Last Updated on September 18, 2023
Paris is home to a number of “greats”– from monuments to food and fashion, museums and art galleries. Especially when visiting the capital for the first time, The Louvre is an absolute must and so is The Musée d’Orsay, a former train station that now houses some of the world’s most iconic artworks.
But there’s much more to the city’s arts scene than these over-subscribed institutions. There’s a wealth of smaller, more intimate spaces that feature works by contemporary artists and emerging talents that are well worth paying a visit to.
These are our picks of some of the best independent art galleries in Paris– spaces to beeline to whether you’re a collector or simpy an admirer of contemporary works.
Founded by Emmanuel Perrotin, this stunning space ranks among the most prestigious galleries in Paris. Featuring rising stars of the contemporary art market, it is frequented by collectors and art enthusiasts who flock to Le Marais to marvel at the works of such acclaimed talents as Maurizio Cattelan, Takashi Murakami, Sophie Calle or Pierre Soulages.
Emmanuel Perrotin, who founded his first gallery in the 1990s, has since opened spaces in Tokyo, Shangai and Hong Kong among other cities, with the same aim of bringing to light the works of ambitious artists.
“My aim has always been to offer increasingly vibrant and creative environments in which to experience art,” he says.
- Where: 76 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
- Metro: Richard Lenoir, Saint-Paul, Le Marais or Saint-Sébastien-Froissart
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 16 79 79
Located in the 18th arrondissement, off Place de Clichy, Le BAL is an independent arts venue that focuses primarily on video, cinema, documentary photography and new media.
With its 350m² of exhibition space spread across two floors, the former dance hall features works by artists from all backgrounds, including American street photographer Dave Heath, whose pictures depicted and captured the unease of post-war America.
From co-publishing books every year to providing a platform for underprivileged youths via their non-profit called La Fabrique Du Regard, Le BAL is a great platform for giving everyone a chance to look at the world through a different lens.
- Where: 6 impasse de la Défense, 75018 Paris
- Metro: Place de Clichy
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 44 70 75 50
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Second if not equal to Galerie Perrotin in prestige is Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac founded by the Austrian gallerist of the same name. Located in the heart of Le Marais since 1990, the 1000m² venue spanning four floors houses the works of some of the most influential artists. There you’ll find pieces by American photographer Irving Penn and German minimalist Imi Knoebel, among other famed talents.
In addition to its new space in Pantin, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac has galleries across Europe, in London and Salzburg, and an expanding team in Asia.
- Where: 7 rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris
- Metro: Saint- Sébastien Froissart
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 72 61 66
Galerie Laurent Godin
Located in the 13th arrondissement, this compact art space is at opposite poles with places like the Centre Pompidou which, although worth exploring, are usually packed to the rafters, making it difficult to enjoy artworks the way they should be.
The gallery’s strength lies in its unique relationship with the twenty artists it features, and the particular care it takes in showcasing their works.
“We try to represent artists that are interesting and relevant. For me, building relationships with artists is essential. A good collaboration means above all else trust and mutual respect,” says Laurent Godin, the gallery owner.
- Where: 36 bis rue Eugène Oudiné, 75013 Paris
- Metro: Olympiades, Bibliothèque François Mitterand or Porte D’Ivry
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 71 10 66
Galerie Magda Danysz
Located in the 11th arrondissement, Galerie Magda Danysz features fresh and amazing shows.
Dedicated to promoting artists from different horizons, Madga Danysz, the gallery’s owner, has greatly contributed to shining a light on street art. The exhibits she curates are usually large-scale and daring, allowing up-and-coming artists a real space to express themselves and put on shows worthy of their ambitions.
- Where: 78 rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
- Metro: Saint-Sébastien Froissart
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 83 38 51
Opened in July 2019, Fluctuart is the world’s first floating “urban art center”. Docked at the foot of The Pont des Invalides on the left bank of the Seine River, this free gallery on water spans three stories and features work from street artists of all backgrounds– newcomers and pioneers alike.
- Where: 2 port du Gros Caillou, 75007 Paris
- Access/metro: Invalides, Champs-Elysées Clémenceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Atelier des Lumières
The first all-digital gallery in Paris to stage large-scale, multimedia exhibits to huge audiences, the Atelier des Lumières was an instant hint when it opened in 2018, with an inaugural show on Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and other Austrian painters from the “Secession” school.
Since that first exhibit, it’s continued to attract round-the-block lines for entry to more oddly mesmerizing shows, combining sound and ethereal moving images and paying tribute to the likes of Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, and Chagall.
While the program has been curbed somewhat by the global health crisis in 2020 and 2021, more shows are in the pipeline– and are expected to meet with the same success.
- Where: 38 Rue Saint Maur, 75011 (11th arrondissement)
- Access/Metro: Saint-Maur or Père-Lachaise
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Paris Unlocked Contributor Patricia De Oliveira has written for various publications, including music magazines The Blue Walrus and TEEZ’FM. She lives in Paris and is currently working on her first novel.