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Open-air museums

Our pick of the best places to see art out in the open

Don't miss out on a (rare) sunny day in Paris because you're inside a museum. Still need to get your art fix? Just head to one of our picks of the best open-air museums in the capital for a dose of fresh air AND culture.

Jardin Tino Rossi (Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air)

This open-air sculpture museum by the Seine fights a constant battle against graffiti. Still, it's a pleasant enough, if traffic-loud, place for a stroll. Most of the works are second-rate, aside from Etienne Martin's bronze Demeure I and the Carrara marble Fenêtre by Cuban artist Cárdenas.From May to September, the gardens turn into an open-air dance studio...

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5e arrondissement

Square Georges Caïn

Created in 1923 on the site of former market gardens of a 13th century convent, this garden has free Wi-Fi and an enormous fig tree. Lying next to the Musée Carnavalet, it is named after Georges Caïn, painter, writer and curator of the museum from 1897-1914. The garden is full of treasures from the Carnavalet, including 'Le Rossignol de Heinz', created by Erik Samakh in 1990, which emits a nightingale's song when its internal climatic sensors detect the bird's favourite weather conditions...

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Le Marais

Musée Zadkine

This is one of the most intimate museums in Paris, a rare peaceful, almost secret corner where you can also get a good dose of modern art. The former studio of Russian-born Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine was converted into a museum in 1932, and has always had a particular charm, conserving the spirit of the place where the sculptor and his wife, painter Valentine Prax, lived for more than 40 years. A renovation and re-opening in autumn 2012 has cemented and invigorated this success...

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6e arrondissement
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Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins

The spectacular, ten-acre jardin alone makes a visit to the Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins in Boulogne-Billancourt worthwhile: Each section is modelled on a garden from around the world – rocky Vosgienne forest, Japanese village gardens, contemporary Japanese gardens and English and French gardens – and makes for a wonderful, lazy afternoon away from the hubbub of central Paris...

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Paris et sa banlieue

Musée de la Vie Romantique

When Dutch artist Ary Scheffer built this small villa in 1830, the area teemed with composers, writers and artists. Novelist George Sand was a guest at Scheffer's soirées, along with great names such as Chopin and Liszt. The museum is devoted to Sand, plus Scheffer’s paintings and other mementoes of the Romantic era. Newly renovated in 2013, the museum’s tree-lined courtyard café and greenhouse are the perfect summer secret garden...

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Saint-Georges

Musée National Rodin

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...

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Invalides
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More great museums

The Louvre

Read Time Out’s review of The Louvre below or click here for our exclusive photo tour of the museum. The world’s largest museum is also its most visited, with an incredible 8.8 million visitors in 2011. It is a city within the city, a vast, multi-level maze of galleries, passageways, staircases and escalators...

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Louvre

Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay, originally a train station designed by Victor Laloux in 1900, houses a huge collection spanning the period between 1848 and 1914, and is home to a profusion of works by Delacroix, Corot, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro, Gauguin, Monet, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and others...

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7e arrondissement

Palais Garnier

The Palais Garnier is a monument to Second Empire high society. The comfortably upholstered auditorium seats more than 2,000 people - and the exterior is just as opulent, with sculptures of music and dance on the façade, Apollo topping the copper dome, and nymphs bearing torches...

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Chaussée-d'Antin
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Palais de Tokyo

Recommended

When it opened in 2002, many thought the Palais' 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...

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Chaillot

Grand Palais

Built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, the Grand Palais was the work of three different architects, each of whom designed a façade. During World War II it accommodated Nazi tanks. In 1994 the magnificent glass-roofed central hall was closed when bits of metal started falling off, although exhibitions continued to be held in the other wings. After major restoration, the Palais reopened in 2005.

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Champs-Elysées

MC93 Bobigny

Once you’ve navigated Métro line 5, it’s a good few-minutes walk to the Maison de la culture de Bobigny (MC 93), but it’s worth the effort – especially if you’ve come for the winter Standard Ideal festival. Introduced in 2004 it brings the cream of European directors to Bobigny, showcasing international shows from countries such as Hungary, Germany, the UK and Italy (often in the original language). During the festival you’ll also find the ‘Atelier des 200’ workshop, which see 200 amateur performers go behind the scenes for acting tips from the season’s directors. The MC 93 is a crowd pleaser the rest of the year too, with a wide-ranging programme that frequently includes Shakespeare, Chekov, works by contemporary playwrights and even opera.

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Paris et sa banlieue
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La Loge

Recommended

In a hidden courtyard (reminiscent of Swiss chalets) off rue de Charonne, the 100-seater La Loge offers performances that merge theatre, dance and music.  Every summer, the “Summer of Loge” festival invites eight theatre companies for performances, followed by post-show festivities that have previously included pyjama parties and concerts. The rest of the year, from Tuesday to Thursday, there are two shows a night, at 7pm and at 9pm.

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Roquette

Musée de l’Orangerie

The reopening of this Monet showcase a few years ago means the Orangerie is now firmly back on the tourist radar: expect long queues. 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 Monet's 'jardin d'eau' at his house in Giverny, the tableaux have an intense, dreamy 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 Ecole de Paris is a mixed bag of sweet-toothed Cézanne and Renoir portraits, along with works by Modigliani, Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso and Derain.

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1er arrondissement

The Centre Pompidou

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, and repertory cinema was also revolutionary.When the centre opened in 1977, its success exceeded all expectations. After a two-year revamp, the centre reopened in 2000 with an enlarged museum, renewed performance spaces, vista-rich Georges restaurant and a mission to get back to the stimulating interdisciplinary mix of old. Entrance to the forum is free (as is the library, which has a separate entrance), but you now have to pay to go up the escalators.The Centre Pompidou (or 'Beaubourg') holds the largest collection of modern art in Europe, rivalled only in its breadth and quality by MoMA in New York. Sample the contents of its vaults (50,000 works of art by 5,000 artists) on the website, as only a fraction - about 600 works - can be seen for real at any one time. There is a partial rehang each year.For the main collection, buy tickets on the ground floor and take the escalators to level four for post-1960s art. Level five spans 1905 to 1960. There are four temporary exhibition spaces

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4e arrondissement
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Théâtre de la Ville

Programming in this vertiginous concrete amphitheatre, hidden behind a classical façade, features hip chamber music outfits such as the Kronos and Takács Quartets and Early Music pioneer Fabio Biondi. The agenda for 2011 includes Vertical Road, a new piece by Akram Khan, as well as an adaptation of Jean Genet's Le Funambule, choreographed and performed by Angelin Preljocaj. The season spills over to sister venue Théâtre des Abbesses (31 rue des Abbesses, 18th), and between the two sties the 'City Theatre' turns out the most consistently innovative performances in Paris.

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Châtelet
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