Renowned for its radical architectural statement, the 1977-opened Centre Pompidou brings together galleries and cutting-edge exhibitions, hands-on workshops, dance performances, cinemas and other entertainment venues, with street performers and fanciful fountains outside. The Musée National d’Art Moderne, France’s national collection of art dating from 1905 onwards, is the main draw; a fraction of its 100,000-plus pieces – including Fauvist, cubist, surrealist, pop art and contemporary works – is on display. Don't miss the spectacular Parisian panorama from the rooftop.
Former French President Georges Pompidou wanted an ultra-contemporary artistic hub, and he got it: competition-winning architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers effectively designed the building inside out, with utilitarian features, such as plumbing, pipes, air vents and electrical cables, forming part of the external façade, freeing up the interior space for exhibitions and events. The building was renovated in 2020.
The Musée National d’Art Moderne is housed on the 4th and 5th floors.
Entered from rue du Renard, the huge Bibliothèque Publique d’Information (public library) takes up part of the 1st and the entire 2nd and 3rd floors. The 6th floor has two galleries for temporary exhibitions (generally excellent) and restaurant, Georges, with sweeping views of Paris.
Rooftop admission is included in the museum and exhibition cost – or just buy a panorama ticket to go up.
Admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month. Audioguided tours are downloadable on its website (you'll need your own smartphone and earphones). Guided tours in English take place at 2pm on Saturday and sometimes Sunday (€4.50; reserve online).
There are cinemas and more exhibition space on the ground floor and in the basement.
West of the centre, place Georges Pompidou and the nearby pedestrian streets attract buskers, musicians, jugglers and mime artists. South of the centre on place Igor Stravinsky are fanciful mechanical fountains of skeletons, hearts, treble clefs and a big pair of ruby-red lips, created by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.