Discover Paris - visitor guide and useful tips

Discover Paris in 2018 - stay, see, get round - the thematic guide to France

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Important :
Visitor passes are not essential, but they are very valuable

If you have all the time in the world while visiting Paris, don't buy one of the various Visitor Passes that are on offer.
But if you're just spending a few days in Paris and you don't want to spend hours standing in queues to get in to the main sights, a skip-the-line visitor pass is essential.
   Let's be quite honest: these passes won't necessarily save you any money, unless you make short visits to a lot of sights; but they will save a lot of time and frustration, as you skip past the long lines of people queueing up to buy entrance tickets to get into the into popular museums or sites.
  That does not necessarily mean no queue at all: even with a pass, you may need to queue to get past security... or just to show your pass. But you won't need to waste time standing in a line to buy a ticket for each visit you make. And for the more popular attractions, those you are most likely to want to visit, the queues can get very long, specially in the peak holiday season.  You can Compare pass prices here  or check out the main passes directly :
  • Paris City Pass : Recommended by The cheapest and best value of the all-in-one pass: includes museums (Louvre, Orsay etc.) , travel and sightseeing. Adult passes start at 99.9 € for two days. Check out or buy
  • Paris Pass : The most comprehensive  of the all-in-one pass: includes museums (Louvre, Orsay etc.), travel, sightseeing. Adult passes start at 131 €uros for 2 days.  Check our or buy
  • Paris visite: Travel only - just a Paris public transport pass.  More info here
  • Paris Museum pass : Museums only : just gives entry into the main museums (Louvre, Orsay etc.). More info here
  • Hop-on hop-off tourist buses : just  valid on these tour buses. More info here
  • Choose tickets à la carte :  Just buy tickets for what you have time to see. More info here

Important: Paris passes include most of the main sights of Paris, but they do not include the Eiffel tower. So take note that visiting the Tower without a booking in busy holiday periods will mean at best standing for ages in a long line, at worst disappointment.  See best solutions for pre-booking your visit on our Eiffel tower page

Information on the main Paris passes:

There are several different "passes" available for visitors to Paris, and it is a good idea not to get the wrong one, as this will mean either paying too much or else getting less than you bargained for.....  Passes will not necessarily offer great financial savings, but they will offer savings in time. During a short visit to Paris, few tourists want to spend several hours waiting in long queues to get into the top attractions. With a Pass you can avoid the ticket queues and skip the lines at the entrance to popular sites. 
IMPORTANT: Eiffel Tower : None of the Paris passes include the Eiffel Tower. (One pass offers a second floor Eiffel Tower ticket for 15 € extra... But a second floor ticket is only 11 € on the official Eiffel Tower site !) Tower access must always be purchased separately, or as part of  certain specific tours . Buy your Paris City Pass or your  Paris Pass online, then buy Eiffel tower ticket online from the official site. See Eiffel Tower information.

Compare the main  different Paris Passes:  2018

Compare  Paris passes for content and sample prices
Pass Paris Pass Paris City Pass Paris Visite Paris Museum Pass
What is included Full pass - Museums, attractions, transport Full pass - Museums, attractions, transport Public transport only Museums only
Prices - 2 Days Adult :  131 €  
Youth :  81 €
Child : 44 €
Adult :  99.90 €  
Youth :  39.90 €
Child : 19.90 €
Adult :  21,50 €
Child : 10,80 €
Adult :  48 €  
Under-18  :  Free
Prices - 4 Days Adult :  189 €  
Youth :  106 €
Child : 56 €
Adult :  159.90 €  
Youth :  59.90 €
Child : 35.90 €
5 days:
Adult 42.50 €
Child  21.10 €
Adult :  62 €  
Under-18  :  Free
Info and buy Paris Pass

Buy online in advance
Paris City Pass

Buy online in advance
Paris transport

Buy in advance or at any metro station
Museum Pass
Buy in advance or at the first museum you visit, or at Paris visitor centres

Note: Most passes are offered for periods of 2 days, 3 days, 4 days, sometimes 5 days, and 6 days. The Paris Visite travel pass is also available for just one day.
  • The Paris Pass   and the Paris City Pass  [Includes Skip the line at Museums and other attractions, Seine cruise,  and public transport ]
    These are both "all you need" passes covering transport, museums and attractions. They are very similar, , giving free admission to some 60 monuments / museums in and around Paris, plus free use of public transport (buses and metro) , a Seine river cruise, a free Paris guide book,  and lots more. They both include the Louvre, Orsay museum for the Impressionists,  Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, the Dali museum and more - but not the Eiffel Tower. 
       The main difference between these two passes - apart from the price - is that the Paris Pass includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour bus, the Paris City Pass does not. Both passes include normal Paris public transport.
    Buy your pass in advance, and avoid the queues to get in. 
  • Paris visite:  [Public transport only ]

