Paris Museum Pass: Is It Worth It?

Anyone who has visited Paris can tell you: it’s not necessarily cheap. Many of the big attractions have an entry fee, with the option to spend plenty more on special exhibits, onsite restaurants and all the souvenirs your little heart can handle. Sightseeing in Paris can add up, and when you factor in the cost of transportation, lodging, shopping and food, a short trip to the city has the potential to get a little spendy.

But I’m here to tell you that visiting the city of lights doesn’t have to be expensive. Taking the time to research your options and plan ahead can save you a lot in the long run. When it comes to sightseeing, I recommend looking into the Paris Museum Pass. The pass grants access to over 60 monuments and museums in or close to the city, including Versailles, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe, and can be used as much or as little as you like. Fancy climbing the towers of Notre Dame every morning of your trip? With the Paris Museum Pass, you can!

I wouldn’t mind starting every day with a hike up the towers and this gorgeous view.

But the important question to ask before buying the Paris Museum Pass is, is it worth it? Sure, the pass may grant access to dozens of attractions, but how many will you actually visit? Not all major attractions are included, and I’m sure there are a few spots on your wishlist, like the beautiful Tuileries gardens or the banks of the Seine River, that are absolutely free to visit. So before you go running off to buy the Museum Pass, let’s talk about the different options available, and what’s included.

Paris Museum Pass

The Paris Museum Pass, as mentioned above, gives the user access to over 60 monuments and museums in or close to the city. Popular attractions include the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the chateau and grounds of Versailles and Fontainebleau, the Conciergerie and the Arc de Triomphe, as well as a slew of lesser-known places like the Museum of Decorative Arts or the former home of Auguste Rodin. Click here to see the full list of included attractions.

Confession: The Musee d’Orsay was not originally something we wanted to see! I used the pass purely to go inside and take this picture, and wound up loving the museum so much, we stayed for hours! Using the Paris Museum Pass allows for these serendipitous moments to occur without wondering if it’s worth it and spending cash on yet another entry fee. The pass is a fantastic way to discover places you might not have otherwise seen.

In addition to unlimited entry to those sites, the pass includes a special “fast track” entry at some attractions, most notably the Louvre. That means less time spent in line and more time to get to know the city.

Adult Pricing: 2 Days / 48 €  4 Days / 62 € ◊ 6 Days / 74 €

A small sampling of what the Paris Museum Pass has to offer. Included are operating hours, phone numbers, and even nearby metro lines for easy navigation between monuments.
A closer look at the information contained for each attraction.

Paris Pass

The Paris Pass includes everything in the Paris Museum Pass and then some. Additional monuments include the stunning Paris Opera House and panoramic views at the Montparnasse Tower, as well as the opportunity to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, a sightseeing river cruise, and even a wine tasting experience! In addition to the listed monuments, the pass includes an unlimited transportation card for use on the Metro, RER, Buses, Trams and SNCF for Paris travel zones 1-3, and a detailed guidebook with attraction opening times, directions and a map of the city. Please note that while admission to Versailles is included in the Paris Pass, transportation is not, since it is in Zone 4.

Adult Pricing: 2 Days / 129€  3 Days / 159€  4 Days / 189€  6 Days: 229€

Pricing as of November 28, 2016.

The passes offer an excellent value, assuming that you use them frequently enough. The best way to decide if one of these passes is right for you is simply to list out all the places you are interested in seeing, including the ones not included in the pass. Include things like the Eiffel Tower, which has a separate admission fee, as well as places that are free to visit. They will take time away from your Paris Pass sightseeing, after all! Be realistic about the number of places you will visit in a day. One to three attractions is my recommendation, though you could squeeze in more if you are really ambitious (or have feet of steel). The Paris Pass website lists current pricing for the included attractions, making it easy to figure out what you would spend by buying everything separately.

A sampling of attractions included in the Paris Pass. Not all of these things are included in the Museum Pass, however, so pay close attention when choosing your ticket!

Taking the time to map your trip out, however loosely, will give you a better idea of how much you could potentially save. If it saves you money, go ahead and book your pass! You can choose to buy online and have the pass mailed to you, or buy it in person at any one of the included attractions. Just remember that the pass is only good for a certain number of calendar days, beginning the moment you first use it. If you arrive at 5 PM, don’t waste your 4-day pass on the first evening or it will take one full day off of your card. Find something to do that does not require the pass, like a climb up the Eiffel Tower or a picnic in one of Paris’s many free gardens.

