Update Sept 2013- Now more than ever the Paris Museum Pass is an excellent value. It will save you money if you are planning to see the major sights but more importantly it will save you a lot of time waiting in line. In places like the Louvre that can be significant. Please see my photo. The Notre Dame tower didn't allow you to go to the front of the line though. With the higher prices for museums and the infinitely longer lines now, this pass was a good investment.
The Paris Museum Pass offers free or reduced price access to more museums, chateaus and sights to see than you will possibly see in a few days visit to Paris! In the end the card pays for itself if you end up seeing a lot of places. You get to skip the lines, which at most museums wasn't significant, but at some places like the Louvre it was great. That said, if you are planning to visit Paris and only see a couple of museums or sights its not really worth it.
**Please note, the Pass allows you access to most of the best sights in the city, but some are not included, make sure to check the website carefully.***
The card allowed unlimited access to transportation and more than paid for itself over the time of my visit. It may/may not save you a huge amount of money, but the time saved will be good.
special exhibitions are not included. permanent exhibitions only
check which sights are included. Some major sites like the Eiffel Tower are not included.
Please note, their website doesn't seem to be working well. You can buy the card at any participating museum, metro station and plenty of other places around the city.
(work in progress)
I love Paris. However, Paris is quite expensive and my money goes away faster than it should. Here are a few tips for spending somewhat frugally in Paris.
Hotels- Select a two star hotel in a good location. In busy seasons the difference in price will be significant. You can find good hotels for 95-125 a night without getting too spartan.
1. you can forget about coming into Paris on the train if you have any significant amount of baggage. There are no elevators in the rail stations and you will be schlepping your stuff up and down and along long corridors. some things are just not worth a few dollars savings. take a shuttle or a cab instead.
1. Look for the menus of the day. You can find some pretty good deals for 10 euro. these do not usually include any drinks, just go for the water and you should be fine. Dinner will usually cost 15 euros and up, so take advantage of specials and menus
2. drinks- drinks are outrageously priced in paris. think of it this way, a small can of coke is 2 euro at the cheapest, mark that up depending on the neighborhood you are in.
3. breakfast- you will see most cafes will offer petit dejouner, it usually costs 7 euros and up.
hotel breakfasts range from 7-15 euros. Mcdonalds in paris will give you breakfast for 5 euro (drink, breakfast sandwich and fruit) which is a good deal.
4. A emporter- means to go. here you can get a standard ham and cheese baguette for like 3 euro. You can also get crepes, which run from anywhere from 2 to 7 euro, depending on what you have on them.
The Paris Museum Pass is a good deal only if you plan on seeing a lot of sights. However, if you plan to see the Louvre, Orsay, St Chapelle and a few others in a two day period, the card pays for itself. The best part of the card is that you get to skip the lines at a lot of places (not the notre dame towers) and in places like the Louvre that will save you at least an hour or more depending on what time of day you are there.
If you want to do the Paris thing and sit at a cafe and watch the world go by, or watch all the other tired tourists walking by, know that you will pay for the privilege of having a view. It will be cheaper if you stand at the bar.
coffee- most americans drink what the french call Cafe au lait, a cup of which will cost you between 3.50 and 4.50 euro at most places.
if you can handle it, the french call cafe (espresso) is much cheaper.
well most have been said about the passes, I have never use it, and would say that if you plan to see at least 3 it s ok otherwise dont bother with it
The passes are good for 2 days 4 and 6. with access to about 60 different museums and monuments.for 39€ , 54€ and 69€;
you can buy it at the main site paris museums or any museum that participates in the program of the office of tourism of Paris or the airports Roissy CDG terminals 1, 2C,2D,2E,and 2F or at Orly terminals ouest and Sud, or the stores FNAC at champs-elysees, Saint Lazare(passage du havre), TErnes and Forum les Halles.
this is the official webpage
Fondest memory: walking and seeing the beauty of Paris ,one never gets tired of it.
ATMs are easy to find in Paris, there is at least one at CDG and they are scattered all throughout Paris.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Paris, they bring a little machine to your table in most restaurants. American cards still have a swipe strip instead of a chip like European cards but most places can still process the strip cards, I only had to explain that to one clerk at an Ibis hotel outside Paris. The place I seem to have trouble using them is at metro stations, my card has worked at some stations but not in others.
Cash is, of course, accepted everywhere, the currency used is the Euro although prices can still be quoted in the old currency of francs, I only saw that once in September 2011.
Favorite thing: Parisians seem to use credit cards to pay for almost everything so many places do not have enough notes to give you the change if you want to pay with notes of big denominations despite the amount you may have incurred. My Parisian friend tells me she doesn't normally see notes bigger than 20 Euro. From my experience, it is possible to get notes of big denominations changed at the Post Office. You have to buy something there (in my case, I had a 500 Euro note and I bought Xmas cards that cost 6 Euro) and the person in charge will change it for you without a blink.
