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Paris Pass Review — A Good Value or Waste of Money?

Wondering if the Paris Pass is worth the price? Read our in-depth review of the Paris Pass and analysis of its value.

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[Updated: March 28, 2017. Originally Posted: August 2013.]

If you’re going to visit Paris, you’ve probably heard about the Paris Pass. We wanted to do this Paris Pass review because the pass is a popular choice for thousands of visitors each year, but it can be confusing to know it’s worth the price.

Honestly, the pass is a great deal for some visitors but that’s not always the case. In this guide, we’ll break down the cost of the pass and explain who should and who shouldn’t buy the Paris Pass.

Note: We’ve lived in Paris for nearly two years, so we feel that we can give the pass a fair value assessment since we’re familiar with most of the museums, monuments, the Metro, and other attractions.

Paris Pass vs. Paris Museum Pass

Before we get started, I wanted to clear up something that can be a little confusing. There are two separate pass cards available — the Paris Pass and the Paris Museum Pass.

  • The Paris Museum Pass is only valid for museums and monuments.
    • Adult Price:
      • 2 Days: €48€
      • 4 Days: €62€
      • 6 Days: €74
  • The Paris Pass includes admission all the same museums/monuments as the Paris Museum Pass — but it also includes unlimited travel on public transportation (Metro + bus), 1-day hop-on hop-off bus pass, Seine boat cruise, entry to a few different sites (Montparnasse Tower, Paris Opera House, etc), and a few other benefits.
    • Adult Price:
      • 2 Days: €110
      • 3 Days: €169.00 (note: the three-day pass comes with a two-day museum pass)
      • 4 Days: €199.00
      • 6 Days: €239

Price Breakdown — Paris Pass vs. Buying Tickets Separately

The Paris Pass includes entry to all the major museums (and multiple smaller museums), the national monuments, and a few other attractions. 

Museums

Listed below are some of the best/most popular attractions on the pass and the price for a single ticket. You can view the full list on the Paris Pass site.

  • Louvre — Adult: €15.00
    • This massive museum is one of the world’s largest, and even a short visit will take a few hours. I don’t recommend visiting another museum on the same day that you visit the Louvre because it will burn you out.
  • Centre Pompidou Museum of Modern Art  — Adult: €13.00
    • The Pompidou is Paris’ modern art museum (it is the largest in Europe). It is worth visiting if you’re a fan of modern art.
  • Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay) — Adult: €12.00
    • Housed in a former rail station, the Orsay is my personal favorite museum in Paris and I’d recommend it to all visitors. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, featuring painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
  • Rodin Museum (Musée Rodin) — Adult: €10.00
    • The Rodin Museum is a small museum near Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. The museum is housed in Rodin’s home, but his garden that surrounds the house was my favorite as it contains many of his famous sculptures.
  • War Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb (Musée de L’Armée at Les Invalides) — €11.00
    • The war museum is a national military museum of France. It is split up into two sections — ancient and modern wars. It has all the guns, cannons, swords, and other military weapons you could want. Additionally, the site also features Napoleon’s Tomb, which is impressive to see.
  • Dali Museum (L’Espace Dali) — Adult: €11.50
    • This small museum is tucked away in the amazing neighborhood of Montmartre.

Monuments and Historic Buildings

  • Arc de Triomphe — Adult: €12.00
    • Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a great view of the city.
  • Panthéon — Adult: €9.00
    • Originally built as a church, it is now where many of France’s most celebrated citizens are buried.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral Towers — Adult: €10.00
    • Notre Dame is free to visit, but there is a fee to visit the towers at the top of the cathedral. The views from the top are great. Do get there early as the line gets long and even pass holders have to wait in line.
  • Sainte-Chapelle — Adult: €10.00
    • This church has the most beautiful and impressive stained-glass windows in Paris.
  • Palace of Versailles — Adult: €20.00
    • This massive palace shouldn’t be missed — the grandeur and opulence is amazing (and overwhelming). Visiting Versailles will take up most of your day, so don’t plan on doing anything else major that day.
  • Château de Fontainebleau — Adult: €11.00
    • The Château de Fontainebleau is basically a less crowded version of Versailles. This trip will also take a full day.

