The Paris Museum Pass: What’s Covered, What Isn’t, and Whether or Not You Should Get It.
To pass or not to pass, that is the question! While museum passes may seem like a good value at first glance, when you take them apart, the truth is, your sometimes better off paying for those attractions and museums separately. Although museum passes often let you skip the lines and pay less, they usually require that you use them in consecutive days which, when you think about it, is a lot of museum going in a very short time. Also, the museums that interest you most may not even be part of the museum pass package. Here, the members of Trippy.com try to sort out what’s what when it comes to the Paris museum pass market. As you’ll see, the opinions are many on this subject!
Paris Museum Pass: Does It Cover the Catacombs?
“The catacombs do not appear in the list of museums and monuments covered by the Paris Museum Pass.
We were in Paris about a year ago, and at that time the Catacombs were not covered by the museum pass (which we had). We did go to the catacombs as well.”
“From the Paris Municipal Museum Web site: They list the following information that might interest you: Visitor numbers are limited to 200 people on the site at any one time. Admission may be delayed for a short time during busy periods.
- Distance covered: 2 km
- Duration of the tour: 45 minutes
- No toilet or cloakroom facilities
- 130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level
- Temperature: 14°C
- The tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems, those of a nervous disposition or young children.
- Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Full price: €8
Reduced price: €6
Half price: €4
Free : children up to 13 years inclusive”
“If the catacombs were included I am certain they would be on the list. It's part of the legal requirements that what you actually get is displayed somewhere, so you can check.”
While we’re on the subject of the catacombs, here’s a little clarification of what they actually are and what they’re not.
Are the catacombs the same as the old sewer tour? If not, is the sewer tour still available?
“No, these are not the same. And yes, the sewer tour is still available.”
“Although I've been to Paris at least ten times, I've never made it to le Conciergerie, and I'm determined to do it this time. But the website says reservations for March and April are closed. I will be there in March. Can I still get there the same day, wait in a queue and get it?”
“It also took me a long time before I finally went to La Conciergerie, and when I finally went in I found it to be one of the least interesting sites in Paris. There was no queue at all when I went there, and I have never heard of any need for reservations.”
“Yes, I checked the Conciergerie website. On the English-language side it says: "Resevations for March and April are closed." But on the French-language side it only says that reservations are obligatory for groups, with no mention of any reservations for individuals.”
“We had a rather long line at the Conciergerie but it moved quickly. It was not the most inspiring place we've visited in Paris but it's worth a visit. Like you, we had visited Paris many times before we decided to visit the Conciergerie. They don't seem to offer reservations so you must be looking at a booking agent of some sort. I suspect it would be cheaper and easier to just show up and, if necessary, spend a few minutes in line.”
All those bones making you hungry? Here are some options for where to eat when you emerge into the daylight.
“My husband is taking a tour of the Catacombs and I am not. Is there a nice cafe or shopping centre nearby that I can amuse myself in for 2 hours while he is doing this. It will be early October so I don't think sitting in a park will be a good idea.
There are plenty of cafés and shopping on Avenue du General Leclerc, no malls though. The entrance to the catacombs is about 700 metres from the exit on rue Remy Dumoncel.
The rue Daguerre market street is fascinating -- just one block away from the Catacombs entrance. When you're ready to sit down and wait, the Café du Rendez-Vous at 2 Avenue du Général Leclerc is nice. Do NOT go to the Indiana Café across the street from it.”
How early to d’Orsay and Catacombs?
Just because you have a Paris pass, doesn’t mean you don’t have to get there early. Here, the members of Trippy weigh in:
“We'll only be in Paris several days and looking to maximize time (minimize waits). How early should we arrive at Catacombs to avoid hours wait? We'll have Museum Pass but should we still arrive early to Orsay?”
“At the catacombs I was there 30 minutes before the open time and I waited one hour to get in. At d’Orsay, with the museum pass I did not wait a minute.”
“We had the same kind of timetable a few years back. The d’Orsay offers 90-minute guided tour that is very good and very reasonably priced. The tickets go on sale at 9:30 AM, but the tours don't start until later in the morning. We skipped breakfast, got there around 9:00 to buy the tour tickets, then enjoyed the local cafes until tour started. For us it maximized our time without being rushed.”
“With the museum pass you do not generally wait to get in the d’Orsay, there is a special entrance. I don't think there is anything you can do to minimize the wait at the Catacombs since it's not on the pass. I used to think that getting up early and standing in line before something opened was the best way to do something like that but then you are spending the extra 1/2 hour AND waiting an hour, I'm sure our wait in the afternoon was less than that. They are open later than a lot of Paris' attractions though, I think I would go at the end of the day and then I wouldn't be thinking what I could be doing with that hour that I'm standing there.”
