Musee Carnavalet Paris Overview

The Musée Carnavalet, founded in 1880, houses more than 600,000 pieces of art that help visitors comprehend Paris' history from prehistoric times to the present day. Located in two opulent manors in the Marais, it is one of Paris’ oldest museums and is an architectural marvel in itself. Visitors from all over the world come to see its eclectic collection, which includes Medieval antiques, French Revolutionary War artifacts, sculptures, paintings, furniture, pictures, and a variety of architectural and decorative things.

The Musée Carnavalet is the oldest museum in Paris dedicated to the vast and intricate history of the French capital. More than 600,000 objects from prehistory to the present are part of its permanent collection, which spans more than 100 rooms. The museum also hosts several temporary exhibitions focusing on different eras and aspects of Parisian history. 

The Carnavalet Musée first opened in 1880 in the Hotel de Carnavalet, but as the collection grew, it annexed the adjacent mansion Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau in 1989 to expand it even further. Both hotels are Renaissance-style mansions connected by a passageway. The collection is divided into four sections - Prehistory, Antiquity & Middle Ages, Paris from 1547 to 18th century, French Revolution to the first half of 19th century, and From the second half of the 19th century to our days. Explore these fascinating sections and more with the Best Europe Packages.

A stunning variety of artifacts and objects make up the museum's permanent collection, creating a vivid portrayal of life and history in Paris. It includes around 2,600 paintings, 2,000 sculptures, 20,000 drawings, 150,000 photographs, and 300,000 engravings. The diversified and intriguing collection also comprises furniture, coins, ceramics, archaeological artifacts and fragments, souvenirs, famous Parisian portraits, city models, letters and correspondence, and pictures from advertising and popular culture. 

Along with its exhibits, the Musée Carnavalet Paris's architecture, central courtyard, and formal gardens amaze visitors with their sophistication and rich appeal and provide a wealth of picturesque opportunities.

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• The Musée Carnavalet, the city's oldest museum, is devoted to portraying the history of Paris from prehistory to the present.
• Besides being a history museum, the museum is also an art gallery for original artworks that showcase the artistic flair of the Parisians.
• Housing in two historic mansions, it amazes every visitor with its Renaissance-style architecture.
• The Musée Carnavalet Paris serves as a reminder of the dominant styles of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, the development of Parisian interior design over time, the country's revolutionary background, and knowledge about renowned personalities in Paris.
• With over 600,000 objects, the Carnavalet Musée claims to have the largest collection in Paris.
• The collection comprises archeological relics of ancient Paris, such as old statues, demolished building decorations, street signs, images of historical events, portraits of prominent Parisians, mementos of illustrious men, and an exceptional collection of works depicting the French Revolution era.A Detailed Guide To Visit: Musée De La MagieCheckout & Book Now : River Seine Cruise

How To Reach

By Bus: The closest bus stops to Musée Carnavalet Paris are Saint-Paul and Rue Vieille du Temple, both of which are only a 2 to 3-minute walk away. Bus lines 69, 76, 96, and 29 all stop at these bus stops. 

By Metro: Metro lines 1, 5, 7, and 8 stop at the Pont Marie, Saint-Paul (Le Marais), and Saint-Sébastien - Froissart metro stations, which are around 5 to 7-minute walk from the museum. 

By Car/Taxi: The museum is approximately 10 kilometers from the Boulevard Périphérique, 31 kilometers from Orly Airport, and 26 kilometers from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). You may easily get to the venue by driving or hiring a cab.

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Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit the Carnavalet Musée is right when it opens in the morning. If you get there early, there will be fewer people around and you'll have plenty of time to explore the entire museum and its rich collection. Weekdays are preferable if you wish to tour the museum with less people around because weekends and holidays are frequently busy.

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Other Essential Information

Tips to Visit

  • Prepare your tour strategy to fully explore the collection with the help of the official "Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris" app.
  • Visitors with mobility concerns can use wheelchairs, buggies, and folding seats for no cost. So, you can take both elders and children with you.
  • The permanent collections are open to the public without charge, however, it's a good idea to reserve a date and time online in advance through the Musée Carnavalet Paris website.
  • The museum holds a variety of workshops, exhibitions, and other events, so be sure to check the calendar of any activities before making your trip plan and purchase tickets in advance.
  • Visit during the week and arrive early to enjoy some quiet time before the crowds show up.

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Day Wise Timings
Open Today
Normal Timings:
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Point of Interest for Musee Carnavalet Paris
Collections at the Musée Carnavalet Paris

Collections at the Musée Carnavalet Paris

Lutetia - Prehistory and Ancient: The Musée Carnavalet Paris's lowest level (Rooms S1–S6) houses a large collection of artwork and utilitarian items discovered in Neolithic sites, including a pirogue made of a single tree (about 2700 BC), and ancient Gallo–Roman artifacts from Lutetia, including a gold coin, a bronze key, and everyday things. The gallery also showcases artifacts discovered in the 1990s at the first known permanent settlement in Paris, including carved female figurines, early pottery, wooden tools, earthenware cooking pots, and artifacts related to farming, fishing, and livestock dating between 6500 and 4500 BC. 

