Skip This Tourist Trap In France And Check Out These Underrated Destinations Instead

In 2023, Paris was again the most visited city in the world. Its museums, parks, cathedrals, and even its bridges are iconic — not to mention the Eiffel Tower. Given the amount of things to do and see, tourists usually need to narrow down the items on their itineraries. This could involve avoiding time-consuming or crowded attractions.

The massive Musée du Louvre is home to tens of thousands of influential paintings, most notably Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa. However, seeing the Mona Lisa in person is sometimes regarded as a bit anticlimactic, and cumbersome. The work of art is small, especially compared to some of the museum's other paintings like the iconic Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. It is also nearly impossible to get a close-up view of the Mona Lisa, let alone a photo of her without a crowd of tourists and their phones in the frame. There are plenty of lesser-known artifacts and paintings to see at other museums in Paris as France showcases its extensive influence on culture and art all over the city.

Visit museums dedicated to influential French artists

Less than 2 miles from the Eiffel Tower is the Musée Marmottan Monet. As the name suggests, this museum features paintings by Claude Monet. In fact, it houses the largest collection of his paintings in the world. It includes some of his most famous works like "Impression, Sunrise," which helped introduce the world to the impressionist style of painting. Of course, there are plenty of Monet's famous water lily paintings at the museum too. Marmottan also has ornate early 1800s household artifacts and sculptures offering insight into the decadent lives of those who had access to prestigious creators of the era.

Learn about the works of another influential French artist at Musée Gustave Moreau located just a few minutes from Palais Garnier. Paintings by Gustave Moreau have made their way to the Louvre, the Art Insitute of Chicago, and The Met in New York City. Aside from featuring Moreau's own work from the 1800s, the museum shows how Moreau incorporated art of the Middle Ages. Additionally, your ticket gets you discounted admission to popular attractions like the Musée d'Orsay or the Palais Garnier.

Modern and contemporary art is housed at the Louis Vuitton Foundation

Take a whimsical step back in time at the Musée des Arts Forains (Fairground Museum) near Gare de Lyon. This museum focuses on curiosities, performing arts, and carnivals of the 1800s and 1900s. Jean Paul Favand created the museum after realizing that there were no museums dedicated to "laughter and parties." There is even a bicycle merry-go-round from the late 1800s. Book your visit online, but keep in mind that while there are informational materials in English, guided tours in English only run during summer.

For a look at France's modern art, head to the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Its geometric glass exterior makes it hard to miss and it is only around 2 miles west of the Arc de Triomphe. Each year brings new exhibits of modern and contemporary art. Its main collection has works from the 1960s until the present day and its eclectic pieces desire to raise questions about art and how we see the world with a touch of Andy Warhol flair.