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Affordable Paris: Museums for free

Old Paris on display at the Musée Carnavalet (Courtesy fredpanassac/Flickr)

Paris museums house some of the best collections in the world, but they aren't cheap dates. Entry to the Musée d'Orsay costs 8€ ($11.50), the great Louvre is 9€ ($12), and the Centre Pompidou is 12€ ($16). These admission fees can add up if you're planning to visit more than one museum, and especially if you're paying for a whole family.

But there's good news: About 22 museums offer free entry every day. And the French government also subsidizes free days and nights at an even longer list of attractions. A complete rundown of these cultural freebies can be found at the Parisinfo website, and some of my favorites are listed below.

Free Every Day: Entry to see the permanent collection of these museums is always free. There may be a small charge for temporary exhibitions.

Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris (history of Paris) 23 rue de Sévigné, 3rd arrondissement.

Musée de la Vie Romantique (the Romantic movement, that is) 16 rue Chaptal, 9th arrondissement.

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (modern art) 11 avenue du Président Wilson, 16th arrondissement.

Free Every Wednesday Evening: One of my favorite places, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (better known as MEP), opens its doors every Wednesday night for free. Set in the Marais, the MEP is steps away from some great eating and drinking. 5-7 rue de Fourcy, 4th arrondissement.

Free on the First Sunday of Every Month: Major tourist draws like the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d'Orsay, the Quai Branly and the Picasso museum are free on the first Sunday of every month. However, the crowds are so overwhelming that I avoid them on this day. Instead, I like take the first Sunday to explore some of these less-mobbed museum treasures:

Musée national de l'Orangerie (home to the massive Monet water lilies) Jardin des Tuileries, 1st arrondissement.

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (hunting and nature) 62 rue des Archives, 3rd arrondissement.

Musée national du Moyen Âge (Middle Ages) 6 place Paul Painlevé, 5th arrondissement.

Musée Rodin (The Kiss, the Thinker, and other great sculptures) 79 rue de Varenne, 7th arrondissement

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