Paris: 4 day itinerary for art lovers

I spent quite a lot of time in Paris wandering around museums and galleries and felt truly spoilt for choice.

An art-themes trip to Paris is ideal because it has such a wealth of world-class museums and galleries of every conceivable type to enjoy.

For art lovers, that abundance can be quite overwhelming at first, which is why I made this itinerary.

It narrows down the vast selection and takes you to the must-see, famous museums, as well as to a selection of small galleries and more unique art spaces.

Most museums and galleries in this guide are within reasonable walking distance from each other, or you can take the metro if you prefer.

Get a map of the places in this guide

Generally, you want to book tickets in advance for most museums in Paris. Skip-the-line tickets are always recommended, they’ll save you quite a bit of time. For the big museums, it’s also a good idea to book a tour, to make sure you get to see all the important highlights.

Day 1: Centre Pompidou, Le Marais galleries, Picasso Museum

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

Start your art-themed visit to Paris at the iconic Centre Pompidou, one of the most popular art spaces in the world.

It’s an impressive building that’s hard to miss in the centre of Paris, known for its “inside-out” architecture, designed by architects Rogers + Piano.

Inside, you’ll discover modern and contemporary art, with a huge collection spanning various art movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, and Pop Art, as well as very recent works of art from international artists.

I personally spent no less than 4 hours at Centre Pompidou on my last visit to Paris. It was tiring but very satisfying. If you’re short on time, however, you can easily see the collection highlights in about 2 hours.

Some of the most famous artists whose masterpieces you can find at Centre Pompidou include Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Vassily Kandinsky, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, and many more.

Alongside the well-known artworks, you’ll also find contemporary, thought-provoking exhibitions.

Le Marais district galleries

Centre Pompidou is close to the art hub of Le Marais, a little paradise of contemporary art galleries in the centre of Paris.

I created a self-guided walk that takes you through the top galleries in Le Marais.

You can also get an offline map of this walk.

For these galleries there’s no need to book ahead, they usually accept walk-ins, so you can explore freely.

This part of the city also has plenty of cafes and restaurants, so it’s ideal if you want to stop on the way for some coffee, a bite to eat, and some rest.

Picasso Museum

After walking around and getting some rest, head to the Picasso Museum, located in Le Marais.

This museum is a tribute to Pablo Picasso and has an extensive collection of his paintings, sculptures, and drawings.

You’ll see how Picasso developed as an artist, view some of his famous masterpieces, and learn about his creative process.

Day 2: The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Pinault Collection

The Louvre

The Louvre Museum

The world-famous Louvre is a bucket list item on any visit to Paris.

Located in a magnificent former palace, the Louver is the largest museum in the world.

It has a truly remarkable range of art from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt, and with a range of styles, from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance period.

The collection includes 2 of the most famous artworks in the world, the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.

My best tip is not to expect to be able to see everything in one day. You really want to plan ahead and decide what to focus on during your Louvre visit. It’s easy to get lost and lose track of time in such a huge museum.

Skip-the-line tickets are essential, as the lines can be very long.

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay

Our next stop is within a short walking distance from the Louvre. It is one of the top 3 must-see museums in Paris (alongside the Louvre and Pompidou), and it’s been a personal favourite of mine for many years.

Housed in a gorgeous former Beaux-Arts railway station, Musée d’Orsay is the best place to see Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Art Nouveau.

You’ll find some well-known and iconic artworks, such as Water Lilies by Monet, Bal du moulin de la Galette by Renoir, The Ballet Class by Degas, Starry Night by Van Gogh, and Arearea by Gauguin.

Apart from the paintings, I love the Art Nouveau furniture collection at Musée d’Orsay, a beautiful display of decorative arts and interiors.

Skip-the-line tickets are highly recommended because it’s a very popular museum.

Pinault Collection

Pinault Collection

The final art space today is a relatively new museum of contemporary art, the Pinault Collection.

It’s located inside a very unique circular building, the Bourse de Commerce, formerly the stock market.

