There’s nothing worse than waiting in long queues outside museums or missing out on a restaurant because it’s full when you get there, particularly when you’ve only got a few days in the City of Light.
The wisest thing is to buy museum tickets on-line and book restaurants ahead of time.
RESTAURANTS – mytable.com
A number of websites can be used to book restaurants. I recently tested www.mytable.com. It has a smart phone app and features Trip Advisor reviews. It also has a selection of the week, the latest promotions and latest reviews.
You can key in the country, restaurant name or location. In Advanced Search, you can indicate price range, region and type of cuisine, special cuisine such as gluten-free or vegetarian, and amenities such as free wifi, terrace, air-conditioning, handicapped accessible and so on.
A map is displayed with red pins to indicate restaurants. Click on the pin and the type of cuisine and price range will be shown. If you click on the name, you’ll be given more detailed information and any reviews on Trip Advisor.
Simply select your date, time and number of people and click on Make Free Reservation. Enter your details and you’ll receive confirmation by email. Nothing could be easier!
Many English websites exist where you can book on-line museum tickets but you often pay a hefty commission. I’ve chosen FNAC because it is the most popular and trustworthy French site, often chosen by the museums themselves. There is also digitik.com but I find it very confusing.
All public museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month.
FNAC is a chain of media stores across France. They also have an on-line booking service with an English translation: http://www.fnactickets.com/. The commission is usually one or two euros. Simply key in the name of the museum in the search box.
Once you have paid with your credit card, you can either print the ticket (which might be a problem if you’re already travelling), have it sent to you if you have an address in France (an extra 3.55 euro), abroad (an extra 13.50 euro!) or pick it up at one of the stores on the list.
In Paris itself, you will need to go to one of the FNAC stores listed. In the suburbs and provinces, many of the larger supermarkets offer a pick-up service: Hyper U, Casino, Intermarché, Carrefour, etc. and some tourist offices.
PARIS TOURIST OFFICE (CONVENTION AND VISITORS’ BUREAU)
The main “welcome” centre of the Paris Tourist Office is at 25 rue des Pyramides (between Louvre and Opéra just near Monoprix). It’s perfect for tickets that don’t have a time restriction since there is no price mark-up. You can pick them up at one of their six “welcome” centres including the Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est train stations.
However, not all museums or combined tickets are available. They also handle tickets and bookings for Eurodisney and the main cabarets. http://booking.parisinfo.com for more details. You may have to queue for 20 minutes or so. Choose opening time (10 am) or lunchtime (12 to 2 pm). Open from 10 am to 7 pm every day.
Musée du Louvre (11 euro at museum)
FNAC: 12.60 euro, valid one year, no restriction on days or times. MUST DE COLLECTED. You don’t have to go through the security queue, which is the main advantage. Direct entry under the arch opposite the pyramid or using the fast queue above the pyramid.
Musée d’Orsay (9 euro at museum)
FNAC: 10.70 euro, valid one year, no restriction on days or times. CAN BE PRINTED OR COLLECTED. Direct entry C.
Combined ticket with Musée de l’Orangerie (Monet’s waterlilies): 17.70 euro
Combined ticket with Musée Rodin: 16.70 euro
Musée de l’Orangerie (7.50 euro at museum)
FNAC: 9.10 euro, valid one year, no restriction on days or times. CAN BE PRINTED OR COLLECTED. Direct entry.
Combined ticket with Musée d’Orsay: 17.70
Musée de Rodin (10.80 euro at museum)
Single tickets for the museum, currently valid until 01/09/2013, are only available on-line at http://www.digitick.com/index-css5-museerodin-lgen-pg1.html. TO BE DOWNLOADED ON MOBILE.
FNAC: Combined with Musée d’Orsay only: 16.70. CAN BE PRINTED OR COLLECTED.
Palais de Versailles (15 euro at palace)
FNAC: 16.80 CAN BE PRINTED OR COLLECTED. You must choose a specific day and time slot.
Eiffel Tower (14.50 at tower)
Not sold by FNAC, but on the official website of the Eiffel Tower: http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/en/preparing-your-visit/buying-your-tickets.html
Specific date and time (book at least 48 hours ahead of time). CAN BE PRINTED OR DOWNLOADED ON YOUR PHONE.
MUSEUM PASS http://en.parismuseumpass.com/.
You can book on-line or buy the pass at Charles de Gaulle and other outlets including the Paris Tourist Office: 2 days for 39 euro, 4 days for 54 euro, 6 days for 69 euro.
The full list includes Sainte Chapelle, Arc de Triomphe, Cluny, etc. It does not include the Eiffel Tower.
A brief calculation shows that it is worth buying a pass if you intend to go to at least 4 museums in 2 days, 5 museums in 4 days or 7 museums in 6 days.