My friend Jane advised me to get a Paris Museum Pass. I had looked at the "Paris Pass," which included Metro for the week, and written it off as too much, but then she schooled me that there was a difference, and so we went ahead and got them for Patrick and myself (because France does it right, all museums, except for attractions like the Eiffel Tower, are free for kids under 18). To our delight, the Museum Pass allows line-skipping privileges (basically like a Disney FastPass for culture), which made it totally worth it.
So we got a Paris Museum Pass, and used the heck out of it.
The first two we hit are places that are very special to me — Saint Chapelle and the Orangerie (featuring the Monet water lilies). I love these spaces for their intimacy and the way that you can experience the work exactly as you should. Having Patrick and Beatrix experience these places I love was wonderful.
The next day, we went to the Rodin Museum, which I love, especially the sculpture garden. After that, we went to the Orsay, another place that I love, but I wonder at this point if it's not a victim of its own success. It was SO crowded that you could barely see the work, and though so many paintings there are like old friends to me, Beatrix totally melted down. In the best of all worlds we would have headed back another day, but even a week in Paris is not enough!
Another day, we stayed mainly in the Marias, going to the Picasso Museum and Pompidou Center. The Picasso Museum is apparently very controversial for financial overages, but I found it fantastic, and a great explanation of his career. And we loved the Pompidou enough that we actually went back a second day; they had an incredibly engaging children's exhibit about the art of JR that we all really loved participating with.
Another day we started at the Museum of Arts Decoratifs, where we actually ran into Paul Mitchell in the Barbie exhibit (a very nice man whose wife is exactly like a living Barbie). The exhibits in the main part of the museum, including beautiful Art Deco period rooms, were fascinating. Later that day, we headed to the Louvre and spent several hours there deliberated NOT seeing famous things (except the Venus de Milo). We stayed mainly in the Egyptian and Greek areas — Beatrix especially liked the Greek statues, because she had just studied ancient Greece in school. It was amazing how much more alive that made it for her. Later that day, we walked all the way to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (I am Out.Of.Shape), which was an incredible view.
We spent ALL DAY at Versailles on our anniversary. I had visited the palace before, but not the gardens, the Petit Trianon, Marie Antionette's play village, or the Grand Trianon. Those places made the whole thing so much more alive; as Patrick said, while it was hard to imagine anyone living in the elaborate palace, you could almost hear a teenage Marie Antionette and her ladies in waiting running through the paths of the village, laughing and playing.
Our last day, we went to the Cluny, where we enjoyed the medieval art, including the Roman baths and the mysterious unicorn tapestries. We also visited the Concergerie, which does a wonderfully evocative job of showing the prison where Marie Antionette was held.
We went to a few non-pass attractions, like the Eiffel Tower and the Seine boats (though we had coupons). And we visited Sacre Cour and Notre Dame, which are free in general (though you have more access through the pass). But we loved the freedom and flexibility, and I love that Beatrix thinks it's an awesome vacation to go through multiple museums with her parents. Truly the best way to spend a vacation.