Emily: I love to travel, and my mom does, too!
When I was growing up in Ohio, we could only afford road trips to local amusement parks. But collecting miles and points has opened a world of travel neither of us thought possible!
She and I decided to go to London and Paris for a mother-daughter getaway. We flew Business Class and stayed in 5-star hotels. I paid for this trip for a fraction of the retail cost by using airline miles and hotel points.
I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend! Without the miles & points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of traveling with my mom.
In this part of the series, I’ll give you suggestions about the best museums to visit in Paris!
Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – She Felt Like Royalty on This Flight
- Part 3 – How We Saved Up to 90% at the Hyatt Hotel du Louvre with Hyatt Points
- Part 4 – Our Hunt for Chocolate Eclairs, Raw Beef, and French Crepes
- Part 5 – The Secret to Avoiding Long Lines at Museums
- Part 6 – Sights to See in Paris
- Part 7 – Why Paris is the Best Shopping Destination in the World
Skip Lines and Save Money by Getting the Museum Pass
If you plan on visiting many of Paris’ tourist attractions, consider getting a Museum Pass. Especially if you’re visiting in the busy summer season. It comes in 2, 4, and 6-day options.
It covers most of the major sites including:
Here’s the full list of sites you’ll have access to with the pass:
Having the pass can save lots of time, especially during the busy summer season.
The online option charges you for shipping and can get very expensive, but you can save on the charges if you pick up the pass at the Paris Tourist Office.
I read this tip in the Rick Steve’s guide to Paris, which was a great book. Especially if you’re looking for walking itineraries around the city.
Museums to Visit in Paris
Paris is filled with so much to do and see, and never gets boring! I’ve spent about 8 weeks total there now, and love going back every time!
Now that you know about the museum pass, I’ll review the Louvre, the Orsay Museum, and the Victor Hugo Museum.
1. The Louvre
In addition to the beautiful artwork, the Louvre itself (being a former palace) is stunning and warrants time exploring the history of this architectural gem.
My mom and I went to Paris in winter, the off-peak season, so we didn’t have any issues with long lines. However, I’ve been to Paris many times in the summer, and the crowds get very long!
Once we were admitted, we were a bit overwhelmed by all there is to see. I’d suggest following Rick Steves’ walking tour or looking at the Louvre map to find your favorite pieces of art.
We wandered down the hallways and marveled at the talented artists from long ago. My mom really wanted to see the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, so we went looking for her. She’s been hanging in the Louvre since 1797, except during a 2-year absence in which she was stolen from the museum.
There always seem to be crowds in front of her (even in the slow winter season!), so be patient for a picture!
One of my favorite sculptures, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, can be found in a stairwell. It’s believed to have been made to celebrate a naval victory in 190 BC. According to art historian H. W. Janson, the Winged Victory “creates a deliberate relationship to the imaginary space around the goddess.
The wind that has carried her and which she is fighting off, straining to keep steady…this expanded space heightens the symbolic force of the work; the wind and the sea are suggested as metaphors of struggle, destiny and divine help or grace.”
The views from the Louvre are equally beautiful at night. The museum was actually used for defense when it was built in the 12th century.
In the 1500s, it was made into a royal residence.
Now, it houses all the beautiful artwork you can see today!
Connie: Another great visit was to the Louvre and to actually see the Mona Lisa. The many statues and paintings can take your breath away. lt was an awesome experience to visit this museum. The Louvre was once a palace and the grandeur of it all leaves you in awe. lt is definitely worth the time to visit the many departments throughout the museum.
2. Musée d’Orsay
The Orsay Museum houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, including pieces by painters like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
Entrance is included in the Museum Pass. There are so many gorgeous paintings, making the Musée d’Orsay one of my must-see places in Paris!
It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. It’s much smaller than the Louvre, but there is still a lot to see!
3. Maison de Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo is a famous writer, best known for his novels Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Misérables (1862). My mom is a huge fan, so this museum was at the top of her list!
He lived in a large apartment in Paris from 1832 to 1848. The museum is FREE, although temporary exhibits do charge a fee. When touring the apartment, you can learn about his life and travels.
Hugo liked Gothic furniture and had the furniture dismantled and reassembled based on his architectural and design preferences.
There are also incredible paintings and sculptures to admire!
Also, the view from his apartment down into the square is gorgeous.
Connie: l really enjoyed visiting the apartment where Victor Hugo began his work on “Les Miserables.” The tour of his apartment included his drawing room, study, reception area and bedroom. lt was inspiring to tour such a great writer’s residency.
I also really enjoyed learning about Victor Hugo and his life in Paris!
4. Fashion & Decorative Arts Museums
If you like fashion, consider visiting the Musée Yves St Laurent Paris. It has a huge collection of Yves Saint Laurent’s work. Just note, it’s currently closed for renovations and should reopen in the fall of 2017.
Also, consider the Les Arts Decortifs museum, which has fashion and textiles, advertising and graphic design, and decorative arts and design.
The Arts Décoratifs are divided between three major sites in Paris:
- At 107 rue de Rivoli, the Rohan and Marsan wings of the Louvre house the Musée des Arts décoratifs and the Library des Arts Décoratifs
- At 63 rue de Monceau, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is installed in the Hotel Camondo
- And 266 boulevard Raspail has been the home of the Ecole Camondo, a school of design and interior architecture, since 1988 (so-called because it was formerly in the outbuildings of the Hotel Camondo).
Visiting at least one museum should be a goal when visiting Paris! There’s a museum for everyone.
My mom and I were visiting in the off-season, so there weren’t as many crowds. But if you’re visiting during the busy summer months, consider buying a Museum Pass.
It will save you time AND money! And includes most of the popular sites in Paris.
Do you have a favorite museum in Paris?