Many European cities offer official museum passes, which package admission fees in addition to transit options, discounts, or queue-cutting access. These attractive cities include Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Firenze, and Istanbul, among others. The Paris Museum Pass is one that happens to be of value to me due to my trip duration and penchant for seeking culture.

The Paris Museum Pass includes approximately 60 attractions. While priced for two (€42), four (€56), and six days (€69), the most expensive version is the one that makes the most sense. You could argue for buying the two- or four-day versions, depending on your time value for waiting in catastrophically long lines, such as at the Musée du Louvre.

During the summer, the line at the Musée du Louvre can look like this. Notice how the line actually starts in the lower right-hand corner of the image and snakes around to a square mass on the left, where it files down to a final horrendous queue. The Museum Pass skips past all of that!

 

This time being November, the waits for popular attractions are much shorter than during peak months. Still, the lines at Musée Picasso, Sainte-Chapelle, and for the upper decks of Notre-Dame de Paris (the ground floor was free of cost and fuss, as are most Parisian religious edifices) were lengthy enough for me to skip them with sadness. The queue-cutting privileges of the Pass are not valid at all museums. Special exhibitions and audioguides (not a fan) incur the normal extra expense.

 

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The Pass is actually this booklet that folds out into a handy map with the included attractions marked. Activation entailed getting the Pass stamped at the first museum. The six days is not for a full 72 hours so one may derive more value by using the Pass as early in the day as possible. Notice the bar code at the bottom. I would have thought this Pass would be scanned, but the agent would almost always take only a quick glance before admitting you.

 

How much did I save with the Museum Pass? Here is my tally (in order) during my six days’ worth:

  • Musée d’Orsay – regular price €11
  • Musée de l’Orangerie- €9
  • Musée du Louvre – €12
  • Arc de Triomphe – €9.5
  • Centre Georges Pompidou – €13
  • Château de Versailles et the Trianons – €18
  • Musée Rodin – €7.3
  • Musée de l’Armée – €9.5
  • Musée du quai Branly – €10.6.

The total retail cost of these museums that I would have visited anyway is €99.9. I saved €30.9 and several minutes in queue.

Another practical feature is the ability to wander in and out of a given museum, which one could not do with an ordinary ticket. Although I did not take advantage of this freedom, the first three museums I visited would definitely merit this consideration.