** The Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs are not included in this pass. 

Other Sites, Activities, and Discounts (Paris Pass Exclusive)

  • One-Day Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour — €31.00
    • The hop-on hop-off bus tour is a popular choice among many tourists. It is a bit of an expensive way to travel the city, but its circuit does hit all the major sights of Paris. It is a pleasant and convenient method of getting an overview of the city — especially if the weather is nice. Plus, Paris is a beautiful city, and the bus is a nice way to see the architecture and get an idea of the city’s energy.
  • Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier Opéra) — Adult: 11.00
    • The Paris Opera shouldn’t be missed. The interior decoration and design is truly amazing.
  • Montparnasse Tower — Adult: €15.00
    • Want the best view of Paris? Well, check out the Montparnasse Tower (which is the only skyscraper in Paris). It offers amazing360-degreee views of the city and it is largely void of hoards of tourists. I enjoyed doing this.
  • One Hour Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Cruise  — €15.00
    • This no-frills boat tour of the Seine might be touristy, but I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t waste your time on it during the day, but I think it is an enjoyable experience at night when all the buildings are lit up. I’d recommend this activity even if you don’t have the pass.
  • Random Discounts — The pass also gives you some discounts at a few restaurants, shops, and tours. Most aren’t worth it. But there is a 15% off discount at Fat Tire Bike Tours (which gets a lot of great reviews) and there is a 10% discount on purchases at Galeries Lafayette (a major high-end department store). These discounts probably wouldn’t sway me to get this card, but it is a nice bonus if these two items are on your to-do list.

Transportation Portion of the Paris Pass

There are a few pricing options for using the Paris public transportation system, so it can get a bit complicated to know what is right for your travel style. Your main options are either purchasing a book of 10 single tickets (14.50€) or an unlimited day pass (1, 2, 3, or 5 days). The per-day price on the unlimited pass falls as the duration increases (i.e., the 5-day pass averages 6.47€/day).

You’ll have to take into account how many days you’ll be in the city and how often you’ll use public transportation to see if the pass or single tickets are the best deal. Note: The Paris Pass is not valid for the train that goes to and from CDG Airport. 

And be aware that Paris is a very walkable city and it is best explored on foot or bike — so keep in mind that you may only use the Metro or bus 2-3 times a day. 

Note: The only reason you’d likely ever need to visit outside Zone 1-3 is to see Versailles, Disney Paris, or the airport. For those destinations, it is better to buy a separate ticket. I can’t think of any other reason why one would ever buy a Zone 1-5 travel pass. Paris-Zone-Map

Calculating the Monetary Value of the Paris Pass

To calculate the value of the pass, it is best to create a sample itinerary and then crunch the numbers.

I recommend basing your sample itinerary on the €199.00 adult four-day pass, which averages to a daily price of €50. If you were to buy a five-day unlimited transportation pass from the city, it would cost you €37.25 (they don’t offer a four-day pass, so the five-day pass is the best option). So €37.25 would average out to about 7.50€/day if you were to buy your own unlimited transportation. If you wanted to mainly walk the city and only use the Metro twice or three times a day, you would save a few euros a day.

Therefore, you would need to spend about €42.00/day on sights and activities to break even.

If you look at the prices of the museums listed above, you’ll see that the average ticket price is about €13 and the average price for monuments is around €10. That gives you an idea of how much you would need to do in a day for the pass to make financial sense.

Now, the next thing I would do is choose which museums, sites, and attractions look interesting to you. I’d advise against cramming your schedule full of museums just to get your “money’s worth” because you’ll burn out. Most people agree that doing more than two museums a day is pushing it (the Louvre and Versailles can easily take up a full day, so don’t try to see two museums when you visit those). And don’t forget that half the beauty of Paris comes from strolling the streets, admiring the architecture, and relaxing in the parks and gardens — all of which are free.

It’s up to you to determine how many museums you want to visit and if any of the extras are worth it (hop-on hop-off bus, river cruise, Montparnasse Tower, Paris Opera House, etc). By the way, all these things are solid so I wouldn’t consider them tourist traps. 

Don’t forget that your time is very valuable! One of the great things about these passes is the ability to skip the ticket lines. Skipping the lines will easily save you 20-120+ minutes per attraction. If you price out using the pass vs buying separate tickets, you’ll often find that it is cheaper to buy separate tickets, but the extra €10-€15 you spend on the pass is well worth saving hours waiting in line.

