Paris: How to Visit Museums in Paris

Before Visiting the Museums

Purchasing tickets for museums always seems like a hassle when you first arrive in Paris.  The situation only looks even worst when you see the ENORMOUS line up at the Louvre. However, what a lot of tourist don’t know is that, you have 2 options.

The first option, and probably my favourite is to buy the Carte Louvre Jeunes and then buy individual tickets for most other museums.  This card only costs 15€ if you’re between the ages of 18 to 26 or 30€ for ages 27 to 30.  This gives you unlimited access for one year to the Louvre, but even after using it once you’ve made your money’s worth!  But, most importantly, this card allows you to skip the line.  The downside is that, this card is only sold inside the Louvre so you’ll have to wait in line the first time.  If you have time in Paris definitely pick this option.

The second option which works better for short stays is the Paris Museum Pass.  It comes in 2, 4, and 6 day passes and costs 30€, 45€, and 65€ respectively.  The 2 day pass is already a pretty good deal.  If you go to the Louvre twice you’ve almost made your moneys worth, but you’ll probably do more than that.  At the very least, it’ll cost about the same as getting individual tickets, but you can skip the line with this pass too.  Helps with skipping ticket lines as well in some other locations.  The Paris Museum Pass can be bought at the Airport at the Tourist Information Desk.  So make sure to pick it up before you hop on a taxi or bus.

Now that you know what to do, let’s discuss a few museums.

Le Louvre

Le Louvre was by far my favourite museum.  It has everything you could ever imagine.  Everything from Roman and Greek times, art from the middle ages, statues and paintings, and on Friday nights it’s open late and has concerts playing.  For me I went there about 3 times on 3 separate days.  It’s really HUGE and if you really want to take the time to absorb everything, really take your time.  Inside the museum there are places to sit through out building, so take some time to rest every couple hours.

In the lobby, you have the option to rent a electronic guide.  Almost all the museums have these.  They’re basically headphones with a keypad.  When you go up to a statue or piece of art, on its description there’ll be a number.  Punch in that number and you can hear a recording that explains it to you.  For me it didn’t really make sense to get it since I could read the French. However, it might be something worth investing if you’re really into the art.  Otherwise, I think merely observing the art is good enough.  You can always wiki the names if you’re really interested in the actual history of the piece.

If you want to eat food I have 2 recommendations.  The first option is, if you don’t want to go too far, try the cafeteria in the Richelieu Pavilion.  Make sure it’s the one on the upper levels.  You can eat on the roof top there and get a beautiful view of the outside of the museum.  The second idea is, if you have the Paris Museum Pass, you can simply leave and head south to the quartier latin and grab some food in that area.  There’s much more choice and the food is much cheaper as well.

If you have one day to visit Paris.  I’d say Le Louvre is the only place you should have to visit in Paris! Definitely my favourite site.

Château de Versailles & Eiffel Tower

To enter the castle you’ll of course need a ticket or the Museum Pass.  However, I personally didn’t find the interior all that exciting.  But it’s still a must see.  The really exciting part of this museum is the outside.  The garden in the back is actually free to enter so try to get there early and beat the crowd!  Make sure to take lots of photos, probably one of the nicest if not the nicest garden in all of Paris.

Like Louvre, you can get a electronic guide. So grab that if you’re really interested.  The entire castle will probably take you an hour and a half, assuming certain section aren’t under renovation.  But, definitely try to spend an hour or more in the garden.  It’s just a really nice place to hang out.  Make sure you bring lots of water though.  At most grocery markets in Paris, you can buy a 1.5L of Evian for 80 cents.  Don’t get scammed and buy a 500mL bottle for 2€ or sometimes they’ll charge 5€.

After you’re done with Versailles, take the RER train back to Paris.  Don’t forget you’ll need to purchase a ticket back to Paris, which can be bought for 3,05€ at the station.  Once there, hop on the train and take the train to Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel station. Here you can visit the Eiffel tower on the way back to central Paris.  I’d suggest ordering your ticket online if you can at http://ticket.toureiffel.fr/ and then present the email through your Smartphone or have it printed at your hotel or at print it at a library or internet cafe.  That way you won’t have to wait in line.

Eiffel tower is definitely the best at night.  It’s the must-see situation for this kind of monument! Remember the Paris Museum Pass doesn’t work for this site so make sure to buy the ticket in advance.

