Frequently asked questions
Where do I buy my ticket? A morning concert? When do the sales start? What size dress should I ask for? Where can I buy duty-free goods? Here are some answers to your questions on going out and shopping in Paris
- Where to buy tickets?
- Is my booking guaranteed?
- How to book an excursion
- How do I book a cruise?
- What museums are there for children?
- Museum opening times ?
- Are there places that are closed for renovation work?
- Are cultural venues open on public holidays?
- When are the sales on?
- Best way to pay?
- Vous acceptez les chèques vacances ?
- Size 36 or 38? Small or medium?
- Want to buy a CD after 11pm?
- My video only takes PAL cassettes
- Unravelling DVD zones
- Watch out for pickpockets!
- Duty free
- Going out in Paris, facts and figures
- Matinee or evening performance?
- Discounts on theatre tickets?
- What if I’ve forgotten the title?
- Where can I get the whole events programme?
- Which tour to choose?
- How long do the excursions last?
- Do I join the tour at the agency?
- Can I be collected at my hotel?
- A minibus excursion?
- How much do excursions cost?
- Is lunch or dinner included?
- High or low season
- Freedom of an open-top bus?
- What is a river cruise with commentary like?
- Where do the cruises leave from?
- What time are the cruises?
- How much does a cruise cost?
- Is it possible to have a guided tour?
- How many museums, monuments, theatres … are there in Paris?
- Museum visits with luggage ?
- Is it possible to hire a pushchair or a wheelchair?
Rules of etiquette
Where to buy tickets?Top of page
You can buy your tickets at the venue, either on the day or several days before. Depending on the venue, ticket offices may be open several weeks before the performance and some events sell out very quickly. All the relevant information pages on our web site tell you how to book according to the type of show : Buy tickets online.
You can also go through specialist agencies, which in exchange for a supplement enable you to book your place in the first ten rows and collect your ticket 30 minutes before the show, without having to queue. Telephone or online services of some ticket agencies are also a good way to book, often at competitive prices.
There are also some packages available where you can simplify your evening arrangements by booking your seats at a show and at a restaurant nearby all in one go, either to eat beforehand, or, as is usual in Paris, to have supper after the show.
Paris hotel receptionists also know what’s on and can make reservations on your behalf. Don’t hesitate to check with our welcome staff too, who can advise you for your evenings out. Welcome offices in Paris
Is my booking guaranteed?Top of page
Yes. Once it has been paid, whether it is made on the spot, by telephone or online, a booking involves the allocation of a seat number and is therefore definite. Should you decide to cancel, the seat will not be reimbursed or exchanged for another date. To avoid wasting your ticket, you could always give it to a friend as a gift.
If the cancellation is made by the theatre or concert venue, another date or performance will be offered in its place.
How to book an excursionTop of page
Our web site gives you a selection of companies that you can book with directly online.
You can make bookings in a variety of ways, either directly with the excursion organizers themselves, in their offices, by telephone, fax or internet, or through an intermediary: welcome centres of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau or your hotel reception…
For excursions outside of Paris or abroad, or those involving guided tours, lunch, dinner, or shows, it is advisable to book several days beforehand.
Lastly, if you have been given a voucher by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau or your hotel, make sure you keep it safe: you will need to hand it in before departure, either at the agency before a coach trip, or to the minibus driver for an excursion leaving from your hotel.
You can pay for your excursions directly at the agency; by credit card on the company’s web site (using links from our web site); at the welcome offices of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (payment in full in exchange for a voucher); at your hotel or apartment reception (payment in full or a deposit in exchange for a voucher).
How do I book a cruise?Top of page
For cruises on the Seine, it is not usually necessary to book, except for large groups, as they run so frequently every day. However booking is necessary for cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin.
What museums are there for children?Top of page
Numerous places, museums and monuments often offer special activities for children so that you can discover and make the most of Paris with children.
Museum opening times ?Top of page
As a rule, museums are open from 9 or 10am until 5 or 6pm. Others open later and close at 8 or 9pm. Closing day is most usually Monday or Tuesday, with a few exceptions. Some are even open 7 days a week, such as some of the major monuments which can even be visited as late as 11pm or midnight.
