Museums and galleries in the Marais

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Museums

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

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A two-year overhaul turned the three-floor hunting museum from a musty old-timer into something really rather special. When it reopened in 2007, it had kept the basic layout and proportions of the two adjoining 17th-century mansions it occupies, but many of its new exhibits and settings seem more suited to an art gallery than a museum. The history of hunting and man's larger relationship with the natural world are examined in things like a quirky series of wooden cabinets devoted to the owl, wolf, boar and stag, each equipped with a bleached skull, small drawers you can open to reveal droppings and footprint casts, and a binocular eyepiece you can peer into for footage of the animal in the wild. A cleverly simple mirrored box contains a stuffed hen that is replicated into infinity on every side; and a stuffed fox is set curled up on a Louis XVI chair as though it were a domestic pet. Thought-provoking stuff.

  1. Hôtel Guénégaud, 62 rue des Archives, 3e
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Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme

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It's fitting that a museum of Judaism should be lodged in one of the grandest mansions of the Marais, for centuries the epicentre of local Jewish life. It sprung from the collection of a private association formed in 1948 to safeguard Jewish heritage after the Holocaust. Pick up a free audio-guide in English to help you navigate through displays illustrating ceremonies, rites and learning, and showing how styles were adapted across the globe through examples of Jewish decorative arts. Photographic portraits of modern French Jews, each of whom tells his or her own story on the audio soundtrack, bring a contemporary edge. There are documents and paintings relating to the emancipation of French Jewry after the Revolution and the infamous Dreyfus case, from Zola's J'Accuse! to anti-Semitic cartoons. Paintings by the early 20th-century avant-garde include works by El Lissitsky and Chagall. The Holocaust is marked by Boris Taslitzky's stark sketches from Buchenwald and Christian Boltanski's courtyard memorial to the Jews who lived in the building in 1939, 13 of whom died in the camps.

  1. Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, 71 rue du Temple, 3e
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Musée Carnavalet

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  • Free

Here, 140 chronological rooms depict the history of Paris, from pre-Roman Gaul to the 20th century. Built in 1548 and transformed by Mansart in 1660, this fine house became a museum in 1866, when Haussmann persuaded the city to preserve its beautiful interiors. Original 16th-century rooms house Renaissance collections, with portraits by Clouet and furniture and pictures relating to the Wars of Religion. The first floor covers the period up to 1789, with furniture and paintings displayed in restored, period interiors; neighbouring Hôtel Le Peletier de St-Fargeau covers the period from 1789 onwards. Displays relating to 1789 detail that year's convoluted politics and bloodshed, with prints and memorabilia, including a chunk of the Bastille. There are items belonging to Napoleon, a cradle given by the city to Napoleon III, and a reconstruction of Proust's cork-lined bedroom.

  1. 23 rue de Sévigné, 3e
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Musée des Arts et Métiers

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The 'arts and trades' museum is, in fact, Europe's oldest science museum, founded in 1794 by the constitutional bishop Henri Grégoire, initially as a way to educate France's manufacturing industry in useful scientific techniques. Housed in the former Benedictine priory of St-Martin-des-Champs, it became a museum proper in 1819; it's a fascinating, attractively laid out and vast collection of treasures. Here are beautiful astrolabes, celestial spheres, barometers, clocks, weighing devices, some of Pascal's calculating devices, amazing scale models of buildings and machines that must have demanded at least as much engineering skill as the originals, the Lumière brothers' cinematograph, an enormous 1938 TV set, and still larger exhibits like Cugnot's 1770 'Fardier' (the first ever powered vehicle) and Clément Ader's bat-like, steam-powered Avion 3. The visit concludes in the chapel, which now contains old cars, a scale model of the Statue of Liberty, the monoplane in which Blériot crossed the Channel in 1909, and a Foucault pendulum.Try to time your visit to coincide with one of the spellbinding demonstrations of the museum's old music boxes in the Théâtre des Automates.

