5 new Paris museums that can’t be missed

Move over Moscow, museums are mounting in gay Paris.

The two cities have been battling for the title of “most museums per capita” for years.

Now, Paris has added five new destinations for the culturally curious, preserving its title as the browsing capital of the world.

The new museums range from “Honey I shrunk” Versailles to a long-overdue homage to Victor Hugo and a billionaire’s personal collection of contemporary art.

Let them greet cake

The year is 1755. A baby named Marie Antoinette is born, and in the same square that would later become the site of her public beheading, planning begins for Hôtel de la Marine. With the help of a $158 million renovation, this former HQ of the French Navy is now a cultural institution open to the masses.

Interior shot of Hôtel de 
la Marine.
Commissioned by Louis XV, Hôtel de la Marine has a storied revolutionary history.
Benjamin Gavaudo / Centre des Monuments Nationaux

With its mirror room and extensive collection of royal-owned artwork, furniture and other crown jewels, Hôtel de la Marine can easily be compared to a mini-Versailles. But located in Place de la Concorde, it’s in a far more convenient location if you’re staying in the city.

2 Pl. de la Concorde

Collection plait

Exterior of Bourse de Commerce.
Bourse de Commerce houses 10,000 works of modern art in an 18th-century grain exchange.
Marc Domagex

Sharing is caring for the country’s third richest man. Bourse de Commerce aka the Pinault Collection comes courtesy of Selma Hayek’s ex-husband François-Henri Pinault, is two decades in the making. With the help of Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the billionaire’s personal contemporary art collection can finally be viewed by the masses.

Housed in an 18th-century grain elevator, the new museum is located just a 5-minute walk from the Louvre. It boasts more than 10,000 pieces of post-1960s art. Not a fan of modernity? Simply come to admire the re-envisioned rotunda with its glass domed roof and Ando-inspired cylindrical concrete installation.

2 Rue de Viarmes

Timing is everything

Interior hallway of Musée Carnavalet
Musée Carnavalet looks back to the very
origins of the city.
Jean-Baptiste Gurliat / Ville de Paris

After a 5-year-long restoration, Musée Carnavalet is back in business. Updates include arranging exhibits in chronological order, incorporating digital displays and adding a garden restaurant. Musée Carnavalet opened in 1880 as the first museum dedicated to the history of the city. Today, it’s comprised of two adjacent mansions providing 42,000 square feet of exhibition space spread out over four floors.

Travel 5,000 years back in time via oak canoes paddled by the primitive peoples who first settled along the Seine. Or revisit 2019 with the help of dramatic photos documenting the burning of Notre Dame. The museum’s collection of 618,000 pieces also includes Napoléon Bonaparte’s campaign kit, Marie Antoinette’s personal belongings and so many vintage retail signs they require two rooms. 

23 Rue de Sévigné

Master of the house

Interior staircase at the Victor Hugo Maison.
We have a hunch you’ll have a very un-misérables time at the Victor Hugo House.

Maison de Victor Hugo is for everyone who makes the mistake of assuming Victor Hugo was only a writer by trade. It turns out the author of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” was also an accomplished artist. The exiled Frenchman’s side hustles included sketching, photography and building furniture from repurposed materials (long before HGTV made it cool).

He was also an early stan of the standing desk. His personal desk is on display as is his literal death bed (1885). Fans of “Les Misérables” can even lay their eyes on the very same quills Hugo held to write his internationally acclaimed novel turned musical.  

6 Pl. des Vosges 

Smokin’ hot

Exterior of
Tag along: Some consider the graffiti outside Serge Gainsbourg’s former rue de Verneuil home as gross. These folks are commonly known as cervelles de petit-pois.

Nearly 20 years before Madonna was rattling cages, Serge Gainsbourg was wreaking havoc on the music industry in France. Maison de Serge Gainsbourg is located in the 1960s French Pop icon’s former town home. His daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, kept the residence like a time capsule — touching nothing for two decades. Inside, visitors can see and smell the late musician’s last cigarette butts lingering in an ashtray.

Outside, there’s a revolving door of graffiti left by faithful devotees. Neighbors see it as an eyesore. Fans see it as art. Gainsbourg’s music — occasionally so controversial it was banned by the Vatican — didn’t die with him in 1991. The museum, which will also boast a café and piano bar, is scheduled to open in early 2022.  

5 bis Rue de Verneuil