Maison Européenne de la Photographie Audrey Benard

The Best Photography Museums & Galleries in Paris

Whether you prefer being behind the camera or in front of the lens, these temples to photography offer you the chance to discover the eighth art from its very best angle.

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  3. 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.

Jeu de Paume%252C façade%252C Paris 2017 Adrien Chevrot %252F Jeu de Paume

Optical illusions

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.

Visiteurs sur la place Georges Pompidou%252C Paris 2017. Boutique du Centre Pompidou%252C femme regardant son smartphone%252C Paris 2017.
Boutique du Centre Pompidou%252C femme regardant son smartphone%252C Paris 2017. Boutique du Centre Pompidou%252C femme regardant son smartphone%252C Paris 2017.

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

Maison Europeenne de la Photographie Maison Europeenne de la Photographie
Maison Europeenne de la Photographie Maison Europeenne de la Photographie

Unfiltered modernity

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.

LE BAL LE BAL
LE BAL LE BAL

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.

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson  2004 Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson%252C façade%252C Paris.
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson%252C façade%252C Paris. Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson%252C façade%252C Paris.

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

Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau%252C Gentilly. Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau%252C Gentilly.
Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau%252C Gentilly. Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau%252C Gentilly.

Extra muros

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

Musée français de la Photographie B.Fernandez

Pop-up highlights

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.

Our selection

Maison Europeenne de la Photographie Maison Europeenne de la Photographie
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
From Larry Clark, Martin Parr to Helmut Newton, all of photography’s greats are displayed in the European House of Photography, a must-see for photo enthusiasts, located in the heart of the Marais.
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Vue du Jeu de Paume, Paris. Jeu de Paume, photo Adrien Chevrot, 2013
Jeu de Paume
The photographic image is omnipresent in today’s society. The Jeu de Paume museum is exclusively dedicated to photography, placing it in the heart of the French capital.
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Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou, Paris 2013 G.Targat / CRT Paris Ile-de-France
Centre Pompidou
A futuristic ocean liner moored in the heart of Paris, the Pompidou Centre takes you on a journey through one of the world’s major collections of modern and contemporary art.
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Le Bal, terrasse du bar restaurant, Paris. Le Bal
Le Bal
A cultural attraction in Place de Clichy, Le Bal is a photographic exhibition space with an extraordinary history and plenty of surprises in store.
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Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, façade, Paris 2015 Martine Franck / Magnum Photos
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
Located in an elegant setting in the Marais district, in the historic heart of Paris, this foundation is dedicated to the life and work of the influential French photographer.
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