  1. 60 rue Réaumur, 3e
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Atelier Brancusi

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When Constantin Brancusi died in 1957, he left his studio and its contents to the state, and it was later moved and rebuilt by the Centre Pompidou. His fragile works in wood and plaster, the endless columns and streamlined bird forms show how Brancusi revolutionised sculpture.

  1. Place Beaubourg, 4e
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Musée de la Poupée

This small, private museum and doll hospital enchants little girls with its collection of some 500 dolls (mostly of French origin) and their accompanying accessories and pets, which are arranged in thematic tableaux.A few teddies and quacking ducks are thrown in for young boys, and storytelling sessions and workshops (along the lines of making doll's clothes or miniature food for dolls' houses) are held at 2pm on Wednesdays (in French, reserve in advance; €8-€13). There's even a clinique pour poupées if your doll is falling apart at the seams.

  1. Impasse Berthaud, 3e
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Musée Cognacq-Jay

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This cosy museum houses a collection put together in the early 1900s by La Samaritaine founder Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay. They stuck mainly to 18th-century French works, focusing on rococo artists such as Watteau, Fragonard, Boucher, Greuze and pastellist Quentin de la Tour, though some English artists (Reynolds, Romney, Lawrence) and Dutch and Flemish names (an early Rembrandt, Ruysdael, Rubens), plus Canalettos and Guardis, have managed to slip in. Pictures are displayed in panelled rooms with furniture, porcelain, tapestries and sculpture of the same period.

  1. Hôtel Donon, 8 rue Elzévir, 3e
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Musée de la Magie

Small kids love the distorting mirrors and putting their hands in the lion's mouth at this museum of magic and curiosities, housed in vaulted cellars. A short magic show is included in the visit - it's in French, but rabbits out of hats translate pretty well into any language. There's a great automated museum too, where 100 mechanical toys move into action before your kids' eyes.

  1. 11 rue Saint-Paul, 4e
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Galleries

The Centre Pompidou

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The primary colours, exposed pipes and air ducts make the Centre Pompidou one of the best-known sights in Paris. The then-unknown Italo-British architectural duo of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers won the competition with their 'inside-out' boilerhouse approach, which put air-conditioning, pipes, lifts and the escalators on the outside, leaving an adaptable space within. The multi-disciplinary concept of modern art museum (the most important in Europe), library, exhibition and performance spaces...

  1. Rue Saint-Martin, 4e
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Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)

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Probably the capital's best photography exhibition space, hosting retrospectives by Larry Clark and Martine Barrat, along with work by emerging photographers. The building, an airy mansion with a modern extension, contains a huge permanent collection. The venue organises the biennial Mois de la Photo and the Art Outsiders festival of new media web art in September.

  1. 5-7 rue de Fourcy, 4e
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Galerie du Jour – Agnès B.

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‘We say gallery, but we could also say a place for showing the other faces and the side issues of things’ explained Agnès B. in November 1984, when she launched La Galerie du Jour a few steps from the Centre Pompidou. The designer and founder of the wildly successful eponymous label shows here anything that pleases her – painting, sculpture, contemporary art and tons of photography. Seydou Keiwta, Jean-Christian Bourcart and Massimo Vitali have all had shows here.Since September 2000, the gallery has added a library – papered with press cuttings – where you can find all the gallery’s publications, catalogues of the artists who have exhibited here, reviews, books, videos and objets d’art. It's well worth a browse, if only to cast an eye over the publication directed by Agnès B. and art critic and exhibition curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘Pointe d’Ironie’. Each edition is a carte blanche for a different artist.

  1. 44 rue Quincampoix, 4e
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Galerie Suzanne Tarasiève

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Suzanne Tarasiève opened her vast Loft19 in 2008, part of the rapid artistic expansion of the Belleville neighbourhood, within a few years became the favourite destination for young alternative galleries in Paris. Her second space, opened in the Marais in May 2011, is a stronghold for the most powerful representatives of the Parisian art market. A certain split personality gives the gallery its charm, attracting as it does both underground talents like the Le Gun collective and successful artists like photographer Boris Mikhailov and even Nick Cave and his ‘Soundsuits’.

