Blog | HPRG We visit the National Air and Space Museum – Hotels Paris Rive Gauche Blog

We visit the National Air and Space Museum

With jaw-dropping museums like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and dozens more, Paris is indisputably a city with world-class culture, but beyond the city limits there are also some amazing places that many a visitor doesn’t necessarily see, despite them being close and easy to reach (Monet’s house in Giverny, the Albert Kahn Museum…)

The National Air and Space Museum is in the suburban town of Le Bourget, just to the north of Paris (a train and bus will get you there in around 45 minutes). If you’re looking for something stunning and unusual for your Instagram photos, this place should be on your list…

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
photos: JasonW

You’ll be able to get directly to the National Air and Space Museum on line 17 of the métro when it opens… in late 2026. In the meantime, the journey there is a little less simple but totally worth it – this museum is vast and eye-opening for all the family, even if you don’t particularly like planes or rockets.

You may not know that Le Bourget was the original Paris airport (opened in 1919) and remained the city’s only passenger airport until Orly opened in 1940. The main building dates from 1937 and is an Art Déco wonder (like the Hotel Baume!) with 125,000 m² and a 12-metre high ceiling sporting hundreds of glass bricks to allow lots of natural light to enter.

The building reopened in 2020 after 5 years of renovation, and it really is a marvel. This is where the museum visit commences, with one half of the space showing how man was obsessed with taking to the air, first by flapping giant wings made with feathers (spoiler: it didn’t work), followed by various exploits in hot air balloons and some weird and wonderful flying machines. Numerous objects (paintings, plates, even clocks) attest to this human derring-do.

Even if you have no particular passion for planes, the history of man’s flight is a fascinating one, and if you are a fan of early 20th-century architecture, the building itself will be a pleasure to go through.

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

This introduction brings us back to the centre of the building where you can still see the ‘Arrivals’ and ‘Departures’ signs, as well as a number of art déco details, like the angular golden birds on the stairs. Gorgeous stuff.

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

The second half of the building awaits, showing the role planes played in the Second World War. Other items from the era are also on show, like insignia, uniforms, paintings, newspaper articles…

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

It was at this moment, about an hour into the visit, that we realised that we’d only seen about a quarter of the museum so far. The place is huge! Going out onto the tarmac, there were quite a few planes of variou sizes, some of which you can see inside of (for example, in the Boeing 747 you’ll see the VIP lounge and a cut-through if the cargo section with enough space to carry an entire car and a lot more!)

There are also space rockets that you can see from up close. The size of everything is impressive…

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

Going back inside, the remainder of the exhibits are presented in a series of hangars, one of which shows all the different machines used to explore space, and is completely bonkers!

The hangar has at least five or six levels and is fairly dark, with ramps and terraces in different corners. It’s a very impressive presentation.

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

Even after this giant room, there are two more hangars of planes left to see, and a room packed to the rafters with just helicopters. It’s almost endless!

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

Don’t say we didn’t warn you – make sure you have a few hours free when you go to the Air and Space museum – you’re going to need them to see all that’s on show. You might also like to download the museum’s free app available for iOS and Android, which can give you more info about many of the exhibits.

The museum also has a restaurant, l’Hélice, if you want to take a break during your visit. And of course there’s the new shop just before you leave, with a wide choice of books and other items.

This summer the museum is hosting an open air mini film festival called Ciné Tarmac with each film projected on the side of a Boeing 747(!).

Also, don’t forget that the Paris Air Show is back in June 2023. After being cancelled for the past few years, this 54th edition will be epic! More information here (and book your hotel room now, here!)

If you want to see all the photos from our visit (over 200!), they can be found here, and to learn all about the museum’s next big temporary exhibition – Up To Space – which will be presented for a year starting 5th July 2022, French-speakers can check out the press release (PDF) here.

Our museum visit is over, but before going back to Paris, there’s one more thing worth seeing in Le Bourget !

If you like contemporary art, you might like to know the world-famous Gagosian Gallery has a space just a few minutes from the museum, in a former hangar that allows them to present large-scale works.

The day of our visit, there was the Transmitter installation by Richard Serra, and apparently there is no end date for the showing, so perhaps it will still be in place when you visit?

We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum
We visit the National Air and Space Museum

We really enjoyed our visit to Le Bourget. It’s true that getting there needs a little more forethought than a simple metro ride, but the Citymapper planner at the bottom of this article should give you a few simple options.

We went with the B line of the RER (that has stations very near our hotels), and from Le Bourget station there’s the 152 bus that takes you to the museum. You could technically walk from the train station, but it’s 30 minutes along a road with heavy traffic, in a dowdy neighbourhood, so the bus or even a taxi are better options.

A different route is to get to Porte de la Chapelle at the north edge of Paris and take the 350 bus from there, as that will take you to just outside the museum. Or you could take line 7 of the metro and get the 350 bus form there. Plenty of options then…

Your efforts will definitely be rewarded! The museum is a wild place, and anyone under 26 gets in free! If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary that a lot of visitors to Paris don’t necessarily see, we think this is a great choice.


The National Air and Space Museum (here) is open every day except Mondays from 10am-6pm

Admission: 16€ / free for everyone under 26 (but going inside the planes will cost 8€ / 6€)

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

What3Words ///tonic.purest.paving