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Monday, June 15, 2015

Museum Bargains in Paris and other Unicorns

As travelers, Mr FS and I are easy to please: we like museums, historic houses, and long, long walks. We live in one of the foodie capitals of the US, if not the world, so we don't sweat the restaurants. I already have too much stuff (and Mr FS gets hives if he goes into a store), so I don't do much shopping other than for food at markets. 

Here's a reminder  about a little-known museum bargain. At least we didn't know about it till last year. First, we discovered the Louvre membership for "professionals" like teachers. That is 35 euros per person. Luckily, the one we got last year still will have almost two weeks on it when we return!

However, anyone can get a membership. It's 80 euros for a duo/family. Even for a short stay, that breaks even (close) at 3 visits for two. With a membership, you can avoid the line for tickets! You can also use a special member's entrance, which, in typical gallic fashion, has never been open--maybe once.

Psychologically, the membership enables you (at least us--we're cheap) to go for several short visits rather than one LONG visit. If you're willing to skip the Mona Lisa and the awful crowds in that room, you can go to some of the less visited parts. Mr FS and I fell in love with Chardin last year. The room was almost empty. (Note: the bathrooms in the underpopulated areas are usually line-free and have toilet paper!)

There's also the well-known Paris museum pass. You can buy it at any museum or at the bookstore fnac. I think we only did this once. Since we like to stay at museums for a long time, it's not a good bet for us. If you like shortish visits, it's good. Another advantage is that if you go to a DUD museum (Victor Hugo was a dud for us), you can leave quickly without guilt or remorse. You might want to visit anyway since it's in the beautiful Place des Vosges. You can also avoid some lines.

Many Paris museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. For the first time, we will be able to partake. Mr FS has already mapped out a route: Picasso, Pompidou/Beaubourg, and a few others.

Our best museum deal: last summer we stayed in a miserable TINY room whose saving grace was that it was near the Cluny. We were only there a few nights waiting for our regular place to be free. Not only was the room tiny, but it was filled with the owner's stuff: mostly massive quantities of linens, arranged in rainbow order. He also mirrored most of the walls in weird ways. (His larger apartment next door was similarly mirrored--including mirrors on the ceiling over the bed and on the surrounding walls-- and piled high with neatly folded stuff). I didn't realize how stressful the space was till we went to our next lodging: I fell asleep for several hours upon arrival. 

The Cluny, home of the gorgeous Unicorn tapestries. We wandered over, planning to buy a museum pass. The Cluny was free, owing to some issue with a strike or trains or something! We spent the morning there and then returned after lunch. The next morning, we returned and it was still free! So we did a very thorough job taking in the rooms we had not spent a lot of time in.

When we walked by the next day, we peeked in and things were up and running. We had other plans but we wanted to see how long the free days were in effect. We went in. Why? Because the Cluny has an accessible bathroom. Keep an eye out for those in Paris. They are sometimes as elusive as unicorns.



Janice Riggs said...

I have good luck with the Museum Pass, because I have targeted art works that I want to see, so I can visit two museums per day, easily. You have to know your own style of "museum-ing" in order to know what works best!

And what a horror your hotel room must have been - now I'm dying to know where it was, so I can avoid it in the future...

tess said...

I visited there in 1980, very humid, sunny room, where the tapestry hung.
Thank you for the image and vicarious re-visit.

lagatta à montréal said...

I love musée de Cluny.

That little flat was beyond creepy, especially the mirrors over the bed.

Shelley said...

Looking forward to going to the Bowes Museum for an YSL exhibition!