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Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

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Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

This is a repost. I originally posted it in the general France forum, where it didn't fit and wasn't much seen.

I'll be arriving in Paris 1st January, and leaving 10th January, with a day trip to Belgium 8th January. So, subtracting travel time, that leaves me 7 full days. I will not be driving, and I'm staying at the St. Christopher Inn on the Canals. So, I have two basic questions. The first is whether the Paris City Pass makes financial sense, given my interest in museums, and how useful the included transit pass is. Does it cover as far outside the city center as my hostel?

The second is about which museums to prioritize, and which to skip. I'm an extremely museum heavy person when I travel, and when I was in London that and shopping was basically all I did. I have a massive list of museums I want to see, but there's too many places on my list for the amount of time I have, and I really need to narrow down the list. I do not speak French, and how navigable these museums are to English speakers is an issue of concern.

To start off, I'm a particularly big fan of history museums, especially medieval history, industrial history, and military history. I also love trains and trams, and anything maritime. I also like history museums that focus on the commoners and their daily lives, as opposed to the aristocracy and fine arts. I'm double majoring in Geography and Urban Planning in university, with a focus on transportation, so museums dedicated to Parisian planning history are also of interest. I'm not fond of museums specifically dedicated to art. I can appreciate art in a historical context, like a maritime museums that has paintings of naval battles, but going to a museum like the Louvre doesn't hold my interest. I also like architecture, though not quite as much as history, and cathedrals and chateauxs aren't my thing (I like domestic, defensive, and local government architecture a lot more, with, besides medieval, a weakness for transportation centers, and the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements.)

On to the list. I'll start with the places I want to visit the most:

Musée de l'histoire de France (I want to go here first, to get my bearings in basic French history.)

Pavillon de l'Arsenal (This seems heavily focused on urban planning, and that's what I study)

Tour Jean-sans-Peur (I hear this is an excellent example of medieval residential French architecture, and covers daily Parisian life during the era)

Musée national de la Marine

Musée de l'Armée

Musée – Librairie du Compagnonnage

Musée du Vin (I'm a wine drinker, and spent two years selling it at a part time job)

Some people here have suggested a visit to the medieval village at Provins, which sounds fun, but it comes down to whether I can afford to dedicate a day to that, and whether there's much activity there the first week of January.

The same applies to the medieval fortress at Blandy-les-Tours. There is a shuttle there on the Saturday I'm in France, so I could go, but it's an all day outing if I do, and I may be crunched for time. Also, my day trip in Belgium is to visit Ghent, and I'll be visiting the castle Gravensteen, so I need to think about whether to dedicate time to another castle. I love castles, so maybe, but it depends on the time available.

The museums I'm less sure of are:

Musée national du Moyen Âge (On the one hand, medieval, but seems super art focused)

Archaeological Crypt of the Paris Notre-Dame

Catacombes de Paris

Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine

Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine

Musée d’histoire de la médecine

Musée de l'érotisme

Musée des Arts et Métiers

Musée des Collections Historiques de la Préfecture de Police

Musée national de la Légion d'Honneur et des Ordres de Chevalerie

Salle des Traditions de la Garde Républicaine

Musée de l'histoire vivante

Can anyone tell me about any of these museums? Like, can any be comfortably skipped (not as good as I'm thinking)? Are any particularly good? Accessible to English speakers?

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1. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

The Paris Museum pass would probably be of value with your interests.

However, the "Paris Pass" is a tourist rip-off. It is nothing more than the Museum Pass, an overpriced metro pass, and a bunch of other miscellaneous passes, tickets, and coupon bundled in an envelope and sold together.

You can acquire what you need cheaper and not be stuck with extra tickets that you will never be able to use for lack of time.

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2. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

Agree with the recommendation for only the Paris Museum Pass. They come in 2, 4 and 6 day passes and you have to use them contiguously. Without looking at actual days, I'd probably go with a 6-day and start it on Jan 2.

