I am a HUGE fan of museums, I mean, my PhD is even related to museums! Whether I’m at home or traveling, I love to visit local museums and get lost in art and history for a few hours. If I visit a museum often, I usually bring my Kindle, choose a beautiful room filled with artwork and a large, comfortable seat, and pretend I’m just relaxing in my own grand living room. It helps if the museum is free, as most London museums are!
But we’re not here to talk about museums in London, we’re here to learn more about the top 5 museums in Paris that showcase artwork by Claude Monet. He’s my absolute favorite artist, and my favorite genre is Impressionism. Most of these museums also highlight other major Impressionists, so if you’re not a huge Monet fan, you can certainly find something to enjoy at these museums.
While many Paris museums aren’t free, they might offer concessions (or discounts) for students, those under 18 years of age, and seniors, so if you’re a student, make sure you bring your student ID! In fact, just always carry your student ID with you, even when you’re traveling, because so many places offer student discounts, not just museums, but restaurants, shops, and other tourist attractions.
Now, let’s count down the top 5 museums in Paris to view works by Monet.
#5: Le Petit Palais
This museum is very close to the famous shopping street called the Champs-Elysees. It’s also right across from another museum, the Grand Palais, which is also used as an exhibition hall and the site for Chanel’s fashion shows. Le Petit Palais offers some artworks that are free and some exhibitions that require admission. Monet’s painting is luckily free to see and can be found on Level 1 among the other 19th century painters. There’s a lot to see at this museum, and a lot of the appeal is its gorgeous architecture and regal details, both indoors and outside.
Although this is the most famous museum not only in Paris, but arguably in the world, the Louvre is not the best museum to visit if your goal is to view lots of Impressionist paintings by Monet. I recently spent a day there wandering around this vast museum, and when I got to the section that had the Monet paintings, I had to walk around a few times and eventually ask a docent where they were.
I guess since it was the Louvre, I had high expectations, but there were only three Monet paintings that I found. If you’re in Paris and love museums anyway, chances are you’ll stop by the Louvre, and it’s worth the effort to locate their small Monet collection.
Even though it’s located in an old train station, this museum sure doesn’t look like it. The only thing that’s reminiscent of a train station are the curved ceilings and very lengthy rooms. It’s quite a trek to the upper floors where the Monet and other Impressionist paintings are located, but it’s sure worth the effort.
Luckily there are escalators to help people reach the upper floors quickly. This is definitely the museum to visit if you love Impressionist artists as it has an extensive collection of works by Pissaro, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, and Manet.
This is Paris’ best kept secret to view Monet’s masterpieces, and I really don’t know why because every Monet fan should know and visit this museum. Perhaps it’s because it’s not in any touristy areas and it can be difficult to find once you exit the Metro. When I visited the first time, the rooms that held the Monet paintings were being updated, so everything was displayed on the main floor in close proximity to each other, which made for an overwhelming experience.
I think the layout of the paintings is best described as a maze. They were either displayed on the wall or on tall plexiglass panels. As I walked along a group of these panels, I looked all around me and saw one great work of art by Monet after another. Then I would turn around the corner and yet again encountered more paintings on tall plexiglass panels.
Everywhere I looked, there was a famous painting I had only seen in books or images, and this decision to display all his works in such a small space really impacted me because it demonstrated just how prolific Monet was, and how his gradual loss of eyesight really affected his later works.
The second time I visited, the works were displayed in their permanent location, and everything was spread out over different rooms. I wasn’t as moved as my first visit, but it also could have been because I had already visited. Still, I am impressed and emotional every time I see Monet’s paintings in person. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed in this museum, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures on either of my visits. It would have been nice to have photos of the contrasting displays from my two visits, but alas, they’re just in my memory.
This was a tough decision because the Musee Marmottan Monet has so many more paintings and is essentially dedicated to Monet, but the impact of the few, but immense, Monet paintings at the Musee de l’Orangerie is absolutely breathtaking. There are two uniquely oval and stark white rooms, and four huge panels are dedicated to his paintings. Actually, I was so speechless after seeing the paintings in the first room that I couldn’t believe there was another room to experience! Tip: Make sure you don’t leave after the first room because you’ll be missing out on another extraordinary experience. The entrance to the next room blends well into the architecture, but it’s directly across from the entrance to the first room.
Both rooms are usually silent as visitors take in the beauty of Monet’s masterpieces. Photos are not allowed in this museum either, and it’s understandable given the serene and contemplative nature of the paintings and museum environment. This museum is very minimalist in terms of decor and architecture, but it works in this case because it highlights the most important items in the museum.
Although not in Paris, Giverny, where Monet lived and painted some of his most beloved masterpieces, is just a short journey away. This is where Monet’s paintings come to life. You can visit his charming house and see his Japanese Gardens and the Japanese bridge that provides a walkway over the lilypads and pond that are so prevalent in his works.
When I went, I booked a tour that picked everyone up at their hotel, and I would recommend this option for anyone that does not want to bother with the hassle of getting to the train station, arriving there in time, and finding Monet’s house once you arrive in Giverny.
So that’s it, my top 5! Do you agree? Or am I missing a museum in Paris that houses Monet’s works and should be on this list? Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or advice! Thanks for reading!