- 1. MAIN PARIS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS LIST
- 2. PARIS CITY PASS, PARIS MUSEUM PASS SKIP LINES, AND BEST PARIS SKIP THE LINE TICKETS
- 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
- – Best Time to Visit Eiffel Tower
- – Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tickets
- – How to pay less to Visit Eiffel Tower
- 6. SKIP THE LINE LOUVRE MUSEUM
- – Best Time to Visit the Louvre Museum
- – Skip the Line Louvre Tickets
- – How to Visit the Louvre for FREE /How to Pay Less
- 7. SKIP THE LINE PARIS CATACOMBS
- – Best Time to Visit Paris Catacombs
- – Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tours and Tickets
- – How to Visit Paris Catacombs for FREE /How to Pay Less
- 8. MUSÉE D ORSAY
- – Best Time to Visit Musée d’Orsay
- – Skip the Line Orsay Museum Tickets
- – How to Visit Musée d’Orsay for FREE / How to Pay Less
- 9. ARC DE TRIOMPHE
- – Best Time to Visit Arc de Triomphe
- – How to visit Arc de Triomphe for FREE / How to Pay Less
- 10. CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L’INDUSTRIE
- – Best Time to Visit Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
- – How to Visit Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie for FREE / How to Pay Less
- 11. GRAND PALAIS
- – Best Time to Visit Grand Palais
- – How to Visit Grand Palais for FREE /How to Pay Less
- 12. HOW TO AVOID THE LINES IN PARIS: OUR TIPS
Paris Travel Blog 2018. Last update: February 2018
Traveling to 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 places or at least some of them. You have seen Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower sooo many times in books, travel magazines, 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 Paris Tourist Attractions, which means that Paris lines will be long. Very long.
Sounds scary? It may be . . .
Despite we enjoy talking about the alternative, more local side of Paris we are not here to tell you to avoid these Paris Tourist Attractions, 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 some cool info and our best tips to spend 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) // The 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
We added the Paris Catacombs to the list because lately, it seems that everybody wants to visit Paris Catacombs : -)
For each of these Paris tourist places, we are going to give you the best day and the best time slot to visit, during high season and low season to avoid lines (or at least avoid long lines). Also, are going to tell you how to visit these Paris tourist attractions for less money or even for free.
2. PARIS CITY PASS, PARIS MUSEUM PASS SKIP LINES, AND BEST PARIS SKIP THE LINE TICKETS
Paris City Pass and Paris Museum Pass are two great Paris Travel Passes for visiting Paris. Both passes allow Paris visitors to save lots of time and money thanks to their skip the line tickets and countless discounts.
Paris City Pass is like a magic wand for Paris. This fantastic Paris Tourist Pass includes a 1-way transfer from the Airport to the city center, a Skip the Line Louvre Ticket, a Skip the Line Ticket for Montparnasse Tower, a cruise on the River Seine and a 3 days metro card for exploring the City of Light. If this was not enough, the 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 tours for Versailles, Paris guided tours, Paris Catacombs skip the line tickets, tickets to the best Paris Cabarets and much more. After booking your Paris City Pass online, you 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.
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 Places as you can, the Paris Museum Pass Skip Lines is for you. There are three available options: a 2-day pass, a 4 days pass or 6 days pass. You can purchase the Paris Museum Pass 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
If you want to visit only few Paris attractions 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 and Skip the Line Louvre Tickets online. Also, the Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tour is worth the investment. More about why you should buy Paris Eiffel Tower tickets and Louvre and Paris Catacombs tickets online in the chapters below.
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 holidays. This is the cheapest time to visit Paris and the best time to visit Paris to avoid the crowds. If you decide to travel off-season 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); Velib Station #7.025, 7.023
We prefer to see Paris with the Eiffel Tower than Paris from the Eiffel Tower but we understand that Eiffel Tower ( Paris 7) is a rock star and all rock stars have rave fans! We tell you our best tips below.
– Best Time to Visit Eiffel Tower
As you can see on the tables below, the Eiffel Tower never rests and it seems there is no best time to visit Eiffel Tower, especially during the high season (lines up to 2 hours during “very strong” time slots). During the low season, things are better during the weekdays. The best time to visit Eiffel Tower during the low season is early in the morning.
– Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tickets
Eiffel Tower sells standard tickets to the Second Floor and to the Summit, both with a stop on the First Floor. The Second Floor can be reached by stairs or by lift while Eiffel Tower Summit can be reached by lift only or by stairs (up to the second floor) + lift. This means that Eiffel Tower has 4 kinds of Eiffel Tower Skip the Line 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: 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 standard Eiffel Tower tickets online, you will pick a date and also a time slot. Time slots are every hour which means that you are reducing the possibility to wait in line a lot.
