Table of Contents
- 1. MAIN PARIS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS LIST
- 2. BEST PARIS TRAVEL PASSES: PARIS CITY PASS AND PARIS MUSEUM PASS
- 3. BEST TIME TO VISIT PARIS TO AVOID CROWDS
- 4. SKIP THE LINE IN PARIS: WARNING
- 5. SKIP THE LINE EIFFEL TOWER SUMMIT AND SECOND FLOOR
- 6. SKIP THE LINE LOUVRE MUSEUM
- 7. SKIP THE LINE PARIS CATACOMBS
- 8. VISIT ORSAY MUSEUM
- 9. SKIP THE LINE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
- 10. VISIT CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L’INDUSTRIE
- 11. VISIT GRAND PALAIS
- 12. HOW TO AVOID THE LINES IN PARIS: OUR TIPS
Paris Travel Blog 2018. Last update: December 2018
Visiting Paris for the first time? You would like to take it easy but your time in Paris is limited and you want to get the most out of the City of Light. Because this is your first time in Paris, you want to see the main Paris tourist attractions or at least some of them. You have seen Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower sooo many times in books, travel magazines, and postcards. And finally, you have the opportunity to see them live.
But maybe you forgot that Paris is one of the most visited cities on this planet. You won’t be alone. Actually, right now there are thousands of people planning their very first time in Paris during your same dates. And probably these thousands of people also want to visit that same tourist places in Paris, which means that the waiting lines will be long. Very long.
Sounds scary? It can be . . .
Despite we enjoy talking about the alternative, more local side of Paris we are not here to tell you to avoid the main tourist places in Paris, just avoid the lines! And how to skip the line in Paris? You just need some planning and the right information. Because information is power. So don’t look further, we are going to give you our best tips to spend more time enjoying the sights and less time in line. Go on reading . . .
1. MAIN PARIS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS LIST
This is the list of the 6 most popular museums and monuments (by the number of visitors) in the city*:
- Louvre Museum (8.7M visitors)
- Eiffel Tower (6.9M visitors)
- Musée d Orsay (3.4M visitors)
- Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (1.9M visitors)
- Grand Palais (1.77M visitors)
- Arc de Triomphe (1.76M visitors)
*Latest Published Source: Bilan de l’Activité Touristique de l’Année 2015 by Paris Région
On this Paris tourist attractions list, we added the Catacombs of Paris because lately, it seems that everybody wants to visit the Paris Catacombs : -)
For each of these Paris tourist places, we are going to give you the best day and the best time slot to avoid the lines (or at least to avoid the longest lines), during the high season and low season in Paris.
2. BEST PARIS TRAVEL PASSES: PARIS CITY PASS AND PARIS MUSEUM PASS
Paris City Pass and Paris Museum Pass are two great Paris travel passes for visiting Paris. Both Paris tourist passes allow visitors to save lots of time and money thanks to their Paris skip the line tickets and many discounts.
Paris City Pass
Paris City Pass is like a magic wand for Paris. This fantastic Paris travel card comes with a 1-way transfer from the Airport to the city center, a Skip the Line Louvre Ticket, a Skip the Line Montparnasse Tower Ticket, a cruise on the River Seine and a 3 days metro card for exploring the City of Light. If this was not enough, Paris City Pass proposes also 20% discount on top museums, attractions, tours and excursions (we counted more than 50 proposals on the list!), like tickets and Versailles guided tours, Paris guided tours, Catacombs Skip the Line Tickets, Paris Cabarets tickets and much more.
After booking your Paris City Pass online, you will receive your pass by email which avoids you the hassle of finding the pickup place of your pass in a city that you don’t know. This means that you can use your pass as soon as you land in Paris.
Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museum Pass is another convenient option. This Paris travel pass offers visitors direct access to 55 of Paris top attractions and museums in Paris. If your time is limited and you want to visit as many Paris tourist attractions as you can, the Paris Museum Pass is for you.
You can buy your Paris Museum Pass for 2 days, 4 days or 6 days. The pass is available in different places like Paris airports, Paris museums included in the Paris Museum pass or dedicated kiosks. To avoid the hassle, we recommend purchasing this pass online. Your pass starts working only when you visit the first Paris attraction so you can buy it months in advance without any problem.
READ MORE – Paris Museum Pass Review
Visiting only a few Paris Tourist Attractions?