Hotels on the left bank are generally about 1/3 more expensive than on the right bank. And another point, the hotel prices in france are totally monitored by season. They change all the time. If you want to cheapest possible stay in paris try august. This is the month the Parisians leave the city and hotels are in their crisis period.
I found one amazing hotel on the right bank that has really great prices which is www.paristaylorhotel.com it is only about 20 min away from the Eiffel tower and one can walk to Notre Dame, but being on the other side is much much cheaper. It is a little secret though and known mainly to the initiated. ;-)
Fondest memory: Walking through the streets of paris in spring or summer and admiring the amazing architecture. This city is just amazing - one can't get enought of it!!!
I have used this service last year in France and was very satisfied with it. You pay only for the calls you make and they will bill you later. I talked to the owner of the company several times before I left (he is French but based in New York) and everything went very smoothly. I even bought an inexpensive cell phone from them for $20 but you won't need to buy a phone since you already have your own.
Check them out at:
I intend to use their services again when I go back to France next year.
There are 2 passes that cover 2 theatre chains:
Le Pass - This is the movie pass for the Pathé/Gaumont theatre chain which costs about 20€/month.
UGC Illimité Pass - Covers all the UGC theaters which costs about 18€/month.
Since movies cost about 8.50€ each then the pass is paid for in 3 visits. Sweet deal!
I've heard that there is some buzz about the passes only being for Parisians. I wouldn't worry too much about it being only for the locals. How would the sales people know if you live there or not? I've heard similar murmurings about the coupon jaune, the weekly & monthly metro passes, but I've never had a problem purchasing them.
Fondest memory: If you're a real movie buff, take David Sedaris' advice like I did and take a bit of time to watch some films while in Paris!
Photos: February 2006
If you're worried about the tipping, please be advised that the rule of thumb for tipping the chambermaid is to leave 1€-2€/day at the hotel which may be given each day or as a lump sum at the end of the stay. Some feel that tipping each day ensures excellent service such as clean, fresh towels or extra shower gel & soap. I usually, though, just leave the sum at the end of the trip on my pillow or on the desk.
Even this trip, staying at a budget hotel that was only 41€/night, I made sure to leave 2€/day.
Photo: March 2001
Paris Bargains / Alexander Lobrano
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - 127 ave des Champs Elysees free info on maps, events/exhibition and advice.
Cirrus ATM card from home, no commission.
Change traveler's checks or cash with no fee:
Comptoir de Change Saint-Germain - 30 rue Gregoire de Tours, 6th arr., Metro: Odeon
Comptoir de Change Opera - 9 rue Scribe, 9th arr., Metro: Opera
Kayser - 8 rue Monge, 5th arr., Metro: Maubert-Mutualite
Jean-Luc Poujauran - 20 rue Jean Nicot, 7th arr., Metro: La Tour-Maubourg
Le Moulin de la Vierge - 105 rue Vercingetorix, 14th arr., Metro: Pernety or Plaisance
Andre Cleret - 11 rue Jean Lantier, 1st arr., Metro: Chatelet
Gosselin - 125 rue Saint-Honore, 1st arr., Metro: Louvre-Rivoli
Julien - 73 ave. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 8th arr., Metro: Saint-Philippe-du-Roule
Blondeau - 24 rue des Abbesses, 18th arr., Metro: Abbesses
Marche Belleville, Tue & Frid 7 am-1 pm - blvd. de Belleville, 20th arr., Metro: Belleville
Marche d'Aligre - place d'Aligre, 12th arr., Metro: Ledru Rollin- Mon to Sat 8 am-3:30 pm & 5:30-8:30 pm
Marche Maubert - 5th arr., Metro: Maubert-Mutualite - Tue, Thu & Sat 8 am-noon;
2nd branch - daily from 9 am-1 pm & 4 pm -7 pm - 1st arr., Metro: Les Halles
Get tickets at any of the stops or any Metro station.
