Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True: Part 5 – The Secret to Avoiding Long Lines at Museums

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Emily:   I love to travel, and my mom does, too!

When I was growing up in Ohio, we could only afford road trips to local amusement parks.  But collecting miles and points has opened a world of travel neither of us thought possible!

She and I decided to go to London and Paris for a mother-daughter getaway.  We flew Business Class and stayed in 5-star hotels.  I paid for this trip for a fraction of the retail cost by using airline miles and hotel points.

I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend!  Without the miles & points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of traveling with my mom.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

My Mom Couldn’t Wait to See the Mona Lisa in Person!

In this part of the series, I’ll give you suggestions about the best museums to visit in Paris!

Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True Index:

Skip Lines and Save Money by Getting the Museum Pass

If you plan on visiting many of Paris’ tourist attractions, consider getting a Museum Pass.  Especially if you’re visiting in the busy summer season.  It comes in 2, 4, and 6-day options.

It covers most of the major sites including:

Here’s the full list of sites you’ll have access to with the pass:

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

The Museum Pass Can Save You Time and Money!

Having the pass can save lots of time, especially during the busy summer season.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

The Paris Museum Pass Cost ~$124 in 2016

You can order the pass online before your Paris trip, or pick one up at the major Paris airports and at various sites around Paris.

The online option charges you for shipping and can get very expensive, but you can save on the charges if you pick up the pass at the Paris Tourist Office.

I read this tip in the Rick Steve’s guide to Paris, which was a great book.  Especially if you’re looking for walking itineraries around the city.

Museums to Visit in Paris

Paris is filled with so much to do and see, and never gets boring!  I’ve spent about 8 weeks total there now, and love going back every time!

Now that you know about the museum pass, I’ll review the Louvre, the Orsay Museum, and the Victor Hugo Museum.

1.   The Louvre

In addition to the beautiful artwork, the Louvre itself (being a former palace) is stunning and warrants time exploring the history of this architectural gem.

My mom and I went to Paris in winter, the off-peak season, so we didn’t have any issues with long lines.  However, I’ve been to Paris many times in the summer, and the crowds get very long!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

It’s Worth Visiting the Louvre for the Architecture Alone

Once we were admitted, we were a bit overwhelmed by all there is to see.  I’d suggest following Rick Steves’ walking tour or looking at the Louvre map to find your favorite pieces of art.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

There’s SO Much Amazing Art at the Louvre. Be Sure to Grab a Map So You Don’t Miss Anything!

We wandered down the hallways and marveled at the talented artists from long ago.  My mom really wanted to see the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, so we went looking for her.  She’s been hanging in the Louvre since 1797, except during a 2-year absence in which she was stolen from the museum.

There always seem to be crowds in front of her (even in the slow winter season!), so be patient for a picture!

One of my favorite sculptures, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, can be found in a stairwell.  It’s believed to have been made to celebrate a naval victory in 190 BC.  According to art historian H. W. Janson, the Winged Victory “creates a deliberate relationship to the imaginary space around the goddess.

The wind that has carried her and which she is fighting off, straining to keep steady…this expanded space heightens the symbolic force of the work; the wind and the sea are suggested as metaphors of struggle, destiny and divine help or grace.”

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

The Winged Victory of Samothrace Is Such a Beautiful Piece of Art

The views from the Louvre are equally beautiful at night.  The museum was actually used for defense when it was built in the 12th century.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

Be Sure to Catch a View of the Louvre at Night. It’s Beautiful!

In the 1500s, it was made into a royal residence.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

At a Certain Point in Time, Royalty Lived Here

Now, it houses all the beautiful artwork you can see today!

Connie:   Another great visit was to the Louvre and to actually see the Mona Lisa.  The many statues and paintings can take your breath away.  lt was an awesome experience to visit this museum.  The Louvre was once a palace and the grandeur of it all leaves you in awe.  lt is definitely worth the time to visit the many departments throughout the museum.

2.   Musée d’Orsay

The Orsay Museum houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, including pieces by painters like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

A View of the Seine River From the Orsay Museum

Entrance is included in the Museum Pass.  There are so many gorgeous paintings, making the Musée d’Orsay one of my must-see places in Paris!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

The Orsay Museum Includes Paintings From Several Notable Artists

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

I LOVE the Colors in This Piece!

It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.  It’s much smaller than the Louvre, but there is still a lot to see!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

An Old Railway Station Is a Neat Location for a Museum

3.   Maison de Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo is a famous writer, best known for his novels Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).  My mom is a huge fan, so this museum was at the top of her list!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

My Mom Was Most Excited About Visiting the Victor Hugo Museum

He lived in a large apartment in Paris from 1832 to 1848.  The museum is FREE, although temporary exhibits do charge a fee.  When touring the apartment, you can learn about his life and travels.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

Entrance to This Museum Is Free!

