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Little(r) Museums of Paris Book Review

Little(r) Museums of Paris book review
Little(r) Museums of Paris book review
Little(r) Museums of Paris Book Review

Jacobs, Emma. Little(r) Museums of Paris An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems. New York: Running Press. 2019. ISBN 9780762466399. $20. 192 pages. Index, bibliography, drawings.

Planning a trip to Paris can prove to be an overwhelming task. How much time do I need? How to get there? Where to stay? Where to eat? Should I rent a car? What are the must see destinations?

While she can’t answer those questions for you, author Emma Jacobs can provide you with some off the beaten path alternatives that most visitors to Paris will never even know about. If you crave the unknown, less crowded, local flavor type of destinations, this is a book you have to read before visiting Paris.

What to Expect

In a book that is whimsical, yet serious; travel guide, yet travel writing; and brief, yet thorough, Emma Jacobs holds our hand through some locations that Rick Steves will not guide you to. With that in mind, this guide (if you want to call it that) is ideal for travelers who have visited Paris and seen the major sites. Maybe you are one of those travelers who doesn’t care to see the Eiffel Tower (gasp and shame on you). Or maybe you want to see Paris like a local might. If this sounds like how you travel, step on in.

First, a couple of things that differentiate this book from a standard travel guide. The book is in hardcover format. It’s not a traditional hardcover size but it’s hardcover none the less and a bit more difficult to take with you during a days excursion. Second are the illustrations. This is not your standard travel guide that is packed with color photos. Rather, these are Jacobs own watercolor illustrations. I might have like to have some color photos included but the illustrations are charming and well thought out.

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What is Included

The book is divided into nine chapters, listed below

  1. Marvels & Machines
  2. History
  3. Architecture & Design
  4. Around the World
  5. Time Capsules
  6. Artists & Ateliers
  7. Stage & Page
  8. Science & Medicine
  9. On the Outskirts

Each chapter contains multiple listings. All listings contain some basic information. This includes the museum name in both French and English. The address, phone number, and website are listed as are the hours of operation and admission fees.

Perhaps the most useful piece of information however is that Jacobs provides readers with the nearest Metro location. This information is crucial in trying to actually visit each location. Remember above when I asked about renting a car. Having been to Paris, here’s my advice, DON’T. Public transportation is readily available. The Metro is more reliable than buses, which are often well off schedule. Traffic in Paris can be a nightmare. If you aren’t familiar with the city and don’t have a good handle on the language, do not rent a car.


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Musee Curie
The Curie Museum is located in the third and last laboratory used by Marie Curie, the Curie pavilion of the Paris Radium Institute, built between 1912 and 1915. Consisting of a permanent exhibition space and a resource center historical, it offers the public the opportunity to discover the history of the Curie family, radioactivity and its first applications.

So, one issue I did have with this book is trying to determine just what is meant by “little(r).” Jacobs doesn’t supply a true definition of the term. She kind of punts on a definition in her introduction. Here she states, “luckily, a city with a museum the size of the Louvre left me a lot of flexibility in defining small.” I worked at a true small museum. A small museum does not have millions of artifacts or the budgets many of these facilities would appear to have. Potato, potahto.

Museums such as Musee des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts) focus on the whimsical such as carousels, arcade games, wax figures, and the like.

If you are interested in fashion, a visit to the Musee Yves Saint Laurent (Yves Saint Laurent Museum) has to be on your list.

Paris is known for its art and art lovers will find plenty to enjoy in this book. A visit to the Musee Rodin (Rodin Museum) will satisfy any fan. You can see the famous Liberty Leading the People during a visit to the Louvre, or you can visit the Musee National Eugene Delacroix, and learn much more about the artist.

I could go on, but I think you are getting the picture here. There are museums for every style and taste in Paris. And while the author admits this book is no where near comprehensive, you could live for a year in Paris and not cover all the museums she has provided.

Some Cautionary Notes

As with any travel guide there are some cautions to be aware of. Travel guides can age poorly. This one is probably no exception.

Jacobs lists open hours and admission prices. Please remember, this book was published BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of that information could have changed in the ensuing years. It’s best to check the official website for each museum to confirm. I spot checked about a dozen of the sites from the book and with only 2 exceptions, all translated automatically to English. The others showed the option to do so with a click of the mouse.

An issue with the set up of the book by topic becomes the difficulty in planning to see several museums in a single day. It takes some work to determine museums that are within reasonable proximity to each other. Jacobs does provide several brief itineraries to close out the book. You have to reference these back to the text. It might have been nice to have these nearby destinations referenced in the individual listings as well.


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Overall, I found this to be a worthwhile read. The book can be read cover to cover, as I did, or piecemeal based upon your interests.

This book is ideal for someone planning an extended stay in Paris, or for experienced visitors who are seeking adventure outside of the standard sites recommended everywhere else.

The price of the book is very reasonable at $20. The format makes it good for keeping on your shelf but maybe not for day to day wandering throughout the city. As with any travel guide, some information can become outdated, but you all know how to use Google to verify the information provided.



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