“If you have the Museum Pass, you go to Entrance C, which is to the far right of the admission line. Everyone must go through a short Security check, then you're inside. The Catacombes has become so wildly popular that there really is no use trying to advise you when to arrive. There are numerous guided tours, bus tours...and since only 200 people are allowed inside at any one time, there's no way to judge when your turn will come up. If you're coming during the hot summer months, you should get there at least 45 minutes before it opens, when it will be much cooler. No sense in standing around sweating the rest of the day. “The only concern I have is that you have "several" days in Paris and have a museum Pass. Paris has some excellent museums and galleries, but there is a whole city outside looking to be explored: markets to be visited, interesting little shops to browse, interesting people to watch, and an atmosphere to be soaked up. As short as your visit may be, it would be a shame to spend it all in a series of museums.”
“The Catacombs are a Paris City museum so are not covered by the pass you mention.”
Does the Paris Museum pass have to be used in consecutive days or can it be spread out over a few weeks?
While it sounds like fun to see every single museum in Paris, is it, really? Consecutive days of museum going can really get on your nerves. Here’s what our members think:
“That's a good question. It says they have them for 2, 4, and 6 days, but it doesn't say if they have to be consecutive or not. There is a contact button, on their website. I would contact them, and ask them.”
"No, as soon as you write the starting date on the back of your PARIS MUSEUM PASS, it is activated and starts running for the purchased amount of consecutive days: 2, 4, or 6."
“That's correct, you write the starting date when you purchase it and it's good for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive calendar days (not 24 hour periods like some other passes). You can buy them in advance though, it's not activated until you use it the 1st time.”
“I have bought a Paris Museum Pass twice in recent years.
In 2008 it saved me some time (because I didn’t have to wait in long lines to get in) but not money (since I only went to one or two museums each day).”
In 2012 it saved me both time and money, since I happened to be there in a rainy week so I went to more museums than usual.
But before you buy the Museum Pass, think about how many museums you are realistically going to visit in 2, 4 or 6 days. Lately I have just been buying advance tickets to the Louvre or d’Orsay. These also allow you to skip the lines and are cheaper than a Museum Pass.”
“I agree. I would only get it to skip the lines. That what Rick Steves suggested, but if you are only going to visit 1 or 2, it's not worth it. I would visit enough to get my money back, or even save a few bucks.
Rick Steves suggested that as well. People are standing in line to buy tickets, not to get inside. I agree, if it's just lines you want to skip, you can just buy tickets online. However, if you are planning to visit several museums, the museum pass will be a better option for you.”
“Yes, the pass must be used on consecutive days. We used the 6-day version when we were in Paris for a week a couple of years ago, and got the value out of it as we went to enough of the attractions it covered to make it pay off.
One of the nice things about this one (besides line skipping) is that it allows you to stop into your favorites as many times as you wish during the life of the pass. That was a big benefit where the Louvre was concerned; as it's an enormous museum, we were able to do it over multiple visits - some of them in the evenings during late openings - versus try to do it all at once. It also allows you to catch a view of the city from, say, the Arc de Triomphe both during the day and after dark.
There are a couple of places where there is no line skipping (Towers at Notre Dame) or none until after mandatory security checks; after you've gone through screening, then you can skip the line for tickets.”
“Lots of people spend 6 days in Paris, I could easily spend that much time there and if I was bringing someone who had never been I'd probably get the 6 day pass if I was staying that long. It's per day cost decreases significantly and you'd only have to see one more thing per day to make it have some value in either the 4 or 6-day format since it's only 15€ for 2 more days or 30 € for 6 more days. That way you can spread out the attractions over the course of the trip or as Kate says visit the same attractions multiple times like the Louvre or the Arc de Triomphe for 2 different views at different times. There are quite a few spots outside of Paris as well-Versailles, Fontainbleau, etc. if you are doing a trip of the Paris region.
Line skipping is great as well, although not the primary reason I'd get it since you can also time your visits to a non-busy time and not endure lines. Notre Dame and Saint Chappelle are the only two that I remember not being able to use that, Versailles it depends on what the current security line structure is.
Of course, not everyone gets value out of such passes but it's not like some of the other passes (Paris Pass or London Pass for example) that really make you work to get some value out of them. I'm sure my style of travel wouldn't suit a lot of folks but I have gotten one every time I've gone and I have always gotten full value (and more) out of it.”