This historic building has the most magnificent dome; before I even saw any of the exhibitions I found myself taking endless pictures of the dome.

The exhibitions are based on the private art collection of François Pinault, with temporary exhibitions, events and workshops.

It has a strong focus on contemporary art of all kinds. You can expect eclectic art forms, including installation, multimedia art, and sculpture. Some of the themes are trendy, some are thought-provoking.

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours: The Pinault Collection offers tours in English on Saturdays.

Day 3: Rodin Museum, Musée de l’Orangerie, Petit Palais

At this point, you’ve already been to the most important museums in Paris, and have had a chance to see modern, contemporary, and traditional art.

On the third day, you’ll visit some more famous museums in Paris.

Rodin Museum

Begin the third day at the Rodin Museum, dedicated to the work of celebrated French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

The museum has indoor galleries and charming outdoor spaces, where you can see some iconic sculptures you’ll probably recognise, such as “The Thinker” and “The Kiss.”

Musée de l’Orangerie

Next, visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, in the lovely Tuileries Gardens.

This museum is famous for displaying Claude Monet’s water lily paintings in special, oval rooms. These are purpose-built rooms that make the experience truly unique.

You’ll also find more Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks by well-known artists, such as Renoir, Cézanne, and Modigliani, alongside lesser-known artists.

Petit Palais

Petit Palais

Our last stop for today is Petit Palais, a museum housed in a magnificent building located close to Champs-Élysées.

This museum is like an extended lesson in the history of art; it has paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts in a diverse range of styles, from masterpieces by Paul Cézanne and Rembrandt to a collection of medieval art.

  • Entry tickets: Free entry.

Day 4: Louis Vuitton Foundation, Musée Marmottan Monet

On the final day of this Parisian art itinerary, we venture outside of the city centre, to see some art spaces that are well worth visiting.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation

The Louis Vuitton Foundation

Our first stop is an architectural gem in a lovely green park. It features excellent contemporary art exhibitions.

There’s no permanent collection, only temporary exhibitions, so you want to check what’s on in advance.

The museum was designed by Frank Gehry and resembles a massive glass ship. Beyond the exhibitions, the extraordinary architecture is a good reason to take the trip outside the city centre and experience this art space.

You can find out more in my full review of my visit to the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours: Members of staff are happy to chat with you and answer questions during your visit.

Musée Marmottan Monet

Conclude your art-themed trip in Paris at the Musée Marmottan Monet, dedicated to the art of the famous Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, alongside some other impressionist artists, such as Renoir, Degas, and Caillebot.

The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions and is located in a peaceful, elegant townhouse.

More things to do in Paris for art lovers

In this 4-day itinerary, we’ve covered the top museums in Paris, plus some special art spaces and galleries, mostly in the city centre.

If you have more time to spend in Paris, here are some extra recommendations for art lovers:

Street art in Paris

Paris is a street art paradise, with some excellent hubs, including Belleville and Montmartre.

I went on a Belleville street art tour and really enjoyed it.

Parisian architecture gems

Paris opera interior

If you love architecture, you’ll definitely enjoy the gorgeous buildings all around Paris.

I highly recommend visiting the old opera house (Palais Garnier). It’s simply stunning.

There are a couple of ways to visit the interior and I wrote a full guide about it: How to visit the Paris opera house.

Another warm recommendation for architecture lovers: Take an Art Nouveau tour to see some of the city’s gems.

Some buildings are outside the centre, which is why I suggest you take a tour. I created a self-guided Art Nouveau walk and you can also book a guided walk that covers even more buildings.

A day trip to Giverny

If you can’t get enough of Claude Monet, take a trip outside of Paris to Giverny to see his family house at Monet’s House & Museum.

Paris museum pass

You can use a museum pass in Paris to save money on entrance fees. There are several options, with the Paris Museum Pass (2, 4, Or 6 Days) being the most comprehensive. I also wrote a guide on how to choose and use a museum pass in Paris with more information and helpful tips.

Save this Paris itinerary for art lovers on Pinterest


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.