WE RECOMMEND: Skip the Line Eiffel Tower and Louvre tickets are maybe the best investment if you come to Paris for sightseeing. You just need to see the featured picture on the top of the post. You definitely don’t want that when you visit Paris!
When you have Eiffel Tower Skip the Line 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. The Eiffel Tower website does not propose Skip the Line Tickets Eiffel Tower, only tour operators like Viator or Get Your Guide sell this kind of tickets, usually in the form of Skip the Line Tour Eiffel Tower or combined with other Paris sights. You can buy their Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tickets only (without other additions) through my affiliate links here below, at no extra cost for you. This would really make our day 😉
IMPORTANT: Skip the line Eiffel Tower Summit Tickets are very rare to find. We did not find any actually. If you decide to buy your 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 tower they propose.
– How to pay less to Visit Eiffel Tower
Unfortunately, the entrance to the Eiffel Tower is never free but there are a couple of reduced options:
» People from 12 to 24 years pay 5€ to the Second Floor (by stairs).
» People from 12 to 24 years pay 9.50€ to the top (stairs + lift).
6. SKIP THE LINE LOUVRE MUSEUM
Address: Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1
Metro: Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre (L1, 7), Louvre Rivoli (L1); Velib Station #1.025
We like Louvre Museum (1st Arrondissement of Paris) a lot and we visit this fantastic museum at least twice a year, usually in the winter time. You can check our super Louvre Museum Guide below, where we share all the information and our best tips to visit the Louvre like a pro.
READ MORE – Louvre Museum Guide with our best Louvre Tips
– 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.
– Skip the Line Louvre Tickets
WE RECOMMEND: Skip the Line Louvre Tickets are always a good investment because there is a special line for these tickets (with 0 or few minutes waiting time) and you are in very fast. You can buy just Louvre skip the line tickets or combine them with an audio guide or a guided tour. The truth is that a guided 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.
– How to Visit the Louvre for FREE /How to Pay Less
The basic ticket for Louvre Museum (bought directly at the Louvre) costs 15€. If you care more about your budget than long lines, there are some opportunities to visit the Louvre for free:
» The Louvre Museum is FREE for all visitors the first Sunday of every month, from October to March.
» It is FREE for all visitors on 14th July (France’s National Day), during Les Journées du Patrimoine (next edition on 16 and 17 September 2017) and during La Nuit des Musées (next edition end of May 2018)
» The Louvre is always FREE for people under 25 years from a country within the European Union.
» The Louvre Museum is FREE for people under 25 years, all countries, on night openings (Wednesday and Friday) from 6 pm to 9.45 pm.
Because our time in Paris is not limited, we usually go to the Louvre when it is free (first Sunday of the month), early in the morning and we never found a line longer than 30- 40 minutes. The first picture on this post corresponds to that same day but late in the morning (definitely not a good idea).
7. SKIP THE LINE PARIS CATACOMBS
Address: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14
Metro: Denfert-Rochereau (L4, 6, RER B); Velib Station #14.005
Paris Catacombs 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 amongst tourists, probably because of its original, spooky character. For this reason, queues in front of Paris Catacombs entrance are always long, very long. If you want to visit Paris Catacombs, we recommend planning your visit in advance. This is another Paris activity where we recommend to buy a Paris Catacombs Skip the Line Paris Ticket or Tour.
– Best Time to Visit Paris Catacombs
Paris Catacombs open from Tuesday to Sunday. As you can see below, the best time to visit Paris Catacombs is early in the morning.
– Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tours and Tickets
Paris Catacombs proposes two kinds of tickets but only one is available online:
» Standard Catacombs Paris Tickets: on sale at Paris Catacombs entrance only.
» Paris Catacombs Skip the Line Tickets with Audio Guide: you can buy these Catacombs Paris tickets online.
WE RECOMMEND: if I had to visit Paris Catacombs again, I would definitely choose a Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tour with Special Access. These skip the line tours are really a good investment because the lines can be insane. BUT there is also another reason: with Standard Paris Catacombs Tickets you cannot see one of the most beautiful parts of Paris Catacombs, the hall called “La Plage”. Actually, this hall was the main reason for me to visit Paris Catacombs and I was very disappointed when the security guy told me that it was visited only by guided groups (I had a standard ticket). So apart from the time saving, Skip the Line Catacombs Paris Tour with Special Access takes you to the best (in my opinion) of Paris Catacombs. In the end, whatever you choose, book well in advance.