    Visitors who plan to use lots of public transport in Paris but don't want to visit lots of museums and sites  may find that the best or cheapest solution is to take a visitor's pass, "Paris Visite", though this is not necessarily the case (see below). The Paris Visite passes are available on a 1, 2, 3 or 5 day basis, and cover all types of official public transport in the central area or central area and suburbs, depending on the option chosen.
      DO NOT BUY A PARIS VISITE PUBLIC TRANSPORT PASS if you have bought, or plan to buy, a Paris Pass for visiting attractions and museums. Public transport is already included in the Paris Passes.  See above 
       Paris Visite
    - gives unlimited use of the metro / RER / bus network for a given numer of days. Prices start at €13.20 for a one day adult pass covering zones 1 to 3 or 21.50 €uros for 2 days (As of Jan 2018). Full details in English, plus downloadable Paris Metro and public transport maps from the official Paris visitor website.  However, it's worth noting that a two-day Paris visite pass is only worth it if you plan to do a lot of trips on the metro or buses in a day. Buying a pack of ten individual journey tickets (valid until they are used) from the machine will cost you € 14.90, whereas buying a two-day Paris visite card will cost you  €21.50 (see below)

    Take care...  Where to buy Paris visite pass ?
    The simplest is to buy it when you reach France, from any Paris area train / metro station, airport, information point or tourist office. Buy it at the ticket office, not from a machine (unless renewing). If you want to buy it on line in advance, only do so here; you'll get the tickets at the official price, but you will pay extra (at least 9 Euros) to have them mailed to you. DO NOT purchase in advance from other online websites that sell these tickets well above the real cost, and charge excessively for delivery too. You could end up paying double the cost......
  • Paris Museum pass  [Museums only ]
    - giving unlimited admission to some 60 monuments / museums in and around Paris, excluding the Eiffel Tower. Prices start at 48 €uros for two days or 62€ for four days.  This pass - best purchased on the day at the first museum you visit -  does not include any transport, so things like Seine river cruises, metro tickets and sightseeing tours must be purchased separately. See below. The Paris Museum Pass is included in the Paris Pass (see above). 
Other passes:
  • Hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus pass  The Open-Tour /Cityrama service, has a choice of hop-on hop-off passes from 33 € for a one-day pass, and covers four different routes (plus optional Batobus service on the Seine). Alternatively Big Bus Tours (formerly les Cars Rouges) run open-top guided tour buses linking nine major sites; a two-day pass costs  39€ if paid on the bus. B
  • The "Batobus" and travel on the Seine. The Batobus are river buses that go up and down the Seine from the Eiffel tower to the quai de Montebello (near Notre Dame). There are 8 stops in all. An adult day pass in early 2018 costs 17 €, and a 2-day pass (consecutive days) costs 19 € per adult.

PASSES are often the easiest solution, but not necessarily the cheapest way to visit Paris ...


 Choosing which pass is best for you, or whether you actually need a pass at all, will depend untimately on what sights you want to see, what you want to do in Paris, and how long you are staying.  Paris has litterally hundreds of different tourist sights (see Paris tourist attractions), including museums, monuments, views, places to walk, tours, concert halls, cabarets, restaurants and cafés. No-one has time to see everything. In fact, most tourists, in the space of a short trip to Paris, can do no more than scratch the surface.
  So before choosing a pass, or no pass, ask yourself the following questions.
  1. Do you want to take in at least three paid entry attractions a day (between monuments, museums, river cruise...)  . If so, the Paris City Pass is probably your best value option, 
  2. Do you want primarily to visit Paris's world-class musuems, more than monuments or other attractions? If so, the Museum Pass may be your best solution.
  3. Do you want to avoid the big paid-entry sites, with their queues, and enjoy Paris by visiting smaller museums, taking in Paris's free attractions (including museums), soaking in the atmosphere of the old streets and riverbanks, and enjoying the bars and cafés ? If so, you don't need a pass at all, it would be a waste of money. Just pay at the entrance to the paid-entry sites you visit, and enjoy the others for free.
  4. Do you plan to use the metro or buses more than 5 times in a day, including getting to and from your hotel located in central Paris or the inner suburbs? If so, the Paris Visite transport pass might be worth it.. but note that it is included in the various City passes anyway...
  5. Do you want to pack in as much as possible in a short space of time, including the main sights ?  If so, the Paris City Pass is your best value option.


Making the best use of Paris public transport.