Opening times tend to be longer during high season, sometimes from April to October or from May to September, or simply in July and August.
Don’t forget too that on public holidays – in particular, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December – many museums and monuments are closed. It’s a good idea to check beforehand weekly closing days of cultural sites in Paris.
Are there places that are closed for renovation work?Top of page
Yes: see the calendar of openings and closures of cultural venues in Paris and the Paris region.
Are cultural venues open on public holidays?Top of page
See the list of museums, monuments and cultural venues open on public holidays.
More info on Museums or monuments open on 25 December
More info on Museums or monuments open on 1 January
When are the sales on?Top of page
Twice a year and lasting a month: after Christmas (January /February) and at the beginning of the summer (June/July).
Best way to pay?Top of page
Shops everywhere take all the major credit cards: Visa, EuroCard, MasterCard, American Express. At each transaction, the sales person must give you a receipt which you should keep safely.
Only cheques drawn on French banks will be accepted and generally proof of identity is requested. You can also pay in euros of course, although it is best to avoid the larger denomination banknotes.
Vous acceptez les chèques vacances ?Top of page
Les chèques vacances ont été créés pour permettre à tous d'accéder à des activités culturelles et de loisirs très variées. Ce titre de paiement est un accord entre les salariés et les entreprises.
Ils se présentent sous forme de coupons de 10, 20, 25 et 50 € et sont valables 2 ans après l'année d'émission. En France, 170 000 points d'accueil acceptent les chèques vacances.
Plus d'infos sur les chèques vacances
Le dossier Paris pas cher
Le site Paris, capitale du shopping
Size 36 or 38? Small or medium?Top of page
To make it less confusing and enable you to ask for the correct size, here are the equivalents.
|34||extra small (XS)||6||32|
|42||extra large (XL)||14||40|
|44||extra extra large (XXL)||16||42Shoes|
|39||M 7 / L 8.5||6|
|40||M 7.5 / L 9||6.5|
|41||M 8.5 / L 10||7.5|
|42||M 9 / L 10.5||8|
Want to buy a CD after 11pm?Top of page
If you fancy buying a last-minute gift after 7pm, you’re more likely to find it in the busy Parisian districts around the Champs-Elysées, Montparnasse and Les Halles.
My video only takes PAL cassettesTop of page
There are three different television standards in use throughout the world: PAL, NTSC and SECAM. These systems, basically incompatible, refer to the way in which the colours forming the image are combined and coded. PAL is used in most European countries, in Asia and Australia, NTSC in North and South America and in Japan, and SECAM in France, Eastern Europe and in Africa.
SECAM and PAL have enough similarities to make them both compatible with the majority of video equipment available in Europe. However, SECAM and NTSC are not compatible.
Do check that any video equipment or cassettes that you purchase in Paris will be compatible with the system used in your country. If not, you may well end up with a video you can’t watch, or at best, black and white instead of colour pictures.
Unravelling DVD zonesTop of page
Be sure that any DVD you purchase here is compatible with your equipment at home. For commercial reasons, in order to avoid a film being available on DVD at the same time as its general cinema release, the DVD market is split into several regions:
Region 1: USA and Canada
Region 2: Europe, Middle East, Japan and South Africa
Region 3: South East Asia
Region 4: South America and Australia
Region 5: Eastern Europe and Africa
Region 6: China
So in France, you are in zone 2. If you take a DVD home from Paris, it may not be able to be decoded by your player, unless it is region-free. In addition, the video format (PAL, SECAM or NTSC) must be compatible too, for a DVD to work properly. So ensure you check the relevant details before you buy.
Watch out for pickpockets!Top of page
Like all big cities, Paris has its pickpockets.
These few words of advice will help you to avoid any inconvenience: always keep your identity documents and your wallet in sealed pockets, or, for ladies, in a handbag carried across your shoulder.
Try to keep the keys to your accommodation separate from your ID; avoid displaying the contents of your purse, and be particularly vigilant at rush hour when travelling on public transport (9/10am and 6/7.30pm).
