When you first travel to Paris, it’s easy to be caught up in the big sights: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Notre Dame… but there is so much more to this City of Lights than these! Discover Paris through its more unusual museums (with no line-ups guaranteed) on your next trip to Paris.
Paris is all about the niche museums that, for some reason, often get left out of the major guide books. For travellers with a curiosity for the strange… these are must-see places the next time you head to the Continent on flights to Paris. From playing cards to perfumes, Dalí and wine… there’s no end to the kind of exotic and strange museums you can find in Paris’ back-streets.
Musée du Fumeur
Smoking Museum… This museum, while small, houses a huge collection of smoking devices and contraptions of all shapes and sizes from every corner of the world. Peace pipes, Chinese opium pipes, hookahs… you’ll find them all here. Alongside the objects are photographs and videos about the interesting world of smoking and the history of tobacco consumption.
Location: 7, rue Pache (11th arr.)
Nearest metro: Voltaire
Open: daily except Sunday and Monday from 12:30-19:00
If you find yourself in Montmartre and you’re feeling surreal, head to Espace Dalí. It has the largest collection of Dalí statues and engravings in France. His sculptures bring his eery and strange images to life in another dimension, the collection won’t disappoint even the most devoted fans to the dalinian philosophy. Even the layout of the museum is unsettling, almost as if you’re in a surrealist painting yourself. Follow the music which guides you from room to room and you’ll have a better appreciation of the Catalan artist’s work.
Location: 11, rue Poulbot
Nearest metro: Abbesses
Open: daily 10:00-18:00
Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer
Would you be surprised to find out this is one of only seven museums in the world dedicated to playing cards? There are more than 6,500 individual cards, 980 prints/drawings/posters and more than 1000 objects in the museum’s collection. The building is not hard to miss, it’s the old Château d’Issy from the Princes of Conti. In 1999 the museum won the prestigious European Museum of the Year award.
Location: 16, rue Auguste Gervais, Issy-les-Moulineaux
Nearest metro: Mairie d’Issy
Open: Wednesday to Sunday
Admission: €4.20 (free the first Sunday of the month)
Fragonard Musée du Parfum
This perfume museum was opened in the 1980s and is an essential stop if you appreciate the fine art of scent and eau de toilet. It’s housed in a classic Napoleon III house from the 1860s and its rooms are still filled with furnishings from that era alongside perfumes and perfume-making tools and objects from centuries ago including bottles, toiletry sets, stills for steam distillation and more. The most interesting part is without a doubt the orgue parfum, an organ-looking shelf with tiers of bottles holding ingredients used to mix different fragrances.
Location: 9, rue Scribe
Nearest metro: Opera
Open: Monday to Saturday 9:00-18:00, Sundays 9:00-17:00
Musée du Vin
Can you imagine if Paris didn’t have a museum totally dedicated to their national drink… wine? Not far from the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, this is a central museum that, at least if you enjoy a good glass of wine, should be added to the sight-seeing itinerary. The museum’s collection of displays and objects is a testament to the rich wine-drinking and producing culture in France. Most fittingly the museum is located in old quarries from the Middle Ages, essentially cellars.
Location: 5, rue des Eaux, Charles Dickens Square (16th arr.)
Nearest metro: Passy
Open: daily 10:00-18:00 (except Monday)
Admission: €11.90 (includes one glass of wine); €17 (3 glasses of wine); €27 (3 glasses of wine PLUS a tasting tutorial with a wine professional)
What are your favourite museums in Paris?