Le Panthéon de Paris

You can get into this one with the Museum Pass.  I’ve heard this one isn’t as grand as the one in Rome but still a must see.  It has a pretty cool clock in the middle of the building.  I have a photo of it here.  There’s a podium inside the building that plays a video in English, French, and Germany that explains the history and how it works.  Walking around the first floor is pretty quick, but make sure you take the time to sit down and look up; the ceiling is beautiful.  In the left wing there’s a miniature version of the Pantheon which isn’t too miniature.

After you’re done with the top, head on down to the crypt.  If you’re a fan of famous French people, you’re in for a treat.  The crypt holds tombs for many famous French people.  Like Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.  It’s really dark down there, even with the light, so bring a tripod for your camera if you can.  Even if it is a point and shoot.  It’ll help a lot.

Coming out of the Pantheon, take a seat in front of the building on the steps.  You can get a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.  If you have a long enough zoom lens you can even take a really good photo of it.  But it’s view you’ll rarely see.

Cimetiere du Père Lachaise

This is a must see. It’s a cemetery with a lot more famous dead people than the Pantheon’s crypt.  At the cemetery you can pay money to get a English tour guide.  Definitely do it, because the cemetery is really big.  Not much else to say here but, definitely worth the visit.

Going to Other Museums

Most of the other sites you don’t really need a pass to get the view you want.  Like Arc de Triomphe, my favourite view is from the bridge late at night when all the lights are up. Notre-Dame Cathedral you can get inside for free and there’s a small section you can pay for that a few extra things to see.  You could use your Museum Pass to go up the belfries of the cathedral, but you can’t skip the line at this one.

I did go to a few other museums that I won’t mention but it’s because most of the stuff in other museums can be experience through the Louvre.  Although, if you have time it’s not a bad idea to visit them.  Most of the smaller ones never have lines so no need to worry about going early.  If you want a list of all the other museums you can check the Paris Museum Pass website here.  You can click on museum & monuments and there’ll be a huge list of places to visit.  And it gives enough detail to know where it is.  Just check on the MTR map where the station is and when you exit the station there’s enough signs that’ll help you find your way.

Hopeful this helps whoever reads this! Bon voyage!

Day 8: Versailles, Louvre (Richelieu)

This is a bit late but here’s day 8. Nine and ten are coming soon.

Friday, I set out to head out to Château de Versailles.  But, before heading over there, there were a few things I wanted to get done first.  I needed to get more RAM for my laptop because it was near impossible to edit video.  So, I headed out to Montgallet Metro.  Grabbed a bit to eat along the way.  Ended up eating an awesome panini, filled with chicken and LOTS of cheese.

Montgallet is pretty much the electronic district here in Paris.  It’s small, more or less one street.  If you’re from Toronto, you probably guessed it.  Every SINGLE computer store here is owned by Chinese People! And not only that, they open 7 days a week; unlike every other shop in Paris.  I ended up buying my RAM from Surcouf.  Surcouf is basically like NCIX in Vancouver & Toronto, but much larger.  I checked all the Asian computer stores but they were actually more expensive.  After, I need a screwdriver so I went to Mr. Bricolage, which is their version of a Canadian Tire, but much smaller.

Château de Versailles By around noon I had finished my purchases and set out to le Château de Versailles.  The best way to get there is actually by train, or more commonly known as the RER here.  But, I decided to try to get there by metro and bus.  I made it to the metro station Pont de Sèvres and then took the 171 bus line.  I didn’t realize but my Navigo (metro pass), didn’t work to go to Versailles because it was outside of the zones my Navigo would let me go.  Still, I walked on to the bus.  Yeah, they don’t check at all.  Or rather, they just don’t care.  So, I got to the Versailles without really paying!

I spent about an hour walking around the castle.  Most of the castle at the time I went was under renovation, so quite a few sections were closed off.  But really, if you want to see this kind of art I would simple suggest someone to go to the Louvre.  What was the most exciting thing to see at Versailles was honestly the garden.  You get such a NICE view.  But, what sucked was, I couldn’t get in. Garden at Château de Versailles They ended up closing the garden early for some festival so I couldn’t actually walk around it; such a waste.  I did manage to get a couple shots from inside the castle though.  After walking around the castle I got a bite to eat.  I ended up grabbing something from the castle’s cafeteria.  Every museum in Paris has one nearby, but they’re always ridiculously expensive.  I ended up paying like 9€ for a small brownie and a bottle of Sprite.  After recharging, I decided to take the RER home since it would be much faster.  Since Versailles is outside of Paris, you have to buy a ticket that allows you to re-enter into the city.  Not the t+ but one that says Paris on it.  The t+ tickets is only for within the 6 transit zones in Paris.  I’ll do a transit tips page sometime soon.

