Get the Most from Your Paris Museum Visits

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Paris museums are a high point for many travelers. Here are 3 tips for getting the most from your visits.

• Save time. A Paris Museum Pass puts you on the fast track to the permanent collections at many museums. Enter where signage indicates Paris Museum Pass, or “reservations” to avoid waiting in long ticket lines. If you plan to visit a museum several times, check out their yearly membership for even quicker access, plus other benefits, such as free entrance to temporary exhibits and other museums. Memberships at the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, for example, are very reasonable.

For temporary exhibits and private museums without a membership (these are not included on the Museum Pass), buy your tickets on-line before you go. But beware: not all tickets can be printed at home or picked up at the museum. Clarify this before you buy.

• Learn more. Plan for a maximum of 2 hours in a museum—even the most avid art lover can’t absorb information after that. In a large museum, choose a section of the museum, a movement, or a time period. Focusing your attention this way helps you explore a subject in depth, and since it covers less physical space, keeps you from getting lost.

If you want to cover more ground, check to see if the museum offers a guided tour. Guides put the artwork in context by discussing selected works; they answer questions, and keep the directionally-challenged found.

Audio guides also provide information with a focus, and you can proceed at your own pace. Private tours are more expensive, but a wonderful investment of money and time, particularly for children.

• Stand tall. Even when I follow my own guidelines, standing continuously on a hard floor looking at art makes my lower back hurt. The last time I asked my physical therapist to untangle my knotted muscles, she taught me a new way to stand: knees soft, seat tucked under, and head lifted to lengthen the neck, as if I were a painting hanging on the wall.

And sit when you can. Many museums allow visitors to carry small folding chairs; check before you go.

Do you have other museum tips? Let us know!

Bonne visite!