Paris and art are intertwined. From Impressionism to Cubism to Surrealism, the city has been at the heart of many of the major artistic movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Man Ray made it their home in the early 20th century, when Paris witnessed an explosion of creativity and innovation as the art capital of Europe.
This artistic legacy lives on, and Paris is bristling with museums and art galleries. Once a year, Paris celebrates La Nuit des Musées, or Museum Night, when the city’s best museums open their doors after-hours and free of charge – ideal if you’d rather be soaking up the spring sunshine during daylight hours.
The Louvre is well worth a nocturnal visit, with its enormous collection of art dating back to antiquity. Alternatively, head over to the palatial former train station that houses the Musée d’Orsay for your fix of Paris’ Impressionist masterpieces. Perhaps your tastes are a little more contemporary, in which case the Centre Pompidou will be for you. The centre, with its postmodern exterior of steel girders and colourful piping, is home to the largest museum of modern art in Europe. More artistic treasures can be found by venturing a little way off the beaten track, and exploring some of Paris’ lesser known museums. A stone’s throw from the Centre Pompidou, you’ll find Agnès B – Galerie du Jour – a smaller gallery with an eclectic collection of paintings, sculpture, photography and just about anything that interests its eponymous founder.