Paris Discount Cards: Passes & Benefits

by Jessica on July 13, 2009

by Jessica | July 13th, 2009  

discountcardsMost big tourist destinations that have more than a couple attractions offer some kind of discount card tourists can buy – and Paris is no exception. And with Paris, some of the discount cards include transportation – making getting from one attraction to the other is easier, too.

Here are the Paris discount cards you can choose from, including what each one gets you and how to get them. And if you’re trying to figure out whether buying any of the discount cards for Paris is worth the money, that’s covered at the bottom of this article.

Paris Discount Cards for Attractions

Paris Museum Pass
museumpassAs the name indicates, the Paris Museum Pass covers the city’s plethora of museums – more than 60 are included under this pass. You can get the pass in different time increments to best fit your stay in Paris, and people who are using a Museum Pass in Paris also get to bypass some entrance lines. That’s a particular bonus if you’re traveling in the peak season.

Some of the museums included in the Paris Museum Pass are the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon’s Tomb at Les Invalides, the Musee d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, the Pantheon, the Musee de l’Orangerie, Sainte-Chapelle, the Rodin Museum, the Picasso Museum, the towers and crypt of Notre Dame, and even the offbeat Paris Sewers Museum. And the list goes on. In fact, there are chateaux and museums outside the city of Paris that are also covered by the Museum Pass. Even better? There’s no limit to the number of times you can visit the sites covered by the pass. Want to swing through the Louvre every day of your week-long visit? Go for it.

The Paris Museum Pass comes in 2-day, 4-day, or 6-day increments, and you can buy the pass well in advance of your trip because there’s no expiration date on them. A 2-day pass costs €32, a 4-day pass is €48, and a 6-day pass is €64. Along with the pass, you’ll get a brochure that explains how to use it and tells you all of the museums and monuments covered by it.

You can get the Paris Museum Pass ahead of time on the card’s official website, or you can buy it when you get to Paris from authorized points. There are several tourist information areas in Paris’ airports where you can buy the pass, and in the city you can buy it at many of the museums which are covered on the pass. A couple of the tourist information offices in Paris also have them for sale, as do FNAC stores. See all the points of sale on the official website here.

Paris Discount Cards for Transportation

Paris Visite Card
parisvisiteParis is blessed with a fabulous public transport system, and if you’re planning to use it often to get around the city then you might want to consider the Paris Visite Card. It covers all the public transportation options in Paris and some of the surrounding region, and it also gets you discounts on a few other things in Paris as well.

The Paris Visite Card is broken down by zones and number of days, so you’ll want to figure out where you’ll be going in Paris before you buy. The cards come in 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, or 5-day increments and cover either zones 1-3 or zones 1-6. Zones 4-6 being further outside the city center, they’re more expensive to reach if you’re buying individual tickets – but if you’re not planning to visit those areas anyway, getting a card covering just zones 1-3 is a great money-saver.

The prices for the Paris Visite Pass are, at the time of this writing (child age is between 4-11):

  • 1-day, zones 1-3: €8.80 adult, €4.40 child
  • 2-days, zones 1-3: €14.40 adult, €7.20 child
  • 3-days, zones 1-3: €19.60 adult, €9.80 child
  • 5-days, zones 1-3: €28.30 adult, €14.15 child
  • 1-day, zones 1-6: €18.50 adult, €9.25 child
  • 2-days, zones 1-6: €28.30 adult, €14.15 child
  • 3-days, zones 1-6: €39.70 adult, €19.85 child
  • 5-days, zones 1-6: €48.40 adult, €24.40 child

You can buy the Paris Visite Pass at any Metro, RER, and SNCF station in Paris and the surrounding area, at bus terminal ticket offices, as well as at Paris’ airports at the tourist information areas. Some hotels also can sell them (this is often mentioned on the hotel’s website). Some travel agencies and tour operators also sell the pass, so if you’re working with one or the other for your Paris vacation you might want to ask.

