One of the best things about Michigan’s winter is that when spring arrives, every day is close to intoxicating. Adding to the exhilaration has been the return of all three of my kids. It was great having them all in town for a few weeks. Just when I was about to resume my usual routine, however, I was sidelined by a wicked attack of vertigo. Ever had this happen: you wake in the morning, try to rise and find that the room is chaotically circling your head? Luckily, no pain is involved (provided you don’t careen into a porcelain bathroom fixture) and the problem can often be treated by performing a very precise maneuver that restores your inner ear.
This is the third time that I’ve experienced vertigo so it wasn’t scary, just a pain to deal with. As a result, I had little time this week to devote to my blog. Thinking back on last week’s post about the French chef Alain Passard, however, and the discussion that ensued regarding $200 to $450 lunches, I thought I’d write about three wonderful Parisian museums that are absolutely free.
Stretching Your Dollar
Paris has so much to see and do it’s mind-boggling. Most newcomers are eager to visit the big-name museums such as the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, or the Musée D’Orsay. Admission prices average about €15 or $16. That’s a perfectly reasonable fee to charge, but if you are on a tight budget and want to visit several touristic sites like Versailles, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, etc., these fees can quickly add up. Some people like to buy a pass that gives them access to dozens of attractions for “one low price.” However, such passes are time-limited and unless you’re the kind of person who only spends 60-90 minutes at a touristic site before hurrying to the next, I don’t think they’re worth it.
I tend to prefer the smaller galleries anyway and the fact is that there are always many free cultural events and exhibits available to choose from. In that light, here are 3 of my favorite Paris museums and all happen to be free.
The Musée Carnavalet
The Musée Carnavalet is hands down my favorite museum, providing dozens of art galleries that walk you through the history of Paris. Since discovering this gem, I have never gone to Paris without visiting. The last time I was there, most of its collection was labeled only in French but after a 5-year renovation, the museum now claims that signage has been improved to address a wider audience. Even if you care nothing about history, consider stopping by (remember it’s free). The building’s Renaissance-era architecture and beautifully sculpted inner courtyard are alone worth the visit.
The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris
The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris houses a wonderful collection of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s situated in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo which was constructed for the International Exhibition of Arts and Technology of 1937. Unlike the Centre Pompidou, a more well-known Parisian modern art museum, the galleries within the MAM are streaming with light and interesting angles. Again, the building’s architecture is part of it’s appeal.
The Petit Palais
Contructed for the World’s Fair of 1900, today the Petit Palais houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris. This is yet another stunning architectural structure, designed by Charles Girault who sought to copy the style of French palaces built in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. The collection is always rotating so on my two trips to this museum, I saw completely different exhibits within the palace’s ornate galleries. An elegant semi-circular courtyard is found in the center of the building. There you can order a sandwich or salad from a garden café and enjoy lunch while crumbs fall upon on the exquisite inlaid marble terrace.
What do you think? Ever been to any of these spots? Do you have other free attractions that you’d like to recommend? Thanks for letting me and others know in the comments.
- Sortir à Paris, FREE MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS IN PARIS AND ILE DE FRANCE