A museum pass is
available for purchase for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days. It includes most of the
popular museums and allows you to avoid standing in line. The Carte Musées et
Monuments may be purchased at Tourist
Offices or museums where the card is accepted. Depending on which museums you plan to see, this
may or may not be a good deal.
Louvre and Musée
visiting the Louvre at night if you’re in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday; visit the Musée
d’Orsay at night if you’re in Paris on a Thursday. Don’t be tempted to walk to
either the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay from wherever you are – your feet will be
too sore to tour the collections.
The Louvre is open late on
Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Any day of the week, admission is discounted in the afternoon (check out the
Louvre website for particulars). Grab one of the free
maps on your way in (kiosk in the center of the lobby area; the best of the
collections are highlighted). Don’t enter the museum from above ground through
the glass pyramid; take metro line 1, get off at the Palais Royal/Musée du
Louvre stop and enter that way – you’ll beat the long lines. This entrance is
not open first thing in the morning, and metro access is barred late in the
evening. Remember, the Louvre is NOT open on Tuesdays. In the Louvre, get the
big three out of the way first (Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and
the Mona Lisa).
d'Orsay is usually crowded. I suggest starting on the top floor first (once you
enter the museum walk straight toward the back wall on the left side; take the
escalator to the top).
The top floor houses the most famous impressionist works. If you have more time,
it’s interesting to re-visit the first floor and see how the artists painted
before the impressionist movement took off. The Musée d’Orsay is NOT open on
Mondays. If it’s a nice day, the bouquinistes will open their green book
stands along the Seine. They sell postcards and posters as well as books.
Under the Louvre is a shopping
mall/food court. For stores, the Academie Française store has nice drinking
glasses and tableware. The Tie-Rack always has nice scarves at a fair price. The
Louvre Museum shops are very nice: good prices for posters (make sure you also
buy the triangular box to protect the posters as you travel), excellent
guidebooks in the bookstore (go upstairs to see jewelry replicas, statue
replicas & kids’ bookstore).
Versailles is NOT open on Mondays. Take the regional train (RER C) in
the direction of Versailles Rive Gauche. You’ll have to buy special train
tickets (separate from metro tickets). Go to the station and tell the clerk,
“Deux billets, aller-retour, pour Versailles Rive Gauche.” You can also write
the preceding phrase on a piece of paper and hand it to the clerk. Most of the
time, the RER trains run in the opposite direction as the metro, so make sure
you’re waiting on the correct side of the platform. The RER trains have multiple
termini, so remember to consult the flip boards hanging from the stations to
make sure that you get on the right train (if I remember right, the Versailles
trains have Swedish names like “Sven”). Keep your ticket, because you’ll need it
to get out of the station once you arrive.
Versailles, exit the station to the right and follow the street (right). You’ll
pass a two-level shopping area on your left, across the street. (Beware, once
you get inside Versailles, there aren't any convenient restaurants; you might
want to stop at McDonald’s if it’s near lunch time.) After a minute or two,
there will be an old official-looking building on your right (Gendarmerie) and
you’ll have come to a grand avenue with tree-lined side roads (Avenue de Paris).
At this intersection, turn left, and continue up the street towards the chateau.
On your left, you will find a Tourist Center. Buy your tickets here to avoid
longer lines at the chateau.
If you’re in town on a Sunday
afternoon in summer, the fountains are put into action, and are accompanied by
No further details
needed... It’s beautiful to see the city’s lights at night, and sometimes the
lines aren’t as long.
Basilica and painter’s square
Take metro line 2
to Anvers station. After exiting the metro, walk straight up the hill (you won’t
actually see Sacré Coeur until you reach the top of the hill). If you don’t feel
like climbing the stairs, there is a funiculaire to the left of the
basilica’s base; it costs 1 metro ticket. The painter’s square (Place du Tertre)
can be reached by exiting the basilica from the main doors, and proceeding
right. At the end of this short street, turn right. Half-way up the short hill,
you’ll begin to join the crowds. Do NOT let any roaming artists take you
portrait/cut your silhouette; even if they say it’s free, they’ll make a scene
and make you pay for it. If you want a portrait, make sure you see them paint
one or you may be disappointed. Souvenirs are usually reasonably priced in the
street leading up to the basilica from the metro and along the back streets up
the hill from Place du Tertre.
(Napoleon’s Tomb and Military Museum)
See where the man
is buried (along with some of his top aides). The museum is the best military
museum in Europe. Middle Ages – WWII.
Notre Dame and the Deportation Memorial
Don’t forget to
see Pointe Zéro, in front of the cathedral where all distances to/from
Paris are measured (a gold medallion in the square). Walk behind the cathedral
(there’s a small garden/park). Across the street which runs behind the cathedral
(buses usually park there), is another small park. Enter to the right (toward
river) and walk down the stairs. Set into the hill is a Holocaust/ Deportation
memorial. Worth seeing. Souvenirs are usually reasonably priced in this area.
and the Conciergerie
Sainte Chapelle is
a small chapel built to house the Crown of Thorns. The most stained glass/square
foot of any place in Europe. A sight to see on a sunny day (I wouldn’t spend the
money to see it unless the sun is shining). It is located inside the Palais du
Justice complex (French law courts), a couple of blocks from Notre Dame on the
Ile de la Cité. The Conciergerie was the “prison” used to house revolutionary
prisoners such as Marie Antoinette. Put it on your sightseeing list if you’re
interested in revolutionary France/Marie Antoinette, otherwise skip it. You can
get a combo ticket to Ste. Chapelle and the Conciergerie.
