The city of love has much to offer, especially in the cultural field. You can go and see all the main attractions and make the same pictures of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or of a Picasso in the Picasso Museum. You can also step out of your comfort zone and explore these top 5 unique museums in Paris. Be adventurous and fall in love with the unknown in the French capital! We will give you insights on the history and masterpieces and of course useful and practical information. At the end there will be given some extra tips for the diehard museum lovers that you might find interesting when buying your museum tickets.

1. Museum of Magic

Welcome into a world full or magic and illusion in the heart of France, welcome to Musee de la Magie! A museum of magic located in Paris is completely dedicated to the art of magic and the history behind it. Here you will find century old tricks, secret boxes, strange mirrors and other objects used for illusion.
Museum of Magic Paris
The museum is housed in the 16th century cellars of the house of the famous Marquis de Sade. It had 7 rooms that showcase a large collection of magical gadgets and objects. Walk through the mystery of magic and be amazed by the surprises that are waiting for you during your tour…

Why a Museum for Magic?

Magic is an immemorial form of entertainment. The first book with the explanation of magic tricks was made in 1584. Written by the Englishman Reginals Scot, titled The Discoverie of Witchcraft, and was intended as an explanation for the people. In that time the people feared witchcraft and other forms of illusions were seen as devilish. In 1993 George Proust opened the museum for Magic to exhibit his collection of all kind of items related to magic. He was a passionate magician himself and when he had the goal to make magic more than just some tricks, he wanted people to see it as an art. His collection displays now the most genius accessories of the 17th and 18th century. And during the tour, Proust wants the visitors to experience the magic through a small magic show on a stage in the middle of the museum.

The Highlights

Posters

The Musee de la Magie showcases a rich collection of old posters promoting magic shows in the hallways. They advertise spectacles like Physique Amusante (Amusing Physics), to the creepy automaton display.

Magic student

For the visitors that are interested in learning more about the tricks and the show there is an ability to book a magic course! From cart tricks to disappearing moves of items, you can learn it all from professional magicians. They will even teach you some psychology behind the illusion.

Magic boxes

The magic boxes that the museum has are very special. They are all beautifully and detailed crafted wooden boxes mostly originating from Nuremberg, Germany. They belonged to children in the 19th century, whom got these boxes often as a present.

Fun Facts

George Proust won with his crew an Oscar at the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood for his creativity of the special effects. His special effects are used in the opera in Paris and the casino.
Did you know that there is a special annual fair for magicians? The first one was held in 2005 in the Musee de la Magie hosted by the “Club des Magiciens Collectionneurs” of which Proust is the founder. The fair was aimed to bring all the masters and experts of magic together.
That Proust won an Oscar is a big accomplishment! It is very tough to become a honored magician in Hollywood. David Copperfield is one of the two magicians that received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Harry Houdini is the other lucky magician, unfortunately he never saw the star because he died on a remarkable day, Halloween in 1926.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Museum Magic Paris

Opening Hours

Days Times
Wednesday,Saturday and Sunday From 14:00 until 19:00 h

2. Museum des Arts Forains

  Extraordinary and extravagant is this unique museum of Carnival Arts, Musée des Arts Forains in Paris. Located in the Bercy district, housed in an old wine market and displaying a wonderful collection of old amusement park rides, games and other carnival-related attractions. 
Museum of Carnival Arts Paris
This museum is great to bring your kids; everything can be touched, tried or climbed on. From fast carousels till haunted house or clown show, they have it all. And for the youngest of the family they have the typical merry-go-arounds. Located in the 12th district of Paris is this museum definitely worth paying a magical visit!

What Is the Story of the Museum?

