Five Offbeat Paris Museums

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker  living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (, and also writes a popular insider's blog

Edith Piaf// All photos courtesy of the author

We all know Paris has some of the greatest art museums in the world including the Louvre, d’Orsay and the Orangerie. But did you know Paris has some of the quirkiest museums you probably never heard of? Here are five of the most unusual.
Edith Piaf Museum
The greatest French singer of all time, Edith Piaf had a challenging and sometimes tragic life. The Edith Piaf museum, located in a private apartment in a residential area, is more like a shrine to the late singer than a museum. The owner and curator, Bernard Marchois, was friends with Piaf during the last years of her life, and many of the items in the museum are from his personal collection.  It has lots of memorabilia including outfits from her shows, letters, furniture, jewelry, and photographs. Bernard also gives tours of the museum in French.
You need to make an appointment before you visit, and you will be given directions along with an access code to enter the building. Beware: you must walk up four flights of stairs to get to the museum.
Musée Edith Piaf

5 Rue Crespin du Gast

Tel: 01 43 55 52 72
Fragonard Perfume Museum
The art and chemistry of perfume making dates back centuries and the Fragonard Museum is a fascinating glimpse into that world. It covers the full history of perfume, showing the manufacturing and packaging and how flowers, oils, and other ingredients are mixed to make the elusive magic potions. There is also a shop where one can sample and purchase Fragonard perfumes.
9 rue Scribe
, 75009

Tél: +33 (0) 1 47 42 04 56


Fragonard Perfume Museum


Le Monnaie de Paris
One of the oldest institutions in Paris dating from 864, Le Monnaie de Paris is the minting/money museum. Housed in a neo-classical building designed by Jacques-Denis Antoine and built between 1767 and 1775, the museum traces the history of money in France. There are 2,000 coins, 450 medals and tokens, machines, paintings, engravings, stained glass, and sculptures.
11 Quai Conti, 75006
Paris Wine Museum
France’s most cherished product now has a museum dedicated to it. The Paris Wine Museum is situated in a former14th century limestone quarry, perfect for storing wine. The Minime brothers made the cellars into a monastery and the limestone that was mined was used to build Paris. The museum features the history of winemaking, displays of objects and tools used, and offers wine tastings. Private winetasting seminars and events can also be organized and there is a restaurant on premise.
5 Square Charles Dickens/Rue des Eaux

1930s Museum
The 1930s in Paris was one of the most fertile times for the arts, culture, industry, technology, and architecture. The museum celebrates the golden era of creativity with innovators like the filmmakers Renoir and Pagnol, industry giants Renault and Bierlot, and architects Le Corbusier and Mallet Stevens. Set in a 20,000 square foot space in Boulogne, a suburb of Paris, it has a permanent collection of paintings, objets, drawings, sculptures, and furniture. The current temporary exhibit through February 22nd, 2012 is about the legendary actress Romy Schneider who was married to actor Alain Delon.
28 Ave, Andre Morlzet, 92100, Boulogne-Billancourt