  1. 7 rue Pastourelle, 3e
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Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

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  • Free

Ropac's main base is in Salzburg, but he also runs this attractive Paris gallery, featuring American Pop and neo-Pop by Warhol, Tom Sachs and Alex Katz, along with European artists such as Ilya Kabakov, Sylvie Fleury and Gilbert & George.

  1. 7 rue Debelleyme, 3e
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Galerie Fait & Cause

  • Free

Concentrating on the photography of social issues, Fait & Cause was created in 1997 by the group Pour Que l’Esprit Vive, who work to promote artworks on social wellbeing. The gallery isn’t just an exhibiton space, but also a campaign centre devoted to raising awareness and ‘the denunciation of injustice, inequality and misery’, treated by artists of quality and talent. From the northeast Brazil shot by Tiago Santana to the Haiti captured by Riccardo Venturi, the quality of the works – if sometimes harrowing – is excellent.

  1. 58 rue Quincampoix, 4e
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Galerie Xippas

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  • Free

Marais gallery Xippas has shown both emerging and successful contemporary French artists since 1990, and it’s probably one of the biggest in the capital space-wise, at 800 square metres. Visitors can expect painting, photography and sculpture as well as installations and video, spread out over two floors. The first floor hosts temporary exhibitions, while downstairs are the resident artists’ works. Gallery owner and trader Renos Xippas has galleries in name all over the world, from Athens to Montevideo via Geneva – in Paris, he’s shown the figurative paintings of Belgian artist Farah Atassi, photograoher Vik Muniz and the sound installations of French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot.

  1. 108 rue Vieille du Temple, 3e
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Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

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Now installed in an elegant Marais hôtel particulier, Perrotin is one of the sharpest figures in town: not content with owning a gallery in Miami and a glossy magazine, he has recently jumped on the design bandwagon with shows by Robert Stadler and Eric Benqué. As well as the quirky Japanese set of Takashi Murakami, Mariko Mori et al, and big French names such as Sophie Calle, Xavier Veilhan, Prix Marcel Duchamp winner Tatiana Trouvé and Bernard Frize, he also features the radical Austrian collective Gelitin.

  1. 76 rue de Turenne, 3e
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Galerie Praz-Delavallade

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Founded in 1989 by Bruno Delavallade and originally located in Bastille, the Praz-Delavallade gallery has now moved to the Marais where Bruno’s taste for California, and LA in particular, continues to hold sway. Some of the gallery’s favourite artists include contemporary works by Jim Shaw and Marnie Weber, as well as Joel Kyack. But its not an exclusively American selection – Bruno and hos co-owner René-Julien Praz also promote talented European artists, like the Belgian Antoine Roegiers and Frenchman Fabien Merelle.

  1. 5 rue des Haudriettes, 3e
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Galerie Particulière

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  • Free

Among the mass of galleries in the Marais, this is where contemporary art lovers in need of a little poetry end up. Founded in 2009, the Galerie Particulière is well named: between the enchanting folklore of Icelanding artist Adam Panczuk, the pastoral portraits of Claudine Doury and the sleek nudes of Mona Kuhn, the artists shown here rival each other for the most individual, intimate voices. Photography has pride of place on the programme – from the ethereal portraits of Byung-Hun Min, wreathed in a fog of black and white, to the scathing reportage of Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo – there is also room for Ethan Murrow’s drawings and Pascal Pesez’s paintings, which fit in nicely.

  1. 16 rue du Perche, 3e
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Galerie Marian Goodman

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The veteran New York gallery owner can be counted on to pull out the stops with impressive shows from a roster of big international names, such as Gerhard Richter, William Kentridge and Steve McQueen.

