Musée Carnavalet, 3rd Arr.
Tel: 33 1 44 59 58 58
Metro: Saint-Paul or Chemin Vert
Concierge.com's insider take:
Ignore the Mona Lisa's prima donna claim on the world's imagination. The first museum you should go to in Paris is this superb 140-room collection dedicated to the history of the city itself. Once you've been here, you'll have a rough historical scaffolding in the back of your mind and everything else about the city will make sense. The beautiful structure was built in 1548 and turned into a museum in 1866 by that famous architectural busybody Baron Haussmann (did he ever take a day off?). The story of the city begins with wooden canoes used by the Parisii, who fished the Seine in the Neolithic age. The Roman collections are outstanding, as are exhibits devoted to 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century Paris. Whatever you do, don't miss the Carnavalet's weirdest treasure—writer Marcel Proust's bedroom, cork-lined so he could write in silence.
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.