Quirky museums

Police and porn, sewers and skulls: it’s Paris’s museums, but not as you know them...



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Musées des Parfumeries Fragonard

Musées des Parfumeries Fragonard Oliver Knight / Time Out

Paris wears its nickname as the 'Museum City' with pride. And with three of world's most fabulous museums – the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d'Orsay – it's got good reason to be chuffed. However there's much more to its cultural scene than these behemoths. Off the beaten track, down cobbled side streets and even smack bang in the middle of touristy areas, you’ll find many weird and wonderful little-known gems – all well worth an hour of your time.

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

  1. Impasse Berthaud, 3e
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Musée de la Préfecture de Police

  • Free

The police museum is housed in a working commissariat, which makes for a slightly intimidating entry procedure. You need to walk boldly past the police officer standing guard outside and up the steps

  1. 4 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, 5e
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Musée des Egouts

For centuries, the main source of drinking water in Paris was the Seine, which was also the main sewer. Construction of an underground sewerage system began at the time of Napoleon. Today, the Egouts

  1. Entrée face au 93 quai d'Orsay, Pont de l'Alma, 7e
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Musée Valentin Haüy

  • Free

The tiny Musée Valentin Haüy is devoted to the history of braille, a story intimately connected with the French Enlightenment just before the Revolution. Valentin Haüy, whose statue you will see

  1. 5 rue Duroc, 7e
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Musée Edith Piaf

  • Free

Set in an apartment where Piaf lived at the age of 18, when she sang on the streets of Ménilmontant, this tiny museum consists of two red-painted rooms crammed with letters, pictures, framed discs

  1. 5 rue Crespin du Gast, 11e
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Observatoire de Paris

  • Free

The Paris observatory was founded by Louis XIV's finance minister, Colbert, in 1667; it was designed by Claude Perrault (who also worked on the Louvre), with labs and an observation tower. The French

  1. 61 avenue de l'Observatoire, 14e
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Musée du Vin

Up there among Paris’s top cultural meal settings is Le Musee du Vin, a unique museum of extensive stone vaulted cellars and passages that connect to ancient quarry tunnels from which came the

  1. Rue des Eaux, 75016
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Musée de l'Erotisme

Seven floors of erotic art and artefacts amassed by collectors Alain Plumey and Joseph Khalifa. The first three run from first-century Peruvian phallic pottery through Etruscan fertility symbols to

  1. 72 boulevard de Clichy, 18e
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Musée des Arts Forains

Housed in a collection of Eiffel-era wine warehouses is a fantastical collection of 19th- and early 20th-century fairground attractions. The venue is hired out for functions on most evenings, and

  1. 53 avenue des Terroirs de France, 12e
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Les Catacombes

  • Critics choice

This is the official entrance to the 3,000km (1,864-mile) tunnel network that runs under much of the city. With public burial pits overflowing in the era of the Revolutionary Terror, the bones of six

  1. 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 14e
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Musée Fragonard

In 18th-century French medical schools, study aids were produced in one of two ways. They were either sculpted in coloured wax or made from the real things - organs, limbs, tangled vascular systems -

  1. 7 avenue du Général de Gaulle, Maisons-Alfort 94704
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Bibliothèque Nationale de France - Richelieu & Musée du Cabinet des Médailles

  • Free

The history of the French National Library began in the 1660s, when Louis XIV moved manuscripts that couldn't be housed in the Louvre to this lavish Louis XIII townhouse, formerly the private

  1. 5 rue Vivienne, 2e
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Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine

  • Price band: 1/4

The history of medicine is the subject of the medical faculty collection. There are ancient Egyptian embalming tools, a 1960s electrocardiograph and a gruesome array of saws used for amputations.

  1. Université René Descartes, 12 rue de l'Ecole de Médecine, 6e
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Musée de l'Assistance Publique

The history of Paris hospitals, from the days when they were receptacles for abandoned babies to the dawn of modern medicine, is shown through paintings, prints, and a mock ward and pharmacy.

  1. Hôtel de Miramion, 47 quai de la Tournelle, 5e
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Galerie-Musée Baccarat

Philippe Starck has created a neo-rococo wonderland in the former mansion of the Vicomtesse de Noailles. From the red carpet entrance with a chandelier in a fish tank to the Alchemy room, decorated

  1. 11 place des Etats-Unis, 16e
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Musées des Parfumeries-Fragonard

  • Free

The rue Scribe museum showcases the collection of perfume house Fragonard: five rooms range from Ancient Egyptian ointment flasks to Meissen porcelain scent bottles; the boulevard des Capucines

  1. 9 rue Scribe, 9e
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Users say


Le musée Fragonard de Maison Alford n'a rien à voir avec les parfumeurs contrairement à ce qui est écrit en légende la photo : Honoré Fragonard était un anatomiste du 18ème connu pour ses écorchés.