“The passes are definitely a better deal if able to have more time to use them. Line skipping is very nice but not the primary reason to buy them as some attractions have no queues, short/fast queues or those which can be gotten around by other methods. And we had no problem finding plenty to do in Paris for a week; will likely be back for another week next year to do/see some of the many things we weren't able to squeeze in last time!”
“We're going for a month this spring and looking forward to it. I know we'll have plenty to do. Six days isn't enough to touch the surface. We took our daughters for 9 days once and were frustrated at the number of things we didn't have time to show them . . . and we did manage to exhaust both.
The only place we've had to deal with a line is the d'Orsay and there is probably a way around that without buying a pass. Use any entrance except the one at the famous pyramid when you visit the Louvre. We've seen lines waiting at the pyramid that look hours long and we walked right in another entrance. I'm not sure what the attraction is at the pyramid. You can go out that way if you want to see it.
The web site for the pass gives you links to all the attractions so it's easy to compare prices. Only you know how many museums you can handle in a day. If it's raining, they are a wonderful escape.”
“The entrances at the Louvre have been changing recently, so it would be wise to check their website first. When Eddy and I were there last October, we had advance tickets (from the fnac store) so we could use the priority entrance, which to our surprise was at the Pyramid, to the left of the endless line for people without tickets.
The Galerie du Carrousel entrance had a long, slow line.
The Passage Richelieu entrance, which I always liked to use in the past, is now reserved for groups with reservations and for people with member passes. The Porte des Lions entrance is open only sporadically – on the Louvre website it doesn’t even give any hours.”
“P.S. If for some reason I didn’t have an advance ticket I think I would try my luck at the Galerie du Carrousel entrance. At least it’s indoors, so you don’t have to stand around in the rain for an hour.”
“It says on the Louvre web site "Porte des Lions entrance: open on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Opening hours: please contact us at +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17 (except Tuesday)." While you are supposed to contact them for exact times, we've found them open during the busiest hours so perhaps they are used as a back-up when the other entrances are crowded. Oddly, they've always been open when we walked up. You do have to avoid Wednesday and Friday through.
The Passage Richelieu entrance was for members the only time we tried it way back in the 1990s so I haven't even tried it since. I suspect they change things occasionally just to try some control over the lines.
The Carousel entrances are usually good. The hang-up is always the security check but it is necessary. Once past security, the ticket lines move quickly.
I hadn't thought of getting the tickets at FNAC but that's a great idea.”
Paris museum pass or Paris city pass
Remember that there’s a Paris Museum Pass and a Paris City Pass. To figure out which one is for you, have a look at these answers:
Hello again! For a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 kids 10,15 years old at the time of travel, what would be the most economical and practical thing to do: buy the Paris museum pass or the Paris city pass? We plan on going only to the major tourist museums and architectures included in the pass (we only have 7 days total in Paris including day trips ) so I think our time will only allow us to see a limited amount of museums. I know louvre, Musée d orsay are major ones? Anything else you can suggest we visit? Also in comparison to buying tickets for that particular museum compared to buying the pass, is it worth the cost? I know the city pass includes transportation but is it also worth it compared to buying the carnets? Thanks so much again! At this point with your suggestions, I am having a clear picture of how we're gonna spend our days in Paris!
“From your description, I don't think any of the passes would be worthwhile, but if you have a spare half hour before your trip you might want to sit down and do the math.
If you aren't going to visit many museums, the museum pass would probably not save you any money. It might save you some queuing time, but you can do that simply by buying advance tickets for the Louvre and d’Orsay. I have never used the city pass, but I believe you would need four of them, one for each person, so that would be very uneconomical. Most people just buy carnets.
I personally use the Vélib' bikes when I am in Paris, but that would not be an option for you because the lower age limit is 14, so your ten-year-old would not be eligible.”
“I agree about the passes. If you cannot walk to attractions (and this of course depends upon your location of accommodation) there are plenty of buses available Cost of a bus trip for adult is 2 euros.
Some museums have what is called a 'Family Ticket' on entrance, which is slightly cheaper
Are you renting an apartment in Paris or staying in Hotel...if so, where?
Also, depending upon which month you are travelling, there are wonderful spots in Paris that are perfect for picnics. Especially on the lawns in front of Eiffel Tower at sunset, wait till darkness and watch the tower light up. It’s awesome. Bread, wine and cheese........all you need!”
