Yes I love the Musee D’Orsay, L’Orangerie and even the Louvre. But after several visits to Paris, I’ve covered all the must-see museums– each of which requires a hefty entrance fee and a substantial time commitment. Now on my return visits to Paris, I skip the big name museums and instead head for the Marais, to my favorite museum that hardly anyone seems to have heard of.
The musée Carnavalet is a small municipal museum tucked into a sweet Parisan neighborhood– it tells the story of Paris’ past and present through historical objects, maps, art and decor. Although special exhibits are extra, the main museum and its spectacular gardens are absolutely free. So it’s easy to visit for a brief stroll without feeling pressured to get your euro’s worth.
The musée Carnavalet is also my secret source for Parisian photo opps, minus the crowds. And after you’re done touring the museum, the musée Carnavalet‘s gift shop is a fun browse for iconic but non-tacky Paris souvenirs.
1. Visit the Striking Gardens at musée Carnavalet
2. Step Inside to Musée Carnavalet‘s Permanent Collection
The musée Carnavalet is a perfect choice for those weary of traditional art museums– you can walk through and check out different historical artifacts or simply soak up the Parisian feel of the elegant rooms.
After strolling through the permanent collection, check and see what’s currently on exhibit. I once saw an incredible exhibit here featuring some of the first Louis Vuitton steamer trunks.
3. Don’t miss the Musée Carnavalet’s Gift Shop for Classic Parisian Souvenirs
On the way out, spend the euros you would have put towards an admission fee elsewhere on a beautiful Parisian souvenir for yourself. You’ll find plenty of tasteful designs featuring iconic Parisian attractions.
This cardboard Eiffel tower top is sold flat, making it easy to stash in your suitcase. Buy these children’s plates offering etiquette lessons in French for your favorite unruly child.
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Have you been to musée Carnavalet or other hidden gem Parisian spots? Tell us about your favorites!
[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]Souvenir Finder Shopping Details
What to Buy: Elegant Parisian souvenirs featuring iconic French designs, vintage-look children’s toys, books
Where to Get it: Musée Carnavalet, 16, rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 Paris.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm
What to Know:Don’t miss the Place des Vosges nearby. [/box]
Tuesday 31st of January 2017
Is there an online link to order the jewelry or mugs? Thanks!
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
Hello. Do you have any suggestions for a replacement gift shop? The Musee Carnavalet is closed for renovation until 2019! This little gift shop looks adorable though...though you might have a "second best?". Thank you. Kerry from Reno - visiting Paris in Sept 2017
Thursday 16th of February 2017
Oh this is a shame! Hmm I'm not sure...if I make it back to Paris before then I'll do some checking...
Friday 27th of January 2017
oh no! I'll give it some thought...
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
Sadly, the museum is closed for renovation until 2019! Can you recommend a similar gift shop - I am devastated we cannot go shopping and also - to see the amazing gardens and museum collection...anything similar? Thank you...going to visit Paris in Sept. 2017. Kerry from Reno
Friday 8th of April 2016
Yes, the Carnavalet is the only museum in Paris that I visit over and over! Fantastique! My favorite painting is there, Mme Recamier!
ruth ann siegler
Monday 29th of February 2016
I love the Carnavalet and the Musee Marmottan!!! You should do an article about it!