Duty freeTop of page
Do you come from a country outside the European Union? And you’re over 15 years of age? Are you intending to spend a minimum of €175 on the same day in the same store?
If so, you can benefit from a tax refund.
- For a VAT (Value Added Tax) refund, ask for a Tax free Shopping France invoice when you shop in any major store or “Tax free for tourists” boutique. The amount to be refunded is shown under the heading “Montant de la détaxe”. You should have your invoices stamped at airport customs on leaving the EU and return the validated pink copies within three months using the stamped addressed envelope given to you at the time you made your purchases. N.B. Food, services, travel, photo processing, alterations and repairs are not eligible for a tax refund.
- In order to receive your tax refund if you are leaving the EU by train, it’s important to know that Paris train stations, unlike airports, do not have a customs office. In this case you need to call on a specialist company.
- You can also buy products that are already tax-free: the famous “duty-free” shops of which most are located around Opéra and Palais Royal offer you merchandise with tax already deducted, in particular luxury items like perfume and leather goods. This advantage is only for those resident outside the European Union, which is why you will be asked to produce your passport at the moment of purchase, and often your flight ticket too. Major department stores also have their “duty-free” services, as do the international zones at the airports.
Going out in Paris, facts and figuresTop of page
140 theatre and show venues, a hundred or so discotheques, 96 cabarets, 90 cinemas and 3 operas: Paris has something new to offer for each evening out!
Matinee or evening performance?Top of page
All theatre schedules incorporate a weekly “matinee” show. Regular concert seasons often take place on Sunday morning or at midday during the week (in museums for instance). Have a look at the schedules in our information pages.
- Usual times of matinee performances: 3pm or 5pm
- Usual times of evening performances: 8pm or 9pm
Discounts on theatre tickets?Top of page
Depending on their audiences, some venues give discounts automatically (under-26s, students, job-seekers, seniors, children… check directly with them). There are two kiosks in Paris specializing in the sale of half-price theatre seats for the same day (12.30pm to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday and 12.30pm to 4pm on Sunday):
- 15, place de la Madeleine – 75008 – Metro: Madeleine
- Esplanade de la Tour Montparnasse – 75014 – Metro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe
- Place des Ternes 75017 - Métro : Ternes
Web sites that deal in special offers for show and concert bookings offer plays, shows and concerts at reasonable prices.
What if I’ve forgotten the title?Top of page
Using our search engine, one key word will be sufficient, for example the name of the venue, the author or just one word of the title.
Where can I get the whole events programme?Top of page
There are some specialist magazines that relay the full list of what’s on in Paris in French. They are on sale every Wednesday in all newspaper kiosks and newsagents’: Pariscope and L’Officiel des spectacles. General-interest and cultural magazines also have “what’s on” listings (Figaro, Libération, Aden, Télérama…). For English-speakers, try Time Out and for children Paris Mômes
Which tour to choose?Top of page
The excursion suppliers mentioned in the pages of our web site are all tourism trade professionals offering quality tours. Feel free to choose among them depending on the places you would like to visit.
How long do the excursions last?Top of page
The length of tours, by day or by night, by coach or by minibus, can vary from 2 hours, for a rapid overview of the capital, to a half-day or a full day, according to the type of excursion or the distance to be covered.
In high season, from April to October, some companies even offer tours over several days departing from Paris, hotels included, to explore other regions of France.
Do I join the tour at the agency?Top of page
If you book a coach tour, it will usually leave from the agency of the company you booked with. You’ll be asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before departure. During the day, you will be brought back again to the agency, but as a rule after a night excursion, the coach will drop you off at or not far from your hotel.
Can I be collected at my hotel?Top of page
Many suppliers offer minibus excursions departing and returning to the hotel, or with a transfer from your hotel to the agency. For practical reasons, most companies make it a requirement that your accommodation is within Paris itself.
At the time of booking, give full details of the place you are to be collected from: address, telephone number, even room number. Transfers from hotel to agency generally involve a price supplement.
A minibus excursion?Top of page
Minibus tours are often a “VIP” service which means that the prices are generally higher than for coach tours. A minibus can usually carry up to 8 passengers.
