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vayio Nov 6th, 2007 12:14 AM

Museums in Paris. How much time spend in each one?
I am going to Paris on early January for 5 days (31st Dec - 5th Jan). I am planing on visiting the following museums: Louvre, Picasso, Army museum (de Armee), Pantheon, Orsey and also Notre Dame towers and Versailles. Could anyone tell me how much time more or less, needs to be spend in each one, so as to fit them in my program? Are there waiting lines in January? Maybe a museum pass will help. Thanks.

traveller1959 Nov 6th, 2007 12:29 AM

It depends on yourself.

I know people who spend a whole day in one museum and others who leave after 30 minutes running through.

I usually count 60 to 90 min per museum, then I have seen the most important exhibits and I will be exhausted. But it is up to you!

Generally, if you take an audioguide, it will take somewhat longer.

The Louvre is the biggest museum. There you can indeed spend a whole day (or more), but after an hour, you will have got an impression.

The Pantheon is no museum at all, a couple of minutes will be enough to see the place.

For Notre Dame church 10 min will be enough (but do not forget to visit Sainte-Chapelle, which is the better church), but to climb the towers, count with additional 20 min.

Versailles is no museum but a castle. Count more or less 60 to 90 min for the castle and some additional time for the park (unfortunately not so beautiful in winter).

The others are normal museums; 60 min. would be okay for each (for myself).

Strangely, it never happened to me that I had to wait in front of the Louvre (maybe because I go there in the afternoon). I do not expect long lines this time of year.

PatrickLondon Nov 6th, 2007 12:40 AM

Bear in mind that Versailles is outside Paris. Count that as the best part of a day to get the most out of it without giving yourself a lot of stress.

My guess would be that you're most likely to have to allow some queueing time for the d'Orsay and the Louvre.

Once you're inside it all depends on what interests you and what grabs your attention that you didn't expect. Again, my guess would be that's more likely to happen at the Louvre and the d'Orsay simply because of the quantity and quality of what they have.

Travelnut Nov 6th, 2007 04:02 AM

"The Pantheon is no museum at all, a couple of minutes will be enough to see the place."

well... at least be sure to visit the Crypt (Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Jean Monnet, Marie and Pierre Curie and Emile Zola..) and try going to the observatory terrace (only at set times with guide).
I'm unsure if Foucault's pendulum is still at the Pantheon or back at Musee des Arts et Metiers..

yk Nov 6th, 2007 04:55 AM

It is impossible to tell you how much time to spend in these museums - it all depends on how interested you are in the collection.

DH &amp; I spent an <b>entire</b> day at the Louvre, and maybe 3 hours at the Orsay. I recommend taking the docent-guided tours at the Louvre and the Orsay if you haven't been before. They give a good &quot;highlights&quot; tour and you can then visit the museum at your own pace.

elaine Nov 6th, 2007 05:49 AM

here's another vote for the Louvre highlights tour. When I took a Paris first-timer on one, we thought it an efficient way to see some famous works of art, and a good deal of the building itself. In the ticket-buying area, inside under the Pyramid, you will see a sign for &quot;Tours Conferences.&quot; Allow a few minutes before the actual time of the tour: you have to pay for the tour, rent the headsets (the guide uses a microphone), and be prepared to leave a credit card or passport as security for the headset.

Free maps of the Louvre in all languages are available at the information counter after you get inside. It is laid out sort of as a center area under the Pyramid, think of it as a steering wheel with three spokes: the Denon, Richlieu, and Sully wings. From the main entrance where you buy your tickets, you have to choose which wing you will enter first--consult your Louvre map for what interests you. In order to visit one of the other wings, you will have to return to the main entrance area, and enter one of the other wings. There are some alleged and well-hidden cross-over points that may allow you to transfer directly from one wing to another, but I've never been able to figure that out, so I just head back to the main entrance area, and choose another wing.

The website should offer you an indication of the daily schedule for tours in English. there are also audio guides to rent if you want to go through more areas on your own. For a suggestion on a three-hour seen-it, done-it walk through of the Louvre:
The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Another useful note: The Louvre normally closes at 6pm but two nights each week, Wednesday and Friday, the Louvre is open until 9:45, although the entire museum may not stay open during the evening hours. The Louvre website will tell you which galleries and sections are closed on which days and evenings and it is very helpful.

www. will tell you which evening that museum stays open later. I think it's Thursday, but double check. Then Orsay museum is closed on Mondays.
My strategy for the Orsay is to get there 1/2 hour before opening time if I don’t have the museum pass, and just before opening time if I have the pass. The information desk near the entrance has museum floor plans in English. I start on the top floor of the museum where most of the impressionist paintings are--early in the day you can see them in relative peace. The museum is especially crowded on Tuesdays because the Louvre is closed. If you are interested in decorative arts, there are some beautiful furnishings and objects, especially on the first floor, to see in addition to the paintings and sculptures. Guided tours in English: check website for that schedule—topics vary. There are also audio guides for rent.

