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Galerie Perrotin
Photograph: Galerie Perrotin

The 21 best art galleries in Paris

Want to get your art on? Where better! These are the best galleries in Paris for painting, sculpture, photography and more

Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Rhys Thomas
Contributor
Lola Christina Alao
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For centuries, Paris was the undisputed art capital of the Western world. Many pioneering, properly perspective-altering artists lived in Paris over the years – van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Dalí and countless others – and much of their work can be found within the city’s immense number of museums, galleries, attractions, salons and other arts spaces.

We say look beyond the mammoth classical institutions and check out some up-and-comers at one of several established contemporary art galleries in Paris. Be that Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac or Galerie Daniel Templon, you’re bound to catch something eye-catching (and perhaps even buyable). But whether you prefer big-name or unheard-of, old-school or contemporary, our pick of the best places to see art in Paris has you covered. Some of them are big and you should spend most of the day around them – others are actually pretty small. Many are clustered near each other too, so when you've picked out your few favoruties, have a look at where they are – you might be able to see more art than you'd think! 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Paris

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Best art galleries in Paris

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Louvre
  • price 3 of 4

The world’s most visited art museum, with some 10.1 million passing through the iconic pyramid in 2018 alone. Not all at once of course, that'd be ridiculous. It’s a city within a city, a vast, multi-level maze of galleries, passageways, staircases and escalators. It's also the second biggest art museum, at some 72,735 meters squared (about the size of ten football pitches. A lot of walls to hang things on there). Famous of course for all its glorious art – hello Mona Lisa – the Louvre is also a masterpiece in itself, or rather, a collection of masterpieces modified and added to from one century to another. Some 35,000 works of art and artefacts are on show, split into eight departments and housed across three wings. The main draw, though, is painting and sculpture. Heaps of that. From ancient statues to modernish masterpieces. Be sure to check the website or lists in the Carrousel du Louvre to see which galleries are closed on certain days to avoid missing out on what you want to see. 

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Le Marais

In 1990 Emmanuel Perrotin, decided to get into the gallery game. There's now Perrotins in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The Parisian establishment is now installed in an elegant hôtel particulier in the Marais. The man himself is one of the sharpest figures in town: not content with owning a gallery in Hong Kong 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. Lots of cool, cool, things to be gazing at here. 

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • 7e arrondissement
  • price 2 of 4

The old Beaux-Arts Orsay train station was converted into the Musée d’Orsay in 1986 to house one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist and Post-impressionist art. Here you'll find works by Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as decorative arts from the Art Nouveau era and a wide range of 19th-century sculpture. And it's actually ranked ranked fifteenth in the list of most-visited art museums in 2020. After you're done browsing, take a stroll to the museum's cafe and treat yourself to a coffee.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • 4e arrondissement
  • price 3 of 4

The primary colours, exposed pipes and air ducts make the Centre Pompidou one of the best-known sights in Paris. Pompidou – known to locals as simply ‘Beaubourg’ – contains the largest collection of modern art in Europe, rivalled only in breadth and quality by MoMA in New York. The idea of combining a modern art museum, library, exhibition and performance space and cinema in one multi-purpose complex was also revolutionary. It’s free to get in (and the same goes for the library, which has a separate entrance), but you have to pay to go up the escalators. From the outside, this is also a nice meshing of architectures, for those of you into that. From Brutalism, to Postmodern, to High-tech contemporary designs. So there's a lot to take in, both inside and out. 

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Chaillot
  • price 1 of 4

When it opened in 2002, many thought the Palais’s stripped-back interior was a design statement. In fact, it was a response to tight finances. The 1937 building has now come into its own as an open-plan space with a skylit central hall, hosting exhibitions and performances. Extended hours and a funky café have drawn a younger audience, and the roll-call of contemporary artists is impressive (Pierre Joseph, Wang Du and others). The name dates to the 1937 Exposition Internationale, but is also a reminder of links with a new generation of artists from the Far East. You'll find the gallery is dedicated mainly to modern and contemporart artworks, across a variety of mediums– which makes sense, given it hosts the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris Museum of Modern Art). 

  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Le Marais

This gallery has four floors available for viewing, it's almost impossible to get bored here. It features American Pop and neo-Pop by Andy Warhol, Tom Sachs, Elaine Sturtevant and Alex Katz, along with European artists such as Antony Gormley, Erwin Wurm, Sylvie Fleury, Tony Cragg and Gilbert-George. Opened back in 1990, it specializes in international contemporary art and also runs its own publishing house, producing catalogues and books to accompany exhibitions. There's plenty to do in the area, and it's also located two minutes from Musée Picasso.

