Nestled in the heart of the Tuileries Garden, the Jeu de Paume Arts Center (or Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume) is a well-kept secret that will no doubt delight art and photography lovers. In fact, it’s one of Captain Ulysses’ favorite museums in Paris! 🤫
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to find out more about the history of Paris? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
The Jeu de Paume Arts Center in a few words
A museum nestled in the heart of the Tuileries Garden
Just like the Musée de l’Orangerie, the National Gallery of the Jeu de Paume is located in one of the most famous green spaces in Paris: the one and only Tuileries Garden.
The museum is also located within walking distance of many of the French capital’s most emblematic sites and monuments: the Place de la Concorde, the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay and the Place Vendôme.
Brief history of the National Gallery of the Jeu de Paume
The palm game (jeu de paume) courts of the Tuileries Garden
The building that now houses the Musée du Jeu de Paume was built in 1861, a little over ten years after the construction of the Tuileries orangery (now the Musée de l’Orangerie), which it was designed to be the counterpart of.
The museum owes its name to the primary function of the building… It was built to house palm game (“jeu de paume” in French) courts. Palm game?
Well, the game of palm is none other than the ancestor of a sport well known today… Any idea? Yes, it is tennis!
From sports field to museum
Designed in the Second Empire style, the building housing the current Jeu de Paume Arts Center was converted into an exhibition space in the early 20th century.
The National Gallery o the Jeu de Paume presents collections of modern and contemporary art featuring international artists.
The Jeu de Paume Arts Center during the Second World War
During the Second World War, the Jeu de Paume Arts Center was emptied of its collections (which were transferred to the Château de Chambord) to store works of art confiscated from private collectors by the Nazi regime before being sent to Germany.
Fortunately, Rose Valland, a member of the Resistance and curator at the Jeu de Paume Arts Center, meticulously catalogued the works of art seized during the Occupation. During the war, she was in regular contact with the resistance fighters and the Allies to ensure that rail convoys carrying works of art and storage sites were spared from bombings.
At the end of the war, her endeavours made it possible to find the works sent to Germany so that they could be returned to their rightful owners.
The Jeu de Paume Arts Center after the Second World War
From the aftermath of World War II to 1986, the National Gallery of the Jeu de Paume exhibited Impressionist works, which were later transferred to the Musée d’Orsay.
In 1991, after five years of closure, the Jeu de Paume became a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art.
In 2004, it was converted into the exhibition space dedicated to photography, cinema and multimedia that we know today.
Since 2010, the Jeu de Paume Arts Center has also been working in collaboration with the city of Tours on temporary exhibitions which photography lovers can discover in the Château de Tours in the Loire Valley.
In 2020-2021, the Jeu de Paume Museum was closed for renovation. It reopened in September 2021.
Visiting the Jeu de Paume Arts Center in Paris
Be warned, you won’t find any permanent collections in the Jeu de Paume Arts Center. With a surface area of 1,200 m2, it is a space entirely dedicated to temporary photography exhibitions (three exhibitions per year).
The Museum honors renowned or more confidential photographers and video artists. Among the emblematic exhibitions of the last few years, the gallery housed retrospectives dedicated to Gary Winogrand, Philippe Halsman or Dorothea Lange.
Find the program of the Jeu de Paume Museum directly on its website here.
FYI, the Jeu de Paume also housed a lovely shop/bookshop!
In the summer, the Rose Bakery café-terrace, overlooking the octagonal Tuileries basin, offers an ideal refuge for a moment of relaxation after browsing the museum’s exhibitions.
Getting to the Jeu de Paume Arts Center
The Jeu de Paume Arts Center is located in the Tuileries Gardens, near the Place de la Concorde.
The nearest metro stations are Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12) and Tuileries (line 1). Numerous buses (lines 42, 45, 52, 72, 73, 84, 94, Concorde stop) – as well as
Hop-on hop-o sightseeing buses stop near the museum as well.
The Jeu de Paume Arts Center is open every day of the week except on Mondays:
- From 11am to 9pm on Tuesday
- From 11am to 7pm from Wednesday to Sunday
It is closed on May 1, July 14 and December 25.
The entrance fee is 10 € full price, 7,50 € reduced price.
On the last Tuesday of each month, admission is free for students and visitors under 25.
Free guided tours are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m., upon presentation of an exhibition ticket.
👉 Skip the lines in Paris: book your tickets and tours in advance!
Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Looking for an accommodation in Paris? Good news: there are plenty of options in the French capital. To book your hotel in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the website Booking.com. From cheap hostels to luxury palaces, you’ll have plenty of options to chose from. As for the localisation, it depends both on your budget and on what you’re looking for. If you can’t afford staying in the most expensive areas of the capital, the Captain recommends that you look for a hotel in the 12th or 13th arrondissements: they’re not as central, but are very well connected to the centre of Paris. The Buttes au Cailles, which looks just like a small village, is one of the Captain’s favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. If you’d rather stay in a chic and sophisticated hotel, here are the best 3 options according to the Captain: the St. James , the Dokhan’s and the Metropolitan .
🎟️ Activities : in order to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and activities in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends GetYourGuide and Civitatis. Guided tours, entrance tickets, cruises, unusual activities: there’s plenty to chose from. If you want to avoid queuing to get into museums and monuments, the Captain suggests opting for skip-the-line tickets.
⛵ City cruises: Can you really visit Paris without going on a cruise on the Seine? The Captain loves sailing on the river and admiring the emblematic monuments of the French capital, especially at nightfall. You will find a large selection of cruises in Paris here.
🎫 City cards : If you’re planning on staying in Paris for a few days, you should definitely consider investing in a city card giving access to the capital’s top museums and landmarks. which includes access to the most famous monuments in Paris.
🚐 Transfers: the parisian airports are located outside the city and getting to the city centre can be quite expensive.
If your budget is tight, the Captain recommends the RATP shuttles that will drop you off at Opera if you’re coming from Roissy airport and at Denfert-Rochereau if you’re coming from Orly airport.
But for a few extra euros, you can book a transfer that will take you directly to your hotel.
If you are traveling in a group, this option is all the more interesting. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: While you’ll be able to explore part of the city on foot, you will have to use the parisian public transports to explore some of the capital’s landmarks. In order to avoid accumulating (and losing) metro tickets, the Captain recommends opting for an unlimited transport pass. You can buy it directly at in any metro station.
Open tour buses (audioguides included) are also a good option.
If you’d rather explore Paris on a boat, you will love the batobus, a river shuttle on the Seine !
✈️ Flights, trains & buses : Good news: getting to Paris is quite easy! If you’re planning on flying to the capital, the Captain recommends Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best deals. If your dates are flexible, you can even compare prices over several weeks. Paris is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, the Captain highly recommends Omio, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.