Top three picture-perfect photography museums in Paris

Top three picture-perfect photography museums in Paris

Enjoy a snapshot of Paris’ best museums dedicated to photography with our essential guide.

Garden gallery

Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume is located in one of the most striking buildings around Place de la Concorde and is often the first place people think of when discussing photography museums in the city. The seemingly bizarre name, Jeu de Paume, relates to the building’s former life as ‘real tennis’ courts. It was built in 1861 during the reign of Napoleon III among the roses of the Tuileries Gardens. Today, the space within the building is imaginatively used to showcase some modern and post-modern photography and film.

Master of the moment

Paris is the spiritual home of street photography epitomised by Henri Cartier-Bresson, flitting through the alleys with his Leica Rangefinder. His influence as one of the founders of Magnum Photos made him famous worldwide. Perhaps it’s no surprise his legacy is enshrined in the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson gallery in Marais. It holds a permanent collection work from both Cartier-Bresson and his wife Martine Franck, a hugely respected photographer in her own right.

Temple to photography

View one of the largest photography collections in Europe with a visit to Maison Européenne de la Photographie in the former Hôtel de Hénault de Cantobre built in 1706. Opened in 1996, it has preserved the winding corridors and classical staircase, but now has a modern aspect. The photography you’ll see here is at the very forefront of the art today. The centre itself owns around 20,000 pieces of photography and film, alongside a vast range of books, including rare tomes. The exhibitions tend to be big-ticket and often jaw-dropping in their magnitude. Some of the biggest names include; Martin Parr and Annie Leibovitz.

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