Best Tools for Americans in Paris

As someone who had literally never been to Europe before, Paris was IN-TI-MI-DATING. The internet clearly knows all the things, and all those things were conflicting. So this list is based on my real-life personal experiences planning a trip and actually GOING to Paris.

Paris Museum Pass

This saved us a BUCKET-LOAD of money and TIME. Something like 50 museums and monuments are included, and almost everywhere offered priority access lines to those with the pass. I’d say 95% of the big tourist attractions (The Louvre, the Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Sainte Chapelle, the Pantheon, the Rodin Museum and gardens, and VERSAILLES) are all included.

Note: This pass does not get you any access to the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs or Opera Garnier. There’s also no priority line at Versailles for pass-holders.

Free Museum Days

Every first Sunday of the month, Paris offers free access to its museums, including the Louvre, the Rodin, the Orsay, the Orangerie, the Picasso Museum, and others. That being said, we learned by unfortunate accident that the lines for the museums on these days gets INSANE. We waited about an hour to get in to the Orsay.

Rick Steves’ Free Audio Tours

This might make me sound like a 75 year old woman, but we LOVED the Rick Steves’ audio tour of the Orsay Museum, Versailles and later wished we’d done the Louvre tour too! They were informative and not overwhelming, but still gave us a great history lesson of these incredible places we visited.

“Next Stop Paris” App

This app was incredibly helpful, especially since we were there such a short time and didn’t really ever get our routes memorizes. It probably helps that I have a navigationally-minded travel companion, but we never had any issues figuring out where we were, above or below ground. See also – Google Maps. The metro also felt very safe and we never had any problems.

But let me spell it out for you — Getting out to Versailles

This was something I totally stressed out about before this trip, because it is a little ways from the rest of the city, but truthfully it was pretty easy (especially with the Next Stop Paris app). All you have to do is get to one of the stations in the city on the RER C Line (Gare d’Austerlitz, St-Michel Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay, Invalides, or Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel), buy a special RER ticket there (usually a little more and different than the usual t+ tickets, but it’s all very clearly marked and in English on the digital ticket kiosks), and take the RER C line out toward Versailles. From that metro stop it’s a short walk — with plenty of signage — to the palace.


The idea of taking advantage of the fact that we were in PARIS and so we needed to eat ALL THE WONDERFUL DELICIOUS THINGS was overwhelming to me. Who has time for that research? So I basically let Yelp and TripAdvisor take care of it for me. There’s also a branch of TripAdvisor called The Fork that was AWESOME for restaurants all over Paris. I could make reservations directly through their system, without worrying about calling a restaurant directly because I don’t speak French.

 “Free” Guided Walking Tours

They aren’t exactly free (they ask for a tip for your guide), but we were happy to give it! We booked through both Sandeman’s and Discover Walks Paris and both were phenomenal.


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