Tinathread Nov 6th, 2007 06:06 AM

Just got back from Paris, so here's my two cents!

Versailles really is an all-day trip, because there's a lot to see and it's 30 minutes+ away from town. Buy a day &quot;passport&quot; at the RER train station (rail + entrance fees) so you can avoid the ticket queue at the Palace.

We went to the Orsay on a Tuesday and we walked right in; no queues at all. We spent 3 1/2 hours total, including a one-hour lunch at the Restaurant, but we only saw about half the art displayed.

Two tips for the Louvre: buy your tickets in advance online from the Louvre's website. You'll receive them by US mail and you'll be able to walk right into the entrance at the Richlieu passage. We've done that before and it does save time. The other suggestion is to go on a Wednesday or Friday night when the museum stays open until 9:30PM. Tickets are discounted after 6PM if you only want to spent a few hours, or you can go early and feel as if you're getting more time there. We spent six hours total, including a wonderful dinner at their &quot;gourmet&quot; restaurant.

Hope that helps a little!

Michel_Paris Nov 6th, 2007 07:24 AM

Have you been to Paris before? Four museums and Versailles in 5 days seems a bit heavy, unless you are really into museums. And...have you checked if any are closed for holidays? You might be even more compacted?

I'd slim down the list and add more Notre Dame as you have already done. I'd rank Notre Dame proper above (in a visit sense)than the climb up for the view. First time I've seen someone list the towers of Notre Dame as the reason for a visit :)

Michel_Paris Nov 6th, 2007 07:26 AM

Additional thoughts...are you landing from overseas on one of those days? Tougher to visit museum with jet, add-in time to get from where you arrive to hotel, check-in.etc. Similarly are you leaving on 5th day...allow time for getting to airport early,etc...?

Christina Nov 6th, 2007 09:28 AM

I don't think that's so heavy for five days. There are only three biggies on there -- Louvre, Orsay and then Versaille, of course. YOu can do lots in a day even if you only spend a couple hours of it in a museum.

It really does depend on you, and you can spend whatever time you want. I can't stand to be in a museum even half a day, so usually spend a couple hours on big ones. If it's got much more, as the Louvre etc always do, of course, I just decide what's important to me. I visit lots of museums in a lot of cities, so there isn't any reason why I have to visit every exhibit or gallery (some art periods I don't even like, for example) in one.

I really liked the Pantheon and probably spent 30-60 minutes there. It's not a museum, of course, but it's worth seeing.

The only thing I've never done on your list is Notre Dame towers because I've just never been interested in that tourist thing where you go up high to look at views.

josephina Nov 6th, 2007 09:59 AM

vayio: Just a tip: Whenever we take new victims with us to Paris during the winter months (as one friend termed it &quot;the forced march of sight-seeing&quot;), we take on Versailles the first day.

Reason? We always arrive way too early for our hotel rooms to be ready and anything else to be open, and our scope has to be limited to the palace anyway since it's usually bleary and dreary at that time of year. So we drop off our luggage at the hotel and hit the rails. By the time we're &quot;done&quot; with Versailles, our bodies are done in, too. Works.

By buying the Versailles rail/admission package deal for that first day, you then are free to use a 4-day museum pass for your other remaining days of touring.

vayio Nov 7th, 2007 01:20 AM

Thank you all for your precious time and your usefull advises. I intend to buy a 2-days museum pass and organize the following visits:
Wednesday 2 Jan - morning: picasso museum, then Notre Dame towers, Pantheon and early afternoon Louvre, as it's closing late. Maybe I'll fit Orsay at mid-day after Pantheon.
Thursday 3 Jan - early morning Versailles, early afternoon Army museum.
I think that's ok...

apersuader65 Nov 7th, 2007 11:24 AM

I am not sure if you intend to only visit the towers at Notre Dame as your post implies, but I wouldn't pass up the cathedral itself. Also, I second the recommendation of St. Chappelle (two blocks or so from ND). The windows in it are amazing.
You may want to consider heading to versailles on Wednesday morning early, as the daylight hours are limited in January. Catch a train out that arrives just before opening time and walk to the palace, you shouldn't have any lines at that time of year. You should be able to see what's open and head back to Paris by noon. You could then train it back to the Louvre/Orsay area for quick tours. Since the Louvre is open late, I'd recommend scheduling it last anyway.

We were there in Feb 06 and did Versailles in the am, got off the train near Orsay, did a quick two hour walk through there, and went into the Louvre last. We were there for a week and we went back to the Louvre again in the week, as we only scratched the surface that first night.

P.S. You will be tired, but if you don't believe you'll be heading back anytime soon, you'll at least be able to experience a little of each place. I beleive its better to have toured quickly than to never have toured at all!

Good luck and enjoy!

zohngalt Nov 7th, 2007 02:11 PM

Yes, it really depends on personal preferences.