The French Jean-Paul Favand was always fan of strange objects and carnival arts, and in the 70s he was owner of an antiques shop where he sold theater, cinema and other objects. And he didn’t have to think twice when he was asked to participate in the Louvre Antiquities and to exhibit his collection in the Bercy Park in 1996. Favand’s experience and expertise combined with his passion for the museum led him to international exhibitions and collaborations. His museum presents carnival arts, 14 rides and 16 funfair booths dated out 1850 until 1950 and has with a surface of 1800 m2. Musée des Arts Forains is part of the Bercy pavilions which can be visited all year round by reservation. They house one of the largest collections of objects from show and carnival art. The pavilions are divided within 4 miracle worlds: Theatre Wonderful, Venetians nightlife and Verdure Theatre and the Museum of Carnival Arts

The Highlights

Organs

The museum is full of highlights, but the 3 organs the museum has are very special. The Rider organ, Chariot and Hooghuys organ date back to the 19th century and are so detailed decorated.

Merry-go-around

We know the merry-go-around with horses and sometimes other animals, but this museum has next to this regular ones also one with Venetian gondolas and one with bikes, the velocipede. The harder you bike, the faster the thing will turn!

Colonial Times

Another highlight that is impossible to miss is the elephant dated out of the colonial exhibition in Paris of 1931. In that time the French colonies were very interesting and popular in France, people where curious about new cultures and habits.

Fun Facts

The museum and its buildings is often a location for events, exhibitions, parties and weddings. But did you know it is also used as décor for the last scenes of the movie of Yves Lover, The double and for the movie Paris at all costs from Reem Kherici.
Real carnival experts can tell the difference between English and a French carousel. It has to do with the direction in which the horses point their heads and if the carousel circles clockwise or counterclockwise. To know which one belongs to whom you will have to visit the museum!
The carousel is dated back in the medieval times when noble men did a sport where they let horses circle while they tried to catch rings from the horseback. Over time the live horses where replaced by painted wooden copies which were hanging in an attraction which evolved into the merry-go-round nowadays.
The name of this game was in Spanish Carossela, which meant “little war” and later bastardized to carousel. The name merry-go around should come from the meaning merry, which used to be a word to express happy.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Museum Carnival Arts Paris GowithOh
*Reservation is required!

Opening Hours

Days Times
Tuesday until Sunday From 10:00 until 18:00 h

3. Museum of Wine

France is not only world’s largest producer of wine it also has the world’s best rated wines, enough reasons to visit Musee du Vin in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, right? It is a mystery why this museum is not trampled every day. The museum is located in authentic Middle Ages quarries used as cellars for the brothers of the convents of the Minims. 
French Wine Bottles
The museum showcases a collection of more than 2,000 artifacts, presenting the tools of viticulture, wine history, wine tasting and of course the production. Besides, the grand collection the museum has also a restaurant where you can even taste more wine with some delicious French dish. Find yourself tasting French culture in the shades of the Eiffel Tower!

What Is the Story Behind the Museum?

In the 15th century the brothers of the convent of the Minims were settled in. They produced wine, a fine wine harvest of a vineyard called Rue Vineuse (street of wine) which was located near the river the Seine. King Louis XIII was a big fan of the wine the monks produced. During the French Revolution in the 18th century monks were driven away and the mines were partly destroyed and the vineyards were vanished. The wine cellars remain for that reason years undiscovered. In 1984, the wine brotherhood called Conseil des Echansons de France bought the quarries and started the museum. The museum had and still has the aim to “defend and promote the best wines of appellation of French origin”. Nowadays the Parisian museum is restored and testifies the beauty and the art of French winemaking.

The Highlights

Wax figures

The first highlight is definitely the wax replica of the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) showing his love for red wine. You can find the sculpture in a room with other famous waxworks like Balzac and Chamertin of Nuits la Cote.

Wine Tasting

Other highlights are the optional blind tastings of one or more of the fantastic vintage wines. After your tour through the history and the production of wine, you might be thirsty! Then you can sip from a red, white or rose wine there is even the possibility to order cheese with it.

Quarries

And finally, the Quarries in which the museum is located. The authentic arched cellars that were hewn in the limestone soil by monks with infinite patience in the Middle Ages. The serene atmosphere has been preserved and is still tangible when you are learning the intricacies of winemaking.

