There are few things more spectacular than watching a sunset over the Seine. Last Saturday I sat on the bridge between the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, taking in one of the most vibrant ones I’ve seen in a while. Orange, magenta, purple, and then blue…it was like Paris’s own masterpiece.
But this time of year the weather is warm and friendly, so the day doesn’t end when the sun goes down. One night each spring there is the annual La Nuit des Musées, where the city’s hundreds of museums stay open until midnight for visitors. I actually hadn’t even realized it was Museum Night in Paris until I found myself there watching that sunset and noticed a public service announcement about it on a small sign at the end of the bridge. Conveniently there I was, in between two of the greatest collections of masterpieces from the art world. One of the many perks of living in Paris I suppose…
So I made the most of it! Seeing Paris’s museums by night is a whole new way of visiting them. Something about it feels mysterious, like you’ve snuck in after hours on a caper. It certainly
adds a sense of adventure to museum going. As you wind in and out of the halls of the Louvre, you can peer out on the City of Light at night and imagine what it might have been like to call this place home hundreds of years ago when it was the palace of the royal family. And by night across the river at the Musée d’Orsay you can peer through the clock tower for a spectacular view over the city, imagining what it might have been like to be a Parisian, arriving here on an evening train a hundred years ago when it was a train station.
But museums are changed by more than just the hours on this night. For La Nuit des Musées there are spectacles, performances, concerts, dancing, workshops, and more. On this night, Paris and France’s commitment to culture, new and old, converge in the city and it is truly a thing to see.
If you can’t make it to Paris on this one night a year, you may be pleased to know that almost every major museum in the French capital has one night a week that they call the nocturne. On these nights their doors are open late and sometimes entry is even free so that their collections can be enjoyed by all into the night. So on your next visit to Paris, be sure to check their schedule and you too can enjoy une nuit dans dans le musée.