Skipping lines in Paris
Paris is many things. It is old, beautiful, quaint, historic, impressive, modern, superb even. But mostly, it is really crowded! Whether you want to climb all the way up the monumental Eiffel Tower or go underground and visit the creepy Parisian Catacombs, chances are, there will be a line for it. A big, long and tedious one! Thankfully, yours truly has decided to share a few tips with you to skip all those annoying lines. Don’t worry, almost none of them include being an early riser. But hey, if you are, great for you!
Buy a Paris Pass
To get it out of the way, let’s first talk about the Paris Pass, which gives you access to basically any museum worth seeing in Paris. It costs between 130 and 254 euros for adults, depending on how many days you want it to be valid for (between 2 and 6). Thanks to it, not only will you be able to behold beautiful works of art, but you will also get to go directly into almost all museums.
This can be a real time-saver for big landmarks such as the Orsay Museum or Versailles, where the line is usually very long. If you are traveling with your family, it is good to keep in mind that most museums are free for kids under 18 and for any European aged under 26. However, if you want the pass to be worth it, you will have to visit at least one to two museums a day.
Besides all these advantages, a free Paris Visite Pass is also included in the package. This gives you free travel between zones 1-3 on Paris public transport network, adding value to the deal.
Skipping the line at the Tour Eiffel
If you are up for the challenge, the best way to avoid the long line of people waiting for elevator tickets is to take the stairs. It only costs 10.20 euros, and, although you can only go up to the first and second levels, I believe that the second one actually offers the best view of Paris. It is still way above everything else you will see in Paris, and offers you more space to circle around than the tiny summit.
Besides, taking the stairs all the way there will definitely be a good bonding time, and will make you feel like you deserve that rich crêpe you might buy once you are back on the ground. And if you want to go all the way to the top, you can also get elevator tickets once you are on the second level, which cost 19.40 euros for adults. Besides, no one checks your tickets on the way down, so feel free to then take the elevator.
The other option to cut the line is to really plan ahead, and buy your tickets online. You can get them directly from the Eiffel Tower official website. Going to the summit costs 25.50 euros, the same price as when you buy it there. However, you will have to pick your day and time slot in advance and be fast, because those do sell out quickly. If you aren’t able to get any, you can still purchase second-level tickets and then buy your summit one on the second floor, where the line will surely be shorter.
The last option you have to cut the line is to book lunch or dinner at either 58 Tour Eiffel, located on the first level, or Le Jules Vernes, on the second level. A typical meal at the former will cost you around forty euros and one at the latter around 200 euros. 58 Tour Eiffel is a fairly good bistrot, that offers good traditional food in a chic yet casual setting. You have to keep in mind that you will also be paying for the view and that you won’t be able to access the upper levels afterwards. Le Jules Vernes is a real gastronomic restaurant with a dress code and excellent cuisine.
Last but not least, the Eiffel Tower can also be accessed up until midnight in the summer. It is usually much less crowded than during the day. Early risers also have a shot at not lining up for too long, but more people think of coming early in the morning than late at night.
Skipping the line at the Louvre
In Paris, there are two ways to enter a museum. There is the way where most people, usually tourists, queue up, and the way that only locals know about. While the main gate near the Pyramid is almost always crowded, you can also enter the Louvre through the Carrousel, where the line will be much shorter. Walk with us for more information.
To do so, you can access it through a big staircase located in the park facing the Pyramid or at 99 rue de Rivoli. However, the best way to skip the line is to get tickets ahead of time and then go through the Passage Richelieu, on the side, that’s pretty much deserted. However, plan ahead of time because you will have to pick up your tickets in one of the stores available in Paris, or have it posted to you.
Your other option is to go on a Wednesday or a Friday evening, since the museum is open until 9:45 pm. Not many tourists know that, which makes for a cool experience at night in one of the most impressive museums ever. Besides, it is also free for all visitors on the first Saturday of each month, and the museum is open from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. It is a savvy way to save some money if you want to check out one of the neighboring bars after your visit.
Skipping the line at the Musée d’Orsay
However, the line there can be quite intimidating, so here are a few tips to skip it. A good way to cut the line is to go visit the museum on Thursday past 6 pm. The museum is open until 9.45 pm then and costs 14 euros. However, not many people know about this late opening, which makes it a good time to visit.
Otherwise, you can also get joint tickets at either Musée Rodin or Musée de l’Orangerie. Neither is crowded or even well known among tourists yet both are definitely worth seeing. The Rodin Museum is centered around Rodin’s sculptures and is set in a beautiful mansion right by the Champs Elysées.
The Orangerie Museum is located in the Tuileries Gardens and offers a very impressive nineteenth and twentith century art collection, including the beautiful Water Lilies painted by Monet on huge canvases. There are also beautiful paintings by Picasso or Matisse kept there.
The Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie combined tickets will cost you 18 euros. While the Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin combined tickets will cost you 21 euros.
A little self-advertising every now and then cannot harm so here is a way to cut the line and visit Paris with a local guide that will give you all the tips you need to make the most of your stay here. During some of our free walking tours, you can purchase tickets for museums at a better price and then not have to line up. At the end of each tour, a “Perks Package” will be handed to you with many discounts for some of the highlights of the city of Paris, such as ticket deals for museums, monuments, boat cruises and other activities.
If you decide to visit the old and quaint quarter of Montmartre, you can then purchase tickets for Orsay, the Louvre or the Musée de l’Orangerie. Do not hesitate any longer and tag along!
Despite all these tips, there are still a couple landmarks in Paris where you will unfortunately not be able to skip the line, but there are many ways to deal with it. Read on to find out!
The towers of Notre Dame
Getting inside Notre Dame itself is pretty easy and although the line is long, it goes by fairly fast. However, getting to the top of Notre Dame is another business. The line is usually at least an hour and a half long and there is no way around it. What I used to do with my friends was to sit at the terrace of a café while others friends waited in line, and we switched every half hour.
However, as you can guess, the Notre Dame Cathedral is closed at the moment due to fire it suffered from earlier this year. Read all about this fire in this article and if you wish, you can share with us your memories of the majestic cathedral here.
Since it is currently closed to the public, what I strongly recommend you to do is to join our walking tour, during which you will learn a lot about the Notre Dame, its history, the reconstruction projects, and the area.
You can check out another tall building that offers a nice view of Paris with considerably less people: the Tour Montparnasse! It is the other big skyscraper of Paris, one that is nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower and that enables you to take a cool photo of the skyline with the Eiffel Tower in it. The building is pretty new, high-tech and not that well known. It is a good way to avoid queues!
Visiting the Catacombs
Last but not least, if you want to visit the most secretive and creepiest part of Paris, you have to earn it! The line lasts usually for three hours and can seem awfully long for the Paris Catacombs. Same here, there is no going around it, so our only piece of advice is: go early, as in, super early!
An hour before the opening time seems reasonable and will definitely give a big head start (it only opens at 10). Not only is it better, it is actually vital, since it is the longest queue you will find in Paris. My other advice would be not to go too late. They only let 200 people in every 45 minutes, so check how many people are in front of you. It might close before you get to go in.
It is now possible to book the tickets online, so it definitely is the best way to visit the Catacombs, avoiding the never-ending queues. They cost 29 euros, while the regular ticket costs 13 euros. You can get them here.
My article about skipping lines in Paris is now over. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and thought it was useful! If you need further information about anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! See you very soon in Paris!