Just back from a Paris trip with our well-worn copy of the RS Paris guidebook. We found that the TI at Charles DeGaulle airport not only had the Paris Museum Passes, but also RER and Metro tickets, any of which could be paid for with a US credit card and we don't think we paid extra. RER B to Gare du Nord worked as described, but we were unable to find an alternative to lugging our baggage up stairs to get to the street level. Part of the Orsay has been renovated and many things described in the audio tour were not in the locations mentioned. Time for an ? If you wait to make Eiffel Tower reservations until you get to Paris, you'll likely be like us, admiring it from ground level. The afternoon we went to Sainte Chapelle, there was only one line to get through security, with or without the Museum Pass. It took about 30 minutes, but it was worth the wait.
There is a newer section of this web site called "Trip Reports" that you can find at Travelers Helpline. Your post would be most helpful to folks looking there.
Hi Howard - thanks for posting this! I'm heading to Paris in September for a week and this was really helpful. I'd prefer to take mass transit to our hotel but am worried I'll be too jetlagged to figure out the ticket machines in the airport, so I'm thinking about taking a taxi. Are the machines complicated? I think we'll buy Museum Passes (we're going to visit at least 5 museums plus Versailles and I've done preliminary math; I think they'll save us money) but we aren't planning to visit our first museum until the day after we arrive. Do we have to buy the passes on the first day that we'll use them? I'm going back and forth about buying Eiffel Tower tickets in advance. Some people say not to because the weather might be bad or an elevator could be out of service. Did you not even go up the Tower because of the lines? Thanks for any advice!
Sarah: for the museum passes, you can buy them in advance, and just make sure to date them when you want to start them (the start date has to be written in). It's demonstrated here: http://en.parismuseumpass.com/rub-the-pass-how-to-use-it-19.htm
Once you figure out how to get the machines to the English setting, they're not hard to use. You can also buy direct from a staffed counter. Public transit isn't hard..but if you're nervous about it and jetlagged and can afford the cab, you might prefer to do that. If you have time, I'd buy the passes in advance online and have them shipped to you, it saves time once you're on the ground. Otherwise use the TI at the airport as Howard suggested. Going to the TIs in the city is a PITA. Don't forget you can use the museum pass to skip lines. You'll definately save money if you're planning on visiting that many museums, and the line-saving aspect is the real bonus. I would buy Eiffel tix in advance ASAP. Even in bad weather, it's still pretty spectacular.
Hi, Thanks for the information on the TI as a place at CDG to get RER and Metro tickets, especially since a US credit card is accepted. That's a lot more convenient than waiting in line at a Metro station for a machine or at the counter. For the RER B ticket I've used a ticket counter where you can pay with a credit card.
Howard and Sarah - thanks for your help! I looked at buying passes online and having them mailed but it's a bit pricey. The website seems to indicate you can buy passes from most major museums - is this true? If so, I was planning to buy the passes the morning that we visit the first museum. But the airport TI is a great suggestion. I've been to Paris before and am comfortable with the Metro, but have never attempted it jetlagged. My sister has never been to the city and is an inexperienced traveler so I'll need to lead the way. Good to know that the machines have an English setting and that we can buy tickets from a staffed window. I'll look into buying Eiffel tickets online. We want to go at dusk when the city lights come on, so if there's bad weather I don't know how much we could see. And an elevator could be out of service. Those are my only hesitations in buying advance tickets.
Thank you for the tips, especially the one about the TI at the airport! I'm booking our Eiffel tickets right now.. most of the times are already sold out, so thanks for the heads up!
You can save both time and money if you take the RER B into the city and, if you buy the tickets from The TI, you don't have to figure out the ticket machines and there was no line to wait in. If you buy the Eiffel tickets ahead, you do have the weather risk, but my understanding is that one of the elevators is out of service and that is making the lines even longer than normal. As someone else mentioned, you put a date on the museum pass the first day you use it and then it is good for the applicable number of days. Even if you don't go into enough museums to quite break even, it's a big plus to bypass the ticket lines at several of the most popular museums.
Buy RER B tickets from TI - got it, thanks! The nearest Metro stop to our hotel is Cluny / La Sorbonne so it looks like we can take the RER B from CDG to St.-Michel / Notre Dame and take the tunnel to the Cluny stop, then exit there. I did the math today and we'll save 5 euros on museums and Versailles, avoid ticket lines, and go up the Notre Dame tower and enter Ste.-Chapelle for free. It's basically breaking even but we get to skip most lines. We'll buy the passes. Now what makes me nervous is hearing about Eiffel Tower ticket times that are selling out. I would guess that evening is a popular time to visit the Tower.
I too found that the Eiffel Tower had sold out, due to a broken lift. I opted for a tour, Fat Tire tours has a link. The cost is aout 50 euro, but I got the sunset tour on the day i prefer. I thought it well worth the extra $$ since who knows if i will ever see it again. Many choices.... good luck.
Thanks for the additional idea, Claudette!
Welcome, Howard from Bloomfield! I, too, want to suggest that you move your thread to the new Trip Reports section; perhaps if you contact the Webmaster it can get moved with all responses intact. This way, all who want to read other's experiences can find them all in one place! Your thread has some great info; I'd hate for it to get lost in the shuffle...