Jim Morrison. With it’s painted murals, wood panelling and artists’ palettes hanging from the ceiling, it’s the ideal spot to sketch your fellow beatniks.
Insider Tip: Be warned, the toilet is a 19th century hole in the floor.
Au Petit Fer a Cheval
One of the best places to people-watch is at Au Petit Fer a Cheval, on one of the busiest streets in Paris. In the heart of the Marais, this perfectly petite bistro captures the essence of café society with its regular bohemian clientele and iconic horseshoe-shaped bar, where you most definitely need to sample apéro (predinner drink).
BUGADA & CARGNEL
Formally known as Cosmic Gallery, Claudia Cargnel and Frédéric Bugada’s 500 square-meter space housed in a former 1930s industrial garage are central to the burgeoning art scene in the Belleville area of Paris. Showcasing both emerging and established French and international artists including Cyprien Gaillard and Pierre Bismuth makes for an exciting and refreshing exhibition schedule.
Founded in 1990 by Emmanuel Perrotin, this Marais-based gallery will not disappoint. Located in an 18th century mansion, Perrotin’s represents big art names including Sophie Calle, Maurizio Cattelan and Takashi Murakami, which always guarantees an electric art experience.
76 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
Take a Street Art Tour
Although many buildings in Paris have become canvases for graffiti artists, you’ll find an abundance of Street Art in the Seine-Saint-Denis area. In 2013 celebrated street artist JR pasted his black-and-white portraits from his Women Are Heroes project along the banks of the Seine. With so much work to see, consider taking a guided-tour. Street Art Paris offers a number of tours that not only highlight the wealth of street art in the city, but also introduces an an area you might have otherwise left undiscovered.
Feel like a true Parisian circa 1900 at this stunning ode to the belle époque tucked down an unassuming alleyway. Offering quality French fare at beyond reasonable prices, Chartier is a Parisian institution providing a unique experience on a shoestring budget. The waiters look as if they stepped out of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, and the menu hasn’t changed since it started with typical dishes including céleri rémoulade, poulet fermier rôti and frites, and Baba au rhum with chantilly cream.
Insider Tip: Chartier doesn’t offer bookings, so avoid the queue that snakes down the alleyway entrance by enjoying an early 5pm dinner for the most affordable food in Paris in the most exquisite setting.
Le Bouillon Chartier, 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Paris, France +33 1 47 70 86 29
Take an inconspicuous lift to the left of the Centre Pompidou‘s main entrance straight up to Restaurant Georges. Here, you can take in the phenomenal views over Paris and have an artful experience in the Jakob + MacFarlane-designed interior with its aluminum dinning caves.
Georges, 19 Rue Beaubourg, Paris, France +33 1 44 78 47 99
Le Grand Restaurant
The intimate dinning room of Jean-Francois Piège‘s Michelin-starred Le Grand Restaurant is the work of Icelandic-born, LA-based designer Gulla Jónsdóttir. With her poetic approach to interior design and use of marble and concrete, this is the perfect location in which to spoil your palate and design senses.7 rue d’Aguesseau, 75008 Paris