Question – do you need to invest in a Paris museum card (Paris Visite) to avoid lines in the big museums? The answer is: No.
The Paris museum card (available at the Tourism Office, 25 rue des Pyramides; Metro: Pyramides, Tel. 0892683000) was supposed to enable tourists to visit several museums over a two, three, or four-day period without waiting in lines.
The problem is the logistics of getting the card. It used to be available in major Metro stations. Now it isn’t. I was told to go to one of the train stations or the Paris Office of Tourism Metro: Pyramides. The logistics aren’t so good if you live on the left bank and want to go to a museum on the left bank.
Not all museums accept the Paris Visite Card. For example, the newly opened Musee Quai du Branly doesn’t. I also discovered that the Paris Tourism Offices satellite office at the North Tower of the Eiffel Tower (which is supposed to be open during the summer months until the end of September) is no longer open for reasons unexplained by the Tourism Office. There are no ideally located Left Bank Tourism Offices open.
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Realistically speaking, you can only visit two museums in one day – and even two museums is probably overkill, but this is the only way you can make the expense of the ticket justifiable. Today we went to the Musee d’Orsay and the Musee du Quai Branly. At 7,50 for entrance into the Musee d’Orsay, that Branly isn’t covered by the museum card. (And you’d still have to stand in line to buy a ticket!)
Here is the best way to avoid lines (and this advice is given in many guide books, but over the years, we’ve just been too lackadaisical to pay any attention), so learn from our mistakes!
Musee d’Orsay. Musee d’Orsay is open until 9:15 pm on Thursday nights. We went at 6 pm on a Thursday in September and there was NO LINE WHATSOEVER. You will discover that the most difficult thing to do on a Thursday night is to find your way back to your hotel or lodging if you have walked most of the way to the Musee d’Orsay. Either you can take the RER line located directly in front of the museum, of you need to wend your way back to Blvd. St. Germain and the Solferino Metro stop or bus stop.
There is a taxi stand outside of the museum but good luck finding a cab in the evening during rush hour which seems to go on straight through till theater time. If you have your cell phone handy, try calling Taxi Bleue (Tel. 01 49 35 10 10). You may pay more for your ride (taxis charge according to where they are when they pick you up as opposed to starting the meter when you get into the cab.