If you want to visit only few Paris tourist places but still you hate the idea of wasting your time waiting in line, probably the best option for you is to buy separate Paris skip the line tickets or tours. We recommend buying Skip the Line Eiffel Tower tickets, Skip the Line Louvre tickets and Catacombs Skip the Line tickets online.
Websites like Viator or Get you Guide also propose interesting skip the line combo tickets or tours which allow visitors to save some euros. These are the most popular Paris Combo tickets
|Skip the Line Louvre & Orsay||Skip the Line Guided Tour||5-5.5 hrs||Louvre Museum + Orsay Museum||View|
|Skip the Line Orsay & Orangerie||Skip the Line tickets||Valid 60 days from activation||Orsay Museum + Orangerie Museum||View|
|Eiffel Tower, Louvre & Seine Cruise||Skip the Line tickets Eiffel Tower 2nd floor & Louvre + standard ticket Eiffel Tower summit+ River Cruise||1 day||Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum + Seine Cruise||View|
3. BEST TIME TO VISIT PARIS TO AVOID CROWDS
The best time to visit Paris to avoid crowds is during the low season.
» High season in Paris is considered from 1st April to 31st October. It means nice weather and more hours of daylight and many people will tell you this is the best time to come. But at the same time, this is not the best season to visit Paris in terms of budget (best accommodation booked, higher prices). Also, the city is too crowded with tourists.
» Low season in Paris goes from 1st November to 31st March, with the exception of Christmas in Paris, NYE in Paris, and the days around Valentine’s Day. This is the cheapest time to visit Paris and the best time to visit Paris to avoid the crowds. If you decide to travel to Paris during the winter you will get a more local experience and it will be easier to find good deals in accommodation, for example.
These travel essentials may help with the lines…
4. SKIP THE LINE IN PARIS: WARNING
This information comes from many sources: museums’ websites, other Paris websites and also from our personal experience. This is not rocket science: we cannot promise that you won’t find long tourist lines during the time slots that we recommend for these Paris tourist attractions. Also, during a time slot considered as “very strong” lines might be significantly shorter if it rains a lot, if the weather is too cold or if there is a heat wave, just to give you some examples. So please take all this information with a grain of salt. Zero tourist lines in Paris do not exist but if you follow our advice we can promise that at least you won’t hate Paris when you leave 😉
NB: colors on the tables correspond to estimated waiting time by time slot: green means less waiting time while red means very long lines.
5. SKIP THE LINE EIFFEL TOWER SUMMIT AND SECOND FLOOR
Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, Paris 7
Metro: Bir-Hakeim (L6), Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (RER C)
We prefer to see Paris with the Eiffel Tower than Paris from the Eiffel Tower but we understand that the Eiffel Tower (7th Arrondissement of Paris) is a rock star and all rock stars have rave fans! We tell you our best tips below.
Best Time to Visit Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower never rests, it is open every day!
» During the high season, it seems there is no best time to visit Eiffel Tower and Eiffel Tower waiting time can be up to 2 hours within the time slots marked as “very strong”.
»During the low season, Eiffel Tower lines are shorter, especially during the weekdays. The best time to visit Eiffel Tower during the low season is early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tickets
Eiffel Tower sells standard tickets to the Second Floor and to the Second Floor + Summit, both tickets with a stop on the First Floor. The Second Floor can be reached by stairs or by lift. Once you are on the second floor, the Eiffel Tower Summit can be reached by lift only. This means that there are 4 different standard Eiffel Tower tickets, but only two are available online.
» Standard Paris Eiffel Tower Tickets to the Second Floor by Stairs: on sale at the tower only.
» Standard Paris Eiffel Tower Tickets to the Second Floor by Lift: you can buy these Eiffel Tower tickets online.
» Standard Paris Eiffel Tower Summit Tickets by Stairs + Lift: on sale at the tower only.
» Standard Paris Eiffel Tower Summit Tickets by Lift + Lift: you can buy these Eiffel Tower tickets online.
IMPORTANT: During the low season, last access by stairs is at 6 pm while last access by lift is at 11 pm!
If you decide to buy these standard Eiffel Tower tickets online, you will pick a date and also a time slot. Time slots are every hour which means that you will be waiting in line one hour maximum.
