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The watchword when plotting your visit to Paris museums is caution. You can’t possibly see all the major artworks in Paris during one visit. The best strategy is to tackle only one major museum each day. Beat the crowds by planning your visit early in the day or in the evening (most museums have late hours once a week). Don’t forget the city’s fine smaller museums, where the crowds are usually thinner. If you’re on a budget, come the first Sunday of the month, when most museums have free admission.

Paris Museums

Centre Pompidou

You can't miss this world-class modern art museum housed in a mammoth glass and steel building decorated with massive, brightly colored pipes. The permanent collection includes works from Matisse to Pollack, and the special exhibitions are ever-changing. Don't miss the outdoor Stravinsky fountain with its wacky motorized shapes.

Place Georges Pompidou, 011-33-1-44-78-12-33,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum | jim's pick

Musée d'Orsay

Set in a Belle Époque train station that itself is a work of art, the Orsay is home to a treasure trove of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and sculpture. If you're pressed for time, begin your visit on level zero, where you'll find the star works by Cézanne, Degas and Monet. Come early to avoid the long entrance lines.

1 Rue de la Légion-d'Honneur, 011-33-1-40-49-48-14,
Tags: editor pick | art | things to do | culture | history | museum

Musée Guimet

One of the world's best collections of Asian art can be found in this airy, well-designed museum. Gems include the extensive Chinese collection and the Khmer sculpture gallery - the largest outside Cambodia. Don't forget the Buddhist Pavilion, down the street at #19, with two floors of Buddhas from China and Japan.

6 Place d'Iéna, 011-33-1-56-52-53-00,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | history | museum

Musée Jacquemart-André

The 19th-century power couple Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart spent their married years touring the world and collecting art, transforming their sumptuous mansion into the showpiece of its day. The collection is an interesting mix, heavy on Italian and French Renaissance works. Check out the Tiepolo ceiling in the former dining room, now a pleasant café. The free English audioguide is recommended.

158 Blvd. Haussmann, 011-33-1-45-62-11-59,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | history | museum

Musée Rodin

Auguste Rodin lived and worked in this mansion, which now houses two floors of the master's sculptures and paintings from his personal collection. If you're in a hurry, skip the museum and pay €1 to tour 7 acres of garden, where you'll find some of the most famous sculptures such as The Thinker and the Gates of Hell, inspired by the doors of Italian Renaissance churches.

79 Rue de Varenne, 011-33-1-44-18-61-10,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | history | museum

The Catacombs

Paris's underground ossuary contains 6 million bones arranged according to type: Rows of skulls, arms, and legs line miles of (well-lighted) tunnels. The bones were moved here beginning in 1786 when the city began closing many of its over-crowded cemeteries, blamed for outbreaks of diseases.

1 Ave. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 011-33-1-43-22-47-63,
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history | museum

The Louvre

With 35,000 artworks and 14 acres of galleries at this French royal palace-turned-museum, the Louvre can easily overwhelm. But it needn't - if you have a plan of attack. Visit the Big Three - the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory - and then pick a period and country that most interests you. Or pick up a multi-media guide (€6) at the entry and follow the suggested tours. Once you finish with the art inside, focus on the exterior of the building, including the Renaissance Cour Carée, I.M. Pei's 1989 glass-and-steel pyramid, and the Cour Napoléon, leading to the Tuileries Gardens.

Palais du Louvre, 011-33-1-40-20-53-17,
Tags: editor pick | art | things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum

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