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 the Galerie nationa ...
Founded: 1898-1900 | Location: Paris, 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 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 Beaux-Arts

The Fine Art Museum - Musée des Beaux-Arts, is situated just behind the Chartres Cathedral. It was formerly the ancient episcopal palace from the 12th century, where the bishops of Chartres lived. Some religious sculptures and painting from European School, and other collections of ancient and modern arts are on all year exhibition in the museum.
Founded: 1833 | Location: Chartres, 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

Musée du Petit Palais

The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery. It opened in 1976 and has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many 'primitives' from the collection of Giampietro Campana. It is housed in a 14th-century building at the north side of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes. Named Petit Palais to distinguish it from the ...
Founded: 1503 | Location: Avignon, 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

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

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

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le ...
Founded: 1658-1661 | Location: Maincy, 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 Picasso

The Musée Picasso, formerly the Château Grimaldi at Antibes, is built upon the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis. The castle was a residence of the bishops in the Middle Ages (from 442 to 1385). The castle was moved in 1385 to the Monegasque family. In 1608 it became a stronghold of the Grimaldi family and has borne their name ever since. In 1702 it became the town hall of Antibes. From 19 ...
Founded: 11th century / 1966 (museum) | Location: Antibes, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux is the fine arts museum of the city of Bordeaux. The museum is housed in a dependency of the Palais Rohan in central Bordeaux. Its collections regroup paintings, sculptures and drawings from the 15th to the 20st century. The painting collection is the largest one and its strong points are works by French and Dutch painters. In front of the buildind, there is the Galerie des Be ...
Founded: 1801 | Location: Bordeaux, 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

Musée de la Castre

An attack by the Saracens in 891, who remained until the end of the 10th century, devastated the country around current Cannes. The insecurity of the Lérins islands forced the local monks to settle on the mainland, at the Suquet (today the old town). Construction of a castle in 1035 fortified the city by then known as Cannes. The castle was damaged in end of the 16th century and partially demolished in the 18th centu ...
Founded: 1035 | Location: Cannes, France

Quimper Museum of Fine Arts

The ground-floor halls of Musée des Beaux-Arts are home to some fairly morbid 16th- to 20th-century European paintings, but things lighten up on the upper levels of the town"s main art museum. A room dedicated to Quimper-born poet Max Jacob includes sketches by Picasso.
Founded: | Location: Quimper, 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 de l’Annonciade

Musée de l’Annonciade is one of the oldest modern art galleries in France. This 16th-century former chapel in Place Grammont contains some dross but also cracking stuff from artists connected with Provence in general and St Tropez in particular. Look out for Matisse, Utrillo, Seurat and Dufy. You should also have a look at the pointillist works of Signac, the first artist into St Tropez in the late 19th century.
Founded: 1922 | Location: Saint-Tropez, France

Musée Réattu

Musée Réattu is an art museum in Arles, housing paintings, including works by Arles-born painter Jacques Réattu, drawings by Picasso, as well as sculptures and a large collection of photographs. The museum is housed in the former Grand Priory of the Order of Malta, built in the late 15th century. The building was acquired in 27 parts between 1796 and 1827 by Jacques Réattu, who lived and worked there. Upon his death ...
Founded: 1868 | Location: Arles, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.