The Best Photography Museums & Galleries in Paris
One of the world's most photographed cities, Paris has been inextricably linked to photography ever since the Exposition Universelle of 1859, when photography first began to be considered a serious art form. It was in the streets of the French capital that Daguerre, Bayard and Atget wandered in the early 19th century, capturing glimpses of a now-forgotten Paris. Later, in the 1920s, Brassaï, Man Ray and the surrealists used photography to explore the " worrying strangeness" of the world. And it was in Paris that Capa and Cartier-Bresson elevated photojournalism to a noble art. Here's our short-list of the major photography sites and events in and about Paris.
All about images
In the heart of the Tuileries Garden, the Jeu de Paume museum offers an edgy programme of exhibitions showcasing photographers from the 19th century to the present day, alongside films and installations.
Fans of Man Ray's dreamy images and Brassaï's nocturnal photographs should not miss the Galerie de Photographies at the Centre Pompidou. The gallery, which offers free entry year round, holds a rich collection of nearly 40,000 prints and 60,000 negatives, dating mainly from the 1920s and '30s, as well as hosting regular temporary exhibitions.
House of photography
At only 15 minutes walk from the Centre Pompidou, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie immerses visitors in the contemporary international scene with a collection of nearly 20,000 photographs ranging from the 1950s to the present day. It also holds around 30 exhibitions a year, divided between major names and emerging talents.
Galerie de photographies Centre Pompidou : place Georges-Pompidou - 75004 Paris
The BAL, created in 2010 by Raymond Depardon and Diane Dufour, is breathing new life into the Paris cultural scene, with an avant-garde programme mixing up photography, video, cinema and new media.
A Paris legend
The Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson offers an immersion into the career of this legendary photojournalist, who documented the Liberation of Paris in 1944 before co-founding the prestigious Magnum photo agency.
Sealed with a kiss
The Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau is dedicated to temporary exhibitions that pay homage to the spirit of the legendary photographer, best known for his iconic "Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville.". The exhibitions are varied, showcasing major international names as well as aspiring local photographers. Set in Gentilly, the photographer's birthplace, the museum is easily reachable from Paris on the RER B.
Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau : 1, rue de la Division du Général Leclerc - 94250 Gentilly
At the Centre photographique d'Ile-de-France in Pontault-Combault, 30 minutes from Paris by RER A or E, the focus is on interactivity. As well as exhibiting projects linked to contemporary photography, the space also holds lectures, seminars, classes and workshops that allow visitors of all ages to meet professional photographers and experiment life behind the lens.
Centre photographique d’Ile-de-France : 107, avenue de la République - 77340 Pontault-Combault
From daguerreotypes to pixels
With a collection including more than 25,000 objects and almost one million photographs, the Musée Français de la Photographie de Bièvres, reachable from Paris by RER B or C, is a veritable time capsule that immerses viewers in the fascinating history of photography.
Musée de la photographie de Bièvres : 78, rue de Paris - 91570 Bièvres
Throughout the year, Paris Region hosts a series of major photography events that draw visitors from around the world. Don't miss the prestigious Paris Photo in November. Set in the massive light-filled halls of the Grand Palais, the photo fair showcases historical masterpieces as well as icons from the contemporary scene. Every other year, the Greater Paris Photo Month offers a chance for visitors to discover some of the major photo galleries and art centres in and around Paris. Professional and amateur photographers shouldn't miss the Salon de la Photo photography fair at the Parc des Expositions each April, which showcases the medium's latest innovations.
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- Copyright image: Audrey Benard