Is the Paris Pass Worth It?

So Who Should Consider the Pass?

Travelers with Children — It is no surprise that waiting in line for an hour with kids is probably going to be a nightmare.

Travelers Who Want to Do the Extra Activities — If you’ve already planned on seeing a few museums and you want to take the the hop-on hop-off bus, visit the observation deck of Montparnasse Tower, see the Paris Opera House, and do a Seine river cruise, then the pass will be a good deal. Luckily, all those activities are things I’d highly recommend to all visitors.

People Who Want to See a Lot in a Few Days — If you’re in Paris for only a few days and you want to see as much as possible, I think you’d get a lot of value from the card. As mentioned before, the hours you save by skipping the lines is worth the price of the pass. This is especially true in the summer.

Travelers Who Want to See Paris at Their Own Pace — If you’re not too worried about the price, the Paris Pass is a nice option just for the fact that you can hop in and out of museums as you like and you don’t have to wait in line. You can also leave a museum and not feel guilty that you’re not “getting your money’s worth.”

Convenience/Skipping The Lines — If you simply don’t want to worry about arranging transportation or museum tickets, the Paris Pass is a nice option. You just have to get your pass delivered to your home and you’re all ready to go once you arrive. Also, being able to skip the lines is going to be a huge time saver — especially in the summer.

Who Should Skip the Pass?

Budget Travelers Who Are Only Visiting a Few Museums — If you’re on a strict budget and don’t plan on seeing a lot of things then I’d skip the pass.

Travelers Staying in Paris for Longer Periods — If you’re spending more than 4 or 5 days in Paris, you’ll probably want to spread your museum time out over the full time you’re there to avoid burnout.

Travelers Who Can Spend a Lot of Time Planning Ahead — Some museums, monument, and attractions have tickets that can be purchased online. You usually have to print the tickets but if you can buy everything before you leave and print them at home, then you’ll be able to choose where you want to go and still skip the lines. Be aware that not all tickets can be purchased online.

Travelers Who Just Want to See a Few Places — If you just want to see a few museums over the course of your trip, the pass isn’t worth it.

Tips For Getting the Most Out of the Paris Pass

First Sunday — Nearly all museums and monuments are free the first Sunday of every month. If you can avoid it, try not to have that day be one of the days you use your pass.

Check Hours and Days — Most museums are closed at least one day a week — usually a Monday or a Tuesday. Also, some museums close fairly early — like 4-5pm. Additionally, some museums are open late one day a week, which can be a great way to get some more museum time in (plus the crowds tend to be much smaller during these times).

Night Activities — Most museums and monuments are only open during the day, but some things are open later into the night. Try to do those activities at night to maximize your time.

Don’t Waste the First Day —The time on the pass starts the first day you use it, so if you use your pass for the first time at 8 pm, it will count as a full day.

Do Two Museum Days — If you want to see a bunch of museums but don’t have a lot of money, you can buy a two-day pass and try to see as much as you can in those two days.

Where To Buy the Pass

The Paris Pass can be bought at a number of locations in Paris, including the airport (see Paris Pass for all the locations).

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  • Nancy

    Brilliant summary – helped me heaps with making some good decisions – saved me time and money! Thanks so much.

  • amybe

    This is a great summary. Wish I’d seen it before I went to Paris in early May. Having gotten the Paris Pass, I have somethings to add:

    1) Their system for visitors obtaining the pass is TERRIBLE. If you order it online and have it delivered, you still have to go to the main office (and wait in line) to get the bus pass ticket before you can then get on the bus. And if you don’t order it in advance, you have to go to one agency to get the pass (where the staff is unfriendly and unhelpful, and told us we were ‘all set’ when in fact) we still couldn’t get on the bus without going to the main office first).

    What frustration and waste of time! Everyone in the line (which was long) was expressing the same frustration.

    2) Their advertising is misleading if not inaccurate. They advertise a 2-day pass and nowhere does it make clear that that means only 1 day of bus use, and one day of attractions entries. I bought the 2-day so I could do both on both days, but that was not permitted. When I raised this with the agent, all she said was ‘Yes, lots of people misunderstand that.’ I suspect it is intentional on the company’s part to mislead visitors in this way. There is no fair reason not to make this clear on the website.
    The agent did agree that, if we waited until 4pm and returned to the office, she would activate the bus pass so we could use it that day, and the next day as well. This was appreciated, but the situation should have been avoided entirely with clear website info.

