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

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 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 worke ...
Founded: 1868 | Location: Arles, 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 des Blindés

The Musée des Blindés is a tank museum located in Saumur and one of the world's largest tank museums. The museum has the world's largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles and contains well over 880 vehicles, although the British Bovington Tank Museum has a larger number of tanks. Less than a quarter can be exhibited due to space limitations despite the move to a much larger building in 1993. Over 2 ...
Founded: | Location: Saumur, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.