In addition to hassle-free passage on the Paris Metro, RER trains, and buses in Paris with the Visite Card, you’ll get discounts on things like L’Open Tour (the open-top bus tour of Paris), the Museum of Wine, the viewing floor of the Tour Montparnasse, and the museum at the Opera Garnier. Plus, show the card at the Galeries Lafayette department store‘s welcome desk and you’ll get a free gift bag with your purchase.

There’s more information about the Paris Visite Card on the RATP website (the company that runs public transportation in Paris) here.

Paris Discount Cards for Attractions & Transportation

parispassOkay, so there’s a pass covering the sights, and one covering the transportation, but what about a combo? I mean, you’ve got to get from sight to sight somehow, right? The Paris Pass is the one you’re looking for.

The Paris Pass combines the attractions covered with the Museum Pass with the transportation covered by the Visite Pass. In fact, you’re actually buying each of those individual passes – you’re just doing it in one transaction, and you’re getting a few extras thrown in for good measure. (Note that the transportation part of the Paris Pass is good only in zones 1-3, not 4-6.) From the time you purchase your pass, you’ll have a year to activate it – so you can buy it long before your trip.

Bonuses you’ll get with the Paris Pass varies, but can include things like free entry into museums not normally on the Museum Pass, restaurant discounts, price reductions on attractions and guided tours, and free gifts or extras at shops and restaurants. Some of the extras offered at this writing were a free Segway tour of Paris, a discount at the Hard Rock Cafe in Paris, and a free perfume sampler when you visit the Fragonard Museum.

The Paris Pass comes in 2-day, 4-day, and 6-day increments, and there are different prices for adults, teens (ages 12-17), and children (ages 4-11). Current prices of the Paris Pass are:

  • 2-day Paris Pass: €89 adult, €45 teen, €24 child
  • 4-day Paris Pass: €129 adult, €66 teen, €34 child
  • 6-day Paris Pass: €159 adult, €76 teen, €44 child

Unlike the other discount cards listed here, the Paris Pass is only available online – so you’ll need to buy it from the official website before your trip and allow enough time for shipping.

Should I buy a discount card for Paris? Is it worth the money?

isicThe best way to figure out the answer to this question, if not the quickest way, is to look up the current prices for each of the museums and attractions you’re planning to visit during your stay and estimate how many times you’ll be using public transportation and add up all the costs. Then you can compare it against the cost of the various passes which cover the things you’ll be doing. If the pass is cheaper than the grand total of all the museum entry fees and transport costs, then the pass is obviously the better idea.

Another way to look at it is to divide the number of days a particular pass is good for into the total cost of the pass, you can get a quick idea of how much you’d need to be spending in a day to make the pass worthwhile. With a 2-day Museum Pass costing €32, you’d need to be spending at least €16 in museum admission each of those two days to break even. The Louvre alone, assuming you buy the most expensive ticket, will cost you €14 – and if you spend the better part of a day there you’ll likely be too exhausted to hit another museum afterward to “get your money’s worth” out of a Museum Pass. So, in general, these passes work out to being the best deals the longer the duration of your stay – and the pass.

Also remember that sometimes there are discounts off the regular admission price that you can take advantage of without buying a pass of any kind. Students, for instance, should be sure to bring their student ID (and consider getting an international student ID card) and always remember to ask at the ticket office whether there’s a student discount. For people over the age of 55, it never hurts to ask if there’s a discount for – shall we say – more seasoned travelers. AAA members sometimes get discounts, so you might as well bring that card with you, too.

>> For answers to more of your Paris travel-planning questions, read our first-time visitor guide to Paris.

discount card photos from card websites; top photo by Eric Mills, ISIC card photo by 4nitsirk


{ 3 comments }

Chris July 21, 2009 at 5:00 am
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I think these cards are perfect gifts for your friends if they are going to visit Paris or other city, and they are just worth collecting.

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jab August 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm
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if you buy a 2 day museum pass in paris do you have to use them over consecutive days???

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Jessica August 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm
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Hi, jab:

Yes, I believe the 2-day pass is for two consecutive days – as soon as you use it for the first time, the clock starts ticking on your 48-hours of the pass.

Ciao,
Jessica

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