- December 5, 2018
- All things Paris
- Rupert Comer
Paris is undoubtedly a big museum city. We’ve all heard of the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, but sometimes a visit to such huge and impressive museums can feel a bit impersonal, and the crowds and queues certainly don’t add to the experience. That’s why we’ve decided to compile a list of our favourite small and quirky Paris museums, to give you some alternatives. From waxworks to fairground rides, the city is certainly not short of eccentric little exhibitions, full of fascinating trinkets and displays. Take a look below...
Musée des Arts Forains
Tucked away at the very south of the Parc de Bercy, on the right bank of the Seine, this fairground museum transports its visitors back to Belle Époque France with an array of retro funfair rides and attractions. Musée des Arts Forains can be found within Pavillons de Bercy, an old wine warehouse converted into a number of museums separated by beautiful cobbled streets. Inside you can ride plenty of vintage carrousels, try your hand at various funfair competitions and take a look at the museum’s collection of intriguing fairground objects. Just be sure to book your visit, as this museum is by reservation only.
Explore the Parisian sewers - Musée des Égouts de Paris
What better way to intimately get to know a city than to take a trip through its sewer system? The Musée des Égouts provides this exact experience, with a 500m underground passage exploring the history of the sewers, from Roman times to the present day. Along this path you will find models and machinery both old and new depicting how the city has dealt with its sewage throughout the years. However, keep in mind that this museum has a bit of an odour and is quite damp (naturally).
Note: the Musée des Égouts is closed for renovations until the beginning of 2020.
Musée des Vampires
The world’s only museum dedicated to vampires, the Musée des Vampires is tucked away in an unassuming alleyway on the outskirts of Paris, near Porte des Lilas. One of the more intimate museum experiences you will have, the musée is essentially the private collection of self-proclaimed vampirologist Jacques Sirgent. Sirgent has hoarded hundreds of creepy and haunting objects throughout the years, and among these peculiar treasurers is a mummified cat and an ‘anti-vampire protection kit’. Seeing as this is a private museum you can’t just show up, so if you want to pay a visit it is best to book in advance.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
Combining works of art such as sculptures and tapestries with taxidermy, this museum aims to bring the wilderness to central Paris. Claiming to be faithful to the spirit of an “amateur art house”, walking through the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is like visiting a eccentric aristocrat’s house, full of bizarre and intriguing trinkets and stuffed animals, within an impressively ornate building. This quirky Parisian museum is even included in MessyNessyChic's Wes Anderson Guide to Paris.
Musée Grévin - the Paris wax museum
Modelled after its famous London counterpart, Madame Tussauds, Musée Grévin is one of Europe’s oldest wax museums. A wonderful way to get to know French history, the museum offers an immersive history of the country from Charlemagne to the French Revolution, through scenes featuring its wax figures. One scene depicting the assassination of French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat while he takes a bath, uses the actual knife and bath from the 1793 incident. Alongside history, the museum also displays wax figures of more contemporary celebrities, ranging from Zinedine Zidane to Bollywood stars.
Musée de la Magie
In the heart of the Marais, Paris’ historical district, you can find the Musée de la Magie. A treasure trove for all things magical, from wands to magician’s hats, the museum also has a large collection of robotic toys, that can be visited for a small extra fee. Open Wednesdays and Weekends, to visit you must reserve a tour, which will be conducted by a magician who will afterwards perform a magic show for your group.
So there you go, six museums like you’ve never seen them before. If you’re looking for more alternative activities to explore in Paris, then take a look at our Top Ten Unique Paris Activities article. Our favorite though? The hundreds of theatres and playhouses in Paris that act as living museums!