Paris is one of those cities where a museum and/or transit pass can make a big difference in your experience. Depending on the one you get and what you are after, it can either be a good value or more expensive than you need. For many people, getting a transit pass and then the Paris Museum Pass is going to be the best value. I’ve included all the information so that you can determine the best value for your own needs.
Why a pass?
The biggest advantage for any of the passes is that you won’t have to stand in line to buy tickets for any museums covered by the passes. Keep in mind that this “skip the line” option still means you have to use the security line, which can be pretty long depending on how efficient that location handles security (or the latest security measures).
Let’s look at price. I went through and grabbed several of the prices for museums. Most cost between 7 and 15 Euros. That means that if you are getting a 2 day Paris Museum Pass for 48 Euros, you’ll need to see at least 2 museums a day to make up the price of the pass. For example, if you go to the Louvre (€15) and Musée Rodin (€10) on one day and then Musée d’Orsay (€12) and Centre Pompidou (€13) the next day, you’d be spending €50 on tickets. That makes the €48 for the 2 day pass a good value. But if instead you went to cheaper museums like Musée de Cluny (€8), l’Orangerie (€9), Panthéon (€8.5), and the Conciergerie (€8.5) that’s only €34 in tickets and the 2 day pass looks over valued if you are looking strictly at the prices. Combining all of these into a single 4 day itinerary and you’d be at €84 in tickets vs €62 for the 4 day pass.
Freedom is a big part of a pass. Maybe you get into the Pompidou and you realize you’re just not that into modern art. Maybe you’re right next to the Montmartre museum and it starts pouring on your way up to Sacre Coeur. And maybe you’re in need of a public toilet when there’s none to be found except in that museum across the street. If the security line is short enough, just pop in and check out the museum.
And of course skipping the ticket line is priceless.
The chart at the bottom of this post has a list of all the prices, links and differences for as many passes as I could find.
For starters, all passes (except one) include the basic Paris Museum Pass (but not for all of the days for all of the passes). Buying just the Paris Museum Pass on its own is easy and may be just what you need.
Do you want to get on one of those buses (often double decker) that go around the city and you can hop on and off it at various sights? You can either buy a pass that includes that or buy it a la carte (the hop on/off bus tours run in the 30-40 Euro range per day). Or do what we did and just use the city buses to tour the city (free with our transit pass and we didn’t have to listen to a canned sight seeing recording that no one can quite understand).
Do you want to take a cruise on the Seine? You can either buy a pass that includes a cruise or buy it a la carte (some range in the 15 Euro range).
Need a transit pass? The Paris Visite included in many of the passes is not what you should use for price comparison since it’s not a very good value a la carte. I’ve written a separate post of the different transit options here: Paris Transit Passes & Tickets. For comparison, if you plan to use a lot of transit, the Mobilis or Navigo passes are your best choice depending on the number of days you are in town. If you’re planning to walk almost everywhere (which can be done by fit people with plenty of time) or you plan to take taxis, then this is a waste of your money.
Let’s see where we stand for a 2 day pass: Paris Museum Pass (€48) + 2 1 day Mobilis passes (€14.60 ) + river cruise (€15) + hop on/off bus (€35) = €112. That would make the a la carte method cheaper than most except for the Passlib’.
And for a 6 day pass: Paris Museum Pass (€74) + 6 1 day Mobilis passes (€37.80) + river cruise (€15) + hop on/off bus (€35) = €161.80. That would make the a la carte method cheaper than most except for the 5 day Passlib’ (which only includes a 4 day museum pass.)
If you don’t plan to do the hop on/off bus, then a la carte is the clear winner.
If you can match up your stay with the Mon-Sun calendar week, you save even more with the €22.15 weekly Navigo.
And what exactly is all the extra money with the Paris Pass getting you? The extras include a wine tasting, the Grevin Wax Museum, Montparnasse Tower, the Paris Aquarium and a few others. I wouldn’t say none of these are on the a-list for most tourists, but ask yourself if they add up to roughly €75 for a 6 day pass? If you check the 50+ list of museums for the Paris Museum Pass and you don’t see enough to do in those 6 days, maybe the Paris Pass is worth it for you. I know many people don’t end up seeing anywhere close to everything they want to see in one visit. Having time for people watching, strolling the streets, restaurant meals and relaxation (this is a vacation, right?) will make your visit more memorable.
(Scroll to the right to see more detail about what is included for each pass)
Please note that some prices are dollars and some are euros (although the exchange rate makes them very similar these days). Sometimes you may find sales, especially on the Paris Pass. All prices are for adults that do not live in the EU. Teen and child rates are much reduced (although many museums have free entrance for youth). Senior, handicap or financial hardship rates only apply for European and/or Parisian residents with the proper identification and paperwork.
Some passes will allow for delivery to the United States or a hotel in Paris for a fee. All allow for picking up passes at a particular location. Some still charge for pre-ordering and picking up the pass. However the Tourist Info counters in most concourses at the airport and other locations throughout the city have at least some of these passes. The Paris Museum Pass is available at most museums that are covered by it (but not necessarily the smaller ones.)
Note that the Eiffel Tower is not included in any of the passes, unless you get an add on. Also most churches don’t charge, so the passes don’t include them either (however the Notre Dame Archeological Crypt is included with the museum pass, but isn’t the actual church.)