    It is unfortunate, because the bus is a great way to orient yourself to the heart of Paris, get the lay-of-the-land, see the beauty of the city in an easy way, and then figure out what’s next. In good weather, the upper deck is fantastic. The commentary via earphones is very interesting and informative. And they do give you a great map of central Paris with all its key sites. The guidebook is also useful and small, which is user-friendly.

    I don’t feel I got my money’s worth, though it’s hard to put a price on Paris site seeing. I think I’d recommend just the bus for one day, and then going to museums, attractions, a la carte. One more note: you don’t have to activate the museum pass part the same days as the bus. So you could use the bus for a day, then schedule your museum visits for 1 or 2 other (consecutive) days.

    • Martin

      We found it to be worth the money, but a few notes of caution:
      We traveled with our 2 teenage children, and while the kids don’t need to pay at any museums, at some attractions, we had to get free tickets for the kids, which nixes the whole concept of skipping the line. For example at the Arc de Triomphe, the line was all the way into the tunnel, and just because my wife was able to persuade the guy at the entrance to let us get in without the free tickets were we able to skip the line. No such problem at the Louvre, where the Paris Pass saved us tons of time (we travelled during high season in late June). Also, I second above comment on the hop-on/off bus deal. You have to pick up the bus tickets on the day on which you use it, which should be spelled out on the website. As to the purchase, we ordered our 4 passes (4-days) over the web, and got them within 7 days. No problems. Overall, particularly in high season, the Paris Pass makes sense, if you plan a busy itinerary through town. BTW, the subway ticket that comes with the pass is good for an extra day, which allowed us to cover the ride from St.Michel, to the Gare de l’Est on the day of departure.

      • savvybackpacker

        Thanks for the tips!

    • Pallavi Raj

      i am not clear . For eg if your seeing attractions on monday and bus tour on tuesday , u cant get down to see the attractions u might have missed on monday ?

  • livinn3d

    The bus tour just being good for one day was an eye opener; I was in seventh heaven thinking I’d have two days of being able to hop on and off as the moment grabbed me. I’m fortunate to be in Paris on the first Sunday so your information has saved me a great deal of money and frustration.

  • Lakin

    The 2 day Paris Pass is really only good for 1 day of museum/sites and 1 day of transportation (metro,bus)?

  • lynetteSad

    Hi. Is it better to buy the Paris Pass at the airport as suggested by a friend?

    • savvybackpacker

      I would just purchase it at home if you can. No need to waste time at the airport.

  • Jonathas

    Thanks for the great review. I’ll be in Paris for 2 and a half days in May, and I think the Pass will be a huge timesaver for me.

  • millerpmiller

    Very grateful for this! Thank you!

  • gerry

    Worst deal ever!!!!! Any place good has a no queue cutting and you end up freezing with everyone else who also has the pass. We never saw a line at the ticket offices either cause everybody had this useless pass

  • Cathy

    One of the reasons I bought the Paris Pass when I was there in 2010 was because of the 10% off at Galeries LaFayette. There is a tiny blurb in the fine print about only items with (red?) dots on price tags are eliigible for the 10% off. After spending hours rummaging through the store, the only dot items were in the souvenir department. I think my Paris Pass saved me about E1.70. What a waste of my afternoon.

  • Andrew

    My wife and I purchased a 4 day pass each and thought it was well worth it. There are 2 big benefits: 1. You do not have to queue. Even in the low season (March) there were huge queues at the Louvre and Musee Orsay and we probably saved ourselves 2 hours of queuing just at these two attractions. You just walk to the front and in you go! 2. You can dip in and out of attractions and not feel you have to stay to justify the cost. If you don’t like it, you can leave and you have not wasted money. I would definitely buy these passes again and by visiting 2 -3 attractions per day, we definitely saved money and loads of time!

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad it was a good deal for you. Sometimes I think the time savings alone is worth the price.

