Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by April Verge
Are you on the search for unusual museums in Paris? I’ve got you covered! Keep reading…
The ‘Museum City’ moniker is one that Paris takes great pride in wearing. The Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, and the Musée d’Orsay are three of the world’s most magnificent museums, so it has excellent reason to be proud.
However, its cultural scene is considerably more diverse than these heavyweights. You can find many unusual and fascinating little-known gems that are well worth an hour of your time if you venture off the usual path, down cobbled side alleyways, or even right in the center of popular places.
You don’t like the Louvre and Orsay Museums very much, do you? Here are some suggestions for fairly unexpected and distinctive museums that even those who are averse to visiting museums may love!
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If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of the most unusual museums in Paris:
Unusual Museums in Paris You Must Visit
Musée du Vin
Address: 5 Sq. Charles Dickens, 75016 Paris, France
Full price: 15€
Looking for the best that Paris has to offer in terms of wine? Musée du Vin is the place to beat.
This museum was once a hotel in which Louis XV’s wine sommelier worked. Once inside, you will find some of the most mesmerizing cellars that span a whopping 65,000 square feet. Filled with an ample collection of bottles from Burgundy, Champagne, and Gironde, you will be surprised at what this pleasantly unusual museum has to offer.
What makes these cellars even more special is the wine ateliers that take place here weekly. Participants are allowed to create a bottle of their own and take it home.
Musée du Parfum
Address: 9 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, France
Situated right in the heart of Paris, the Musée du Parfum offers a one-of-a-kind experience. The museum brings to life the history and making of perfume, giving it a new meaning.
Visitors are taken through the entire manufacturing cycle from harvestation to extraction to formulation to the final bottling. The process also brings light to the talents of creative geniuses or master “noses” that give birth to the world’s most remarkable scents.
Monnaie de Paris
Address: 11 Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris, France
Full price: 12€
Musée de la Monnaie is one of France’s oldest museums. It contains France’s coinage history that dates back more than 1000s of years. You will also find exhibits of metalworking, coin minting, and much more inside.
The museum somehow takes the simple concept of coinage and makes it interesting with interactive and sensory exhibits in every corner.
Le Musée du Fumeur
Address: 7 Rue Pache, 75011 Paris, France
Full price: 2€
You may think you know a lot about smoking. But wait till you visit Musée du Fumeur or The Smoking Museum. You will be surprised at the intricacies that tobacco and its formation involve.
This museum is fairly young and was founded in 2001. Its founders, Tigrane Hadengue and Michka Seeliger-Chatelain, have dedicated the space to tobacco and its surprisingly chaotic history as it made its way into the general public’s hands.
You will also find original photographs of famous stars, and a library filled with rare books. Tucked in a small corner of Paris’ 11th arrondissement, this museum is well worth the detour.
Musée des Arts Forains
Address: 53 Av. des Terroirs de France, 75012 Paris
Full price: 18.80€
Blessing the streets of the Bercy neighbors with its beauty for more than 20 years, the Fairground Museum is one of a kind. It was built in 1966 and was later reconstructed as a beautiful fairground.
Musée des Arts Forains will not only quench your touristy thirst but also that of any children you may have with you.
Boasting a square footage of 54,000, you will find a variety of attractions including curiosity cabinets, carousel rides, arcade games, and remarkable chandeliers.
You will also have the pleasure of taking a look at rescued figurines of famous individuals from a half-destroyed wax museum.
Pro tip: Reservations must be made well in advance (a week is ideal) for the tour. One can make reservations over the phone or online. The museum offers self-guided tours twice a year during European Heritage Days (the third weekend in September) and Le Festival du Merveilleux (December 26 until the end of the year), as well as performances every half-hour. A brochure in English is available as an option for non-French speakers and lasts for one hour and thirty minutes.
Musée des Egouts
Address: 93 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris
Full price: 4.30€
Exploring a sewer may not sound like the most fun idea. However, somehow Paris pulls this one off, too.
What makes Musée des égouts wildly unusual is not just the fact that is a sewer museum. But also, that it is actually made inside a real sewer. And no, you will not be swimming in any Parisian waste. It is completely clean and safe to explore.
The sewer this museum is located inside is called Quai d’Orsay. Technical and architectural, this museum is a must-see for all the engineering and history fanatics out there.
Pro tip: The Egouts can be closed after periods of heavy rain.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
Address: 60 Rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris, France
Full price: 9€
The Abbaye de Saint-Martin-des-Champs is home to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, which was established in 1794. 6,000 square meters of the 10,000 square meters total area are reserved for permanent displays. Out of the 80,000 artifacts and 15,000 drawings in the collection, just 3,000 are on exhibit.
There are several locations to explore with a variety of subjects, including scientific equipment, materials, building, communication, mechanics, and transportation. The original Foucault’s Pendulum replica is also on exhibit at the museum.
Musée Edith Piaf
Address: 5 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011 Paris
Musée Édith Piaf will give you an up-close and personal glimpse into the life of the famous singer behind La Vie en Rose. Inside, you will find Edith Piaf’s personal belongings including her stage costumes, dressing gowns, and calligraphic letters.
This micro-space contains two rooms packed with armchairs, mannequins, and a collection of photographs, record covers, and paintings. Owing to its unusualness, you will also find a stuffed bear sitting on an armchair in a corner, with precisely the same height as the singer (4 feet and 8 inches).
Pro tip: It helps to have seen the film before you go, to allow you to piece together Piaf’s life.
Musée d’histoire de la médecine
Address: 12 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France
Full price: 3€50
On the second floor of the Université Paris Cité headquarters, in a room built in 1905, is the Museum of the History of Medicine.
Dean Lafaye gathered its earliest collections in Europe and added a significant collection of items that covered the many disciplines of surgical art up until the end of the 19th century. There are devices specifically used to care for Louis XIV as well as a few uncommon medicinal and surgical kits and even physiological equipment.
Pro tip: Do be aware that the small entry fee is payable by cash only.
Musée de La Poste
Address: 34 Bd de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris, France
Full price: 5€
This one may sound boring but the Postal Museum is filled with compelling communication artifacts that will pique anyone’s interest.
This museum is filled with vintage mailboxes and old postage stamps. The collections, which spans over 15 rooms, date back centuries. Every historical exhibit that you come across is accompanied by a true yet surprising fact that leaves one pondering over the many ways our lives have drastically transformed over the centuries.
Catacombes de Paris
Address: 1-3 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris
- Last minute ticket: 14€
- In advance ticket: 29€
As evidenced by this list, there is a lot more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. One of the unusual museums that often go unnoticed by visitors and locals alike is Catacombes de Paris.
What makes this place special is that it’s situated in a long strip of underground tunnels and contains 6 million skeletons. You will find walls upon walls of human skeletal remains.
As you walk through the seemingly endless tunnels, you will find that the bones are carefully arranged and in fact, a little dangerously placed, in some places. For those with a thrill-seeking bone in their body, this is the perfect place to be.