|The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), at the center of the place Charles de Gaulle, Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
If you're going to Paris, you may have heard of the Paris Pass, the Paris Visite Pass and the Paris Museum Pass. These have the potential both to save you and to cost you money. Let me explain the concept.
Paris has lots of museums and other attractions. To get into each of these involves standing in long queues, sometimes for two hours. In addition, an entrance fee is paid for each attraction. How great would it be if you could get into many or most of the attractions for a reduced fee without even having to queue? Sounds great, right?
At first glance it is a really good idea, hence something like the Paris Museum Pass. That said, bear in mind the adage: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". I am not saying you should not get a Paris Museum Pass or one of the other cards; I am, however, saying you should think about whether it is right for you.
Obviously, if one looks at it purely from the point of view of not standing in a queue for two hours, then, subject to pricing, it is well worth it. It is on the pricing side thought that the issues arise. First, while you could save money by visiting museums at reduced rates using the Paris Museum Pass, you would need to visit a lot, really a lot. You also have a limited time in which to visit these. So, for example, you might buy a pass for two days. You then have only two days to see several museums. You can buy a pass for up to six days but then the price also increases. After working out the logistics of getting to different museums, you will see that you will probably need to visit at least two museums a day for it Paris Museum Pass to be worth your while on the financial front. That might sound okay, one museum before lunch and one after, except that some museums are massive, such as the Louvre, which would require two days on its own. Also, museums usually only open at 10AM, leaving two to three hours to do a sprint through one. After lunch, you will be left with about four hours to do a sprint through a different museum if that museum is big. Do you really want to rush through some of these museums just so that you can say you saved a few Euros?
Bear in mind too that many museums are closed on a Monday and public holiday. This means, for example, that if you started using a six day Paris Museum Pass on a Sunday, then, at a minimum, you will forfeit any benefit on the Monday. In other words, you will have paid not to see any museums on the Monday because the pass is for six consecutive days, not six days of your choosing. If the Tuesday is a public holiday, which will be the case on 25 December 2012, you will have paid for two days of not seeing any museums. As a general rule, therefore, you should only activate a Paris Museum pass on or after a Wednesday but before a Monday. You should also work out how many days holiday you will have in Paris. There is, for example, no sense in buying a four day pass if you will be in Paris on 24 and 25 December 2012 and if you leave on 27 December 2012.
My advice regarding the Paris Museum Pass would therefore be to buy only if you are determined to spend several days doing nothing but visiting various museums, so that you can hopefully derive some kind of financial benefit. The main benefit for most of us would simply be not having to stand in long queues.
Then there is the Paris Visite Pass. This also sounds good in theory - you can go up and down with the Metro and other public transport, depending on the zones you paid for, as much as you want for a predetermined number of days. In many cities I might have thought that was a great deal but when it comes to Paris I have my doubts. Many attractions in Paris are within walking distance of one another, often anywhere from 500 metres to 3km apart. Even if the attraction is relatively far away, that is 3km away, you could meander through the streets, taking in the sights and sounds and stopping off here and there to enjoy coffee, baguette or shopping. Of course, the attractions will only be reasonably close if you stay closer to the centre of Paris. If you do think you will need to use the Metro a number of times during your trip, it is probably better value for money to buy a booklet of ten tickets from one of the Paris Metro stations.
That brings me to the Paris Pass. This consists of the Paris Museum Pass, the Paris Visite Pass for the Metro, a pass for a few additional attractions, a ride on the Paris Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus as well as a Paris guidebook. To me, this pass is not worth it. IO would rather get just the Paris Museum Pass on its own for the required number of days. As for a guidebook, you can get those in the bookshops and online. Why should you be forced to buy a guidebook when all you really want is access to different attractions and maybe even the use of public transport?
Article Source:  Paris Passes