After a long period without traveling, wanderlust is alive and well, and people want to explore the world again. Now that it is safe to travel again, you may not want to postpone your plans to visit Paris eternally.
Yet, there’s no denying that traveling will be different from now on and we believe that people will definitely be a lot more aware of their surroundings and try to keep away from crowded places.
Is Paris crowded right now? YES, it is. Tourism in Paris and France exploded in 2023, just like anywhere else, and the number of arrivals has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Avoiding crowds in tourist destinations like Paris is hard but not impossible with good planning and strategic thinking. Paris is a big city with something to do for everyone, a little bit everywhere.
When is Paris least crowded? What is the best time to visit Paris to avoid crowds? With all this in mind, here are the best ways to avoid crowds in Paris post-pandemic, ways to enjoy a less crowded Paris.
How to Avoid the Paris Crowds
1. Travel Off-season
When is the best time to visit Paris to avoid crowds? Travel off-season.
The summer months and Christmas holidays are the high seasons in Paris when everybody wants to go to Paris, and all the big museums and famous landmarks in Paris are considerably more crowded.
If you have the opportunity to travel off-season, don’t hesitate to do it: the weather won’t be perfect, but it is always calmer and, most of the time, also cheaper. With this in mind, check out how winter looks like in Paris
2. Choose the Right Dates
Besides the high season and the low season, it is easy to predict when to find Paris crowds by looking at the school vacations or public holidays in France. Also, big events like the Paris Fashion Weeks or some fairs usually come with crowds in Paris.
Check here the public holidays and school holidays in France. Public holidays are the same for all of France whilst the country is split into three zone regions (zones A, B, and C) for the school holiday dates. Paris is located in zone C.
We detail all the holidays and big events in Paris in our quick guides to Paris by month. If you are flexible with your travel dates, check the month/s that interest you most and pick the best dates for a less crowded Paris.
3. Extend your Stay for as Long as Possible
Most of us can only find a long weekend to indulge in a bit of Parisian joie the vivre, but the weekend is when most people flock to the French capital, so the most popular neighborhoods in Paris are extra busy.
To be honest, four days in Paris is the minimum you need to see the main sights in the French capital. If you manage to stay longer, your days will be less packed with activities, and you will be able to combine busy attractions with more relaxing wanderings around the lesser tourist districts of Paris.
4. Sleep Away From Happening Areas
To escape the crowds, choose accommodation in less touristy neighborhoods. Staying in lively districts like Montmartre or Le Marais can be overwhelming as these two areas of Paris can be busy until late at night.
If you are not familiar with your destination yet, check out our guide on the best Arrondissements to stay in Paris and pick the one that suits you best.
5. Avoid the Paris Crowds by Starting your Day Early
Perhaps the easiest win for a less crowded Paris is getting up early. Most tourists simply don’t do mornings, so if you get up early in the morning, you will find Paris almost for yourself.
Enjoy breakfast in your favorite café before it gets busy, wander the streets of Paris or the city parks when the city is still waking up, and take your first pictures of the day without crowds.
6. Learn When Attractions are Busiest
Learn when attractions are busiest to avoid the biggest Paris crowds. To avoid waiting in line longer than necessary at popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, or Louvre Museum, pick the best day and time slot for each monument and museum.
Simply head to this article, and you’ll be able to see at a quick glance just when peak business is for the main attractions. We also have dedicated articles with our top tips for skipping the longest lines in the Louvre Museum and Château de Versailles.
7. Buy Skip-the-line Tickets. Don’t Underestimate Tourist Passes
While they may cost a little more than regular tickets, skip-the-line tickets get you in front of the line quickly. After the pandemic, you may want to maintain at least a one-meter distance between yourself and anyone else, so the waiting lines to visit the main tourist attractions will get longer.
If you’ve only got a few days to explore Paris and don’t want to spend half of that time waiting in, you may want to consider the advantages of paying out a little more in order to get more done.
Below I list the main attractions you will need advance tickets for and have added links to my favorite trusty providers for your convenience.
If your plans include visiting more than two tourist attractions a day, you may want to consider the purchase of a tourist pass. Tourist passes save time and also money, and they are a wonder for serious sightseers. Head here for our Paris tourist pass comparison.
8. Avoid the Parisian Metro at Peak Times
The Parisian metro is arguably one of the easiest ways to get from A to B. But on weekdays, the entire network is best avoided during peak hours.
As a rough guide, the peak hours run from 6:30 am until 9:30 am and then from 4 pm to 7 pm. These are the times when stations are packed with workers flocking to and from work. During these times we recommend walking to avoid crowds: many of the stops in the center of Paris are just a few minutes walk from each other. Check here our Paris Metro guide
9. Try Out Alternatives to the Popular Sights
90% of people traveling to Paris will want to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Orsay Museum. It’s understandable…but it’s also a nightmare for crowds. To slip away from a crowded Paris, choose good alternatives to the main tourist attractions or try going off the beaten path.
Our collection of Paris Hidden Gems may be a good place to start. We particularly like La Coulée Verte and also La Petite Ceinture of Paris, and you will definitely feel more comfortable visiting the Montparnasse Cemetery, far from the herds of Père Lachaise Cemetery, but many of Paris’ hidden side streets feature beautiful architecture, parks, and cafés. You’ll avoid the Paris crowds and experience the city’s culture like a local, not a tourist.
10. Adjust Your Meal Times
Popular restaurants will always have a long wait (or no free tables at all) at the usual dinner times, from 8 pm to 9.30 pm. And if you go to Grands Boulevards and other theater areas in Paris, the restaurants before and after the shows are packed.
Eat a bit early or a little later, and you will beat the crowds.
11. Escape the Crowds in Paris by Exploring the Outskirts of Paris
If you can manage to extend your stay in Paris, use the weekends to explore the outskirts of Paris.
Leafy pockets around Paris, such as Fontainebleau, Vallée de la Chevreuse, or Sceaux, offer a much quieter side to city life, along with some iconic sights or some picturesque small towns. Check out our favorite small towns near Paris, easy to reach by public transportation.
12. Avoid Major Tour Companies
If you want to make one of the best day trips from Paris without crowds, avoid booking with major tour companies. Tours by major tour companies usually are slightly cheaper, but it also means big busses for groups of 50 people or more where you are just a number with a giant “TOURIST” sticker on your forehead.
Save yourself the disappointment and look for smaller, local businesses with reduced groups and more personal attention.