Once I was back in Paris, I stopped by Louvre again.  On Friday nights it’s Nocture night.  Basically between 6 to 10pm its free to enter.  You really should only go during this time if its either to get night shots of the museum or to see one of the concerts playing during the night.  Because I went at this time, I missed out on getting to eat on the rooftop of the museum, on the Richelieu Pavilion side.  Still, I walked around and got more shots of the museum!  Just take a look at the photos below.  I did a lot more editing this time to make them POP!  By the time I finished at the Louvre it was about 9pm so I headed home after that.

Halah Pizza - Speed Allo After getting off at my stop, I decided to pop by the local pizza shop near my place.  And man, these pizzas are GOOD! Costs about 8€ for a small pizza but it’s worth it, and in comparison to other places its much more value for the money.  To be honest, its almost always cheaper in the more local areas to eat food.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant or for take out.  Even the bakeries are cheaper in the local areas.  For example, in the tourist areas the average price for half a baguette is like 1 to 1,50€, but near my area its like 40 cents.  There are more local bakeries around the tourist areas but be careful which in streets you wander into.  There are some really sketchy people around the tourist areas in Paris! Like REALLY SKETCHY!

Posts for day 9 and 10 coming soon! Like always enjoy the photos! I put a lot of effort into these ones, hopefully you’ll enjoy them all the same.

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Day 4: Musée du Louvre, 33% Complete

Woke up late today, as usual. I ended up going to Musée du Louvre around noon.  Stood in line for like an hour before I actually got inside.  I read somewhere there’s another entrance that’s not as long but I couldn’t find it for the life of me.  I did however see it from the inside.  It was on the same floor where they sold tickets.

I basically walked around the museum for like 3 hours straight, by the 3rd hour I was so exhausted and honestly it got hard to breathe in there.  Far too many people looking at things, so hard to get a good photo of anything, without someone getting in your way.  What makes it worst is, when someone bumps you they almost never say anything because they aren’t sure what language you speak.  I would say, “Pardon” but I’d always get stares or glares.  But, it only happens so often.  Most people visiting are really friendly.  Met a Brit at the cafeteria named Rob.  He was backpacking across Europe and in Paris for a couple days.

About taking photos as well, honestly, it makes me wish I had someone travelling with me.  It’d be nice to have someone I trust to take photos of me with my camera! I sure as heck ain’t gonna let a random stranger hold my 70-200mm lens.  I did bring a point & shoot ask people to take my photo but I hardly like any of them.  I feel bad after asking the person to take a 2nd or god-forbid a 3rd shot.

Paris Museum Pass Speaking of tickets.  The ticket line ups are ridiculous.  I don’t know why so many people don’t know about this, but there’s a thing in Paris called, “Paris Museum Pass”.  It basically gives you unlimited access to all museums around Paris and they come in 2, 4 or 6 day passes.  Not only that, there’s never a line up to buy them.  They aren’t that expensive, and most of the time they work out to be a lot cheaper than buying individual tickets.  Two day pass is only 30€, 45€ for 4 day, and 65€ for 6 day.  You can find the store that sells it inside the museum.  There are several other locations around the city as well.  Look for the the store in the photo.  I ended up buying the 6 day pass since I have time here.  I’ll make a video a bit later about the passes you should consider when visiting Paris.  Really helpful to know before you come here, so that way you’ll know which option makes the most sense.

Expensive Lunch Really going to Le Louvre really takes up the whole day. But, even still you can’t see it all.  That’s why it’s 33%.  I need to go back on either Wednesday or Friday to see this exhibit they call Noture, and there’s a couple areas I didn’t get a chance to visit.  Also, I wish I ate before going.  Food is ridiculously expensive in there I ate like a small fish with fries, a salad, and a bottle of water, rang up as 15€!  Food outside can be much cheaper.  Like that chicken & cheese crèpe I had yesterday.  I was dying around the 3rd hour I wanted to get out to get some food, but I could get to the exit for the life of me.  I swear I followed the signs that said sortie but it just kept on taking me to another part of the museum! It was like a maze!

Anyway, that’s about the entire day.  Ending off with another blog here.  I’ll try and do more videos but it’s hard to find time to do them.  Here are the photos of the day!

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