Beat the crowd in Paris
How do I beat the crowd in Paris? That’s the question tourists often ask me on a tour. As a Parisian, I am quite surprised how much time people are willing to wait in line in order to enter a museum, get an ice-cream or enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Of course I understand that a trip to Paris can be a once in a lifetime experience and that seeing Mona Lisa or climbing the Eiffel Tower is a must do.
What I feel simply is that people should have read this article first, so they would know all the Parisian tricks not to do lines. Believe me, for every major attraction of Paris, there is a big “tourists” line and a small Parisian line. You’re ready to hear the best kept secrets to beat the crowd in Paris? Here they are!
Beat the crowd at the Louvre
The Louvre is often crowded
Visiting the Louvre Museum is a must for the first-time Parisian experience. But the crowds can be unbearable, especially on the first Sunday of the month when entrance is free. Visiting the Louvre first thing in the morning or during one of its nocturnal openings*, on wednesdays and fridays from 6-10 pm, will allow for a much more pleasant experience! To avoid a long line, you can enter through the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre metro station (on line 1), or the one at the 99, Rivoli Street by the Carrousel du Louvre, as the crowd usually sticks next to the Pyramid.
*Visiting during the nocturnal openings is always a good idea to avoid the crowd. Take advantage of the shorter lines while other tourists are grabbing dinner!
- Eiffel Tower: open till 12.45 am in the summer and 11.45 pm the rest of the year.
- Louvre: open till 10 pm on wednesdays and fridays.
- Orsay: open till 9.45 pm on thursdays.
- Orangerie: open till 9 pm on wednesdays.
- Arc de Triomphe: open till 11 pm daily.
Beat the crowd at the Sacré-Coeur
Arrive by 9 am or head to the Sacré-Coeur church at night as it is open until 11 pm. You will enjoy a spectacular view of the city from the highest point in Paris and the inside of the church without herds of tourists behind you.
Beat the crowd at the Notre-Dame
Enjoy the inside of Notre-Dame without the crowd
Arrive by 9 am. The queue at the Notre Dame Cathedral entrance is never long, since it’s free to get inside the church. However, it would be preferable to go to the church during the week, as the crowd is quite big over the weekends.
Beat the crowd at the Eiffel Tower
If you want to beat the crowd at the Eiffel Tower, arrive for the opening (9 am in the summer) or book online 24+ hours in advance. You can also make a lunch booking at the Restaurant 58 for 18€ to cut the line. The most athletic tourists can hike up to the first level by foot and then catch the elevator from there, bypassing the lines at the base of the tower.
Beat the crowd at other tourists attractions
For other popular tourists’ attractions like the Sainte Chapelle or the Conciergerie, remember that weekends are always bad times to go and that the free first Sunday of the month will allow you to save some money, but you’ll lose lots of time, so weigh the pros and cons. I will recommend visiting streets, neighborhoods, parks and gardens in Paris during the weekend, and going to the more popular attractions during the week.
Beat the crowd at the Metro
Avoid the rush hours if you want to take the Metro
Avoid the rush hours in the Metro. 9 am and 6 pm are the worst times to travel underground, because that’s when Parisians go to work and get back home from work. Either go to the Metro early or walk. Paris is a small capital and a stroll in the Parisian streets is never an unpleasant experience.
Beat the crowd at Department stores
Do not go to the Galeries Lafayette during the Sales
In the city of fashion, it is fun to browse the stores as they are always beautiful. But this experience can leave you exhausted if you go at the wrong time. My advice is to avoid going during the twice-annual sales, “soldes” in French, which happen during the summer and early winter. You should also avoid going to the departement stores on Saturdays.
Another piece of advice; if you need enough fresh air, take the escalator to the last floor of the Galeries Lafayette. The observation deck is free and offers a unique view of Paris.
Beat the crowd at Bakeries
Getting a French baguette takes time during lunchtime
Again, it should not be hard to get a good baguette or pastry in Paris, if you avoid the rush hours. Avoid the bakeries at lunchtime and during the evening. For instance, the bakery in front of my home always has a long line at 6 pm. Go early in the morning or before the rush hour begins.
You now know how to beat the crowd in Paris! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has been helpful to you. While in Paris, everyone wants to enjoy most of the city in the best conditions. It’s not always easy, especially if you spend half your day queueing to enter Paris landmarks. Hopefully, these few tips have provided useful informations to make sure you enjoy the city and visit as many landmarks as possible! Don’t hesitate to tell me if you need further advice on how to beat the crowd at a specific Parisian landmarks, I will be glad to add it to this article with further tips! You can also join our tours, because our local guides know the best places and tips! See you soon in Paris!