WE RECOMMEND: Skip the Line Eiffel Tower tickets are one of the best investments when you are visiting Paris. With Skip the Line Eiffel Tower tickets, within minutes you will be inside the elevators and on your way to discover the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. This is too cool and saves you lots of time. Only tour operators like Viator or Get Your Guide sell this kind of tickets, alone or in combination with other Paris sights.
- Eiffel Tower Skip the Line Tickets to the Second Floor (by lift)
- Eiffel Tower Skip the Line Tickets to the Second Floor (by lift) and with Standard Summit Access
IMPORTANT: Skip the line Eiffel Tower Summit Tickets are very rare to find. We did not find any actually. If you decide to buy Eiffel Tower tickets Skip the Line with other operators, be careful and read the small letters to understand what kind of access for each part of the Eiffel Tower they propose.
6. SKIP THE LINE LOUVRE MUSEUM
Address: Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1
Metro: Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre (L1, 7), Louvre Rivoli (L1)
The Louvre Museum (1st Arrondissement of Paris) is our favorite museum in Paris. We like to visit the Louvre Museum (and the Louvre Palace!) at least twice a year, usually in the winter time, when lines at the Louvre are shorter.
READ MORE – Best way to visit the Louvre in 2 hrs
Best Time to Visit the Louvre Museum
The best time to visit the Louvre depends on the season. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to go during the week, maybe arriving half an hour before the opening time.
IMPORTANT: From January 2019 the first Saturday night of the month will be free for everybody from 6 pm to 9.45 pm. The graphic above will be updated as soon as we have more information.
Skip the Line Louvre Tickets
WE RECOMMEND: Louvre Skip the Line tickets are always a good investment because there is a special line for these tickets and you are in very fast. You can buy Louvre tickets Skip the Line alone or combine them with an audio guide or a guided tour. The truth is that a guided Louvre Skip the Line tour is a temptation difficult to resist in one of the most interesting museums in the world! We recommend buying all these Louvre tickets online and in advance.
- Louvre Museum Tickets Skip the Line
- Louvre Tickets Skip the Line with an Audio Guide
- Guided Louvre Skip the Line Tour
7. SKIP THE LINE PARIS CATACOMBS
Address: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14
Metro: Denfert-Rochereau (L4, 6, RER B)
Catacombs of Paris are former underground quarries which were reused for stocking the bones of disappeared cemeteries in Paris. Paris Catacombs tours and visits have become very popular among tourists, probably because of its original, spooky character. For this reason, Paris Catacombs lines in front of the entrance are always long, very long. If you want to visit the Paris Catacombs, we recommend planning your visit in advance. This is another Paris activity where we suggest buying skip the line tickets or a Skip the Line Paris Catacombs tour.
Best Time to Visit Paris Catacombs
Paris Catacombs open from Tuesday to Sunday. As you can see in the graphic below, the best time to visit Catacombs Paris is early in the morning.
Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tickets and Skip the Line Paris Catacombs Tours
Catacombs of Paris proposes two kinds of tickets but only one is available online:
» Standard Catacombs Paris Tickets: on sale at Paris Catacombs entrance only.
» Paris Catacombs Tickets Skip the Line with Audio Guide: you can buy these Catacombs Paris tickets online.
WE RECOMMEND: if we had to visit Paris Catacombs again, we would definitely choose a Catacombs Paris Tour Skip the Line with Special Access. This is the best Catacombs tour in Paris because you can skip the line and it is the only way to see one of the most beautiful parts of the Catacombs, the hall called “La Plage” (the beach). Actually, this hall was the main reason for us to visit the Catacombs and we were very disappointed when the security guy told us that it was visited only by special guided groups, with exclusive access to sections closed to the public. In the end, whatever you choose, book well in advance.
IMPORTANT: Paris Catacombs are quite far from the rest of Paris tourist places. If you want to visit the Paris Catacombs and other sights on the same day, consider the following travel times:
- Catacombs to Louvre Museum 24 minutes, with 12 minutes walk included
- Paris Catacombs to Eiffel Tower 26 minutes, with 16 minutes walk included
8. VISIT ORSAY MUSEUM
Address: 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris 7
Metro: Solférino, L12 and Musée d’Orsay, RER C
Best Time to Visit Musée d’Orsay
The best day to visit Musée d’Orsay is on Wednesday and also on Friday. Try to avoid Tuesday, when the Louvre is closed and Musée d’Orsay waiting time is longer. Few people know that on Thursday the museum is open until 9 pm. During the night slot, from 6 pm to 9 pm, Musée d’Orsay wait time is shorter (10 minutes maximum) and it is cheaper (Orsay Museum tickets online cost 10.50€).
