Paris is known as the City of Love, and if one has a love for museums, does that make it the City of Museums, too? It may already be, as Paris hosts over 130 museums within its city limits. Its popular spots include the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, who host works by artists from Rodin to Monet to Delacroix and the Mona Lisa herself.
Baylor Theatre Abroad experienced works like The Thinker, Venus de Milo, and Le Sacre de Napoléon thanks to our Paris Museum Passes and museum reservations booked by Millennium tours, specializing in international trips. The Paris Museum Pass allows you to pay a collective rate for admission to any number of museums and landmarks within the hours denoted by your pass. We purchased the 48 hour passes and had those two days to experience all Paris had to offer. While the Lourve and Orsay are spectacular, I’d like to shed light on some lesser-known but must-see spots in your Paris cultural experience. All of these are available on the Paris Museum Pass!
Archeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre-Dame
Just before and under the Notre Dame lies the oldest remains in the city, found only when attempting to build a parking garage for the cathedral. The Archaeological Crypt showcases ruins from the old banks of the Seine back in the day when Paris was known as Lutetia alongside a history of the Notre Dame and its biggest advocate, the novelist Victor Hugo. Jumping between old ruins and old photographs, the crypt holds both 27 BC and the 19th century (and everything in between) together at once. With digital recreations, this museum helps you visually articulate what you are seeing and transforms what can seem like a pile of rocks to a precious piece of history. In the back half, the museum chronicles the Notre Dame’s relationship to the soul of the city and the ways in which Parisians and artists alike have drawn from and even added to the symbolic Gothic cathedral. I would recommend heading here and then on to the Cluny to better appreciate their Roman baths!
Musée de Cluny
Hidden between newer cafés and even a Starbucks beside the Rue de Saint Michel, the recently renovated and reopened Musée de Cluny hosts the National Museum of the Middles Ages. The complex combines ruins of an ancient bathhouse, the old Hôtel de Cluny, and modern renovations to showcase both the medieval architecture and artifacts of the Middle Ages. Chief among their holdings is the tapestry known as The Lady and the Unicorn, a collection of six hangings depicted the senses commissioned in the 1500s for a betrothed. Though I grew up listening to Carole King’s Tapestry on an old record of my mother’s, I did not fully know I was a tapestry kind of girl until visiting the Cluny. The building itself functions as a fascinating look into medieval architecture, and other works include past sculptures from the Notre Dame, collections of Italian Renaissance religious artifacts and paintings, and the ability to see stained glass installations up-close.
Musée de la Cinémathèque
Over a century of film history in French culminates in the Musée Méliès, La Magie du Cinema at the Cinémathèque in Paris. From Montreuil to Hollywood, this bite-sized museum charts the time from the early projectors all the way through the French grandfather of special effects George Méliès to modern-day creativity in film like Star Wars. This museum allows you to watch, work, touch, and experience the machines, costumes, posters, drawings, models, and films themselves that led to today. Tip your hat to Méliès and his famous A Trip to the Moon, and you will find yourself all the more appreciative of your silver screens.