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Courtney Traub

Free Paris Museums: A Focus on Great Parisians

By November 1, 2012

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jean moulin, circa 1941.

The city of Paris counts over ten museums whose permanent collections are entirely free to the public. Among these, several under-appreciated ones pay tribute to Parisian luminaries and thinkers who helped shape the political, social or artistic landscape of their times.

Especially for those of you interested in learning more about the forces that shaped Parisian culture over the last two centuries, I highly recommend you take some time in your schedule to explore a few of these excellent free Paris museums.

The Maison de Victor Hugo, located in the writer's former apartments on the pomp-filled Place des Vosges in the Marais, plunges you into the turbulent life and times of the author who penned Les Misérables and faced exile for many years as punishment for vocally supporting various humanist causes and giving a voice to the poor and oppressed.

Heading south to Montparnasse, the Mémorial Leclerc/Musée Jean Moulin honors the memory of two key figures of the French resistance against Nazi occupation during WWII, Marshall Leclerc and Jean Moulin (pictured). History buffs will appreciate the vivid multimedia reconstitution of one of the more somber periods in French history. Meanwhile, the nearby Musee Bourdelle explores the sculptural and photographic works of Antoine Bourdelle, who frequented great sculptor Rodin and others.

West Paris harbors free gems like the Maison de Balzac, which reconstitutes the workroom and the myriad fictional characters of colossal novelist Honoré de Balzac, author of La Comédie Humaine. The Musée de la Vie Romantique will sate anyone with a passion for the drama of 19th century French Romanticism, and notably pays tribute to eccentric writer and impassioned political commentator George Sand.

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Image credit: French Resistance leader Jean Moulin in 1941. Keystone/Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

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