Here are some thoughts on some of your museums:

Musee de l'Armee - I am not even a huge military history buff and I wound up spending 5 hours in this museum, mostly in the WWI and WWII galleries. I thought it was wonderful but I wished I had left after a couple of hours, gone out into the fresh air, gotten a meal or a snack and then hit it again. I did exhaust myself there! No real problem as a non-French speaker here.

"Musée national du Moyen Âge (On the one hand, medieval, but seems super art focused)" - The Cluny is one of my favorites. The lower galleries are in the old Roman Baths so the building is of interest as well as it's contents. I don't find it heavy on art altho it does contain the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. It also has some of the original stained glass from Sainte-Chapelle and the original heads off the statues on the front of Notre Dame. (They were lopped off in the Revolution and someone found them buried in a back garden when they were doing some kind of renovations.)

Archaeological Crypt of the Paris Notre-Dame - This one is pretty quick to see - maybe an hour or so, and very interesting. It is one of the harder ones for me as there is not a whole lot of English translation and my French is non-existent, however, you can figure out enough for it to make sense and just seeing the Roman ruins is neat.

Musee d'Orsay - if you have a museum pass, you might want to duck in here just to see how they turned an old railroad station into a world class art museum. Head directly for the back of the museum and go to the left around the cafe. There are escalators to the 5th floor, so take those up, then walk up the short stairway to the overlook for the main hall. After that, head to the room looking out thru the clock across the Seine to Sacre Coeur. This museum IS heavy on art.

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3. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

The Orsay has a lovely Art Nouveau gallery on the 4th floor that includes furniture (whole rooms, basically). musee-orsay.fr/en/…level-3.html

>>altho it does contain the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries.<<

I think I read here (and overheard someone say) that these are currently on tour elsewhere.

Edited: 20 November 2017, 07:16
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4. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

@JaimeLobo So, I ought to just buy a museum pass and a metro pass seperately?

I might go with a 4 day pass, because Paris museums are supposedly free on the 7th, so I could get a 4 day on the second, go out of town on the 6th, more museums on the 7th, then Belgium.

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5. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

Do some number crunching on how the purchase price works out best for what you decide you want to see on your visit.

The 6-day pass is 74€. A 4-day one is 62€ so if you get the 6 day it’s just 12€ more even if you only use it 5 out of the 6 days. Also cost out how much single admissions are for the one day you’d have extra. If it is more than 12€ then you would be ahead. You can also make multiple visits to the same museum with the pass so you could go back to the Army museum several times if you wished.

www.parismuseumpass.com/rub-l-tarif-36.htm

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6. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

You really should visit Ste Chapelle on a sunny afternoon. The windows are a fine example of art and an admixture of political propaganda to glorify the reigning monarchy. An art/historical twofer of exquisite beauty.

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7. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

Well, I can take the Marine Museum off the list. Closed for renovation until 2021.

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8. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

@pdandehey I'll keep that in mind if I have any sunny days (I did in London, also during January).

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9. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

How are you arriving/departing - train or air? (If air, which airport?)

A Navigo Découverte, loaded for a week might be useful, especially if you use it to get in from the airport (CDG). The cost is 5euro for the card and then ~22 to load if for a week of unlimited travel on metro/trains/buses/etc. in Paris and the area. The trip from the airport will cost 10.30 separately, if you go on any short jaunts out of the city, it can cover some of those costs as well.

The only hitch is that it is always good Mon-Sun, so for the first week, you could buy at te airport, go into the city and use it through the next Sunday. The second week, you would only get a couple day use and a trip to the airport, so maybe not a deal for that week.

Aside from cost saving, it does carry a convenience to factor in. Swiping the card is much easier than keeping track of a pocket full of paper Metro tickets. Not to mention, you don't feel guilty hopping on the metro or bus for a few blocks ride.

Read more here:https://parisbytrain.com/paris-train-metro-week-pass-navigo-decouverte/

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10. Re: Should I buy a Paris City Pass? Best museums to visit?

I'm arriving by air. I land at Charles de Gaulle on Monday the 1st, and need to metro to my hostel, and I leave for Belgium the following Monday, so the one week pass is perfect.

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