– How to Visit Paris Catacombs for FREE /How to Pay Less
Admission tickets to visit the Catacombs of Paris cost 13€ (bought directly at the Paris Catacombs). There is a reduced ticket of 11€ for young people (from 18 years to 26 years) and for residents in Rome (Paris and Rome cities are twinned). A proof of residence (ie. invoice with your name and address in Rome) will be requested. Maybe (not sure) the Catacombs of Paris will be for free to visit during Les Journées du Patrimoine (next edition on 15 and 16 September 2018) but you don’t want to do that queue . . .
8. MUSÉE D ORSAY
Address: 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris 7
Metro: Solférino, L12 and Musée d’Orsay, RER C; Velib Station #7.007
– Best Time to Visit Musée d’Orsay
The best time to visit Musée d’Orsay is during the week except on Tuesdays, when the Louvre is closed. Few people know that on Thursday the museum is open until 9 pm. During the night slot, from 6 pm to 9 pm, lines are shorter (10 minutes maximum) plus the ticket is cheaper (10.50€ if bought online).
– Skip the Line Orsay Museum Tickets
Lines to visit Orsay Museum can be long. Despite this, there are not many skip the line Musée d Orsay options. Your best option to avoid the line at Orsay Museum is to book online an Orsay Museum Guided Tour. Musée d Orsay Guided Tour groups are small, you will skip the whole line, and you will get the most out of this great museum thanks to the professional guide.
– How to Visit Musée d’Orsay for FREE / How to Pay Less
The regular price of 12€ corresponds to Musée d Orsay permanent collection + temporary exhibition. However, there are some opportunities to visit the Orsay for less money or even for free:
» Admission tickets from 4.30 pm (except Thursdays) and from 6.30 pm on Thursdays cost 9€.
» Admission tickets for people between 18-25-year-old who are not citizens or long-term residents of an EU member state cost 9€.
» Musée d Orsay is FREE for all visitors on the first Sunday of every month, during Les Journées du Patrimoine (next edition on 16 and 17 September 2017) and La Nuit des Musées (next edition end May 2018)
» Musée d Orsay is always FREE for people under 25 years from a country within the European Union.
OUR TIPS: Keep the Orsay Museum ticket after your visit! During the next 8 days of your visit, you have reduced prices for Palais Garnier Visit (without a guide), Gustave Moreau Museum and Jean Jacques Henner Museum by showing your Orsay Museum ticket.
9. ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris 8
Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (L6, 1, 2, RER A); Vélib station #8.028, 8.056, 8.057
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, there are not many problems with long lines. We always go to the top of Arc de Triomphe when it is free and we never found a long line…
– How to visit Arc de Triomphe for FREE / How to Pay Less
Admission tickets for Arc de Triomphe cost 12€. A reduced ticket of 9€ is available for tourism professionals, people from non-UE countries under 26 years old and foreign teachers.
FREE opportunities to visit Arc de Triomphe include:
» The first Sunday of every month, from October to March for all people.
» During Les Journées du Patrimoine (next edition on 15 and 16 September 2018).
» Always FREE for people under 25 years from a country within the European Union.
10. CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L’INDUSTRIE
Address: 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, Paris 19
Metro: Porte de la Villette (L7, T3b); Vélib station #
– Best Time to Visit Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
– How to Visit Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie for FREE / How to Pay Less
The admission ticket for la Cité is 12€. Apart from this ticket, there is a reduced ticket for 9€ for people under 25 years old or people 65 + years old.
There are few possibilities to visit this museum for FREE apart from and La Nuit des Musées (next edition end May 2018). Other options are basically for people living in France (i.e. job-seekers in France).
11. GRAND PALAIS
Address: 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8
Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau, L1 and 13 ; Velib Station #8.029
– 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
– How to Visit Grand Palais for FREE /How to Pay Less
Admission tickets in Grand Palais cost around 14€. This is one of the most difficult museums to beat and apart from the weekend of Les Journées du Patrimoine (next edition on 15 and 16 September 2018) and La Nuit des Musées (next edition on 19th May 2018), there are few options to visit it for FREE. People visit Grand Palais when they visit one of its exhibitions. Because you want to see La Grande Nef be sure that the exhibition you want to see is located there. It is possible to get a reduced ticket (around 10€) for people under 25 years old.
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 with your must-see sights 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.
» With Paris City Pass and Paris Museum Pass you can avoid the lines in Paris main sights. They are a great option for serious Paris sightseers who want to save time and money.
» 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. We give you some ideas at the end of the post.
»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 queuing is not for you, have a look at our list of FREE Museums of Paris. They are very cute and most of them, despite being totally for free, don’t see many visitors!
READ MORE – FREE Museums in Paris (the full guide)
Cover Picture: Tour Eiffel picture via Flikr CC @Mohamed Yahya
Would you like to visit the Main Sights of Paris? Which one is on the top of your wish list?
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