With its world class museums, Paris is a veritable feast for art lovers. If you’re planning on spending some of your time in the French capital soaking up all that glorious artwork on display, then it’s worth planning on how to get the most out of it. The majority of the city’s museums charge an entrance fee, so hopping from one museum to the next can quickly make a dent in your wallet.
Fortunately, there are ways for Cheapos to get their art fix without breaking the bank. Here are five of my favorite ways to experience Paris’ best art for next to nothing.
Also read: A list of free and discounted museums in Paris
1. Don’t pass on the Paris Museum Pass.
Museum passes are not always worthwhile, especially if you don’t plan on spending much of your time strolling through marble corridors hung with paintings. However, consider purchasing the Paris Museum Pass if you’re thinking of spreading out your visit to the larger collections, like those of the Louvre or the Centre Pompidou, over several days.
A four-day Paris Museum Pass, for example, will set you back €54, but it gives you entrance to most of the city’s major museums and monuments and allows you to return as many times as you like over those four consecutive days. Bonus: You get to skip the lines!
2. First Sunday of the month is free.
On the first Sunday of every month many of the capital’s museums are free, so you can ogle Degas’ “Dancers” at the Musée d’Orsay or wander through Rodin’s statue-studded garden while saving your coin for an ice cream or a glass of wine afterward.
Crowd control tip: If you do choose to take advantage of this freebie, either steel yourself for the crowds of choose a lesser-known museum, such as the Musée National Jean-Jacques Henner or the Musée National Eugène Delacroix.
Bonus: Not in Paris on the first Sunday of the month? No problem! The Louvre offers reduced-price admission on all other Sundays.
3. Take advantage of afternoon and evening discounts.
Keep in mind that the Louvre’s entrance fee goes down to €5 after 3 p.m. (Regular admission is €11)
If you happen to be under the age of 26, the Louvre is free to you on Friday evenings, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Also check out La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a beautiful museum in the Marais dedicated to the “8th Art.” It’s free on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
4. Senior or student? Get your discount!
If you’re over 60 years old, you’re eligible for discounted admissions to most museums and monuments in Paris, so don’t be shy—flash that I.D. and sashay on through.
Youth has its perks, too: If you’re under 18, the Louvre is your oyster, all for free. (And it’s even better for residents of the European Union: The Louvre is free for everyone under 25!)
5. Be part of the gallery scene.
Art openings are a fun, refreshing way to see some art that may otherwise pass under your radar. Plus, they’re free!
Dozens of galleries dot the Marais neighborhood, particularly in the 3rd arrondissment, like Galerie Vanessa Quang, Galerie Jean-François Cazeau and Galerie Thessa Herold. These small, white-washed spaces frequently have openings, held in the evenings. Called “vernissages,” these previews usually offer a few nibbles, some wine, and plenty of art world drama.
Wandering through the narrow streets of the Marais on a summer evening, popping in and out of galleries as the sky turns first pink then lavender, and quaffing a couple of glasses of free Champagne is a favorite Paris Cheapo’s cultural night out. So go on an adventure and see what you find in this most arty of Paris neighborhoods.