  • La Mort

    Great summary of the passes for Paris. Be aware that all prices have gone up for 2015, e.g.. Louvre is now 12Eur etc, Passes have likewise gone up. If you have a short stay, then a Museum or a Paris Pass may be good for you, just go to the priority lane or head of the queues. Having said that, you can spend 3 days in the Louvre and not see it all. The crowds slow you down, especially around the Mona Lisa. Also think about other sights as well, such as Saint-Chappel (amazing), the Pantheon, Napoleon’s Tomb. If you have time, take your time, and enjoy what Paris has to offer. Take a walk down Ave des Champs Elysees, and feel the moment. Do not rush Paris.

  • Laura Bedaw

    Where do you pick up the bus tickets? Is it out of the way?

  • JoeS

    We are very disappointed with the Paris Pass. Both St Chapelle and the Centre Pompidou did NOT accept it, even though they are both listed on the website. What a scam!

  • PJ

    Looking for tips on how to use 2 day Paris pass best way.. I am in Paris for 3 days (Sunday, Monday & Tuesday). On Tuesday at 1:30 PM I am visiting Eiffel Tower

    I am reaching Paris CDG Airport on First Sunday at 8:30 AM.. my first challenge would be to reach Paris Pass office to collect pass before 12:30 PM with all of luggage and then go to hotel. I purchased Paris pass through Isango site and they won’t post/mail to my hotel or home.

    so basically I have half day Sunday and full day Monday.. can anyone suggest what can I cover.

    May I use Sunday & Monday metro and Tuesday Big bus or do I have to use Big bus in first 2 days. Someone commented that Bus is one day and rest everyry thing is in one day.

    I also heard you need to collect bus pass from somrwhere else..

    This whole planning thing is killing me appreciate if you help. I am leaving on Aug 1st 2015 and return flight is on Aug 5th (morning)

  • Gerald

    Just got back from Paris for the first time and couldn’t wait to trash the Paris Pass! We spent three days in Paris and wasted USD100 each on the Pass. It worked for the Louver, and the O’Chateau wine tasting was okay — make reservations in advance online or they won’t let you in — and loved the Big Bus sightseeing (we did both routes and felt we had really seen Paris). But that’s all: a value of about €50 for a USD150 cost (wine tasting hardly a €30 experience). Consider this rip-off: To take the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise, you first have to get tickets validated at the base of the Eiffel Tower. We never located the place; it’s almost a mile walk from the cruise site; the people at the cruise wouldn’t honor without the validation — obviously they know Paris Pass people get fooled — and we bought tickets at €13.50 each to get on the cruise. It’s a nice cruise, but not worth the “scam”-type experience. Main issue is that the Paris Pass doesn’t give enough information and seems purposely designed to mislead. Wanted to go to Versailles but found it was a 40-minute metro ride and 40-minute train ride; don’t know schedule. And the metro in Paris — truly a horrible experience. Long walks to and between trains; hot and steamy; dirty; smelly. We asked another American couple with Paris Passes if they used the metro. They answered “once,” and that said it all. So don’t expect the Paris Pass to save transportation fees … we took taxis everywhere. Sorry to be so negative, but if you’re in Paris three days, don’t waste your money on the Paris Pass. Pay cash for what you want to do.

  • Emily

    On the website, some of the attractions say that there’s “fast track entry” and you don’t have to wait in line, but it says only a few sites like the Louvre, Orsay, Pomidou and the wax museum are fast track. Does that mean you have to wait in line for all the other attractions?

  • MichelleAwsm

    Thank you for saving me a small fortune! I’ll just book my ticket for the Louve and get a bus pass!

  • April Janell Droddy

    Hi. Thank you for your article. I’m just a little confused regarding your recommendation in your summary to not get the pass if you’ll be there 4-5 days. My eight year old and I are going for 6 days and I’m trying to decide…will will be able to return multiple times to the same museum?

    • Yamil Isaias

      I have the same question and situation. Traveling in June with my wife and 8 yr old daughter for 6 days.

  • Janie

    Where in CDG can the pass be purchased? On there site it states that pass can only be purchased at there location.

  • I’m hearing alot of negativity about the Paris Pass, but hows all of your experiences with the Paris MUSEUM Pass?

  • Sugarjenny

    Great summary, glad to find your review before the Paris trip, we are definitely to skip this Paris Pass deal.

  • Joy

    The Paris Pass is NOT available for pick-up anywhere but their office. They will mail to you, but you cannot purchase outside of their website or office. I just emailed and was told this today. There is not a place in the airports to buy The Paris Pass.

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