Fun Facts

Rue des Eaux, where the entrance is located, means street of water. The name refers to the mineral springs that were found here and where used to derive drink water from in the 17th century. That’s why the walls of the cellars are made of limestone; the product was found in the ground when the mineral springs were depleted.
Thanks to monastic orders like the brothers of the convent of the Minims, we have a wide range of delicious wines. They were the ones that experimented and improved the wine production. Did you know that world’s most famous champagne was named after a monk called Dom Pierre Pérignon? Nowadays his techniques and methods are still used.
Men vs. Woman: the fact that women tolerate less alcohol than men is generally known, but why? It has actually nothing to do with body weight or size but it depends on your fat ratio. Body fat does not adsorb any alcohol and therefore more alcohol will run through your blood. And the average woman has 10% more body fat than the average men. So maybe woman are faster tipsy but another study shows us that woman are better wine testers because they have a better sense of smell than men so their taste is better.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Museum du Vin Paris GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Tuesday until Sunday From 10:00 until 18:00 h

4. Museum Carnavalet

Imagine yourself in the 17th century in Paris, what would you wear, where would you work, how did people live back then? All these questions can be answered during a tour in Musee Carnavalet in the Marais district of Paris. This Museum displays the French history through more than 600,000 works, and has therefore the largest number of collections in the city. 
Carnavalet Museum Paris
Musee Carnavalet is located in two buildings situated next to each other, namely in Hôtel Carnavalet and Hôtel Le Peletier which are connected with a gallery. The museum has its collection is mostly chronologically ordered and presents the history of Paris back to 1789 in more than 100 rooms.

What Is the History of the Museum?

1548: The Hôtel Carnavalet was built for Jacques des Ligneris, president of the Parliament of Paris. It is still one of the oldest and rare Renaissance architecture examples in Paris.

1578: Change of owners, the noble Madame Kernevenoy of Brittany moved to the mansion because she lost her husband François de Kernevenoy, a name that was hard for the French to pronounce and eventually was rendered in Carnavalet, the Hotel its current name.

1677: The owner Madame Sévigné bought the hotel but not before it was adjusted to her taste or rather the taste of the architect François Mansart, who added the side wings.

1688: Pierre Bullet built a mansion known as the Hôtel d’Orgeval bought by Michel Le Peletier who passed it on to his grandson. During his ownership the French revolution started (when the French people turned against the nobility), and the noble grandson got executed. But the hotel is still called Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau.

1866: Many owners further the city of Paris purchased back the Hôtel Carnavalet and transformed it into a museum for the city´s history. They restored the building back to its original beauty while preserving the side wings made by Mansart.

1989: The Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau which bought by the city too and was annexed to the museum.

The Highlights

Jean-Baptiste Chardin

The first Highlight is definitely the beautiful painting, La Partie de Billard of Jean-Baptiste Chardin (1699-1779). The painting is made with oil paint on canvas.

Colourful Ceilings

Other impressive features are the ceiling paintings by Charles Le Brun. Parts of the paintings and the wooden paneling are taken from the townhouse on Place de Vosges during the renovation did by the architect François Le Vau and the artist Le Brun.

Ballroom

The reconstruction of the Art Deco ballroom of the Hotel de Wendel is also worth to be called a highlight. The reconstruction is done in the 20th century and was painted by José-Maria Sert.

