It can be tough to stay at home and do nothing when all you want to do is book a plane ticket and escape.
If you love traveling, wanderlust is a constant companion that urges you to become restless. The insatiable thirst to explore is both a blessing and a curse—you live to have your views shaped by meeting new people and trying something different, but you need that stimulation on a regular basis.
One of the great things about living in 2020 is that you can still travel by taking virtual museum tours.
Think about it—after a few clicks on your keyboard and a few swipes on the screen, you can find yourself anywhere you want. It’s amazing to have the world at your fingertips.
Of course, scrolling through your iPhone isn’t the same as having a picnic along the Seine in Paris, but thankfully you can watch a few impressive videos with a baguette, brie, and a bottle of rosé from your couch—not to mention sharing the virtual experience with family and friends in-person or on Facetime.
Traveling digitally can keep the wanderlust at bay, if only for a short while.*
Take a break from your normally scheduled Netflix binge and enjoy a virtual visit to one of these amazing museums in the City of Light and beyond:
1. Chateau de Versailles
The royal French palace represents the pinnacle of luxury and grandeur. Fact: Approximately 10 million visitors tour Versailles each year.
- Louis XIV, the Construction of a Political Image
- Immortalising Versailles
- Fashion at Versailles
- A Place at the Royal Table
There is also a free app download for you to view the interactive map as well as the audio guides for the Versailles palace and the gardens. Bonus: You can also experience Chateau de Versailles in two virtual reality scenarios on the website. This may be particularly interesting for history addicts or students.
In real life, it can take a whole day to walk the estate alone. I’ve visited the Chateau de Versailles three times—the first time during a short term study abroad, the second time to visit the palace grounds and the third time to take an amazing skip-the-line guided tour with The Paris Guy.
2. The Catacombs
Located on the Left Bank, the Catacombs are widely known for its macabre, underworld setting—and having impossible long waiting times, even if you buy a ticket in advance.
There’s no need to wait in line with their free online tour!
3. The Louvre
The Louvre needs no introduction. Originally one of the French royal palaces, it’s the world’s largest art museum located in the heart of Paris. The museum is home to a number of cultural artifacts that define civilization as we know it today.
Start your online virtual visit of the Louvre on the museum’s website.
4. Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is undeniably one of the most beautiful museums in Paris. A former train station, the two clockfaces gaze upon the Seine day and night. A must-see for those looking to learn about the Impressionist art movement.
Take a tour of the Musée d’Orsay’s renowned works of art online with Google Arts & Culture.
5. Musée de l’Orangerie
If you were walking towards the edge of the Jardin des Tuileries—towards the Seine—you would find the Musée de l’Orangerie. It’s known for its panoramic display of Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s water lilies or nymphéas in French.
View the display for yourself and beat the lines by clicking here.
6. Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France
Seeing Monet’s canvases of water lilies is one thing—walking through the artist’s real-life inspiration is something else entirely. It’s no surprise that the entire village of Giverny is a picture-perfect postcard thanks to the Monet’s museum and gardens as well as the Impressionist museum.
Stroll through the artist’s gardens on this virtual tour.
7. Chateau de Chambord + Loire Valley
If you’ve never seen the chateaus in the Loire Valley, start your journey at Chateau de Chambord. The French Renaissance-style chateau is known as a royal residence for François I, who used Chambord primarily as a seasonal hunting lodge.
Additional Free Virtual Tours
If you want to explore your virtual horizons and travel outside of the Île de France region, these websites offer views and tours of other beautiful destinations and monuments around the globe.
- 360 Cities has “the world’s largest collection of stock 360° images and videos.” This is a great resource for the culturally curious of any age.
- Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 2,500 museums to provide free virtual museum tours. Visitors have access to the MoMa in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Doge’s Palace in Venice, the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, and many more.
- Wanderlust Travel Videos on YouTube is a lively option for visiting museums and walking around cities—you feel like you’re walking around the crowds again!
*At the time of writing this blog post, I was supposed to be in Paris, France. It was suspended by #NotBudLightvirus.