Affordable Paris, where art is (almost always) free!

Monet's house, gardens and museum at Giverny
Monet's house, gardens and museum at Giverny

When I first started to plan for this WYSU trip to France, I knew I wanted to bring my daughter, who would turn 11 just before we left. As I began to research the cost of all the amazing museums and tours available, especially in Paris, I was surprised to learn that for children under age 18, there is no charge at all to get into most museums. NONE! And for adults the price is minimal, especially when considering the quality and quantity of what you can see with a ticket in hand. So here is a schedule of what Lucia and I did and how much it cost:

  1. The Louvre 
    What it cost: For Lucia -- $0 For me -- $12.00
    What we saw: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Napoleon’s Chambers, The Louvre!
  2. The d’Orsay
    What it cost: For Lucia -- $0 For me -- $11.00
    What we saw: countless masterpieces by Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Rodin, VanGogh!
  3. The Eiffel Tower
    What it cost: To take pictures from the terrace? $0
    What it cost to go in and up: For Lucia -- $4.50 For me -- $9.00
    What we saw: Paris from the Eiffel Tower! (And the chance to go down 1000 steps.)
  4. The Tuilleries (the gardens at the Louvre)
    What it cost: FREE, for everyone, always.

We also saw Versailles, the palace which was home to many kings and queens of France, including the ill-fated Marie Antoinette. And we visited impressionist Claude Monet’s house, gardens and museum at Giverny. Both of these tours were included in the Go Ahead package, so it was not clear how much they cost per adult and child. But there is something to be said for a city and country that so loves its treasures, it is determined to that future generations will love them too -- so they make it very easy for us to experience them.

The wait for the Louvre on a pretty Sunday was about 15 minutes from start to finish. Inside, it took just a few minutes to get right in front of the Mona Lisa – and even take a selfie! The wait to get into the Eiffel Tower was about 90 minutes at 10:30 a.m. on a raining Saturday, but the line thinned out after noon.

Finally, the wait for Versailles was hours long, but as a group with prepaid tickets we bypassed it. Still, inside it was a crush in every room. At a time when house museums in the United States are struggling to get people in the door, it is wonderful that the palace is still such a big draw.  The long queues outside and the tight squeeze through large doorways inside, did remind me a little of a popular amusement park on a summer day. What makes Paris different? The art, the architecture, and the history are the attractions – but instead of $80+ per admission, they are priceless! And that is a deal no one should pass up.