How much do excursions cost?Top of page
For a sightseeing tour of Paris by coach lasting 2 to 3 hrs, by day or by night, the average price falls between €20 and €25. You’ll need to add about €10 for a tour that includes a Seine boat cruise.
For a full day with, for example, a guided tour of the Louvre, boat cruise, lunch at the Eiffel Tower and a visit of Notre-Dame you can expect to pay around €90.
For a coach trip outside of Paris, the cost will vary depending on the distance to be covered, whether an official guide accompanies the tour, and any meals: from €40 to €60 for a trip to Versailles, including a guided tour, and from €120 to €160 for an excursion to Mont Saint-Michel or the Loire Châteaux, including meals and a guided tour.
Finally, for a “Paris by Night” excursion with an illuminations tour, boat cruise, dinner and show-in a famous cabaret or dinner at the Eiffel Tower, allow between €90 and €160.
If you opt for the top-of-the-range minibus tours, leaving directly from your hotel, prices may range from 20 to 100% higher depending on the excursion. The majority of excursion companies offer reductions of 50% for children from 4 to 11 yrs inclusive, on numerous tours by coach or minibus.
Certain excursions in Paris can even be free for this age range. As for children under 4, they generally go free on all excursions, barring any possible meal costs.
Details of each offer are given in our information pages.
Is lunch or dinner included?Top of page
Some excursions include a meal, either lunch or dinner or sometimes both. It all depends on the type of excursion, and how long it is. Full-day trips to other regions or further afield often include a meal or suggest it as an optional extra. If this is not the case, passengers are given some free time to make their own eating arrangements.
Quite a few Paris excursions also incorporate lunch or dinner, according to their themes. Menus can be consulted in the agencies and are chosen in order to suit the majority of people. However, it is possible to order replacement dishes. Kosher or vegetarian options are available on certain tours, remember to make your request-at the time of booking.
High or low seasonTop of page
Excursion companies generally offer a wider choice of tours and more frequent departures during high season (between 1 April and 31 October). Cruises on the Seine river also operate more regularly and offer an extended timetable during this period.
Low season is between 1 November and 31 March.
Freedom of an open-top bus?Top of page
There are several companies in Paris offering sightseeing tours on double-decker buses, some open-top some not, giving you complete freedom for your city tours.
These buses tour around the principal museums and monuments, major department stores and stations. Tickets for 1 day or 2 consecutive days leave you free to get on and off the bus as you like. On board, the Paris sights are described to you by audio-guides in several languages.
They operate every day, Sundays and holidays included.
The first departure sets off from each stop around 10am, and the last leaves around 6.30pm or 8pm between April and October. Departures are approximately every 10 to 30 minutes and, depending on the company, circuits last 1 or 2 hours if you stay on the bus.
Prices range from €22 to €28 for 1 or 2 days depending on the company, children between 4 and 11 or 12 years pay half price, sometimes even less, and places are free for children under 4 years old. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver or in the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau welcome centres.
What is a river cruise with commentary like?Top of page
For cruises of around an hour on the Seine River, there is a guided commentary on the main sights and monuments, either by individual audio-guides in anything up to a dozen languages, or by a bilingual or trilingual hostess. Certain companies offer both headsets and hostesses, for a more detailed commentary. As regards cruises along the Canal Saint-Martin, commentary is provided by guides, in French and English.
Where do the cruises leave from?Top of page
For Seine cruises, choose from several departure points in the centre of Paris, according to the different companies: at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, at the Pont de l’Alma, Pont Neuf or near Notre-Dame. Depending which company you choose for cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin, boats leave from the Musée d’Orsay or the Bassin de l’Arsenal for La Villette, or vice versa.
What time are the cruises?Top of page
In general, from 1 April to 31 October, there are departures on average every half an hour for one-hour Seine cruises, between 10am and 10.30pm. At other times of the year, the regularity and hours are reduced, but there are still boats every hour from 10am to around 9pm.
Cruises operate every day, including Sundays and holidays. NB: when the level of the Seine River rises, the service may be interrupted.