Main palace at Versailles is &quot;museumy&quot; inside with art on the walls and ceilings. Plus furnishings. Marie's village and minor buildings. And the gardens. Could breeze through in an hour or easily spend 4-5 hours.

Notre Dame is as impressive from the outside and back as it is from the inside and familiar front view.

DW saw all she wanted to see of the Orsay in 30 minutes while I barely got started in 2 hours. Similar with the Pompidou.

I guess the thing is, if you are having a good time, stay. But if you are saturated or bored, move on to the next item on your list. Don't worry if you don't hit them all just enjoy where you are.

hypatia Nov 7th, 2007 02:34 PM

Ive been to a lot of museums and although I would love to spend more time, my limit (legs and attention span) is about 4 hours....

I always eat lunch at the bigger ones. I take a sandwich from a bakery for the Louvre in my bag.Of course you can see the Louvre in the evening.At the D' Orsay, I spring for the restaurant.You can do the St Chapelle in less than an hour if you go to the &quot;pass&quot; line...
I would go to the towers at sunset and that's only on the weekends( no wait in August) usually and it takes a bit of time with picture taking(1 1/2 hours).Versailles will take 10-4 because of the transportation...

Only 5 days I would skip the Picasso,the Army and the Pantheon. you just won't have time to walk the Tulleries and SHOP not to mention the Champ de Mars and Champ Elysee..Up to you of course...

vayio Nov 7th, 2007 10:51 PM

Maybe you are right hypatia that the scedule may be a bit heavy, but if I spend two days for the museums and Versailles as mentioned, then I'll have three whole days for Paris (Monmarte, Marais, Latin Quarter, shops and gardens: Louxembourg, Tulleries, field of Mars etc.) Also I liked apersuader65's advice for going Versailles and Louvre the same day (Wednesday). Maybe I'll do this way...Of course if time becomes limited I'll skip one or two secondary visits.

tomassocroccante Nov 7th, 2007 11:06 PM

I'm an artist and lifetime museumgoer - personally, I try not to do more than one museum a day. It's too exhausting to stand that much, moreso than walking. And it's visually exhausting, too. We all know that after testing 3 or 4 perfumes the nose neads a rest. Well, my eyes need a rest from the riches of a museum. And 2 hrs is my max, pretty much.

I also prefer not to hit the highlights. Too many people doing the same. At the Louvre there is a sculpture gallery with two Michelangelo's in it - worth the trip itself (and I suppose it is on the highlights list, but hardly as high as Mona, Victory, and Napoleon's apartments.)

I also love small museums: the Picasso and Rodin are both worth a trip to Paris, IMO. Given the chance, I vote for half an hour in front of one painting ... any one that attracts you. After all, if you met a great person, would you ask &quot;is 30 minutes long enough to be with her?&quot; ;)

mamc Nov 8th, 2007 05:36 AM

I agree with much of what has been posted above. Highly recommend a visit to Ste. Chappelle, one site I never miss while in Paris - it is best in the mid morning or mid afternoon when the sun shines through the stained glass. Have you considered the Orangerie? It has been closed for our past 4 trips to Paris and I can't wait to go back on our next trip to Paris. If you like Monet, the water lily murals are not to be missed. If there are no lines each of these places can be visited in an hour.

aliced Nov 8th, 2007 05:51 AM

At the Louvre, you will need to plan a strategy to see what you love most -- Napolean apartments, Crown Jewels are rather in the same area and can be done in an hour. Floorplans are available in all guidebooks. If you like the D'Orsay with the Impressionist art, you should get to the nearby L'Orangerie with the out-of-this-world Monet waterlily panels, plus a small lovely collection downstairs (plan on an hour)--I would take in this before the Armee and Pantheon for sure. Do not the miss the Grand Palais (architecture worth it alone) and/or Petit Palais (also on right bank just north of L'Orangerie)-- only an hour needed here as well. Another goody is the Museum of Decorative Arts (if you're into design)near the Louvre; Versailles will take the day; while climbing up in Notre Dame, see the brilliant stained glass in the nearby St. Chapelle too. We have always winged it with our museums admissions as in Paris you always find too much to see/do in one's timeframe -- be sure and relax with a Nutella crepe if time is very short and enjoy Chocolat l'African in Cafe Angelina if you have a few minutes more-- worth every Euro!

hypatia Nov 8th, 2007 09:25 AM

Just my opinion but Versailles and the Louvre in the same day? no way for me...
I would make my plans according to the days when the museums are open obviously. But I have found of all the sites ,the Louvre is the most daunting (crowds and confusing layout).I have found the best way to endure it is to wait for a rainy day(there are plenty in Paris) to visit there.That museum sucks up an incredible amount of time and energy.Have a plan and pace yourself.
At the D' Orsay I would head up to the third floor to the Iimpressionist gallery and start there..
I enjoyed visiting the Opera Garnier and the Cluny the last time I went to Paris.

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