Le P'tit Gavroche - Marais - 15 rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, 4th arr., Metro: Hotel-de-Ville
Le Petit Keller - Bastille - 13 bis, rue Keller, 11th arr., Metro: Bastille
Chez Max - Chatelet-Les Halles - 47 rue Saint-Honore, 1st arr., Metro: Les Halles
Chartier in Montmartre - 7 rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 9th arr., Metro: Montmartre
Chez Germaine - Faubourg-Saint-Germain - 30 rue Pierre Leroux, 7th arr., Metro: La Tour-Maubourg
Sold at tabac (tobacco) shops and post offices,
Fondest memory: Department store finds
good bets for inexpensive wines, as are the supermarket chains. One caveat: avoid the dirt-cheap "La Petite Villageoise"
budget traveler's best ami. Shop for a picnic, buy postcards cheaper here than elsewhere),hunt for real-life French souvenirs. A bar of scented Mont Saint Michel soap goes for only 8F ($1.10), for example, while high-quality Bourjois makeup - made in the same factory that produces Chanel cosmetics - goes for vastly less than designer counterparts (a lipstick runs 29F/$3.95). Most Monoprixs also stock souvenirs like scarves, Paris-labeled T-shirts (both 39F/$5.30), and tote bags (59F/$8), and for 12F ($1.65) you can pick up "Le Petit Camembert" cheese that will drive gourmet friends back home into ecstasy or a bottle of Corbieres red wine for only 14F ($1.90). Strategically located branches on the Right Bank: 21 avenue de l'Opera (1st arr., Metro: Palais Royal) and 52 rue la Fontaine (9th arr.; Metro: Pigalle); on the Left Bank: 50 rue de Rennes (6th arr., Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Pres) and 15 rue de la Convention (15th arr., Metro: Convention).
You can find fine table wines for $2 a bottle and less all over Paris. The Nicolas chain of wine stores carries a special selection of vins du pays (country wines) under the heading of "Les Petites Recoltes," ranging from a pleasant Syrah from the Ardeche for 14F ($1.80) to easy-drinking whites from Gascony for 12F ($1.55). The most central of Nicolas' 70 stores on the Left Bank: 189 rue Saint-Honore (1st arr.), 35 rue Rambuteau (4th arr.); on the Right Bank, 31 place de la Madeleine (8th arr.), 5 rue Monge (5th arr.), 13 rue de Buci (6th arr.), and 34 avenue Bosquet (7th arr.)
There are two main visitor passes to the various attractions and monuments of Paris. Both offer the convenience of skipping the lines at the ticket office. Neither include free access to the Eiffel Tower. Buy in advance and validate and date from the first use. Neither will gain entrance to temporary or special exhibitions. Check the closing days, most attractions are closed on either Monday or Tuesday. Passes are only good for consecutive days.
Gives access to most top sights of Paris plus has a transport pass for the Metro, busses and RER in zones 1 - 3. In addition, you can also take a tour on one of the open top busses or a Bateaux Parisienne cruise. You can get the pass for 2, 4 or 6 days, adult or child prices. 2 day adult pass is 79 euro and while that seems a bit high, remember that the transportation is included. You can make unlimited visits but you can only make one entrance per day (i.e. can't enter and leave in the morning and go back again in the afternoon but you can go back the next day)
Paris museum pass
Covers most major museums and monuments and the outlying areas including Fontainbleu. Many attractions included here are also included in the Paris Pass but there is no transportation included of any kind. It might be a good idea to buy the less expensive museum pass and buy a carnet of 10 tickets, depending on how much you plan to do. It's only really worth while if you visit two major attractions per day. Most places average 7 euros per adult ticket A two day pass is 30 euros and you can get 2, 4 or 6 day passes. You can make unlimited visits so you can take several days to "do" the Louvre. Buy them at any museum or tourist information centre. There isn't a child version of the pass but children quite often are admitted free to some of the monuments and museums.
Fondest memory: Museumpass.com offers these two passes that may or may not be a bit of a discount with your exchange rate (but there will be a fee to ship it to you). The advantage here is that this site has a few more flexible versions such as a teen version of the Paris Pass and also offers some passes just for transport, one for the bus tour and cruises, and they offer packages and day tours.
The other very useful pass is called the Carte Orange. This is usually not offered to tourists but most websites say you shouldn't have any trouble buying one at a local RATP agent, Metro or RER station in Paris. You can't buy it ahead of time and it's good for one week, Sunday through Saturday only. You can't start it for any consecutive 7 days. You can also get the pass good for one calendar month. The passes are sold for zones, and zones 1 and 2 are the main central Paris zones. You need a small passport size photo. Current 2007 prices for one week: 16 euro. Compare that to the 3 day Paris Visite card and it's still cheaper. It might be worth buying a one week pass even if you aren't using it for the full week. More information about the pass here. The RATP site is mainly in French
Another transport-only pass is the Paris Visite card. This is what you want if you're visiting for a shorter period or for non-Sunday to Monday weeks. You can get the card for 1, 2, 3, and 5 days, adult and child passes available. Adult prices are (euros) 8.50, 13.95, 18.60 and 27.20 respectively for a zone 1-3 card. Day passes are convenient and good for the Metro, bus and local RER trains. For comparisons, a one way trip at full price is 1.40 euro and a carnet of 10 is 10.90 full fare. At 1.40 per ticket, it will take nearly 6 trips to break even so depending on how much time you plan to spend zipping about Paris, the carnet might be your best bet.
