Free museums in France? It may sound like a wild dream but in fact many French museums offer visitors the chance of free entry or free access on the first Sunday of each month, from the smallest local museum to the grandest of the grand – the Louvre in Paris. Of course this means that on that day there can be lots of people taking advantage of this generous offer and the queues might be long and a bit off-putting.
Don’t let that stop you taking advantage of this great offer though – here are some great tips for making the most of the free entry day, especially if you’re in Paris!
Check museums’ websites first to make sure that the scheme is in operation. Occasionally museums suspend the free entry system when their time slots are full and they need to regulate the number of visits. Some museums run free Sundays throughout the year including the Pompidou, Musee d’Orsay and Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature. Some museums only offer free Sunday entry in Winter such as Saint Chapelle, the Conciergerie and the Hotel de la Marine. Generally free entry in Winter runs from 1st November to 31 March inclusive, though some run for longer. In case you’re wondering… there are more than 170 museums in Paris alone, but this free Sunday visit scheme runs throughout France so you have a huge choice to check out! Some of the most popular free Sunday visit locations outside of Paris include the fabulous Pierrefonds Castle in Picardy. It’s the municipal museums and galleries that participate, not privately owned museums.
Most museums now require you to book a time slot in advance for free Sundays. Even if it’s not required, if there’s a facility to do so, it’s highly recommended. First it will ensure you get in and second it saves you queuing in the hope that there is a free slot.
If you’re going to one of the big museums and you want to see something specific, it’s worth working out where to go in advance. The Louvre for instance has literally hundreds of rooms. In fact it’s said that there is so much to see that if you spent just 10 seconds in front of each artwork, it would still take you three months to see it all! So if the Mona Lisa is on your must see list, head to that room to get a good view or you may find that you’ll be wandering the corridors and miss it!
Some museums are actually free year round – the fabulous Carnavalet museum for instance which dedicated to the history of the city. It’s based in two neighbouring mansions and hosts a rich collection (you do have to pay for access to temporary exhibitions). The Museum of Romantic Life is also free year round and well worth a visit as is the Petit Palais, Museum of the Fine Arts.
Check out some of the best free museums in Paris