Medieval to Renaissance Paris (5th–16th century): The exhibits and artifacts in the Medieval and Renaissance section at the Lower Level (Rooms S-7 to S-9) date from the fifth to the sixteenth centuries, starting in 451 AD. A scale model of the Île de la Cité as it appeared in 1527 is one of the outstanding exhibits in this area. The section features a collection of sculptural components, including busts of Saints and Apostles and a 14th-century sculpture of the Virgin Mary's head. A 13th-century ornate chest, a series of six stained glass windows from the Dormans-Beauvais College chapel, and 16th-century paintings of Francis I, Catherine de Medici, and Henry IV are some of the highlights of this section of the Carnavalet Musée. 

The Paris of Henry IV and Louis XIV (Late 16th-17th century): This Musée Carnavalet's section features pieces of the gigantic Henry IV statue and the Louis XV statue, which formerly stood on the Pont Neuf and in the Place de la Concorde respectively and were destroyed during the French Revolution. Additionally, there are numerous artworks of students of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in this part of the Carnavalet Musée, as well as furniture made by renowned cabinetmaker Andre-Charles Boulle. The décor of two salons of the Hôtel La Rivière by the painter Charles Le Brun is also on exhibit here.

The Enlightenment (18th century): This museum's section displays two 18th-century rooms from the Hôtel de Breteuil, the Salon d'Uzès (1767) from the Hôtel d'Uzès, the Salon Demarteau, the Salon of Philosophers, and Voltaire's armchair. Famous attractions in this section include the cabinet of the Hôtel Colbert-de-Villacerf, a portrait of Cardinal Mazarin from around 1665, a painting showing the celebration of Louis XIII's marriage to Anne of Austria, various paintings of Madame de Sévigné, and her letters to her daughter.

The French Revolution (1789–1799): Some of the most notable exhibits in this Second Level (Rooms 2.51-2.57) section of the museum are the painting "Storming of the Bastille (1989)", a stone from the Bastille converted into a replica of the prison, and a buffet inlaid with Revolutionary slogans (18th c.). It houses the most extensive collection of historic objects and artifacts related to the French Revolution. This includes a cast-iron ornate stairway of honor to the upper floor and the walls adorned with mirrors and gilded woodwork of the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau (18th c.), the cell at the Temple Prison where Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their son were held prisoners, paintings or sculptures of major Revolutionary figures such as Danton, Mirabeau, Robespierre, and others.

Napoleon Bonaparte through Louis-Philippe (1800-1848): The portrait of Juliette Récamier by François Gérard (1805), the statue of "Victory" or "Immortality" by Louis-Simone Boizot (1806–1808), and numerous Napoleon Bonaparte possessions, including the dish and silverware case he brought on his military campaigns, and his death mask, are on display in this section. Other attractions here include paintings "The Louvre under attack during the 1830 July Revolution", "Louis Phillipe celebrates victory at the Hotel de Ville on 31 July 1830", and sculptures of Parisians from that time, some realistic depictions and caricatures.

The Paris of Napoleon III (1848-1871): Painting "Baron Hausmann présents the plan for annexing the communes surrounding Paris to Napoleon III (1859)" and the cradle of Napoleon III's son, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1856) are the highlights of this section.

The siege of Paris and the Paris Commune (1870-1871): This section contains images portraying the Commune during the Semaine Sanglante (21-28 May 1871) when the French Army regained the city. It includes photographs of a barricade built by the Paris Commune on March 18, 1871, as well as fires lit by the Commune on the night of May 23-24, 1871.

Paris in the Belle Epoque (1880-1914): The cultural life of Paris flourished throughout the Belle Epoque period. The first-floor corridor of the Carnavalet Musée exhibits a significant collection of paintings by renowned illustrators of Paris life at the time, including Henri Gervex, Louise Abbéma, Jean Béraud, and Carlolus-Duran. The area also features a colorful selection of posters from the era designed by Alphonse Mucha and other artists, such as the Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge cabarets. Some famous paintings by Paul-Joseph-Victor Dargaud on display include "The Assembly of the Statue of Liberty'', "The Cafe de Paris", and "The Grand Boulevards, exit of the Theatre des Varietes". This part also includes two iconic Art Nouveau rooms: a private dining room in the Art Nouveau style from the Café de Paris (1899) and the jewelry shop of Georges Fouquet, created by Alphonse Mucha (1901). 

Paris in the 20th and 21st centuries: The renovated Musée Carnavalet reopened in 2021 and exhibits, for the first time, a sequence of halls dedicated to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries Paris. The displays include Marcel Proust's furniture and personal items, the Hotel de Wendel's colorful Surrealist ballroom, the desk of American art patron Gertrude Stein, an enlarged image of Stein by Man Ray, and photographs of 20th-century Paris by Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson. There is also a painting by Leonard Foujita of a crowded café from the mid-1900s, images from 1944 documenting Paris' liberation, and a textile work called "Paris, Ville Lumiere" (1974) by artists Nil Yalter and Judy Blum, among many more.

Gallery of Shop Signs: The Musée Carnavalet also has two quirky galleries with distinctive signs posted in front of Parisian establishments in the 18th and 19th centuries to denote the proprietor's type of work. These signs were employed to symbolize certain products, ranging from the black cat from Montmartre's "Le Chat Noir" cabaret (1881) and a design by the Bastille for an early 19th-century cafe to signs for locksmiths, wigmakers, and eyeglass manufacturers.

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