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  • Museums
  • 8e arrondissement

Long terrace steps and a pair of stone lions usher visitors into this grand 19th-century mansion, home to an impressive collection of objets d’art and fine paintings. It was assembled by Edouard André and artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, using money inherited from his rich banking family. The mansion was built to order to house their hoard, which includes Rembrandts, Tiepolo frescoes and paintings by Italian masters Uccello, Mantegna and Carpaccio. The adjacent tearoom, with its fabulous tottering cakes, is a favourite with the smart lunch set. Inside, as well as the art, the decor is beautiful. It's big levels of opulent. Take a step back while viewing the paint to dream about a home like it. When you're done, you can walk to all sorts of things, if you saunter in a straigh line for a bit, that big roundabout, the Arc de Triomphe, should be right ahead. 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • 16e arrondissement

Originally a museum of the Empire period left to the state by collector Paul Marmottan, this old hunting pavilion has become a famed holder of Impressionist art thanks to two bequests: the first by the daughter of the doctor of Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir; the second by Monet’s son Michel. Its Monet collection, the largest in the world, numbers 165 works, plus sketchbooks, palettes and photos. A special circular room was created for the breathtaking late water lily canvases; upstairs are works by Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Caillebotte and Berthe Morisot, 15th-century primitives, a Sèvres clock and a collection of First Empire furniture. Claude's son was the only heir, so it makes sense that the collection is a big one. Full of lesser known works too. One for the Monet heads, no doubt. For more nature, why not visit bois de boulogne on the way out? It's right next door. 

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Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Champs-ElysĂ©es
  • price 3 of 4

The huge, sprawling galleries which are literally inside the Grand Palais were originally constructed for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 – so it’s no surprise this place is the definition of grand. And 'palais'. The exterior is in the art nouveau style and dominated by an eye-catching steel-framed glass roof. Almost a century after it was built, in 1994, the Grand Palais was closed for some much-needed restoration, but it reopened in 2005 and has since put on huge exhibitions on the likes of Irving Penn, Marc Chagall and Paul Gauguin. Of course, when you're done, you're right among the Paris highlights – assuming your legs fancy the extra steps. If not, there's some good eating (and drinking) nearby too. 

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • 6e arrondissement

After bursting on to the St-Germain art scene with shows by fashion photographers David LaChapelle and Ellen von Unwerth and filmmaker Larry Clark, and introducing emerging artists Kader Attia and Adel Abdessemed, Mennour has asserted his presence on the gallery scene with a move to these grand new premises in a hôtel particulier. Recent shows by an impressive cross-generational stable have included Daniel Buren, Claude Lévêque and Huang Yong Ping. It's increasingly becoming a bit of a contemporary powerhouse, this spot. Well spots, you see, the gallery represents more than 40 artists across five spaces (four in paris, pretty near one another) and one in London. Catch them all. 

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Montparnasse

Founded by Cartier in 1984, yeah that one, this contemporary art museum still houses the iconic jeweller’s head office upstairs. The galleries below, tucked inside a towering glass and steel structure, are as artfully designed as any of their necklaces. Exhibitions are mixed media and compelling, and often follow natural themes like ‘Birds’, ‘Desert’ or ‘Trees’. It's a contemporary museum for the most part, and a slightly less-considered place to catch good living artists. The museum also puts on regular events to coincide with the shows, so check the website to see what’s on before you go. 

  • Museums
  • 1er arrondissement

The Centre National de la Photographie moved into this site in the Tuileries gardens in 2005 – making it the ideal second stop after a trip to the Louvre or Orsay. The building, which once served as a tennis court, has been divided into two white, almost hangar-like galleries. It’s not an intimate space, but it works well for showcase retrospectives. A video art and cinema suite in the basement shows new digital installation work, as well as feature-length films made by artists. There’s also a sleek café and a decent bookshop, so the artsy vibes can continue with a read and, in true Paris-creative style, coffee. The museum has been closed for a little while, but it's coming back with a boom from September 24 2021, starting with a huge exhibition called "Masterworks of Modern Photography 1900-1940", which runs until mid-February 2022. We're sure you can guess what it's about. 

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Galerie Daniel Templon
  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Le Marais

A Paris institution since the 1960s and conveniently located opposite the Centre Pompidou, Galerie Daniel Templon mainly shows paintings – wall-friendly items for wealthy private collectors. Jean-Michel Alberola, Gérard Garouste, Philippe Cognée and Vincent Corpet all feature on the list, along with the American David Salle and German expressionist Jonathan Meese. They also have a good few sculptures. It's a nice spot to see some of the best contemporary art from the continent and beyond. It's also a small walk rom Centre Georges Pompidou, for even more arts viewing. 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Invalides