Art nouveau metro station signLike most French cities, Paris is not a place to visit by car. Parking can be an expensive nightmare (though less so than London), and the city has a great public transport network, with a fast underground network that stretches well into the suburbs.
The public transport system includes buses, the underground and overground metro, the RER (express transit metro), and of course taxis. Taxis in France are ordinary vehicles with a taxi sign on the roof, not special vehicles as in London.  They are quite expensive, and there are not enough of them.
   If you plan to use public transport, it makes best sense to buy one of the passes that includes it. See below.  
  For more ideas on keeping down your costs, visit the Budget Paris page

METRO and Bus information for Paris - 2018

paris metroWhen visiting Paris, if you plan to use the  metro or the bus from time to time but less than six times in a day, opt for a "carnet" (pronounced Car-nay). This is simply ten standard tickets at a reduced rate (€ 14.90 for ten in January 2018). Carnet tickets have no date limit, and can be shared among members of a group. If you have some left over at the end of your stay, keep them for next time. They are valid on buses, the metro and the "RER" within the cental area, and on metro and RER journeys allow as many changes as you want.
Changing: Just one important point to note: while you can change metros or change buses on a standard journey ticket, you can't change from a bus journey to a metro journey, or vice-versa.
Though the Metro is mainly an underground system, several parts of the network are above ground, and offer an interesting way to see Paris from well above street level.
Note: Neither a standard Paris metro ticket nor a central Paris pass are valid on the RER for travel into the suburbs, and notably for travel to Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports. For such destinations, you must buy a specific ticket.
Specific destination tickets and carnets are available at all metro stations, and from automatic machines which accept credit cards. Carnets can also be bought in some main French railway stations outside Paris.

Small Paris metro planGlimpse of the hypercenter of the Paris metro network     Click this small map for a larger map, or click the following link for a  printable PDF Central Paris metro map.
Set printer options to "Landscape" (horizontal) for best printing
Finding your way in the metro.
This is no big problem. Using the maps available, check the line number and terminus station of each line you want to take. If you need to change routes, follow the "Correspondance" signs on the platform and through the foot tunnels; these indicate the line numbers and the termini. Just follow the right one. The RATP (Paris transport authority) provides free maps which are usually available in hotels, metro stations and other places.

Travelling outside Paris: use the trains or hire a car at  a location on the outskirts of Paris, to avoid having to drive in the streets of Paris. See tips on car hire on the outskirts of Paris. Click here for travel to and from Paris airports

General Paris transport tips :

TIP - Train or bus from the airport: Generally speaking, the RER train service is fast, and cheapest.  See Paris airport guide.

TIP - If you arrive by air in Paris for a day trip, buy the 1 day "Paris visite" visitor pass for zones 1-5, which includes the airports. that way you also have unlimited hop-on hop-off public transport during your day in Paris

TIP - Changing trains at "Chatelet" metro hub. Chatelet is the biggest interconnection station on the Paris metro system: three main RER routes cross here, notably B (for the airports) and A (serving the Gare de Lyon and Disneyland). If you are changing from a southbound "B" train to a south/east bound "A" train, (for instance, coming from Charles de Gaulle airport and heading for Gare de Lyon or Disneyland, a common combination), just cross the platform. The same goes if you are taking these routes in the opposite direction (for example coming from Gare de Lyon and heading for Charles de Gaulle airport). Nothing could be simpler!
For other changes, follow the indicator boards, having noted which RER or metro routes you want.

TIP - Your ticket. Always keep your ticket until your journey is finished, even if it is just a single journey ticket. If you use the RER in the central urban area of Paris (which you can do, of course), you will need to put your ticket through the machine both to get onto the platforms and again to get out of the RER area.

Click here for Paris tourist attractions guide : Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, and much more

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PARIS 2018
The guide

Your guide to the capital city of France - its life, its attractions, and how best to enjoy them

Getting round Paris,  tourist attractions, where to stay, and other things to see and do.
PARIS is Europe's most fantastic city, a place that has everything for the traveller or visitor. Whether you visit Paris on a day trip, Paris in the Spring, Paris for a week or for far longer, this is a city that has it all! Museums, theatres, shops, fantastic historic monuments, a beautiful riverscape, Paris has all of these.  this website helps you plan your visit to Paris, and get the best out of your stay in the French capital.

Disneyland Paris... just click

paris Pass
The Best value Paris pass.
The new Paris City pass is the cheapest of the full Paris visitor passes - up to 24% cheaper than other passes for adults, and up to 50% cheaper for children. Prices start at just 19,90 Euros for a two day pass for children and 99.90 Euros for a two day adult pass
Check it out now !

In an emergency in Paris:

24 hr chemist / pharmacies:
a) 84, av des Champs-Elysées 75008, tel
0145 62 02 41
b) 6, place Clichy 75009, tel
0148 74 65 18 .

English-speaking pharmacies:
British Pharmacy
62, Avenue des Champs-Elysées
75008 Paris
0143 59 22 52

British-American pharmacy,
1 rue Auber, 75009
0142 65 88 29

English-language crisis line;
Daily 3 pm - 11pm
01 46 21 46 46

Call/phone: 15

Hertford British Hospital: 3, rue Barbès, 92300 Levallois-Perret
Tel 0146 39 22 22

American Hospital of Paris
63, Bd Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
0146 41 25 25

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