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The 10 exceptional French museums

France is a privileged country for all art lovers. Fine connoisseurs or just amateurs, everyone can find a museum to his or her taste. Whether specific or not, installed in an old train station, an old airport, a pyramid or a brand new building, the French museum inspires and conquers millions of people every year. Le Petit Futé highlights for you 10 exceptional French museums, places that allow you to plunge into the history of the country and to better understand it. These are must-see places where major works of art are also presented to the public, in the form of permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Le LaM, Villeneuve-d'Asq

Located only 20 minutes from Lille, the Lam is one of the most important museums in Northern Europe. It is in the middle of a park dotted with sculptures (Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Eugène Dodeigne...) that the structure has been taking place since 1983. Today, with 6,700 works, three beautiful collections are highlighted according to the following themes: modern art, contemporary art and art brut. Major temporary exhibitions and various events and activities regularly enhance the museum's great interest, offering a fascinating overview of the main components of 20th and 21st century art. Some of the names whose works can be seen inside the museum include André Derain, Georges Braque, Henri Laurens, Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso

The Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget

Under the authority of the Ministry of Defence, the Air and Space Museum is housed in the former air terminal (125,000 m²) of Le Bourget airport. It was founded in 1919, shortly after the end of the First World War, on a proposal by the great Albert Caquot. It was here that the Spirit of Saint Louis, piloted by Charles Lindbergh, landed in 1927, at the end of the first non-stop, single-handed Atlantic crossing. Through its collections and activities, the museum aims to introduce the general public to everything related to aeronautics on land and in space, while at the same time seeking to satisfy the passionate connoisseur.

The Gustave Moreau Museum, Paris

Gustave Moreau lived a large part of his life in the house which is now a museum entirely devoted to his work. A singular artist, the painter and draftsman Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) is considered one of the leading figures of Symbolism. Dreamlike subjects, sometimes mythological, sometimes mystical, pictorial compositions reminiscent as much of the Renaissance as of the innovations of the Impressionists and other modernists of the late 19th century, the work of this artist remains surprising, and his discovery plunges us into a world apart. On four levels, the public has the pleasure of discovering nearly 1,300 paintings, cartoons and watercolours, as well as some 5,000 drawings.

The Fine Arts Museum of Dijon

Major by its history, as much as by the quality of its collections, the Dijon Museum of Fine Arts has been the subject of major works that will last until 2019. Entrusted to Éric Pallot, chief architect of the Monuments Historiques, and to the Ateliers Lion Architectes Urbanistes, the renovation was aimed at enlarging the museum, renovating and restoring its current buildings and collections, and finally improving public reception. The museum is one of the oldest in France, since its origins date back to the Ancien Régime. The works on display are representative of regional artistic creation, but there are also masterpieces from the five continents

La Cité de l'Automobile, Mulhouse

In order to protect his treasures, the Schlumpf collector discreetly parks his splendid old cars in the warehouses of a spinning mill in Mulhouse that he acquired with his brother Hans in 1956. Ten years later, he transformed these warehouses into a museum, but had to abandon his collection a decade later due to difficulties encountered in the management of the company. The employees of the factory named the exhibition of the collection the "Workers' Museum", which was classified as a historical monument and once again opened to the public as the National Automobile Museum. In 2006 it became the Cité de l'Automobile and the place fills car lovers with joy, admiring such legendary cars as the Victoria, the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and the Ferrari Type 250 GT

The George Pompidou Centre, Paris

Wanted by the President of the Republic Georges Pompidou, the eponymous centre opened its doors in 1977, three years after his death. The building is the work of the architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and its unique architecture makes it an eye-catcher. It is one of the most visited monuments in France, receiving nearly six million visitors a year. Dedicated to modern and contemporary creation in all its forms, the Centre Pompidou - also called Beaubourg, because that is the name of the district where it is located - presents permanent collections whose displays are regularly renewed, and offers a rich programme of temporary exhibitions.

The Soulages Museum, Rodez

The temple of the works of the French artist, Pierre Soulages, is far from being a usual museum. It is a cultural centre, a place of meetings and experimentation in its own right. Dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art, the painter wanted a link to be made between the manufacturing process and the artistic goals, the tool and the work. It is a concept never seen before, whose pedagogical purpose allows, within everyone's reach, to have access to art and culture. In the permanent exhibition rooms, the public discovers the works of Pierre Soulages and the techniques he used throughout his career; then, the temporary exhibition room showcases contemporary artists. Works by Picasso, Calder and Soto have already been shown here. Also not to be missed during a visit is the Café Bras, which offers contemporary cuisine based on products from the Rodez market

The Louvre Museum, Paris

The former residence of the kings of France has become one of the largest museums in the world. Today, the monarchs who reign here are no longer called Henri or Louis, but Mona Lisa, the Raft of the Medusa or the Venus de Milo. Several million French and foreign visitors flock to its corridors and exceptional rooms every year. Since Leoh Ming Peï's construction of the glass pyramid in 1989, the Louvre has been undergoing continuous refurbishment. Visitors to the Louvre take a plunge into the history of art and travel to various countries, discovering works of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, ancient Eastern civilizations, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan, graphic arts and Islamic art.

The Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The collections of the Musée d'Orsay reflect all the diversity of artistic creation in the Western world from 1848 to 1914. The masterpieces presented here are innumerable. The rooms devoted to painting and the graphic arts allow you to discover the works of artists who remained solitary as well as those who formed movements. The galleries group the works chronologically and by movement: Barbizon, Salon painting before 1850, or during the Second Empire, impressionism, neo and post-impressionism, symbolism... Its architecture also appeals to visitors, as the museum was a former railway station, refurbished as a museum by decision of President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

The MUCEM, Marseille

It is the flagship work of the cultural Marseille of the 21st century. At the hinge between the Old Port and the port of La Joliette, two sites line the sea and offer a unique view of the Mediterranean (to be experienced!): Fort Saint-Jean and the new museum on the J4 pier, another place steeped in history, which is witnessing the departures and arrivals of settlers and migrants, the entry of jazz, the flight of populations threatened by Nazism... The MUCEM (Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean) is open to lovers of archaeology, anthropology, art history, history and contemporary art. It offers a social, cultural, scientific and political view of all the civilizations that have made up the Mediterranean world from prehistory to our contemporary times. A place which seduces as much by the richness of the exhibitions as by its quite exceptional location

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