The Rodin museum occupies the hôtel particulier where the sculptor lived in the final years of his life. ‘The Kiss’, ‘The Cathedral’, ‘The Walking Man’, portrait busts and early terracottas are exhibited indoors, as are many of the individual figures or small groups that also appear on ‘The Gates of Hell’. Rodin’s works are accompanied by several pieces by his mistress and pupil, Camille Claudel. The walls are hung with paintings by van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Carrière and Rodin himself. Most visitors have greatest affection for the gardens: look out for ‘The Burghers of Calais‘, ‘The Gates of Hell’ and ‘The Thinker’. It's a wonderful spot, having been here since 1919 it's very much a must-see of the great Parisan museums. If you get a chance, why not pop to Rodin's old home too? It's called the Villa des Brillants at Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Chaillot

Home to the city’s extensive modern art collection, this monumental 1930s building is strong on the cubists, fauves, Sonia and Robert Delaunays, Rouault and École de Paris artists Soutine and van Dongen. The museum was briefly closed in May 2010 after the theft of five masterpieces – the €100 million heist netted paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani and Léger. Quiet the heist. Don’t worry, though, there's still absolutely loads of brilliant art on display (and some of it is just as expensive) including murials from Matisse. Located just off the Seine, it's a top spot to end or begin a riverside walk from too. A very scenic day out. 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Necker

Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, a pupil of Rodin, produced a number of monumental works including the modernist relief friezes at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, inspired by Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky. This museum is located in the sculptor's old apartment and studios, which were also used by Eugène Carrière, Dalou and Chagall. Talk about an inspiring room. A 1950s extension tracks the evolution of Bourdelle’s equestrian monument to General Alvear in Buenos Aires, and his masterful Hercules the Archer, one of our absolute favourite artworks in Paris. A new wing by Christian de Portzamparc houses bronzes, including various studies of Beethoven in different guises. You can browse the permanent collection (which is most of the best bits, to be honest) for free – nil euros! So why not go, right? 

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Le Marais

The veteran New York gallery owner made her name in the 1960s and 1970s publishing texts on Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt and Robert Smithson. Today she can be counted on to pull out the stops with impressive shows from a roster of big international names – think the likes of Gerhard Richter, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen. Exclusive lot right there. You mightbe thinking, huh New York? And that's fair enough, but there's a simple explaination – they have a gallery in Paris too. Similar talent on the roster.  

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • 1er arrondissement
  • price 2 of 4

After years of renovation, the Orangerie is now firmly back on the tourist radar: yay! However, you should expect long queues. Like, proper long. The look is utilitarian and fuss-free, with the museum’s eight, tapestry-sized ‘Nymphéas’ (water lilies) paintings housed in two plain oval rooms. They provide a simple backdrop for the astonishing, ethereal romanticism of Monet’s works, painted late in his life. Depicting ‘jardin d’eau’ at his house in Giverny, the tableaux have an intense, dream-like quality – partly reflecting the artist’s absorption in the private world of his garden. Downstairs, the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionism and the École de Paris is a mixed bag of sweet-toothed Cézanne and Renoir portraits, along with works by Modigliani, Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso and Derain. Plenty to view, and big works by all of these artists. It's also a small walk to the Lourve (via Jardin des Tuileries, and the Seine) so you can get a lot of art and other great landscapes in a day, if you time the queues right. 

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  • Museums
  • History
  • Champs-ElysĂ©es

On the other side of the road from the Grand Palais, you’ll find the Petit Palais. Although this institution was also built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it’s fondly known as the Grand Palais’s younger sibling. Behind its Belle Époque exterior visitors can cast their eyes on some of the city’s most wonderful fine art and sculptures, including work by Poussin, Doré, Courbet and the Impressionists. Art Nouveau fans are in for a treat downstairs, where you’ll find jewellery and knick-knacks by Belle Époque biggies Lalique and Galle. Yes, it's supposedly small, but really, it's still pretty massive. Inside and out – the porch at the entrance for example, huge!! 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Quartier latin

Transalting to the museum of the middle ages, it was founded in 1843 by Alexandre Du Sommerard who lived in the Hôtel de Cluny. It's known for its famous collections of sculptures, stained-glass, ivories, tapestries, paintings, enamels, mainly from 1st to 15th century. You'll also dind medieval concerts here, featuring lots of lutes and harps. Near other big old buildings like the Panthéon and Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, it's well worth the visit.

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  • Museums
  • History
  • 7e arrondissement

Opened back in 2006, this museum houses over 300,000 objects of art from all over Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. The building has a botanical feel, made up of glass and covered by trees and plants. It brings together the collections of the Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie and the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie du Musée de l’Homme, as well as contemporary indigenous art. Here, you'll find elements from Papua New Guinea, stone sculptures from Sumatra, music instruments, furniture, wooden objects, costumes and jewels. It's also the fourth most visited museum in France if that wasn't enough convincing. Get involved. 

After more solid recommendations?

  • Things to do

Even the locals would agree it’s impossible to see every sight, every piece of history, every glorious work of art in the City of Light in just one lifetime. Bof, they might say. Quel dommage. But don’t feel downbeat about it all. Our 101 best things to do in Paris should help you get a sense of this city as it is right now.

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