Fun Facts

Did you know that the gardens you see while walking through the buildings are the home of some thousand thriving plant species!
La Partie de Billard of Jean-Baptiste Chardin was one of his early works. And the painting is probably a sketch for an advertisement for a billiard manufacturer. Probably he did it for his that because playing billiard was a hobby practiced by Chardin’s father.
Not only nobles got killed during the Paris Commune (the French revolution), a lot of art was vanished into thin air because the buildings where set on fire and destroyed the collections intended for the museum. Luckily the buildings survived the fires and after they were used as a replacement for historical library which was burned down.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Praktical Information Museum Carnavalet Paris GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Tuesday until Sunday From 10:00 until 18:00 h
* Some rooms are opened alternately

5. Museum of Hunting

In 2007 Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature reopened its doors, the museum of haunting and nature exhibits more than 5000 pieces. Find yourself in the life of a hunter with a rich collection of stuffed animals or in the life of an artist with paintings related to hunting and rare furniture. 
Museum de la Chasse et de la Nature Paris
The museum is situated in two beautiful buildings on Rue des Archives in the center of Paris. The rooms and the hallways are decorated very classy and very detailed. Extraordinary is this museum for hunting and nature for sure, definitely worth to pay a visit!

What Is the Story Behind the Museum?

1661: Count Henri de Guenegaud Montbrison, Marquis of Plancy, secretary of King Louis XIV let the architect François Mansart design and built a home for him. This is now known as Hôtel de Guénégaud.

1962: During the 19th century the building fell into disrepair and it was even on the list to demolish. But thanks to André Malraux the formal minister of culture, the hotel was bought by the city and became a national monument and a museum after the owners of the hunting foundation in France, François and his wife Jaqueline Sommer wanted to exhibit their treasures there.

2007: The museum is again renovated. The museum has now 20 rooms with in every room a different theme, most of the time the theme is one animal. They have a rich exposition of stuffed animals from all over the world now.

The Highlights

Philip le Beau

The first highlight is the painting of Philip le Beau (1478-1506) holding a falcon. It is an oil on wood painting by the master of the legend of St. Mary Magdalene, made in the late fifteenth century in Paris. The painting is owned by museum the Louvre.

Bronze Clocks

The next highlight or highlights actually, are the 3 Bronze table clocks Jacques Panier, François Goyer, Julien Leroy. These clocks are decorated with images of hunting and show of the quality of the expertise of French artisans in the eighteenth century.

Impressive ceiling

Another Highlight is definitely the extraordinary arched ceiling in one of the rooms. The ceiling is created by the contemporary Jan Fabre, he made an artwork inspired by owls.

Fun Facts

The museum has one room devoted to the unicorn. The unicorn is the only mythical creature that is not created out of human fears. But do you know that there is no myth that describes the unicorn? Scientists are still cracking their brains on the origin of this mythical phenomenon.
The museum displays 3 centuries of hunting, but hunting is not a sport from the past. Hunting is still France’s national sport!

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Museum de la Chasse et de la Nature Paris GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Tuesday until Sunday From 11:00 until 18:00 h

Tips for the Museum Lovers

Paris City Pass

If you are planning on staying with us and you have going to multiple museums during you stay in Paris in your planning, you might consider the Paris City Pass. Besides the useful map that you will receive the Paris City Pass gives you discount to almost all the museums, includes a cruise on the Seine and a Big Bus Tour through the city, and gives you the freedom to take all the public transport options, like the metro, bus or tram.

Online Ticketsale

Standing in the line is a waste of time if you have more highlights to see on one day in Paris. What we recommend is to buy your ticket already online and you don´t have to spend your time waiting.

Note that for some museums reservations are even obligatory and that some museums have permanent collections that can be seen for free!

Recommended Districts

The first district that we recommend for museum lovers is the 3th arrondissement of Paris. Very central located with Museé Carnavalet and Museé de la Chasse et de la Nature. If you don’t like to stay in the center you can also stay in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, this is where the Wine Museum is located and the Arc de Triomphe.

Author
At GowithOh, we are an enthusiastic team of self-confessed Europhiles who are passionate about travel. We especially love the variety of city breaks possible in Europe, from the historic UNESCO heritage cities like Prague, to the more cosmopolitan beachside destinations like Barcelona. We love discovering the hidden gems in different cities and sharing them with our fans so everyone can benefit and enjoy the perfect city break in Europe.
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