“The Paris Pass is simply not worth it. The Paris Museum Pass may be worth it if you are attending enough museums but we've not often been able to make it pay for itself. The 10 and 15-year old will be free in most museums. Up to 18 is nearly always free and often up to 26 so it pays to check the museum web sites. You can find all of them listed on the Paris Museum Pass web site. As mentioned above, you can buy the tickets ahead of time. The web sites will tell you where but FNAC stores will sell them. We use the Lion's Gate or the Metro entrance at the Louvre to avoid lines.
For transportation, you can buy a carnet of ten Metro tickets for 13.70 euros and share them. With four people, you might want to start with two carnets. That may be all you'll need. Ten tickets lasts the two of us a week or more. If you need more, just buy them. Under 10 there is a price reduction, but at age 10, the Metro is full price. It is still a bargain. You can use the tickets on the Metro, RER within the Péripherique, trams, buses and the funicular up to Sacre Coeur. You can share tickets and give them to hotel staff when you leave if you have any left. You can even save them for your next trip because if the price goes up, they still accept the old tickets.”
“Places to visit: Take the kids over to Place Igor Stravinsky by the Pompidou Center. The fountains there are great fun; there will be all kinds of street performers and you'll probably see skateboarders near the church at the end of the fountains.
The Cluny Museum (Musée de Moyen Age) is a favorite with children of all ages. It is small and there is a lovely garden outside. It's one of my favorites in Paris.
If you get tired of museums, there are lots of other things to do.”
“I took my 17 year old niece a couple of years ago, I bought the Paris Museum Pass, she was free at everything we did except the boat ride on the Seine. My reasoning for getting the Museum Pass was that I wanted to show her the highlights of Paris but I didn't want to have to weigh whether it was worth it or not for me to pay the admission. We visited quite a few places, not as in depth as I would have with another adult, and I think for us it was worth it for me to get one. The Louvre was a very short visit, by then she was tired, but I at least got to show her the Mona Lisa and a few other highlights. If I hadn't had the Pass, I might have skipped it. The Orangerie we just stopped to see the famous Monet water lilies, I probably would have skipped that too.”
“Of the things on the Pass I think both the 10 & 15 year old might enjoy would be the towers of Notre Dame, the top of the Arc de Triomphe and Versailles. They might enjoy having a picnic at the Rodin Museum while the adults stroll through and look at the sculptures. There's a science museum on there that might appeal to kids. You can get a 2, 4 or 6 day pass, the cost PER DAY gets less with more days of course.”
“Nobody seems to have mentioned the Musée Carnavalet, which is the best museum to learn about Paris and is FREE.”
“I would suggest either the Conciergerie (next to Sainte Chapelle) or the Musée Rodin. We visited these 2 on our last trip to Paris 2 years ago with our Museum Pass. There were pre-teens and teens in each place.
Also when you are by Notre Dame check out the courtyard of the Hospital (just to the left of Notre Dame as you are looking at it from the front). See what the interns have dressed the statue up as. On our 2 visits they have had it dressed as Snow White and last time Freddy Kruger.”
“Buying the museum pass online isn't cheaper, they will add in the fees to ship it, according to the website a whopping 24€. You can purchase at the 1st place you visit although if that is something big then you lose the time savings. I've bought before at Orly with no line, you can buy at CDG, you can buy at Gare du Nord or you can buy at one of the smaller attractions, we bought ours recently at the Pantheon, no line. Also, FNAC stores and the tourist offices.
I think they may have charged us a slight surcharge at Gare du Nord the one time we purchased there, a euro or two. The passes do not activate until you use it the 1st time so you can buy it on arrival even if you don't plan on using it for a couple of days.”
“We purchased our Museum pass through a vending machine at our hotel.”
“So what sort of payment do these buses take if carnets are not applicable in this area?”
“The tickets look just like the ones in Paris, but they cost more. The costs as far as I know are the same as mentioned above: 3€45 per ticket or 27€60 for a "carnet" of 10 tickets. When you arrive in Paris you can get tickets at the ticket machines (easy to use, with instructions in several languages). Or in a pinch you can get individual tickets from the bus driver, though these are generally more expensive and do not allow any transfers. But as a disclaimer I should add that I have not used these particular bus lines, since I simply got on my bike and rode out there.”
“The big difference that you can see between the tickets is the + on the tickets. With the + is the ticket for metro, bus and RER inside Paris, the one without the + is the "point to point" ticket. The screen captures are not very good but you can see the difference.”
“The web site for the Paris Museum Pass has all the museums. Click at the top on Museums and Monuments to get the list. On each one is the "practical information" like hours and cost.
You should get a carnet of Metro tickets for traveling to your hotel and back at 27.60 euros. Then get a regular carnet for travel within Paris during the day for 13.70 euros. Keep them separate so you don't use the wrong tickets.
