Museums in France

Louvre

The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument and a central landmark of Paris. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres. The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, and received more than 9 million visitors annually. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Phil ...
Founded: 1793 | Location: Paris, France

Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d"Orsay was built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at th ...
Founded: 1898-1900 | Location: Paris, France

Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy is one of the oldest museums in France. Established in 1793, the museum is housed in one of the four large pavilions on the Place Stanislas. In 1930, the town council decided to convert the building into a museum in order to host the fine art collection hitherto held in the city hall. In 1999, the art historian Jacques Thuillier donated a huge collection of drawings (2,000) and engravings ...
Founded: 1793 | Location: Nancy, France

Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon

The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is housed near place des Terreaux in a former Benedictine convent of the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the largest art museums in France. Its collections range from ancient Egypt antiquities to the Modern art period and make the museum one of the most important in Europe. The paintings department has European paintings of 14th- to mid-20th-century paintings. They are arranged chron ...
Founded: 1801 | Location: Lyon, France

Joan of Arc's House

Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d'Arc, (1412-1431) was a national heroine of France and is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. She asserted that she had visions from God which told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. Also known as the Maid of Orléans, she (according a legend) liberated city of Orléans from the siege of English in 1429. Today there is a sma ...
Founded: | Location: Orléans, France

Musée Rodin

The Musée Rodin was opened in 1919 and is dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It has two sites, at the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds in central Paris, and just outside Paris at Rodin"s old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine). The collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 objets d’art. The museum receives ...
Founded: 1919 | Location: Paris, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice was built in the former private mansion built in 1878 by the Ukrainian Princess, Elisabeth Vassilievna Kotschoubey. Named for the artist Jules Chéret who lived and worked in Nice during his final years, the museum opened on 7 January 1928. The museum houses a collection of art spanning the past four centuries. There are paintings by Chéret and other artists who lived and worked on ...
Founded: 1878 | Location: Nice, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours

The Musée des beaux-arts de Tours (Museum of Fine Arts of Tours) is located in the bishop's former palace, near the cathedral St. Gatien, where it has been since 1910. It displays rich and varied collections, including that of painting which is one of the first in France both in quality and the diversity of the works presented. In the courtyard, there is a magnificent cedar of Lebanon and and a stuffed elephant in ...
Founded: 1910 | Location: Tours, France

Marc Chagall Museum

The Musée Marc Chagall is dedicated to the work of painter Marc Chagall - essentially his works inspired by religion - located in Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes. The museum was created during the lifetime of the artist and inaugurated in 1973. It houses the series of seventeen paintings illustrating the biblical message, painted by Chagall and offered to the French State in 1966. This series illustrates the books of ...
Founded: 1973 | Location: Nice, France

Musée Matisse

The Musée Matisse in Nice is a national museum devoted to the work of French painter Henri Matisse. It gathers one of the world"s largest collections of his works, tracing his artistic beginnings and his evolution through his last works. The museum, which opened in 1963, is located in the Villa des Arènes. The Villa des Arènes was constructed from 1670 to 1685. Upon its completion, it was named the Gubern ...
Founded: 1963 | Location: Nice, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans

The Musée des beaux-arts d'Orléans (the Museum of Fine Arts) was founded in 1797 and is one of France's oldest provincial museums. Its collections cover the period from the 15th to 20th centuries. The museum owns 2,000 paintings (Correggio, Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, Sebastiano Ricci, Diego Velázquez, Anthony ban Dyck, Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Hubert Robert, Eugène Delacroi ...
Founded: 1797 | Location: Orléans, France

Museums of Metz

The Museums of Metz were founded in 1839. They are also known as the Golden Courtyard Museums, in reference to the palace of Austrasia"s kings in Metz, whose buildings they occupy. The collections in this museum(s) are distributed through a 3,500 m² labyrinthal organization of rooms, incorporating the ancient Petites Carmes Abbey, the Chèvremont granary, and the Trinitaires church. The institution is orga ...
Founded: 1839 | Location: Metz, France

Museum of Old Nîmes

Housed in the 17th century former bishop's palace, the Museum of Old Nîmes tells the story of city since the end of the Middle Ages through everyday items and bourgeois interiors. An essential visit to discover local traditions and daily life in Nîmes over the centuries. Local 18th and 19th century interiors have been reconstituted. The textile industry is of prime importance in the history of the city and is ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Nîmes, France

Musée Masséna

Originally built as a holiday home for Prince Victor d’Essling (the grandson of one of Napoleon’s favourite generals, Maréchal Massena), the lavish belle-époque Musée Masséna is another of the city’s iconic architectural landmarks. Built between 1898 and 1901 in grand neoclassical style with an Italianate twist, it’s now a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of the Riviera – taking in everything from ...
Founded: 1898-1901 | Location: Nice, France

Mémorial de Caen

The Mémorial de Caen is a museum and war memorial in Caen, commemorating the Second World War and the Battle for Caen. The building and grounds are located in the northern suburbs of the city of Caen on the site of an old blockhouse. The architect was Jacques Millet and the original curator was Yves Degraine. The memorial is dedicated to the history of violence and intensive, outstanding conflict in the 20th Centu ...
Founded: 1989 | Location: Caen, France

Museum of Bayeux Tapestry

Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux is a museum dedicated to the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This hand-woven 70m long tapestry tells the story of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. The manmade wonder of the 11th century has been well preserved, leaving the town of Bayeux only twice: once when Napoleon used it to show his troops that conquering England was indeed possible, and the second time during World War ...
Founded: | Location: Bayeux, France

Museum of Fine Arts

The musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen was founded in 1801 by Napoleon I. Its current building was built between 1880 and 1888 and completely renovated in 1994. The museum houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and objets d"art from the Renaissance to the present age, including a rare collection of Russian icons from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century. The museum"s exceptional Depeau ...
Founded: 1801 | Location: Rouen, France

Musée de l'Orangerie

The Musée de l"Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Though most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, the museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, and Maurice Utrillo, among others. the Orangerie w ...
Founded: 1852 | Location: Paris, France

Musée des Augustins

The Musée des Augustins is a fine arts museum in Toulouse which conserves a collection of sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The paintings are from throughout France, the sculptures representing Occitan culture of the region with a particularly rich assemblage of Romanesque sculpture. The building in which the museum is sited was built in 1309 in the Gothic style and prior to t ...
Founded: 1795 | Location: Toulouse, France

Musée Fabre

The Musée Fabre was founded by François-Xavier Fabre, a Montpellier painter, in 1825. It is one of the main sights of Montpellier. The town of Montpellier was given thirty paintings in 1802 which formed the basis of a modest municipal museum under the Empire, moving between various temporary sites. In 1825, the town council accepted a large donation of works from Fabre and the museum was installed in the ref ...
Founded: 1825 | Location: Montpellier, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.