CONTRIBUTED BY KARI MARTINDALE
While planning our recent weekend in Paris, I came across the Paris Pass and the Paris Museum Pass online and decided to look into them before the trip and upon our arrival. The Paris Museum Pass is explicitly for museum entry, whereas the Paris Pass includes the Paris Museum Pass, as well as other benefits.
Prices vary by length of time (2-, 4-, or 6-day pass) and are based on whether it is an adult/teen/child pass. I decided I would try out the Paris Pass for two out of the three days of the stay for me, my husband, and our 7-year-old daughter.
A Paris Pass wallet comes ready with the Paris Museum Pass; a public transportation ticket valid for the metro, buses, train, and funicular; and an attraction pass that gains you entry into additional attractions (but not, for example, the Eiffel Tower). Each pass provides not only admission but the ability to skip the lines in some museums and attractions. At other attractions, you still must collect a ticket at the ticket desk. The Hop On Hop Off bus ticket and the Bateaux Parisiens cruise tickets must each be picked up at their respective ticket offices.
The Paris Pass also comes with a really helpful tour booklet in a variety of languages. I chose one in English/German/Spanish, and another in English/French/Portuguese. The books include helpful city maps including street maps, attraction maps, and a metro map. Attractions available to you with your passes are described, hours and closures are listed, and transportation options are provided (metro stops, bus lines, etc.).
Here’s what to ask yourself when considering a pass:
How long are we going to be in Paris? The passes are valid by calendar day, not 24-hour period.
What are we planning to visit?
How much public transportation will we use? Bear in mind that you can also use the train to get back to the airport on your last day, if your pass is active.
We happened to make out on using our pass—we saved about 30 euro per adult (would have saved more, if not for Pentecost and Whit Monday holiday attraction closures) and maybe 10 euro for my daughter; we also appreciated being able to skip lines, not having to deal with metro tickets from the start, and the very useful guidebook. We were there for three days, making it especially difficult to decide whether to get a 2- or 4-day pass. I opted for the 2-day pass. It was the right choice for us since there turned out to be museum closures on our third day; however, we could just as well have made up the difference if we’d visited somewhere and then used the public transportation portion to take the train to the airport instead of taking a taxi.
The biggest down side to the pass: unless you have it mailed to you in time for your trip, there is only one pick-up point: a tiny candy shop, Les Delices at 33 rue Poissonniere 75002 Paris, that opens at 10:00 a.m. The Paris Museum Pass is much easier to obtain, as there are venues throughout the city, including at the airport and some museums themselves. I waited for almost an hour in line. You could say that you make this up in the lines you bypass at museums, but the museum lines weren’t too bad during our visit, so it seemed to be a wash at best. It is not very convenient to be halfway through the day before you’re heading to your first stop. That said, if you’re getting in one afternoon and plan to pick it up then but activate it the next day, that could work out well for you.
Tip: Make sure you know the full- and half-day closures of the Paris Pass office since a few of them coincide with holiday weekends.
You also have to show up to the Big Bus main office to pick up your Hop on Hop off ticket if you plan to use it, but there was only a few minute wait. We personally used the bus to go only half of the route, see certain sights, and then hop off for good rather than take the full route.
We were satisfied having used the pass and found ourselves wondering if they had similar ones for other cities we are planning to visit. If you do some quick math on how much you plan to see, do, and get around, you could find it’s a convenient money-saver for you!