A museum in a 19th
century mansion filled with period furniture and a wonderful collection of
Italian art. Audio tour included with admission. Tea house restaurant in garden.
They serve brunch on Sundays.
Center (Museum of Modern Art)
If you’re a fan,
this is an excellent museum.
The Garnier Opera
is the setting for the Phantom of the Opera. There is a nice museum
inside and you can take tours.
Musée de Cluny /
Musée Nationale du Moyen Age (Museum of the Middle Ages)
baths from the first settlement of Paris, the famous Lady and the Unicorn
tapestries, and all types of art from the Middle Ages.
Housed in a
building called Hôtel Salé in the Marais district. Provides a good overview of
the breadth of Picasso’s work.
Cemetery (Jim Morrison’s grave!)
grave... along with those of Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Oscar
If you love Rodin,
this is definitely the museum for you. Housed in an old mansion, Hôtel Biron.
The sculpture of The Thinker is in the garden.
Dame. This is where most French monarchs were buried and all French queens were
There are three
stores on the Champs-Elysées for average-priced clothing: Zara, Naf-naf, and
Monoprix, which is also good for cosmetics. Its Bourjois brand is the
second brand of one of the pricier cosmetic houses. Monoprix is the French
equivalent of Target (with a grocery store in the basement). As you walk up the
Champs-Elysées toward the Arc de Triomphe (from Place de la Concorde), they are
all on your right side. If you’re taking the metro, take Line 1 to Franklin
Roosevelt, use the exit coté nos pairs (even numbered addresses). Tara
Jarmon, a more sophisticated/career clothing store is on the other side of the
Champs, just below avenue George V. It will be pricier than the stores mentioned
Trivia – Adrien's apartment (from my first novel
is #42, avenue George V (above the Hermes shop, top floor), 1-1/2 blocks off the
Place de la Concorde
Musée de l’Orangerie houses Monet’s Waterlilies. The
rest of the museum is Impressionist/modern, ending with a small room of
Picassos. It’s a nice museum and takes only a couple hours to go through. Waterlilies are in the basement.
church is in the vicinity (La Madeleine = Magdalene). Interesting small church
to walk through – no windows. The upscale, gourmet food stores are both behind
the church (Hédiard and Fauchon). Lots of yummy things to buy, but too expensive
for a simple picnic.
To see $10,000 blouses and $20,000
dresses, walk along the rue Faubourg-St-Honoré. Most of the haute couture
fashion designers have shops in this area.
The arcades along
rue de Rivoli is also a nice place to shop for souvenirs.
There are several
department stores in town: Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, and La Samaritaine.
BHV usually has things a bit cheaper. It’s located on metro Line 1, Hôtel de
Ville. Stepping off the metro, you should see signs for an underground entrance.
If not, follow exit signs for Hotel de Ville and you’ll come up in front of
Paris’ city hall (Hôtel de Ville). BHV will be just across the street. This same
metro stop is the easiest one to take for Notre Dame. Again, follow Hôtel de
Ville exit signs. Above ground, cross the bridge and keep walking. Within
several blocks, you’ll be in front of the cathedral. There is good souvenir
shopping around Notre Dame.
information on the antique fairs we haunted when we lived in Paris. They are
biannual, occurring in both spring and fall. If you show some interest in a
particular vendor’s items, they’ll probably give you a pass for free admission
for the following day of the fair. Like anywhere, cash talks; you’d probably be
able to bargain at least 10% … maybe more at a place like the Foire Nationale.
To find this year's dates, type the name of the salon into your browser.
Antiquaires à Auteuil, Antique dealers at Auteuil
(metro line 10, direction Boulogne –
Porte de St. Cloud, Porte d’Auteuil or Michel Ange Auteuil stops)
This show has the
nicest offerings, but is rather pricey.
Brocante à Champerret, Antique/Flea Market sale at
(metro line 3, direction Pont de
Levallis-Becon, Porte de Champerret or Louise Michel stops)
This show is
usually held in conjunction with a book/papers fair in the same complex (extra
admission). It's a slight step down from the show at Auteuil.
nationale à la brocante et aux jambons, National Flea
Market and Ham Sale
(RER A1 train line, direction St.
Germain-en-Laye, Rueil-Malmaison stop; come above ground and you’ll see the
bridge over the river and the fair on the Island.)
This fair is a
huge flea market with a wide range in price and quality. You can find priceless
treasures and absolute garbage. This Foire takes a couple days to completely
see; it’s located on the Ile des Impressionistes.