Skip to main content

The quirkiest museums in France

Discover France's most unusual collections

Thinking about visiting France this summer? Want something a little...different? Look no further!

France is host to many small, independent museums that offer something less conventional. Many are situated in the capital of Paris including the Centre Pompidou, the Catacombes, Le Grand Musée du Parfum and Le Musée des vampires but there are a plenty of hidden museums across the country covering everything from hat making and corks to Absinthe and taxidermy. Here are just a handful.

Le Palais idéal

Le Palais idéal

Location: Hauterives, Drôme

Built entirely out of stones picked up on his morning post round, Le Palais idéal was constructed over 33 years by postman Ferdinand Cheval. It is an example of Naïve art - a form of visual art that is created by a person with no formal artistic training or education.

Cheval took inspiration from other cultures and religions including Christianity and Hinduism. 

Upon completion of the palace in 1912, Cheval wished to be buried in his palace but laws prohibited this and so he spent the next 8 years building a mausoleum in the same style for himself. 

Visit the website for more information:

Musée des Egouts

Musée des Egouts

Location: 7th arrondissement, Paris

Hold your noses! You guessed it, Musée des Egouts or the Paris Sewer museum has been named as France's pongiest museum (but don't let that put you off!). Located under the bustling streets of Paris is a Napoleon-aged sewer system consisting of more than 1000km of tunnels. The museum itself is located in a working sewer giving visitors the chance to learn about its 140 year history and stroll along raised walkways directly above the water channels.

Find out more:

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Location: 12th arrondissement, Paris

The Musée des Arts Forains houses a large collection of historical funfair items from between 1850-1950 including carousels and restored fair stalls. There's some intriguing yet a little eerie about this museum but it's worth a visit. Booking essential.

Find out more:


Location: Oradour-sur-Glane, Haute-Vienne

Now a ghost town, this small settlement was subject to a massacre by the Germans during World War II. Over 640 men, women and children lay dead within a couple of hours of the Germans entering the sleepy village. 

This historic monument is different to most, burnt out cars litter the streets, the overhead tram cables remain, sewing machines and bicycles strewn among empty houses. 

Find out more:

Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

Location: Roubaix, near Lille

Not exactly quirky but definitely different. The Musée d’Art et d’Industrie or La Piscine as it is more commonly known is a fine arts museum and gallery housed in a former Art Deco swimming baths. The water still flows and all the features remain. On show are 19th and 20th century works.

Find out more: http://www.roubaix-lapiscine.c...

Mucem - Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations


Location: Marseille

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem) located in Marseille, is the product of the European Capital of Culture scheme. Sat on reclaimed land in the entrance of the port, the Mucem houses permanent and temporary collections. The building, designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti, is a 15,000 square meter cube encased in a concrete latticework shell - it's really quite impressive! 

The museum's permanent collections aren't quirky but there are a couple of upcoming exhibitions that we feel are mentionable.

Starting Wednesday 14th February 2018, the main themes of love are broken down into 26 letters in the exhibition Love from A to Z, which breaks down the ABCs, from the tender to the torrid, by means of the Mucem’s collections. 

Another exhibition housed in the Mucem, starting Thursday 19th July 2018 explores France's relationship with mealtime. Food for the Eyesretraces the singular history of French gastronomy.

Dans le Noir?

Dans le Noir?

Location: 4th arrondissement, Paris

Not a museum but worth a mention. Dans le Noir? literally translates to In the Dark?

The French love their food and we love eating it but would you still love to eat it if you couldn't see it? This unique restaurant challenges our basic sensory preconceptions by switching off the lights and serving up food. 

Co-funded by the Paul Guinot Foundation for Blind People, the restaurant is staffed entirely by the visually impaired. Visitors are seated by a waiter-guide and given hints on how to avoid spilling, such as “putting a finger inside your wineglass” - but beyond this, diners are on their own.

If you're not visiting Paris, don't worry! The group has opened restaurants in other cities around the globe including London, Auckland, Barcelona, Madrid, St Petersbourg and Melbourne as well as Nantes and Nice in France.

Find out more: