Since I’m a big museum buff, I knew that I’d be spending a lot of time visiting museums while I was in Paris.  As part of my pre-departure research, I prepared a pretty long list of museums that I’d like to visit, and while I knew that I would only be able to see a fraction of those on the list, I quickly realized that admission fees were going to add up right quick.

Further research turned up the Paris Museum Pass, a multi-day, multi-admission pass, that would save both time and money.

Museum d'Orsay in Paris has a great collection of Impressionist Paintings

Museum d’Orsay in Paris has a great collection of Impressionist Paintings

Since time was at a premium while I was there, the saving time part grabbed my attention.  Museums in Paris are notorious for long lines, and the ability to bypass the line for immediate admission meant the potential for a big time saver.  With only five days, I knew that I couldn’t take advantage of the many FREE or reduced admission days, and I knew that I needed to make every half hour count!

I calculated out the cost of the pass and balanced it against admissions to the museums that I knew I would see, and I came out slightly ahead financially.  When I factored in the skipping of the lines and the museums on the maybe list, it cemented the deal.

The pass is activated on your first museum visit, so you can buy it in advance and have it ready to go.  I picked mine up at the Louvre, the first museum that I visited.  The process to buy the pass took about half an hour, so I’d recommend buying in advance.  Still, we passed the time chatting with some nice folks there, got some restaurant and shopping suggestions, and it was just fine,

How did the pass work out for me?

With a 4-day pass, I visited eight museums:  Arc de Triomphe (a monument more than a museum),  Centre Pompidou, Conciergerie, Louvre, Museum d’Orsay, Pantheon, Rodin Museum, and Sainte-Chapelle.

The pass can be purchased for 2, 4, or 6 days, and it currently is selling for 32, 48, and 64 respectively.   The Paris Museum Pass can be purchased online, at any Paris Tourist Office, or at any of the museums or monuments that are covered by it,

Based on the exchange rate at the time, I saved about $16 in admission fees.  Additionally, my skipping the lines, I saved between 3-4 hours of time.  So this was a big WIN for me.

Based on my experiences, here are some recommendations that I’d make:

  • Calculate out what you want to see and how much it will cost to buy individual admission tickets.
  • Check to see if the museums you want to see are covered by the pass.  The Paris Museum Pass covers museums and monuments, so check the list to see what’s covered.
  • Check to see if you can take advantage of any free museum days or reduced costs.  Most museums are FREE admission for those under 16, and offer a reduced admission for those ages 16-25.  Most also offer at least one day a month where admission is FREE.
  • You can opt for a shorter pass, thereby saving money, if you’re willing to cram all your museum visits into a few days.  This may work well for adults, but might not be a good choice if you’re traveling with kids, so think about the pace you want for your trip.
  • Temporary exhibits at museums are usually excluded, so if there’s one you want to see, be prepared for an additional charge.
  • The pass covers monuments and museums in Paris, as well as the surrounding area.

I think my favorite stop was the Museum d’Orsay, followed very closed by the Rodin Museum.  There are still many, many that I didn’t see, so next time I’m back in Paris, I’ll be buying the Paris Museum Pass once again.

Photo credit: Mary Jo Manzanares

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