Hugo liked Gothic furniture and had the furniture dismantled and reassembled based on his architectural and design preferences.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

It’s Interesting to See How Victor Hugo Lived

There are also incredible paintings and sculptures to admire!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

There’s an Endless Amount of Art to View in Paris

Also, the view from his apartment down into the square is gorgeous.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 5 The Secret To Avoiding Long Lines At Museums

I Can Imagine Victor Hugo Peering out His Apartment Window

Connie:   l really enjoyed visiting the apartment where Victor Hugo began his work on “Les Miserables.”  The tour of his apartment included his drawing room, study, reception area and bedroom.  lt was inspiring to tour such a great writer’s residency.

I also really enjoyed learning about Victor Hugo and his life in Paris!

4.   Fashion & Decorative Arts Museums

If you like fashion, consider visiting the Musée Yves St Laurent Paris.  It has a huge collection of Yves Saint Laurent’s work.  Just note, it’s currently closed for renovations and should reopen in the fall of 2017.

Also, consider the Les Arts Decortifs museum, which has fashion and textiles, advertising and graphic design, and decorative arts and design.

The Arts Décoratifs are divided between three major sites in Paris:

Bottom Line

Visiting at least one museum should be a goal when visiting Paris!  There’s a museum for everyone.

My mom and I were visiting in the off-season, so there weren’t as many crowds.  But if you’re visiting during the busy summer months, consider buying a Museum Pass.

It will save you time AND money!  And includes most of the popular sites in Paris.

Do you have a favorite museum in Paris?

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14 responses to “Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True: Part 5 – The Secret to Avoiding Long Lines at Museums

  1. Thanks to a mistake fare and a fare sale, I was able to take two separate trips to Paris with my adult children in the last month. The Orsay and l’Orangerie are always favorites. This time, we also tried two new museums and were not disappointed. Musee Jacquemart-Andre is a private museum in a former home/mansion and is just a short walk from a beautiful park–Parc Monceau. Musee Montmartin was full of Monet, Pissarro, and other impressionists. BTW, we have found that the audioguides really add interest to our visits since I know very little about art. Thanks for the informative post!

    • Hi Jean, Thanks for the comment, and we’re glad you saved money with the fare sale and mistake fare! The museums sound amazing. I love that each time I return to Paris, there is a mix of old favorites and new activities/restaurants/museums to try! 🙂

  2. Your mom is pretty lucky to have a daughter like you.

  3. The museum pass is great! Another tip is to review the times when the museums are closed and build your schedule around that. They are definitely not open every day. They are closed on various days of the week.

  4. Remember — Mona Lisa traveled to Washington’s National Gallery back in the 1960’s in the Kennedy years. As a focal point, it was much easier to appreciate than in Paris. Also, remember, there are a number of free museums run by the city of Paris!

  5. Thank you for a nice link to the pass and enjoyable article on a wonderful family adventure.
    Next time, please consider a visit to the Rodin museum. It is a nice walk from most locations, and a small
    yet complete museum which can be enjoyed by many age groups.

  6. Paris is an amazing city and being able to travel in luxury truly adds to the experience. The one thing I disagree with when visiting Paris (my opinion only from numerous trips) is many people focus on all the “hot spots” and only end up seeing the inside of museums and not Paris. Get a map and walk or book a walking tour with a local. Experience local food, learn a little French before you go (not as big an issue as it was 20 years ago) and soak in the atmosphere. Do pick one or two museums to visit but don’t focus on seeing all the museums.

    • Hi Tom, This is excellent feedback! The next time I am in France, I hope to take a cooking class, and maybe even spend 10 days staying in one place. Airbnbs can be a great option to stay in non-touristy areas and enjoy more of a local experience. Since this was my mom’s first trip to Paris, she wanted to see the main sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. But I agree with you. Taking tours with a local, enjoying a cooking class, and wandering around the non-touristy areas are great ways to get to know a place on a deeper level. And my favorite part of traveling is connecting with locals and meeting new friends.

  7. Thanks Emily. Just wondering if Paris Museum Pass & big bus tour etc are treated as a travel expense and trigger 3x points etc on Chase reserve card?

    • Hi Yankee, According to Chase, “Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel when you use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, train tickets, taxis, and more. See Rewards Program Agreement below for more information.” I believe the Big Bus tour would count, but the museum pass might not.