Of course, there are many benefits to the pass aside from saving a little cash. Remember that you will have access to shorter lines at many attractions and you won’t have to queue to buy individual tickets at every single place you visit. Just show your card and breeze on in. It’s easy to be spontaneous when your pass gets you in anytime during operating hours, for as long or as short a visit as you like. Another cool bonus is that you may be able to see lesser-known attractions that were not on the wishlist to begin with!

My Experience

Coming out of the bell tower at Notre Dame with a huge grin.

A couple of months before we arrived in Paris, Dan and I made a list of all the places we were interested in seeing and made a loose timeline for our visit to see how realistic our wishlist was. We priced out the ones we expected to have time for, remembering to factor in spots like the Eiffel Tower that were not already included in the Museum Pass or the Paris Pass. Then it was as simple as comparing our estimated sightseeing cost and number of days against the various pass options. We planned on walking a lot and would not have time for the extra options like the hop-on-hop-off tour, so the Paris Pass was not a good value for us. In the end, it made the most financial sense for us to buy the 4 day Museum Pass and pay for transportation as needed once we arrived.

So what did we see? Here is a quick rundown of the places we saw.

  • INCLUDED IN THE PARIS MUSEUM PASS: the Louvre (12€), the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral (10€), the Musée d’Orsay (12€), Sainte-Chapelle(10€), and Versailles (18€).
  • NOT INCLUDED/SEPARATE COST: the Palais Garnier (included in the Paris Pass but not in the Museum Pass) and taking an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • FREE: the interior of Notre Dame, the Tuileries.

Initially, we wanted to use the Museum Pass to visit the top of the Arc de Triomphe and make quick stops at the Musée Rodin and the Musée de l’Orangerie. We wanted to make the most of a prepaid pass, in other words, but wound up dedicating a lot more of our time to lingering in restaurants, wandering the beautiful city streets, and revisiting favorite spots like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

Less time sightseeing = more time for espresso and croissants!

Even though we missed out on three attractions originally on our wish list, the pass was an excellent value for us. We paid 62€ apiece for our passes, and the total price we would have spent had we paid for the included attractions separately was…62€! We broke even, but considering the ease of visiting each attraction and the fact that we skipped the line and literally walked right into the Louvre with no wait, I feel like the time saved was more valuable than anything we could have paid for.

The regular line for the Louvre wrapped all the way around the square when I visited with my family in 2014! Dan and I were very grateful to breeze on in with our Paris Museum Passes on our most recent trip!

The only negative we found in the pass was that there was no fast track entry at Versailles when we visited. We wasted some time trying to find a special access line, and upon further inspection of our pass, we discovered that the fast track entry may not apply during peak periods. We visited in May. What is the point of a faster line if you can’t use it when it’s busy? Mind-boggling. Aside from that, we were pleased by the convenience and value the pass offered.

Now for the most important question of all. Having used the Paris Museum Pass, would I buy it again? The answer is that I’m not sure. Is it an incredible value? Yes, absolutely. If my next trip includes a lot of sightseeing to places included, like the Congiergerie or the Panthéon, I would be thrilled to buy the Paris Museum Pass again.

If, however, I’m visiting Paris to eat, drink, and soak up the city, without doing a lot of sightseeing, then the pass wouldn’t be a great value for me, would it? In the end, the pass is only valuable if it suits your sightseeing itinerary and style. I 100% recommend at least checking the pass out before a big trip to Paris, and if there are a few attractions included that you were going to visit anyway, then go for it! We loved using it, and for anyone looking to see all the big-name spots (and dozens of smaller ones, too), I consider it a must-have.

Ready to check it out? Click here for the Paris Museum Pass, and here for the pricier but more expansive Paris Pass.

Parisian Glitz & Glamour at the Palais Garnier

Imagine a place steeped in Parisian history, the former playground of kings and noblemen and the home of stunning frescoes and architecture. I’ll bet you thought of the Château de Versailles, the famed royal residence of King Louis XIV and later Marie Antoinette.

