The Musée des Vampires is a small private museum (near the Mairie des Lilas) dedicated to vampires and the study of their place in folklore and modern culture. Located just on the outer edge of Paris, it can be a bit complicated to visit for non-French speakers, but it’s totally do-able and absolutely worth the effort if you’re a fan of vampires, mythology, and weird stuff in general!
When I was initially researching the museum, all of the sources I found online, most of which are in French only, mention that the museum is open daily from 12:30pm to 8pm, but some sites don’t make it perfectly clear that you must have an appointment to visit.
Making an appointment is little complicated if you don’t speak French, as the main phone number listed (01 43 62 80 76) just gives you a recorded message in French. This message lists the hours and also gives a cell phone number — 06 20 12 28 32 — which you can call to make an appointment. The museum’s curator, a wonderful, captivating fellow named Jacques Sirgent, speaks impeccable English. So if youdon’t speak French, try calling the cell number and very politely asking, “Parlez vous anglais, s’il vous plait?” and I’m sure Monsieur Sirgent will be happy to help you.
The collection: You enter the museum through a small courtyard at the back of a private residence. The main room that was open to the public when I was there was a crowded, cluttered, and absolutely fascinating collection of every type of vampire-related item you can imagine: stacks and stacks (and stacks) of books, dozens of paintings and movie posters lining the walls, spooky fine art objects, Halloween-esque props, et cetera, et cetera — even a mummified cat found in Père Lachaise Cemetery! The room is relatively small but I could’ve spent all day in there inspecting these treasures. One highlight I found very impressive: the autographs of every actor who’s ever starred as Dracula in a Hollywood movie!
After briefly being shown around the place by Monsieur Sirgent, we sat down for a long chat about the history of vampires, their folkloric origins, and their place in French history and the modern human psyche. Monsieur Sirgent, or Jacques as he told us to call him, has written several books on the topic, and very clearly is an expert on all things vampiric. Beforehand, I was a little concerned we’d find the museum’s director to be sort of overly goth or flaky or downright crazy, but I’m pleased to report Jacques is actually almost startlingly down to earth, and completely, well, normal! I made a joke about having worried that he’d be a serial killer, and he laughed and immediately pointed out a painting on a wall and told me it had been painted by famous French murderer Nicolas Claux, “le Vampire de Paris,” with whom Jacques is acquainted. Wow.