Favorite thing: Paris is an extremely expensive city and most of their main attractions charge for admission. Since my friend and I were on an extremely tight budget, we got a one day Museum Pass at a Metro Station. It was not very expensive and it gives you access to many of the top attractions in Paris (including the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe) without having to wait in the large lines. Considering all the places we went into, the card more than paid for itself and we went into places we wouldn't necessarily have gone to otherwise since it wouldn't cost us anything extra.
I have found that a good way to save yourself some money for food on a trip is to buy at the local supermarket (Ed, Supermarche, Monoprix...) and bring it back to your hotel.
You can put drinks in a mini-fridge and save yourself quite a bit of money rather than going to cafes and restaurants for every meal.
The Paris museum pass covers 60 museums and monuments and allows an unlimited number of visits.
It exists in 3 versions : 2 days, 4 days and 6 days (consecutive calendar days)
You can buy it in advance (the valdidity starts when you enter the 1st museum)
It costs 30 € for 2 days, 45 € for 4 days, 60 € for 6 days (to compare : one single museum ticket costs 8 or 9 €)
Even, if you are a moderate museum fan, the pass has the interesting charateristic to allow you to skip the tickets lines (and, for some museums like the Louvre , to use separate entry gates) . This make a huge difference in high season when the queues are important.
Nota : the pass doesn't allow to skip the security check (the only place where it makes a difference is the Sainte Chapelle)
Fondest memory: Most parisian museums are freee under 18 years old, but if the parents have a pass, the acompanying children can use the same line (and skip the tickets line too).
The pass even allows you just to enter a museum to use the (generally very clean) toilets (even if you don't visit it)).
You can buy your pass in the museums (chose a small one with next to no queue to do this, like the Conciergerie or the Cluny) but also in the Paris tourist office (25 rue des Pyramides), in the shopping mall under the Louvre (Caroussel du Louvre) or in one of the FNAC shops (www.fnac.com).
The cool thing about the museum pass (Carte Musées et Monuments) is not only can you pay one fee & use it to get into many museums & attractions for free BUT you can also bypass the long lines - especially helpful if traveling with anyone under age 18. They get in free already & this way you can also bypass the boredom of youngsters. Personally, when I'm traveling my time is very precious to me so it's worth it spend the money on a museum pass. Also, I love museums & I know I'm going to visit a ton of them while in Paris so I know I'll get my money's worth.
The current 5-day pass costs 62€ or about 21€/day. Considering that many museums now charge on average a 7€ entrance fee than you can see that if you plan to visit 3 or more musuems per day than it is already saving you money. Please remember, too, that this includes small museums (such as the Panthéon, Nôtre Dame's towers, etc.) as well as large museums (like the Louvre or the d'Orsay).
So say you're in the Île de la Cité area. This is a small area with loads of attractions. Maybe you've decided to see Ste-Chapelle, the towers of Nôtre Dame, the Crypte Archeologique & the Conciergerie. All are covered by the museum pass, all will get you in past the line (excluding the security line you'll have to pass through to get inside the courtyard of the Conciergerie & Ste-Chapelle). Already you've saved money!
Keep in mind, too, that the card is in use from the 1st time you get the stamp. So if you get a 5-day card you'll want to cluster your museum visits in that 5-day period in order to get your money's worth. I used their list of all museums & attractions in Paris that accept the Carte Musées et Monuments to decide which attractions I'd see & created my itinerary around that. Usually, I'd do one large museum & 1 or 2 museums in one day & then a cluster of small museums on another day.
Fondest memory: Sample itinerary
Day 1 - 7th
Musée de l'Armee
Musée national de la Legion d'honneur et des ordres de la chevalerie
(all in the same area)
Day 2 - 7th
Musée d'Orsay (morning)
Musée des Egouts de Paris (Sewers)(afternoon)
Day 3 - 3rd/4th
Maison de Victor Hugo
Day 4 - 3rd/4th
Musée des Arts et Metiers
Centre Georges Pompidou
Day 5 - 5th
Musée de l'Institut du Monde Arabe
Musée du Moyen Age, Thermes de Cluny
A lot of the smaller museums can be seen in an hour or 2 (Maison de Victor Hugo, Panthéon) so these itineraries can easily be done. Note also that types of museums are mixed up in order to add some flavor to the day. Who wants to spend the whole day looking only at Modern Art?
Also, please note that you may pick up the card from Métro stations (bought mine at the Métro St. Paul) or from smaller museums.
Photo: August 2005