  1. 79 rue du Temple, 3e
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Espace Topographie de l'Art

  • Free

A world away from the 'white cube', this hangar is reminiscent of industrial wasteland, all metal, glass and exposed stone, in constrast to the elegant galleries set in former hôtels particuliers elsewhere in the neighbourhood. This raw look is the perfect backdrop for the gallery’s smart programming, which covers drawing, photography and graphic design.

  1. 15 rue de Thorigny, 3e
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Galerie Yvon Lambert

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  • Free

Lambert celebrated 30 years in the business in 2006, and remains a powerhouse of the French scene, with plenty of big-name stuff, a New York offshoot and a personal collection granted museum status in Avignon. The gallery includes a dedicated area for video installations, and the main space shows leading international names - American bigwigs Andres Serrano, Sol LeWitt, Nan Goldin and Jenny Holzer, plus next-generation artists Douglas Gordon and Jonathan Monk. The street-front art bookshop has a window showcase and basement gallery for younger talents.

  1. 108 rue Vieille du Temple, 3e
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Galerie Daniel Templon

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  • Free

A Paris institution since the 1960s and conveniently located opposite the Centre Pompidou, Galerie T mainly shows paintings - wall-friendly items for wealthy private collectors. Jean-Michel Alberola, GÈrard Garouste, Philippe CognÈe and Vincent Corpet all feature on the list, along with the American David Salle and German expressionist Jonathan Meese.

  1. 30 rue Beaubourg, 3e
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Galerie Nathalie Obadia

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This gallery, located just around the corner from the Centre Pompidou, opened in 1993 and shows leading artsists such as Martin Barré, Lorna Simpson and Agnès Varda in a sleek, white space. A sister gallery opened in Brussels in 2008.

  1. 3 rue du Cloître Saint-Merri, 4e
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Polka Galerie

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  • Free

“Every photo has a tale to tell”: such is the leitmotif at Polka Galerie in the Marais, where Adélie de Ipanema and Edouard Genestar have entirely devoted their art space to photojournalism, thus turning their triple-roomed gallery into one of the only places in Paris to mix art, journalism and politics. Works on display are signed by photographers like Ethan Levitas, Marc Riboud, Reza and Daido Morayima, all known for their hard-hitting sociopolitical angles. You might also come across an expo on Elliot Erwitt renowned for his amusing dog photos. While you’re there, pick up a copy of Polka Magazine, a fortnightly spread, created by Alain Genestar (former director of Paris Match), brimming with picture-rich articles, many of which tie in with the exhibitions in the gallery.

  1. Cour de Venise, 12 rue Saint-Gilles, 3e
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Russian Tea Room

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  • Free

The Russian Tea Room was set up in 2004 to promote Russian art in Europe and opened its gallery space in 2007. Exhibitions focus mainly on the young post-perestroika generation with an emphasis on gritty photography.

  1. 42 rue de Volta, 3e
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Galerie Magda Danysz

  • Free

Magda Danysz has moved into a three-storey space near the Cirque d'Hiver on the fringes of the Marais, aiming to make contemporary art accessible. She has a taste for artists influenced by graffiti and animation, as well as the hybrid art-design-science output of the Ultralab cooperative.

  1. 78 rue Amelot, 11e
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Galerie Anne Barrault

  • Free

After initially concentrating on photography, notably the provocative feminist stagings by Katharina Bosse, Barrault now presents a wider range of media, often with a strong graphic edge.

  1. 22 rue Saint-Claude, 3e
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Art:Concept

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  • Free

Despite its cramped conditions, Art:Concept manages to present some interesting, eclectic work. Look out for constructions by Richard Fauguet, as well as installations by Michel Blazy, whose favourite materials include the likes of shaving foam, spaghetti and dog biscuits.

  1. 13 rue des Arquebusiers, 3e
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Galerie Polaris

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Polaris occupies an old gym and shows artists mainly working in photo and video, such as Stéphane Couturier, known for his stunning, flattened perspective images of building sites.

