7 unusual and little-known museums to visit in Paris

7 unusual and little-known museums to visit in Paris

The Louvre, the Musée Carnavalet, the Musée d'Orsay, the George Pompidou Centre... There's no shortage of museums in the capital, and they're generally well-visited by tourists and Parisians alike. But there are much lesser-known exhibition venues to discover ! Here are 7 ideas for unusual, off-the-beaten-track visits of Paris. 

The archaeological crypt on the Ile de la Cité

The birth of "Paris" dates back to the 3rd century BC, when it was founded by the Gallic tribe of Parissi, before becoming Lutetia, as the Romans called it. On the Île de la Cité - the birthplace of the capital - there is a museum with access from the forecourt of Notre-Dame, where you can see the remains of the urban development of the area from ancient times right up to the 19th century, when Baron Haussmann redesigned the capital. It's a journey through the centuries in what is said to be the largest crypt in Europe! Remains, immersive videos, models... A fascinating museum! 
> https://www.crypte.paris.fr/en/homepage

The House of Victor Hugo

Its entrance is hidden beneath the arcades of the Place des Vosges, in the heart of the Marais district. Victor Hugo rented a flat on the second floor for sixteen years, from 1832 to 1848. Objects, furniture and works that once belonged to the author or evoke his writings are now exposed in the house you can visit. 

> https://www.maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr/en/paris

Under the arcades of the Place des Vosges - Rames Quinerie / Unsplash

The open-air sculpture museum

Between the Jardin des Plantes and the Institut du Monde Arabe, between the Pont de Sully and the Pont d'Austerlitz (5th arrondissement), the Square Tino-Rossi is dedicated to sculpture. In this flower-filled garden, around thirty works of art are on display, accessible to all, without hindrance. Renowned artists such as Zadkine, Brancusi, Gilioli, Poncet, Pagès, Debré, Schöffer and Baldaccini are all on display, making this a great idea for a cultural walk along the Seine, accessible 24 hours a day

The Gustave Moreau Museum

The artist Gustave Moreau is unusual in that he organised his own museum during his lifetime ! Living in a small, modest house in a part of the 9th arrondissement that was then known as "The New Athens", the painter decided to collect and organise his life's work with the help of the architect Albert Lafon, who first transformed the house to make it more "visitable", and then of his old friend Henri Rupp, who executed his will when he died in 1898. Gustave Moreau left everything to the State in his will, a bequest that was accepted in 1902. The museum opened its doors in 1903 and its museography has remained unchanged since then.

> https://musee-moreau.fr/en

The incredible staircase at the Musée Gustave Moreau - Tulin Yucel / Unsplash

The Paris sewer museum

"Paris has another Paris underneath it, a Paris of sewers, with its own streets, crossroads, squares, cul-de-sacs and arteries, and its own traffic, which is all mire, minus the human form". In a way, Victor Hugo is encouraging us to discover these 2,600 km of underground galleries, and to gain a better understanding of how they work. An unusual visit, to say the least, open to the public since 2018, in the 7th arrondissement.

> https://musee-egouts.paris.fr/en/

The Musée Delacroix  

This time we head to Paris's 6th arrondissement to discover the museum dedicated to Eugène Delacroix. Like the Musée Gustave Moreau, it was installed in the house where the painter lived from 1857 to 1863 and where he had his studio. It was founded in 1932 by leading artists of the 1920s - Maurice Denis, Paul Signac, Édouard Vuillard and Ker-Xavier Roussel - who wanted to pay tribute to the man for whom they had great admiration. 

> https://www.musee-delacroix.fr/en/

The Pharmacy Museum

We may have here the capital's best-hidden museum... In a private mansion with a (magnificent) Norman-Moorish façade in the Parc Monceau, the Musée de la Pharmacie opened in 2010 ! It houses some 20,000 items dating from the 16th century to the present day, which Camille Jolin, who is in charge of the museum's pharmaceutical heritage, will be delighted to show you around during a (free) visit by appointment only. Apothecary's utensils, vintage containers, posters and live demonstrations on a machine dating from 1920 will make this visit particularly unusual and captivating. A real gem. 

> Make an appointment (Monday to Thursday) at contact_app@ordre.pharmacien.fr

Cover picture Judith Ekedi Jangwa​ / Unsplash