Le Marais used to be the home of Parisian aristocracy, and is today still regarded as the most up-market neighborhood in the French Capital. The chic area is home to many outstanding buildings of both architectural and historical importance. It is little wonder then that the best museums in Paris can be found whilst wondering through Le Marais narrow cobblestoned streets – and also some of the best Paris apartments on our books!
Le Marais is spread over the Right Bank of the River Seine and takes up most of the third and fourth arrondissements. To help you discover the very best museums around, we’ve compiled this handy list of the three best museums in the area: take in an overdose of Picasso, peruse an impressive collection of opulent 18th century paraphernalia and learn all about the history of Paris through an extensive collection of artwork.
Musée Picasso, Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, Paris
As the name suggests, the Picasso Museum showcases works by the famous Spanish artiste Pablo Picasso. The Hotel it is housed in is over 350 years old and is considered to be one of the most notable buildings in Marais. It was first renovated in 1976, and a second renovation has been undertaken in recent months.
Picasso once claimed to have ‘the largest collection of Picassos in the world’ and indeed, he seemed to have the peculiar habit of not parting with his masterpieces. Parting he did, however, when exorbitant tax debts threatened to send the family into bankruptcy. A law was specifically made, in the late 1960s, allowing the Picassos to pay off their tax debt to by ‘donating’ works of art. This peculiar payment is now the entire collection of the Musée Picasso, comprising over 3000 different works by the master himself. The displays are divided by era, themes and styles and the information provided is truly outstanding. Whether you love or hate Picasso’s style, a visit here is not to be missed.
Musée Cognacq-Jay, 8 rue Elzévir, Paris
The collections you’ll see in the Musée Cognacq-Jay used to belong to one of the most affluent couples in Paris. Monsieur Cognacq and Madame Jay founded the famous (but now defunct) La Samaritaine shopping store in Paris, and collected incredible works of art during the latter part of their lives.
Upon their deaths, the entire collection was donated to the city of Paris. Some of the 18th century’s most valuable decorative works are exhibited, ranging from ceramics and porcelain to delicate cabinets and paintings by Canaletto, Fragonard, Greuze, Chardin, Boucher, Watteau, and Tiepolo.
The Museum is housed within the Hotel Donon and is made up of over 1200 works, displayed in over 20 opulently furnished rooms, including exquisite Louis XV and XVI paneled sections.
Carnavalet Museum, 23 Rue de Sévigné, Paris
For a uniquely Parisian museum experience, head to the Carnavalet Museum, which displays a phenomenal collection of artworks representing the history of Paris itself. Photographs, sculptures, paintings, archeological finds and countless ceramics, coins and other treasures are house within the gardens and buildings of two former hotels.
Over 400 years of history are depicted, from Paris’ start as a small village to its transformation into one of the most cosmopolitan of world capitals. We highly recommend the rooms on the second floor of the Hotel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, which depict the French Revolution, and the storming of the Bastille, in great detail.