Orsay Museum Tickets Skip the Line
Musée d’Orsay wait times can be long. Despite this, there are not many skip the line Musée d Orsay proposals. Your best option to avoid the line at Orsay Museum is to book an Orsay Museum Guided Tour online. Musée d Orsay Guided Tour groups are small, there is no waiting time, and you will get the most out of this great museum thanks to the professional guide.
9. SKIP THE LINE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris 8
Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (L6, 1, 2, RER A)
Most Paris visitors want to climb up to Arc de Triomphe because of its great views of Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. Apart from getting one of the best views of Paris, there is a small exhibition space about the Arc’s architecture and sculptures.
Best Time to Visit Arc de Triomphe
The best time to visit Arc de Triomphe to avoid the lines is, obviously, when the weather is bad. However, as you can see in the picture below, Arc de Triomphe wait time is not that long. We always go to the top of Arc de Triomphe when it is free and we never found long lines.
Arc de Triomphe Skip the Line Tickets
If you plan on visiting Arc de Triomphe during the most crowded time slots in the high season, it might be a good idea to buy a skip the line ticket online for a couple of euros more. With your ticket in hand, ignore the long line and go straight to the main entrance, at the foot of the monument.
10. VISIT CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L’INDUSTRIE
Address: 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, Paris 19
Metro: Porte de la Villette (L7, T3b)
Best Time to Visit Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
11. VISIT GRAND PALAIS
Address: 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8
Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau, L1 and 13
Best Time to Visit Grand Palais
This is the most difficult museum to predict because in Grand Palais there are always 2-3 different exhibitions at the same time but in different spaces. If you want to visit Grand Palais to see its amazing central nave, be sure that you choose the right exhibition (you can check the exhibitions’ location online). Also, the waiting time will depend on the success of the exhibitions.
Below, we show the waiting times for one of the current exhibitions (at the time of writing). We have been following these diagrams for the last months and more or less all the exhibitions in Grand Palais show the same pattern. As you can see, Grand Palais does not make the difference between high /low season but between out of school holidays (in France) /on school holidays.
Check the waiting times for your chosen exhibition on Grand Palais website
12. HOW TO AVOID THE LINES IN PARIS: OUR TIPS
» Try to avoid high season, when waiting lines are longer. January, February, November, and December (except during Christmas) are the months with less waiting lines.
» Avoid bank holidays and French school holidays, when parents need to do anything to keep their bored kids busy. Click on the link to know the dates of school holidays in France.
» Make a list of the Paris tourist attractions you want to visit and with the help of our graphics choose the best day and the best time slot for each of them.
» Purchase your tickets online whenever possible. Consider buying the skip-the-lines tickets for some sights.
» If you are in Paris only for the weekend, choose Saturday to visit the main sights. On Saturdays Parisians do the groceries or other household tasks, go shopping or other personal things.
» Be an early bird. Arriving there before the opening means shorter waiting line and fewer crowds once you are inside.
» If you are interested in a specific temporary exhibition in Paris, especially if it is a successful one, avoid the two first weeks and the two last weeks.
» Bring lots of water, some snacks and something to protect you from the sun, rain or cold weather. A book or your Kindle (lighter) or your iPod to keep your entertained is not a bad idea either.
»Take it easy. You can start a conversation with your neighbors, maybe you can share useful tips or good eating addresses in Paris while waiting.
» NTripping wrote a cool post about some useful tricks to avoid madness in Paris
And if in the end, you decide that waiting in line is not for you, there are many cool, non-touristy things to do in Paris far from the crowds. You can also check our list of FREE Museums in Paris which are very nice and most of them don’t see many visitors.
Do you want to visit the Main Sights in Paris? Which ones are in your Paris bucket list?
Some interesting articles in the blog
- Read about eating in Paris here
- Our Districts of Paris Quick Guide is here
- Read why Paris is Always a good idea here
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Cover Picture: Tour Eiffel picture via Flikr CC @Mohamed Yahya