Paris prides itself not only on its rich artistic legacy, but also on the principle that art and culture should be accessible to everyone. Not surprising, then, that the city counts over fifteen museums whose permanent collections can be enjoyed entirely free of charge.
Read related feature: These 10 Fantastic Museums in Paris Shouldn't Be Missed
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The Musée Carnavalet's fascinating permanent collection is a must for both history buffs and those interested in learning about Paris' complex history. The collection gives a vivid, visually engaging account of he the city's history, from its founding to the present day. The museum is housed in a stunning Renaissance-era building, the Hotel Carnavalet, in Paris' lively and elegant Marais district.
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The completely-renovated Petit Palais, situated near the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées, houses around 1,300 works dating from antiquity through the early 20th century, including masterpieces by the likes of Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Eugène Delacroix. Temporary collections are free for all visitors under the age of 13.
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Underappreciated sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, who frequented Rodin and trained fellow sculptors Giacommetti and Germaine Richier, once lived and worked in this residence, which now houses a remarkable collection of the artist's bronze, marble, and plaster works. The museum was extended in 1992.
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Mémorial Leclerc - Musée Jean MoulinThe most recent of Paris' municipal museums, the Leclerc Memorial/ Musée Jean Moulin was inaugurated in 1994 as a tribute to two key figures of the French resistance against Nazi occupation during WWII, Marshall Leclerc and Jean Moulin. The museum renders this dark period in French history accessible to visitors via chronological images, extensive archives and multimedia presentations. The occupation and liberation of Paris are reconstituted in vivid images.
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Late 19th-century art collector donated his extensive collection of Chinese art to the city of Paris at the turn of the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection features ancient Chinese pottery, bronzes, buddhist artifacts, in addition to an important collection of 20th century Chinese painting.
Read related: Top 3 East-Asian Art Museums in ParisContinue to 9 of 13 below.
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Musée ZadkineThis museum in south Paris gives tribute to lesser-known sculptor Ossip Zadkine, in a verdant garden setting. Sculpture fans will appreciate this unique spot, which is off the typical tourist trail.
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This small, intimate museum houses what was once the private collection of French business mogul Ernest Cognacq-Jay. The museum features notable paintings and sculpture by such artists as Fragonard and Lemoyne, in addition to a collection of antique furniture and decorative art.
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This little-known gem in a quiet corner of the Latin Quarter will sate the curiosity of history and crime buffs. The museum boasts over 2,000 artifacts related to crime and police history, including uniforms, photographs, weaponry, and more. The rooms dedicated to the French Revolution and the Occupation and Liberation of Paris during World War II are especially fascinating.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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If you're interested in the history of scents, this little gem of a collection near Paris' Opera Garnier and Belle-Epoque department stores district is definitely recommended.
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Housed in an old nineteenth-century mansion complete with chandeliers, painted ceilings, and ornate glass cabinets displaying perfume bottles and other artifacts, the museum traces the art of scent making over 3,000 years and several civilizations. Free guided tours are even available.