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Advice on best days for Paris sites like Versailles and the Louvre (and more)

We arrive in Paris at 1830 on Sunday, Sept 1. We leave at 1630 on Thursday, Sept 5. We want to visit Versailles and the Louvre, among many other places. I was thinking the Louvre on Wed to take advantage of the late opening, which would put us at Versailles on Tues. Is this sound thinking? Any other recommendations? I have read how busy both places are!

We are arriving by train at Gare de Lyons and will be headed to our AirBnB near the Louvre. Is there anything reasonable that we could see/do on Sunday after we arrive? After dropping off our backpacks, we could probably head out to see something, like the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe?

That leaves us Monday and half of Thursday to see as many of the other sites possible: St Chapelle, Sacre Coeur, Musee d'Orsay, Cluny Museum, Conciergerie, and any outside monuments (son is a history buff), Army museum, Bonaparte's mausoleum.....

In all likelihood, some of the above places will not happen. My son will get first choice on what he wants to see (I have been to Paris before and this trip is for him).

With this ambitious itinerary, I'm assuming the Paris Museum Pass would be a good idea?

All suggestions are welcome!

Posted by
1653 posts

The Paris Museum Pass has been unable to get people into the Louvre lately so do not buy it. See other threads. Instead, buy a timed entry ticket as soon as possible for the day of your choice - and yes, why not Wednesday.
I would also recommend timed entry for Versailles.
As for the other sights:
- Orsay is closed Mondays
- Cluny and Army museums are low on most people's lists of priorities, but you'll be able to decide on the day! Just don't let a pre-purchased pass force you into a marathon...

Posted by
31 posts

I'm confused about the Paris Museum Pass. I am able to get the timed tickets online for the Pass at no extra charge. Why doesn't that work? It's on the Louvre website. Are they not up to date?

Posted by
1653 posts

Ok, so that means they just implemented this system. Before, pass holders simply walked in, but for a while in July, many pass holders were denied entry to the Louvre due to 'overcrowding'. Many threads on this right here.
So then maybe the pass makes sense, I'll let you do the math.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks, it seems to be an evolving situation. Maybe it's settling down with even Pass holders learning that they have to have timed tickets (free) to keep the congestion at a minimum.

I know the museum is huge. And, I know that my son and I can spend a LOT of time in the ancient history/art section alone. Though we aren't necessarily art lovers, my son is an archaeology/history major and will be in history heaven on this trip. I'm trying to figure out the best time to enter. I've read that some exhibits close in the evening. Would an entry time of 11:30 be enough time for people like us? Would we miss the morning crush of people but still see everything (or at least everything important) by closing? Of course, if we get board or finish, we could leave. I don't see any guides to indicate how long it takes to go through the museum. Maybe that's because it's impossible!

For background info: we spent 5 hours at the relatively small (in comparison) King Tut exhibit in Los Angeles! I don't want to short change our time at the Louvre, but we also need to capitalize on our time in general.

Posted by
1653 posts

As someone who is unable to spend more than two hours in a museum, no matter how big, I can't say... But I don't see any reason to delay your entry to 11.30 rather than close to opening time: what are you going to do with the spare time in the morning? Best to get to the museum early and leave when you are ready to leave. Also, it's the European painting sections that see the most crowds; the ancient Rome/Greece/Egypt/Levant sections are more manageable.

Posted by
31 posts

Okay. I had read that the numbers of people thin out at lunch time and thought that might be helpful, especially on a day when the museum is open late anyway. But, if there really isn't much advantage, then we can go earlier.

Posted by
5715 posts

given the new timed ticket requirement, it doesn't matter when you go, but given your son's interests I would avoid the evening hours as the areas most likely to be closed are things like the Egyptian exhibits, the Assyrian artifacts etc etc, precisely the things he is likely to find interesting. I used to have a professional membership and so always went evenings as I could take my husband on my pass then -- often these were the areas that were closed off.

Posted by
11743 posts

Best day for Versailles is when rain is in the forecast. I went on a fountain day, which should have been busy. There was rain in the forecast and the place was far from crowded (even though it barely sprinkled at all). My theory is it's like Disneyland, people choose to do something else if they think it's going to rain.

Posted by
11664 posts

ptlovesot, this probably won't be your desired option but I'd consider skipping Versailles altogether? With just 3.5 days to work with there's more than enough to occupy your time just in Paris; oodles of history to keep your son engaged. The good news about the Louvre is that once you get in (yep, get a timed-entry reservation) I'm guessing the parts you two are most interested in very likely will not be overrun. Following recent reports, the long queue/densest mob inside is for Mona, and maybe "Winged Victory of Samothrace" will be pretty crowded as well. I don't think the same is true for the interiors of Chateau Versailles, although the gardens are immense so provide breathing room.

Dunno, up to you but I might think about giving it a skip so you don't have to hustle through Paris attractions?

Posted by
13 posts

Tips on visiting Versailles. I was just there a few weeks ago. It is extremely busy!! The line to get in the palace is hours long even if you buy tickets in advance. I bought a timed ticket for the 1:00PM slot. You are guaranteed to get in the palace within a half hour of ticket. I arrived at 12:35 and bypassed the entire line. It was wonderful and worth the few extra euros. Absolutely loved seeing the palace especially the gardens. You can easily spend all day here.