Sure you can skip the line at a handful of Paris landmarks by simply showing up with a child in a stroller (tell me you shouldn’t take small kids to Paris?!), but here’s an even better trick for making the most of your family’s time and travel budget during your Paris vacation.
First, I want to be sure you’re aware that children under 18 years can now visit any of Paris’s national museums and monuments free of charge with a paid adult (since April 2012, and no, they don’t have to be EU citizens). The list of these qualifying attractions is LONG, and includes the towers of Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, Musee de L’Orangerie, City of Sciences Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versaille, Centre Pompidou, and many others.
Now that you know it won’t cost any extra to bring the kids to these attractions, how would you like to pay one discounted fee for the adults in your party to have entry to all of these same places—and have rights for your whole family to jump the queue in nearly all of them as well? Consider getting yourselves the Paris Museum Pass, available in either 2-day (€39), 4-day(€54), or 6-day (€69) passes, as we did during our last trip to Paris (and on my dime, in case you’re wondering).
What’s even better than the time- and cost-savings, we discovered, particularly for those of us with young children along for the adventure, is that the Paris Museum Pass allows you to return to any and all of these sites as many times as you like during the validity of your pass. Armed with our 6-day passes, I assure you, we took full advantage of this benefit.
To get a better idea of just how many and which specific attractions are covered by this pass, from the modern-day marvels at the French Air and Space Museum to the historic imperial residences such as Chateau de Fontainbleu, take a look at the attractions lists by subject or the geographical map view here if you prefer.
If you’re still uncertain whether or not you’ll get the full value from a Paris Museum Pass Paris, consider this: You can visit the Louvre for just an hour each day if you like—perhaps the hour that coincides with your toddler’s nap. Or if the weather is crummy at the Arc de Triomphe on your first visit, you can return for a better Christmas card photo if there’s a sun break later on in your stay. Not sure it’s “worth it” to pay for a visit to see Sainte-Chappelle with your little ones? It’s already bundled into your pass, along with dozens of other sights worth seeing.
Now, here’s a question that turned out to be more important than we’d expected, so please read on.
What’s the best way to get your hands on the Paris Museum Pass?
Option 1, Most time + most fees: If you plan ahead, you can order your pass online and have it shipped to your home address before you go. If you’re short on time, you can have it delivered to your hotel as long as you’re staying somewhere with a reception desk to receive it, or else you can pick it up at the Paris Tourism office once you get to town. Keep in mind, however, that any of these options require a minimum 4 day’s advance notice before you can get your pass—even if picking it up in person.
Option 2, Less time + 0 fees, but possibly still one long line: However, you can just buy it directly at one of the monuments on your list, or even possibly at the larger rail stations and airports in the city. Really? And pay no delivery fees? Mais oui! So why doesn’t everyone do this? Most people getting the pass don’t want to spend precious vacation time in line waiting at any of these attractions if they can help it, hence the pass. If you’ll be visiting in low season, however, that may not be an issue. But in summer? You might do better with either of these other options.
Option 3, My best advice for readers with babies and toddlers: If you’re visiting Paris with a baby or toddler and a stroller, just head straight to the Louvre and buy your Paris Museum Pass at the “Louvre membership office” in the lower level, just past the Louvre Post Office. We not only jumped the queue to enter the Louvre because we had our stroller with us (one of my favorite Paris-with-kid tricks), but we swiftly strode to the office within to purchase our passes, and we were on our way to the Mona Lisa ahead of the crowd and all before we’d have have made it inside the building if waiting in the regular line.
The Paris Museum Pass compared with the Paris Pass
The Paris Museum Pass gives you entry to more than 60 national museums and monuments where children are free, while the “Paris Pass”is actually a bundle of passes that includes the Paris Museum Pass plus other attractions and activities where children *may* pay a fee, including a Seine River Cruise, a 2-day hop-on hop-off bus pass, visit to the wax museum, the Paris Visite Pass for unlimited local public transportation (from €110 for a 2-day adult pass).
Before you purchase a Paris Pass for your child (from €36 for a 2-day), be sure to consider her age at the time of your visit and whether or not the child Paris Pass will provide a worthwhile savings. For example, the child Paris Pass is available for kids 4 to 11 years, though children under 10 years may actually tour the Palais Garnier Opera for free, and the Grevin Wax Museum in Paris is free for children under 6 years. Children 3 years and younger always ride free on Paris public transportation as well, though children 3 years and older must pay €5 for the Bateaux river cruise.
For parents visiting with teens, the discounted “teen Paris Pass” (from €64) may be a good savings, considering they would have to pay the full adult ticket price at for many of these activities, such the river cruise, Dali Museum, Montparnasse Tower, and just what every teen visiting France should have (your thoughts?): a “wine tasting experience.”
Have you taken advantage of a time-saving pass in travels with your family? Think the Paris Museum Pass or the Paris Pass might be a good fit for your vacation–or not? Share your thoughts and experiences with a comment below.
Related posts and pages:
- Tips for using the Paris Metro with a stroller, if you must
- Tips for using Paris buses with your stroller and young child
- Paris: 5 Best with Kids under 5