To sail along the Canal Saint-Martin, from La Villette, the Bassin de l’Arsenal or Musée d’Orsay, companies offer you 1 or 2 departures in the morning and afternoon, in either direction. These cruises take around 2 and a half hours either way.
How much does a cruise cost?Top of page
An hour-long Seine cruise will cost you between €8 and €12 for an adult. Children under 12 can travel at half price. Certain companies allow under-3s or -4s to travel free.
For cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin, lasting around 2 and a half hours, allow around €10 to €15 per adult. It is worth noting that some companies operate exclusively with groups of 20 persons minimum. Reduced rates may be available for children, students and seniors, depending on the company.
Is it possible to have a guided tour?Top of page
Most places offer guided tours either with a guide or via an audio guide. Different foreign languages are also offered according to the place in question. If you wish, you can call on the services of a guide for a group or individual guided tour. See the list of Members of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.
How many museums, monuments, theatres … are there in Paris?Top of page
No less than: 173 museums, 37 bridges, 31 monuments, 3 opera houses, 171 churches and temples, 208 theatres and cabarets, 20 covered passageways, 84 cinemas, 14 cemeteries, 108 Wallace fountains, 463 parks and gardens.
Museum visits with luggage ?Top of page
Larger museums provide cloakrooms and left-luggage services where you can leave your heavy things free of charge for a more comfortable visit. Coats, large umbrellas, rucksacks and small pieces of luggage are accepted.
Items that are not accepted are: cumbersome bags, suitcases, valuables such as cameras, money, identity papers and chequebooks, food and drink.
An exception is sometimes made for children’s pushchairs: at the Louvre for example, they are permitted in the galleries and at left-luggage.
Warning! During the “Vigipirate” security measures, left-luggage offices in some museums and monuments may be closed.
Is it possible to hire a pushchair or a wheelchair?Top of page
That depends on the museum, it is best to make enquiries at each museum beforehand.
To tip or not to tip?Top of page
In certain cinemas and small venues where you see signs saying that tips are the sole earnings of the usherette then you most definitely do. Other places however, may declare that tipping is prohibited. If there is no information to the contrary, nothing prevents you from thanking the person that showed you to your seat with a coin or two.
Dress for the theatre?Top of page
Evening dress and dinner jackets are still “de rigueur” in certain places for gala evenings. Usually though, regular smart dress is required for your Parisian soirées at the theatre, opera or for church concerts. However, even in summertime, jeans, shorts, Bermudas and flip-flops are to be avoided.
Cultural sites with disabled access ?Top of page
You will find the “Tourisme & Handicap” logo on our web site to designate the provision of easier access for one or more disabilities accordingly.
Sites without this label also offer ease of access for certain disabilities.
Visit in group ?Top of page
Depending on the venue, the number of people making up a group can vary from a minimum of 7 to 10 and a maximum of 20 to 30. Group visits are subject to certain conditions: specific times and days, advance bookings and, depending on the galleries or the type of exhibition, a limit to the number of people accepted.
If the range of scheduled guided tours for groups doesn’t come up to your expectations, you do have other alternatives.
A group composed of people of a similar profile or who are all interested in the same subject can visit a museum or a monument independently: in order to do this, you have to be at least 7 persons, book the service of an approved guide who has prior knowledge of your requirements and book with the relevant department in plenty of time. Visits for schoolchildren accompanied by their teacher are also subject to certain conditions.
Which places offer free admission?Top of page
Admission is free to the permanent collections (not to temporary exhibitions) of the national museums and monuments ‘Musées et monuments nationaux’, on presentation of proof of identity, for:
- under 18-year-olds (including temporary exhibitions);
- young people aged 18 to 25 who are citizens of one of the countries of the European Union;
- current French students and teachers;
- job seekers and people receiving the minimum unemployment allowance (on presentation of documentary evidence dated less than one year);
- disabled visitors and an accompanying person;
- for everyone on the first Sunday of every month (which causes long queues).
In municipal museums of the Ville de Paris, admission is free for everyone, (except to temporary exhibitions).