Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Paris Pass Website
I recently visited Paris for 9 nights (split in the middle with a trip to Italy) and purchased a 4-day Paris Pass for both myself and my wife to enjoy the museums and places of interest.  This came highly recommend to us and we were deciding whether to buy it or not...until one day, they held a 2-day sale so we took advantage without thinking much more about it - to save the 10%. Turns out they do this 10% gimmick often - worked for me, right?  I immediately bought a pass for each of us and as soon as I purchased the passes I had an initial feeling of doubt.  We just paid $370 for 4 days worth of museums (and this was the sale price!).  Was this a deal?  I quickly did some math and crunched some numbers on the museums we would want to visit and the museums we could actually visit (you can't visit 10 museums in a day, obviously).  With our sale price of $370, this requires us to spend $47 a day, which isn't too bad. But that's only to break even!

Here's the kicker: all museums cost 8-12 Euros.  You can't visit more than 3 museums in a day (sometimes only 1 or 2 depending) without already being pressed for time, since museums are often only open from 10-6pm and Mondays or Tuesdays are days many museums are closed, you may be out of luck to save money or time with this bundle.

Basically, if you visit 3 museums a day (and most places you won't want to run in and out within 30 minutes so three is plenty) you will be saving $42 in museum costs plus a few extra bucks on the free metro pass.  This is nearly the same as doing it on your own pace (breaking even in cost, and that's on the 10% sale price).

Of course, this is more than just a "get into museums free." You get a free metro pass for zones 1-3 (which is NOT explained well at all on their website: zones 1-3 cover most of paris and is not related to districts).  This pass often took 2-3 times through the machine at each station to work, but it served us well.  You also get a 2-day red bus pass, which we didn't use since its a cheap gimick, but this is one of their highlights of saving you 27 Euros!

If I were to do it again, I would not have purchased this.  Why?  It didn't save us either money or time.  Yes, we skipped two lines and didn't have to pay each time, but we broke even at best.  Plus, we were in Paris for 9 nights and had to cram in all museums in a mere 4 days just to use the pass and make sure we broke even (something which was a waste to constantly think about) verse going when we want and spacing things out. This was nothing but stress to try and schedule everything to merely not loose too much money.

Don't be fooled into thinking there are countless items in this Paris Pass deal.  A lot of it is junk.  River boat cruise?  We did it because it was on our list but I would not recommend it.  It was cheap, basic, nothing much to it, and slammed with 10 different tour busses and schools and noisy as hell.  I am glad I went, but it was nothing special.  This is the same for half of the museums on this list.  Not to mention their raving about discounts around the city, which are mere 10% off and terrible gimicks like "free ice cream with purcahse of full-priced entree at this chain restaurant."  These aren't savings: they are gimicks for you to waste your money. If they were truly savings, they would offer you more than a 10% discount or wouldn't require you to spend a lot of money for a cheap $2 reward.

  • Do your math before buying. List out all museums you WANT to see and how much it would cost for you to see them with the Pass and then on your own (also consider your restricted time frame on the Paris Pass)
  • If you buy this, don't pay full-price.  They will do that silly 10% off sale here and there.
  • The Louvre and Palace of Versailles are two attractions that can take up an entire day (if your daily pro-rata Paris Pass allocation requires at least 50Euro to be on track, visiting these two museums will cost you triple the money!  If you have extra days in Paris, visit these two places outside of your Paris pass days so you can get more bang for your buck when you stay central. Other museums are large, but these are the largest and can easily take up most of the day.
  • If you decide to buy this pass, make sure you don't use it on both a Monday and Tuesday since many museums are closed on one of those days.

It's a neat idea, but it's a gimick that won't save you any time or money.  I was frustrated to cram in everything "on the clock" when I could have spent the same (if not.. LESS) money doing it, and doing it on my own timeline without constantly worrying about losing money.  With our discounted passes, we had to spend $47 a day in order to "break even."  If we saw 3 museums and used the metro a few times, this would... BREAK EVEN.  It's hard to do more than that between 10AM and 6pm. I spent a lot of time planning out the best options and schedules each day of when to see things, which was a waste of vacation planning and the vacation itself.  I ended up not saving money, and spending too much of my vacation worrying and stressing about losing money on this. In the end, we lost a little bit of money for this waste of time.

Save your time and stress in researching this gimick and pass on the Paris Pass.


Nienna said...

I know it's an old post, though thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review. Me and my other half are going to Paris in a couple of months, so I'm currently weighing my options. I think we'll pass on the Paris Pass (pardon the pun!), and consider our options!


Tamas Katona said...

Thank you very much for this comprehension. Originally we wanted to look up a sales point and buy a 2-days version of the pass but now I tend to think we'll only buy a daily pass for the metro and pay individually for those attractions that we visit.

sobiepan said...

Thank you for this post. It is 2013 and I still find it actual. But your description makes me more convinced.

Cosmin Jeler said...

I completely subscribe to what Dali says, it's June 2013 and I had the same feeling of being rapped at the end.

roxane (Netherlands) said...

Guess what,
Due to various reasons we didn't use our 5! two-day passes.When a year went by I tried to get them prolonged. Couldn't. Gone more then 400 euro's!

Karan Mamtora said...

I am not sure when I will be visiting Paris, but this was useful.
But the good thing about Paris Pass is that they provide a pdf of entire itinerary free of cost (just need to enter a e-mail id) and becomes easy to short list the places and visit on our own instead of buying.


picsou said...

You are so right. It s definitely better to plan ahead or have someone book your tickets ahead.

Edna Barromi Perlman said...

thank you for your description
just what I needed to understand

Suzy Marsden said...

Thanks for your great review. I was going to buy 2 of the 6-day passes for our week in Paris, but am going to do as you suggest instead.

Faheem Akhter said...

thanks.. u saved me :)