Carnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet) – Paris

Carnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet) – ParisCarnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet) – ParisCarnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet) – ParisCarnavalet Museum (Musée Carnavalet) – Paris


Please Note: The Carnavalet Museum is currently closed for renovations until December, 2019.

Documenting the history of Paris from ancient times to the present day, the Carnavalet is the city’s preeminent history museum in addition to being an art gallery with a valuable and exceedingly diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture, photography, signage, coins and scale models.  The Carnavalet is also rich in reconstructed interiors from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries rescued from landmarks that were torn down during the city’s many reinventions decorated with the personal possessions that once belonged to the city’s fascinating cast of characters like the Marquise de Sévigné’s Chinese lacquer desk and Marcel Proust’s brass bed and little table covered in pens, ink and notebooks.

Established in 1880, the museum collection has grown to include approximately 600,000 works displayed in more than one hundred rooms in a pair of exquisitely restored, historic townhouses dating to the 16th and 17th centuries respectively located at the heart of the city’s Marias district.  Surrounding the buildings are manicured gardens in the French style where a thousand different plant species thrive.

Consisting of 2,600 works by artists both French and foreign who have worked in the city since the 16th century, a main focus of the painting collection is views of the capital and scenes of daily life over the centuries with excellent examples by Béraud, Canella, Corot, Jeurat, Raguenet and Hubert Robert on display. Of the many portraits of Parisian personalities “Marquise de Sévigné” by Lefebvre from 1655, “Madame Récamier” by Gérard from 1805 and “Franz Liszt” by Lehmann from 1839 splendidly capture their subjects in all their glory. Among the canvases portraying historical events, look for David’s “The Tennis Court Oath” from 1789, “Death by Guillotine” by Demachy from 1794 and Bézard’s “The Seizing of the Louvre” from 1830, all portraying pivotal events from France’s revolutionary era.

The sculpture collection of 3,600 pieces includes a magnificent bronze of Louis XIV by Coysevox cast in 1689 that greets visitors in the museum courtyard as well as the most comprehensive grouping of satirical busts by 19th century sculptor Jean-Pierre Dantan including a delightful rendering of “Paganini” from 1832. Wandering through the collection of 10,000 personal objects that once belonged to the city’s illustrious residents where you’ll find items such as Robespierre’s shaving dish, Zola’s watch, Rousseau’s inkwell, Napoleon’s toiletry kit and the ornate baby cradle of Prince Louis Napoleon is another one of the Carnavalet’s distinct pleasures.

The collection of commercial signage is especially fascinating featuring vivid and colorful representations from the 18th and 19th centuries meant to catch the consumer’s eye in the age before universal literacy.  The photography collection boasting 150,000 pieces includes on display significant 20th century examples by Doisneau and Cartier-Bresson as well as extensive vintage daguerreotypes, calotypes and albumin prints.

Archaeological treasures presented excavated from building sites in and around Paris include a mammoth’s molar and a Neolithic dugout canoe.  More delicate objects such as a blown glass bottle and surgeon’s instrument case interpret the lives of the citizens during the first millennium when the city was a Roman outpost known as Lutetia.

The most Parisian of the city’s museums, the Carnavalet offers not only a fascinating journey through 10,000 years of local history, best of all the permanent collection is free to enter as are all municipally owned museums in the city.  The Carnavalet also hosts temporary exhibitions highlighting particular aspects of the collection as well as traveling expositions for which a paid entry may be required.


“Seizing of the Louvre” – Bézard – 1830

“Death by Guillotine” – Demachy – 1794

“Tennis Court Oath” – David – 1789

Carnavalet Museum – Hôtel Carnavalet – 1560

Official Museum Site


Carnavalet Museum

(Musée Carnavalet)

Hôtel Carnavalet

23 rue de Sévigné

75003 Paris, France

(1) 44-59-58-58


Visiting Hours:

Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Closed on Mondays, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.



Free for entry to the permanent collection and themed exhibitions.

Prices vary for temporary exhibitions.


Current Exhibitions:

Debut of the Restoration of the Louis XIV Courtyard



Must See in the Permanent Collection:


  • “Madame de Sévigné” (Lefebvre) – 1655

  • “The Tennis Court Oath” (David) – 1789

  • “Death by Guillotine” (Demachy) – 1794

  • “Madame Récamier” (Gérard) – 1805

  • “The Seizing of the Louvre” (Bézard) – 1830

  • “Franz Liszt” (Lehmann) – 1839


  • “Louis XIV” (Coysevox) – 1689

  • “Paganini” (Dantan) – 1832


  • “Marquise de Sévigné’s Chinese Lacquer Desk” – 17th century

  • “Prince Louis Napoleon’s Cradle” – 1856

Art Objects:

  • “Napoleon’s Toiletry Kit” – 1805

  • “Zola’s Watch” – 1898

Archaeological Treasures:

  • “Mammoth Molar” – 10,000 BC

  • “Neolithic Canoe” – 4,800 BC




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