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France proudly boasts no less than three entries in the list of the world’s top ten most popular museums: the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay. The Louvre has achieved record visitor numbers with over nine million people – yes, nine million – arriving at its hallowed doors each year. So even in this digital age, when you can view a kaleidoscope of exhibits and paintings online, there is clearly no substitute for the real thing. We wanted to celebrate some of France’s best, in both Paris and the provinces, but the ‘top three’ in Paris need no introduction so we have opted to focus on smaller city museums that promise the pleasing combination of a discovery culturelle and a chance to avoid crowded, well-worn paths. Beyond Paris there has been a real renaissance, with new museums and proud renovations proving that France is still investing heavily in its cultural heritage. From Marseille to Metz, Montpellier to Montauban, there is an air of excitement as architectural energy meets creative curation. Our ten must-see museums outside Paris will have you consulting your maps and itineraries to see if you can fit more into your next trip!

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