Paris for Free – What they don’t tell you…

Paris is known to be an expensive city and there’s a lot of truth in that statement. But if you know where to go and for those doing the English assistant program, I have just discovered a way to get into most Parisien and outer-Paris attractions (e.g Versailles) for free (even for non-EU citizens)

You may know that a lot of Paris attractions are free for those aged 18-26 as long as you are a citizen of the European Union. But there is also a way to access these perks if you are not a member of the EU. As long as you have a long duration visa (meaning not a short term tourist visa) you can get into every national museum in Paris for free just by flashing your passport.

How I discovered this secret gem was when I had let a fellow American assistant Nancy stay with me  at my landlord’s apartment (which he had generously decided to give me for the week) while we were both in Paris. We had decided to go to the Musee D’Orsay and as she was browsing the museum’s website she noticed a link next to the ‘free for EU citizens’ box was another link ‘non-EU citizens’. Wondering what it meant, she found this:

Exonerations 

– moins de 18 ans,
– jeunes de 18 à 26 ans, résidants de longue durée dans les pays de l’Union européenne…

Translation: Exonerations (those who do not have to pay)

– Less than 18 years of age

– Youth from 18-26 years, residents of long duration in a European Union country

We weren’t quite sure to belive it, we had never read this in a guide book and the website said we would need a ‘justicatif’ or proof that we had a visa. Knowing French people, what would count as ‘proof’? Our passports/visas? Proof of salary? But we decided to try our luck with out passports and see what happened. After waiting in line for an hour at the Musee D’Orsay (the average queue time at any Paris attraction) the man at the ticket bureau took one look at our passports, gave us a smile and said “you don’t have to pay”.

It was true! We could go into one of Paris’ most famous museums and we didn’t have to pay a cent!

We started to look through guide books and browse through websites to see what else we could get free, and along with entry to every national museum in Paris (including The Louvre) I managed to see for free (over 4 days)

The Chateau of Versailles

Le Centre Pompidou

Musee D’Oray

After a bit of reseach I have also found Fontainbleu (a famous although less crowded French Chateau than Versailles just outside of Paris) will also let me in for free. The trick is to check every attraction website in France before you go there and if under ‘exonerations’ you find this sentence:

– jeunes de 18 à 26 ans, résidants de longue durée dans les pays de l’Union européenne, quelle que soit leur nationalité,

You’re in for free!

Money I saved

Versailles entry: 15 euros

Musee D’Orsay entry: 8 euros

Centre Pompidou entry: 12 euros

35 euros all up

Cons

  • You have to be between the ages of 18-26 and for some assistants, that may not apply to you
  • You will have to wait in line because you cannot reserve a ‘free place’ online, so you can’t skip the queue by buying your tickets beforehand. Although I think saving 15 euros on Versailles made it worth it.
  • Sometimes when you know you have saved money on the entry, you start to feel you can justify spending more money on other things – audio guides, guided tours, souvenirs… it can be easy to get carried away!

Not under 26? No visa?

You can still get into almost every attraction I mentioned here for free on the first Sunday of the month.

 

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