While Versailles is worth a trip out of Paris any day, this French gem is located right in the heart of Paris. The Palais Garnier, or Opera Garnier, gives the ninth arrondissement its name, and is located just a smidge outside of the centrally-located second arrondissement. Designed to be the crown jewel at the end of the Avenue de l’Opéra, the Opera Garnier is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Continue reading “Parisian Glitz & Glamour at the Palais Garnier”

Hotel Ibis Styles Paris CDG: The Perfect Airport Hotel

I used to be very against airport hotels. After shelling out all that money to visit a given destination, I never understood why anyone would want to spend their final night of vacation in a bland hotel away from all the action. When I visited Los Angeles, for example, I wanted to be close to restaurants and big sightseeing attractions, rather than cooped up in the boring strip of big-name airport hotels near LAX. Why waste that last evening rotting away and wishing to be somewhere else? Continue reading “Hotel Ibis Styles Paris CDG: The Perfect Airport Hotel”

Rome Day 3

First-time visitors to Rome usually have one common goal: to see the Colosseum. The epic monument is recognized across the world; the place of ancient bloody battles and screaming crowds of spectators. Think of it as the original sports stadium.

Dan and I visited the Colosseum on our third and final full day in Rome. We’d visited many of the other “must-sees” on our first day in the city, and we had saved the best for last. Continue reading “Rome Day 3”

Rome Day 2

Well, I suppose it was inevitable to have a few bad hours at some point during our European adventure. That moment came near the end of our two week trip, on the day we were suppose to visit the Vatican City.

We woke up early that day and picked up pastries and espresso on our walk to St. Peter’s Square. The sun was shining, we got our first glimpse of the River Tiber and its many gorgeous bridges, and we hadn’t gained a single pound despite two weeks of nonstop gorging. What could go wrong? Continue reading “Rome Day 2”

Rome Day 1

When I think back on our time in Rome, I remember the warm weather, the colorful buildings, the dark cobbled streets, and the happiness I felt at being there with Dan.

On our first night in Rome, however, we were feeling a bit jaded and less than charmed by the city. It probably didn’t help that we had just flown in from Paris, where we had spent the last five days being swept off our feet. Not wanting to repeat the dreadful experience of dragging our luggage through trains and along tiny streets, we opted to take a cab from the airport directly to our hotel near Piazza Navona. The cab ride took us past some pretty seedy-looking areas, with graffiti covering crumbling walls and what essentially looked like a series of American strip malls. It was not the glorious, brightly lit Rome I’d coveted in other people’s vacation photos, and I started to wonder if we should have just spent our last vacation days in Paris after all. Continue reading “Rome Day 1”

Rome: First Impressions of the Eternal City

In the interest of moving things along, I wanted to go ahead and share how Dan and I spent the final leg of our Euro Trip in Rome. There will be three more posts in this series, one for each day, and then it’s back to our regularly-scheduled programming. Lord knows I’m not done writing about Paris or sharing the hundreds of photos we took while abroad!

When Dan and I first began planning our spring trip to France, we knew we wanted to tack on a quick visit to Italy. Neither of us had been to the country before, but we were drawn to the beautiful scenery, the rich history, and the idea of eating real Italian food. Our initial wish list included stops in Rome, Venice and Capri, but in the end, we only had the time and budget to visit one of our top picks. Continue reading “Rome: First Impressions of the Eternal City”

The Beauty of Notre Dame de Paris

August 2014: The wind whipped through our hair as we emerged onto the first level of Notre Dame Cathedral, stinging our eyes and soothing our overworked bodies. The climb to the Chimera Gallery, the walkway connecting the two towers of the cathedral, had left us hot, sweaty and gasping for air. And as we stepped out onto the walkway, hair flying everywhere and partially obscuring our view over the city of Paris, it was all worth it. Continue reading “The Beauty of Notre Dame de Paris”

A Romantic Evening on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches

When Dan and I booked our tickets to Paris, I immediately set to work planning activities that would make the most of our romantic getaway. It wasn’t hard. After all, I’d been daydreaming of this trip for years…long before I even met Dan! We’d have champagne beneath the Eiffel Tower, catch the sunset on the Seine, go for leisurely strolls in the rain…and while we did all of that and more, the thing that made the biggest impression was our evening cruising the Seine on the Bateaux Mouches dinner cruise. Continue reading “A Romantic Evening on the Seine with Bateaux Mouches”

Perplexed in Paris: Impressions of a First Time Airbnb User

Before you begin, now is a good time to grab a glass of wine and get comfortable. This post details my first time using Airbnb, and I have plenty to say, both good and bad.

Paris, it has been said, is not a cheap city to visit. I happen to disagree with that statement. As long as you keep the big-ticket sightseeing and fancy dinners to a minimum, Paris can actually be very affordable. A picnic at the Tuileries, a stroll through Notre Dame, sandwiches eaten along the Seine… Continue reading “Perplexed in Paris: Impressions of a First Time Airbnb User”