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For first time visitors to Paris who would like to take in all the major sights, I would highly recommend getting yourself a Paris Museum Pass, here. Not only do you save money if you’re planning on visiting multiple museums and monuments, you also save time by avoiding having to queue up at each site for a ticket. There are 2, 4 and 6 day options for €42, 56 and 69 respectively. Personally, I think the 2 or 4 day options are sufficient depending on how much time you have.
Now that you’ve ordered the Museum Pass, make sure you make full use of it by planning your days wisely so that you visit the included sights in 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days. Bear in mind that if you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, admission to this is not included in the Pass. Also, the Sacre Coeur is free to enter. Indeed, most churches in Europe are free to visit, though they do have offering boxes if you’d like to make a donation to assist in upkeep.
If you’re wondering which sights to visit with your Museum Pass, these are my recommendations:
1. Versailles. This will be at least a half day trip, and indeed, my friends and I spent a full day there exploring not just the opulent palace but also the immaculate grounds.
2. Ste Chapelle. This little cathedral has just about the most beautiful stained glass you will ever see. But remember to go early as this is the one site where the Museum Pass will not allow you to skip the queue, which is usually long given the small size of the cathedral and hence the limited number of visitors that can enter at any one time.
3. Notre Dame tower. If you have the energy, a climb up the tower of the Notre Dame Cathedral will reward you not just with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower and the chimney pot studded rooftops of Paris, you will also be able to get up close and personal with the gargoyles. Kids would love this! Tip: the large queue at the main entrance is for entry into the main cathedral only. If you’re facing the main entrance, the queue for the tower is to the left hand side.
4. Musee de l’Orangerie. This is my personal favourite art gallery in Paris. The collection is small but the relatively fewer people affords a sense of peace in a bustling city, and the panoramic beauty of Monet’s water lily murals will leave you speechless.
5. Musee d’Orsay. Once you’re done at the Orangerie, just take a stroll across the Pont de la Concorde over the Seine to this former railway station which now houses the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world, by the likes of such as Degas, Gauguin, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet and Manet. Intensely popular, I find this place a tad too crowded and usually shuffle through pretty quickly, and hence the only picture I could access easily was of this rhino standing guard outside.
6. Musee Rodin. Situated roughly midpoint between the d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower, you will find another peaceful little sanctuary where you can meet Rodin’s Thinker and marvel at The Kiss.
7. Louvre. If there are 3 things you MUST see in Paris, surely they would be the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Mona Lisa. Just remember, she’s actually quite small, and once you’ve taken your obligatory photo, don’t forget to turn around and admire the much more impressive (in my opinion) Wedding at Cana on the opposite wall. I recommend visiting the Louvre on a Wednesday or Friday evening when it’s open until 9.45pm. It will be less crowded then.
8. Arc de Triomphe. Did you know you can climb the Arc de Triomphe? Well, you can. And the views of the Eiffel Tower in the distance with the Champs Elysees in the foreground are amazing!
9. Pantheon. This very grand mausoleum is where you will find the tombs of Voltaire, Louis Braille, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. Don’t forget to pop into the Saint Etienne du Mont. This little church just behind the Pantheon is well worth a visit!
10. Pompidou. Admire the modern architecture, then go inside and admire the modern art, and finally take the escalator to the viewing platform for sweeping views of Paris including the Sacre Coeur in the distance.
Well, these are some of my favourite paid attractions in Paris. What others would you recommend?
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