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Trip Report Museum Hop Till You Drop in Paris

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Warning : This may be seriously injurious to those who think that holidays are for relaxing!!

Attention: For serious art-lovers only!!

I’ve just spent one week in Paris, spending all day everyday in either museums or monuments. In my previous trips to Paris, I have explored the normal touristic destinations but never had time enough to devote to museums. First trippers may who wish to fit in as much as they can into their holidays may also find my tips useful. Though I have marked it as a trip report, it is more of a tips & tricks of travelling..

Where to Stay: It doesn’t matter. Whichever arrondissement you elect to stay in, you’ll end up having to take public transport from place to place. I stayed in a hotel in the 1st last time, but I didn’t like it much. I liked my apartment in the 9th close to Folies Bergère much better; it was a normal residential area. In both cases, plenty of commutes by metro were inevitable.

Hotel or Apartment : There is a case for both. I was alone and stayed in a tiny studio apartment. It was comfortable and the location convenient for the metro. For those considering apartments, the points to look for (in addition to location) is availability of lifts in the building, washers/dryers if you need them and internet connection. The additional costs of agent’s fees, renter’s insurance and cleaning fee are not always evident. With an apartment you can save some eating out costs if you are prepared to make simple meals or bring in take-away.

Museum Pass : I bought the 6 day pass for a hefty Eu 69. On calculating after the trip, I visited Eu 104 worth of museums, though of course I went to a couple only because I had the pass. The main advantage is bypassing the ticket queues at the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay where ticket queues are very long. It did not save any time in the other places. On the whole I recommend it for those who do want to museum & monument hop.

Which Museums & Monuments : It is important to plan ahead by checking the list of museums and monuments in Paris and selecting the ones which interest you most. It is impossible to see them all anyway, so being selective is the key. My area of interesting is paintings from the 15th to the early 20th century and my selections were based on that. I visited the following museums: Louvre, Orsay, Petit Palais, Orangerie, Cluny and Rodin. I also visited the following monuments: Notre Dame (free), Basilque St. Denis, Invalides (free) & Napoleon’s Tomb, Versailles, Sainte Chapelle, Basilica at Montmartre (free) and the Pantheon.

Transport Pass : Transport passes seem too expensive to make sense. When you buy a carnet of 10 tickets, each ticket costs only Eu 1.27. A daily pass is Eu 8.55, nearly 7 trips to break even. Even if you buy a 5 day pass, you’ll need to make 5 trips to make it worthwhile. In one week I used two sets of 10 tickets and a return ticket to Versailles for a total of about Eu 32. I also took taxis to and from Gare de Lyon (total Eu 28). I did cleverly route myself so that I was not crossing to and fro across the ciry. I travelled only by Metro or RER. The buses seemed frequent but the traffic so heavy that the going would have been slow. The Metro is easy to figure out and the correspondences and exits very clearly marked at each station. I found the Plan de Quartier (Plan of the area) stuck on walls close to exits very useful to get oriented. These maps show the streets around the metro and the various exits are clearly marked. Important: Do not throw away tickets until you finish the complete trip. You need the RER ticket for exiting stations. There are random checks on the Metro (I was checked once) and there is a heavy fine if you don’t have a valid ticket.

For those with Reduced Mobility due to disability, injuries or age : Paris is hard. Only a few Metro lines have escalators or elevators, at most times you will need to climb a lot of stairs, for entry & exit but also for correspondences between lines. This page gives a very useful list of stations which have lifts or escalators. http://www.ratp.fr/fr/ratp/c_20623/reseau-ferre/There is often a long walk along tunnels when making correspondences. I recommend taxis for those with any serious disability or weakness. People with aches and pains, like myself, can manage but it takes a toll. Buses would be easier but slower. It was hard inside the museums as well; even when there were facilities, some were reserved only for people with a real disability. Sometimes the cost (energy & strain) of having to find a lift did not seem worth it. I found an older gentleman walking around with a small foldable stool; it seemed like a good idea to me! I have also made comments on the individual museums and monuments I visited re accessibility. I personally suffer from a bad back and sciatica and some knee & ankle issues, all of which were put to test and failed miserably during this visit to Paris. It was pain-killers and anti-inflammatories to the rescue!

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