If you’re planning to visit a Paris museum or monument, do yourself a favor and double-check the opening hours and entry fees on the OFFICIAL websites. Don’t rely on printed or online guidebooks, on the Paris tourism office website, or on blogs.
Why not? Because they often have outdated information that is completely wrong. And if you’re planning your whole day – or even your vacation itinerary – around this misinformation, imagine how much life will suck when the museum is no longer open on that particular day, or the tickets are not free anymore, or the particular artwork or room you wanted to see is temporarily closed? Or the Paris Museum Pass you thought you could use to “Skip the Line” doesn’t work at Ste-Chapelle, Versailles, nor Notre Dame’s towers?
Here are just a few examples of what you may haved missed:
Old info: The Louvre is free to everyone the first Sunday of the month.
Correct info: The Louvre is free to everyone the first Sunday of the month ONLY from October through March (this changed in 2014, read article here).
Breaking News: As of July 1st, 2015 the entrance fee will be a flat €15 and include the permanent collections as well as the temporary expositions (until now there were separate tickets of €12 for the permanent collection and €13 for the temporary expositions, or €16 for a joint ticket, so it’s actually €1 cheaper).
Château de Versailles
Usual Chateau Gardens Opening Hours: Daily 8am-8:30pm
Actual Chateau Garden Opening Hours: The gardens close at 5:30pm (last entry 5pm) EVERY Saturday from June 20-September 19, and on June 26, 27, 30, July 1, 2, 8, 9, 10. Check Versailles opening hours here.
Random Closures: Versailles, like many monuments including Ste-Chapelle, sometimes close because of private events, and it doesn’t matter that you already booked your entrance tickets for that date six months in advance (anyone who showed up May 29th for their visit found the chateau and gardens closed for “a private event” at 3pm could only be reimbursed their tickets by emailing a written request and bank information).
Free First Sunday: Versailles is ONLY free the first Sunday of the month in low season, November through March.
No Skipping the Lines: If you have an advanced-purchased ticket or Paris Museum Pass, you still have to line up with everyone else to go through security. ONLY annual pass holders have priority access (and, of course, private tours).
Reminder: The Grand Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate do not open until noon. So if you decide to get there early to “beat the crowds” (ha!), you’re better off arriving after noon and visiting these first, then going to the chateau after 4:30pm (going the opposite direction of the masses is the best way to avoid them).
Closed Rooms: Due to renovations, there are many rooms of this History of Paris museum which are closed, including the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the French Revolution. In other words, all of the best rooms! Yes, it’s a free museum, so not a huge deal, but French Revolution buffs looking forward to visiting this museum will be disappointed.
No-Photo Rules Change: Up until this spring it was forbidden to take photos of the artworks in the newly-renovated Musée d’Orsay. But after a French cultural minister was shamed for taking photos of the artworks and posting them on Instagram, the museum now allows photos again. However flashes, tripods and selfies-sticks are still not allowed.
Palais de Tokyo
Old Info: Closed on Mondays (like the Municipal Museum of Modern Art, in the eastern wing of the same building).
Correct Info: Closed on Tuesdays. This changed when the museum re-opened after massive renovations in 2012, but many sites, including the Paris Tourism Office website, still claim it’s closed on Monday. These things happen, which is why you should always check the official website!
Other Paris Museums & Monuments that ONLY free the first Sunday of the month in low season, from November until March:
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Bonjour Heather,I really enjoy your great Paris info newsletters.So nice to learn about many wonderful secrets, dreamy places and current information, speciallylove the fact that you share your experiences ina very cool way…it does help to get a better ideaon how to enjoy the city and its charms.Looking forward to visit next Autumn…The best as always,Erika Morrison Bunda
Dear Heather, I have enjoyed your newsletter for a couple years and every time I read it I learn something new, pertinent and interesting. This issue's museum info certainly clears up a few mysteries we have experienced with disappointment. And it's GREAT to know the photo police at the Musée d’Orsay have lost their jobs! Thank you for the way you help enrich this amazing experience we have of being in Paris. All best, Genevieve McWilliams