Wish you had asked about hotels because there are reasonable hotels in central Paris. With children you won't be out a lot at night anyway on this trip. On the next trip you can stay in the center. It all works out and you should have a great time.”
Paris Catacombs - Sunday in August - Line lengths and available tours
The lines for the museums in Paris can be seriously long. Here, we explore a few tricks for avoiding them or at least, dealing with them.
Hello, I would really love to see the Paris Catacombs on a Sunday in August. I have have been reading that the lineups can be several hours long. I have tried to book a "Skip the Line" tour but I can't have any with availability on a weekend. Does anyone know how long the line will be if we arrive in the morning for the 1000h opening? Does anyone know of any Skip the Line Tours which might have availability?
“They only sell tickets at the ticket office, not online. Might be worth your while to arrive 30/45 mins early instead of waiting in the queue. Whatever you do, there are going to be lots of people in Paris in August. “Try google the Paris tour group called THE LOCALERS. They do not offer tours to the Catacombs everyday but they do skip the line!! They have excellent ratings as well.”
“They don't do these even every week of the month; as I said, only two days out of the entire month of August.”
Paris Museum pass over 1st of May
Figuring out the dates for your Paris Museum pass can be a bit tricky if you want to use them on holidays or weekends. Here, we take a look at when you might not be able to use them.
We will be arriving in Paris on the 29th of April next year and we'll be there until 4 May. We only realised yesterday that 1 May is a holiday and most sites will be closed. The Paris Museum Pass needs to be used consecutively. If we buy a 4/6 day pass on the 29th, does that mean we cannot use it after 1 May as we won't be able to use it the the 1st because most sites are closed?
“Unfortunately, if you start using your 4-day pass on the 29th, it will expire on the 3rd so you'd only have 3 of the 4 days between the 29th - 2nd to use it. If you purchase a 6-day pass, it will carry you from the 29th through the 4th ( would expire on the 5th) but you'd have one day that it wouldn't be of use to you. As stated on the Paris Museum Pass website:
Exceptional closing hours and free admissions (strikes, national holidays, etc.) will neither prolong the duration of the pass, nor entitle the holder to a refund of one or more days."
“I am sure you can use it after 1st May, but as it is a National Holiday the link just mentions that you cannot get a refund for this day.”
“Just to clarify, not using the pass at all on the 1st doesn't cancel it out. The clock just starts ticking from the first day you use it so if that's the 29th, life of a 4-day pass would be the 29th, 30th, 1st and 2nd. A 6-day pass would add the 3rd and 4th. Am I making sense?”
“Quite frankly, I wouldn't bother with the Pass at all. You would have to go at some pace to make it economically worthwhile. You can walk to most sites within the central core and indeed, it is often quicker than using public transport. We were in Paris for a week earlier this year and after we had done our week, I totted up the entry prices of the places we had visited, plus added in the transport costs and it came to less than one third of the price of a Pass. So, perhaps you could do the same - only before you buy the Pass to see if it is worthwhile? Btw, in a week we used the metro twice.”
“Btw, a lot of the museums are closed Monday or Tuesday, which might also affect your planning!”
“Just to note: the Paris Museum Pass doesn't include transport so it's much less expensive - and thus easier to break even on - than those which do include it. Again, you have to do the math but it's not difficult to shift an itinerary around the Monday/Tuesday closings as long as you're aware of those. For instance, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays but the d'Orsay is open (closed Mondays). Taking advantage of later-night openings is also a good way to use the thing if you decide to purchase it.”
“Whichever you buy, 4 or 6 days, the May 1st Labor Day holiday counts as a day in the consecutive order. So, yes, you will lose that day. Museums often close on either a Monday or Tuesday so you need to check that too because you lose that day at that museum . . . yet another reason we usually don't bother with the various passes. It would be cheaper to buy a 6-day pass and lose one day (May 1) than two 2-day passes so if you want a pass, get the 6-day pass. You could also get the 2-day pass and go to the museums that have the longest lines to skip lines. Much is closed on May 1, but it's a fun day. There are people and groups selling bouquets of muguet (lily of the valley) on street corners and the parks are full of happy Parisians enjoying their holiday. We spent most of one beautiful May Day at Parc Monceau and had s great time. You can also check each museum on the pass web site. The Nissim de Camondo Museum and Decorative Arts Museum are listed as open on May 1 if it's not on a Monday or Tuesday. There may be one or two others but none of the major ones. Outdoor activities might be more fun though.”