Culture on a shoestring budget in Paris

Over dinner with R. and Bolly, we talked about Diane Arbus’ recent exhibition at Jeu de Paume (which incidentally had been amazing!).  I asked R. if she paid the full price for her tickets and she lamented that I did not tell her about the 2-for-1 tickets i.e. €8.50 for 2 tickets instead of €17.  Following this conversation, I decided to write about some ‘tips’ I’ve gathered about visiting cultural institutions in Paris on a shoestring budget. My philosophy, why pay more than you really need to? (P/S: R., this is for you :))

Timing counts

If you are in Paris on the first Sunday of a month and are willing to brave the crowds,entrance fees to many museums and monuments are free on that day. Here’s a list below (obtained from

Free entrance first Sunday of every month

Musée du Louvre – 1st arrondisement

Musée national de l’Orangerie – 1st arrondisement

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature – 3rd arrondisement

Musée national Picasso – 3rd arrondisement

Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Pompidou – 4th arrondisement

Musée national du Moyen Âge – Thermes de Cluny – 5th arrondisement

Musée de l’Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris – 5th arrondisement

Musée national Eugène Delacroix – 6th arrondisement

Musée national Ernest Hebert – 6th arrondisement

Musée du Quai Branly – 7th arrondisement

Musée d’Orsay – 7th arrondisement

Musée Rodin – 7th arrondisement

Musée Gustave Moreau – 9th arrondisement

Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration – 12th arrondisement

Musée national des Arts asiatiques Guimet – 16th arrondisement

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine – 16th arrondisement

Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner – 17th arrondisement

Free entrance: First Sunday every month between 1 Nov – 31 March

Conciergerie – 1st arrondisement

Sainte-Chappele – 1st arrondisement

Tours de Notre-Dame – 4th arrondisement 

Panthéon – 5th arrondisement

Arc de Triomphe – 8th arrondisement

1.5hrs wait to enter Grand Palais

Save your ticket

If you’re taking a Eurostar train from London to Paris, hang on to your ticket as Eurostar has a tie-up with 6 museums! Upon showing your ticket at any of the museums/galleries, you’ll get to purchase 2 for 1 tickets to ALL paying exhibitions or permanent collections.  With Musee d’Orsay, Quai Branly Museum, Jeu de Paume and Grand Palais amongst the 6 museums (the other two are  Cité de la musique and Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris), I found this to be quite a good deal (*According to Eurostar’s terms and conditions, the offer is available for up to five days after your arrival in your destination, i.e. in this case, Paris. Ignorance can indeed be bliss as I didn’t know this condition existed when I visited Jeu de Paume about a month after getting back from London. I showed them my ticket and managed to get the deal nonetheless. Oooppssss).

Paris City Hall

No such thing as a free lunch but at the Paris City Hall (otherwise known as the l’Hôtel de Ville), admission is free to its temporary exhibitions. Located along Rue de Rivoli, you can time a spot of shopping followed by a dose of cultural pleasure in the City Hall.  In 2011, the City Hall held an exhibition featuring “Paris at the time of the Impressionists” which had been very well-received. For the moment,  over 300 original drawings from Jean-Jacques Sempé, a famous French cartoonist who had previously also worked for the New York Times, is on display at the City Hall. Check out this link:

 (*Beware though, French locals enjoy visiting museums especially when admission is free.  Long queues are pretty much the norm for entry to the exhibitions at the City Hall so I guess there’s a price to pay afterall).

L'Hotel de Ville

For the nocturnal souls

As part of a Europe-wide event entitled “European Night of Museums”, Paris’ museums/galaries/monuments (including the famous Louvre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Rodin Museum and Musee d’Orsay) open late into the night  – up to 1am – on one specified day in May. Special events are organised and admission will cost you nothing! In 2011, close to 200 museums and galleries opened their doors to the nocturnal owls.  Somehow I missed the event last year but will definitely head for this year’s event, the Nuit des musées,  on Saturday 19 May 2012.

With all these means of gaining free entry to museums, all I need now is MORE TIME! 🙂


2 thoughts on “Culture on a shoestring budget in Paris

  1. Pingback: Paris for the budget-conscious tourist | BOLLYCHEES IN PARIS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s