  1. 15 rue des Arquebusiers, 3e
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Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire

  • Free

Les Filles du Calvaire is based in spacious premises in a two-storey glass-roofed industrial building in the Marais, with an offshoot in Brussels. Shows tend to concentrate on geometrical abstraction, featuring artists such artists as Olivier Mosset and James Hyde, along with photography and installation.

  1. 17 rue des Filles du Calvaire, 3e
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Galerie Karsten Greve

  • Free

The Cologne gallery's smart Paris outpost is the venue for retrospective displays of top-ranking artists: think big names rather than risk taking. Jannis Kounellis, Louise Bourgeois, Pierre Soulages, John Chamberlain and Dubuffet have all featured here.

  1. 5 rue Debelleyme, 3e
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Galerie Alain Gutharc

  • Free

The last of the Bastille galleries has now moved to the Marais. Gutharc talent-spots young French artists, often giving them a first gallery show, and also presents an annual art-design crossover. Among recent discoveries, check out the dreamily surreal paintings of Marlène Mocquet.

  1. 7 rue Saint-Claude, 3e
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Galerie Dominique Fiat

  • Free

Fiat is part of a dynamic new generation of galleries. Shows have included the word games and art world parodies by novelist and artist Thomas LÈlu (who renamed the gallery Galerie Dominique Fiat Panda for the occasion) and structures by Laurent Saksik.

  1. 16 rue des Coutures Saint-Gervais, 3e
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Galerie Michel Rein

  • Free

Although hampered by lack of space, Rein presents interesting multidisciplinary artists, such as Fabien Verschaere, Dora Garcia and Saadane Afif, and has recently picked up some of the talents from eastern Europe, such as Dan Perjovschi and Mark Raidpere.

  1. 42 rue de Turenne, 3e
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Galerie Chantal Crousel

  • Free

Crousel celebrated the 25th anniversary of her gallery with a move to this space in rue Charlot's burgeoning design and fashion scene. She was the first in France to show work by Mona Hatoum and Tony Cragg. Hot younger talents include Rirkrit Tiravanija and Thomas Hirschhorn, as well as Anri Sala and Melik Ohanian, two of France's most exciting video artists, and Cuban duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.

  1. 10 rue Charlot, 3e
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Jousse Entreprise

Philippe Jousse presents contemporary artists - such as Matthieu Laurette, Frank Perrin and challenging video artist Clarisse Hahn - alongside 1950s avant-garde furniture by Jean Prouvé, lights by Serge Mouille and ceramics by Georges Jouve, which are also shown at sister design gallery at 18 rue de Seine in the 6th.

  1. 6 rue Saint-Claude, 3e
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Galerie Zürcher

  • Free

Among the Chinese wholesalers north of Beaubourg, Zürcher shows emerging artists with a fresh take on painting and video: Marc Desgrandschamps, Camille Vivier and Elisa Sighicelli. Mathilde Rosier and Eléonore de Montesquiou are also featured.

  1. 56 rue Chapon, 3e
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Galerie Chez Valentin

  • Free

Chez Valentin is a gallery at the experimental cutting edge, and shows here tend to be radically conceptual but often fun: look for pseudo-documentaries by video-maker Laurent Grasso, photos by Nicolas Moulin, installations by Pierre Ardouin and projects by former Prix Duchamp winner Mathieu Mercier.

  1. 9 rue Saint-Gilles, 3e
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Galerie Almine Rech

  • Free

Continuing the rue Louise Weiss exodus, Almine Rech has returned to the Marais. Spread over two floors, her new gallery has more of an apartment feel in which to show off big international names. Among regulars are light installations by James Turrell, neo-minimalists John McCracken and Anselm Reyle, the eclectic clowning of Ugo Rondinone and powerful films by French artist Ange Leccia.

  1. 19 rue de Saintonge, 3e
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Galerie de Multiples

  • Free

Artist Mathieu Mercier was one of the founders of this gallery, dedicated to producing 'multiples' (limited edition prints and artists' objects). Shows can take the form of anything from posters to soup ladles or pieces inspired by rock music.

  1. 17 rue Saint-Gilles, 3e
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