Top Five Ways to Avoid the Line in Paris

No matter how much time is spent in Paris, it never feels like enough! New visitors may find themselves stuck with extensive waits to see busy museums and wasting their limited time on long lines.

Using a few strategies I’ve accumulated over years of traveling, I was able to get into the Louvre within fifteen minutes and wave at the Mona Lisa without getting into a death match for the best pictures.

In fact, the only wait I experienced was when I didn’t heed my own advice and ended up waiting on line for hours to get a ticket to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. It was worth the wait, but compared to walking past a long line of people on my way into the Musée de l’Orangerie like the world’s most awkward celebrity, I was kicking myself for not planning better!

I’ve compiled a few tips from my latest trip to Paris that helped me make use of my time in the city- and now you can do the same!

Stay off the Beaten Path

Admittedly, this is difficult advice to follow in Paris, a city famed for its restaurants and incredible museums. If you’ve seen a recommendation on Instagram, so have thousands of other people and the wait will reflect that. The line for the bookshop Shakespeare and Company went around the block! Nevertheless, smaller and less well known museums are going to have shorter lines than the Louvre. Just be careful- no lines at all at a cafe could signify a scam more often than a diamond in the ruff.

Avoid Peak Travel Times

This one’s a given- where there are less people, there are fewer lines. Paris is a popular tourist destination year round, but the Spring and Summer months definitely see an increase in visitors. As a general rule of thumb, any time children are out of school, crowds will increase. Families with children only have a limited number of days to travel and they’re making the most of it- good for them! Travelers who aren’t held to these schedules should consider traveling on the shoulder season to minimize wait times and crowds.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Similar to high travel season, there are also visiting times during the day that are particularly busy. I find that most people like to sleep in on vacation. If you really want to avoid the crowds, you’re going have have to sacrifice a few Zzz’s. Seriously, the difference an hour makes on the size of a line in Paris is unbelievable. I recommend arriving within an hour of the locations opening time. I noticed that lines typically started increasing around 10am, so the earlier the better!

Plan Ahead

My number one tip for Paris is to book ahead! I know that plenty of travelers like to play it by ear and see where the wind takes them, but in this case, the wind needs to take them directly to the booking website of the location they want to visit. There may be a slight fee for booking online, but I promise, its absolutely worth it. The booking fee is typically less than 5€ and we were able to get into several museums in less than twenty minutes- a far cry from the distinctly touristic experience of camping out on a line for hours. You will have to pick an entry time, but the tickets are usually flexible enough to allow entry within a half hour of the original booking time, but the inconvenience pales in comparison to the alternative to waiting on line for potentially hours.

This is where I went wrong at the Eiffel Tower- sometimes these tickets sell out online and your only option is to wait on a long line to purchase tickets in person. Had I planned ahead, my multi-hour wait could have taken a fraction of the time for the same experience.

This pre-booking system appears to be a hold over from the limited entry earlier in the pandemic, but I, for one, hope it sticks around!

Go with an Expert

If all else fails, tour companies will often pre-purchase a block of skip-the-line tickets for their guests and fold it into the cost of tour. This strategy is my least favorite only because, unlike the above methods, there is a significant price tag associated with it. You are, of course, paying for the guide to escort you around the museum and explain the pieces in addition to skipping the line, so the value of the tour does balance out the price in the end.

With all of these strategies applied, you should be able to minimize your time waiting around on lines and get on with the more important stuff- checking out incredible art and eating as much delicious food as you can manage.

Godspeed, my lovely travelers!

7 thoughts on “Top Five Ways to Avoid the Line in Paris

  1. I prebooked tickets to see the Palace of Versailles, and when I got there ahead on time, the line for people who had booked was absolutely gigantic. But for some weird reason, you could skip the queue by buying a ticket at the door. So that’s exactly what we did, and it was totally worth the cost of buying two sets of tickets. But this was back in 2018 so I’m not sure if they’ve fixed things now.

    1. Hmm, I was there just a few months ago with pre booked tickets and while the line looked long, I got in pretty quickly so I can’t confirm about purchasing tickets at the door these days.

      I will say that the booking websites in Paris usually do mention limited tickets to be purchased at the door but the best way to guarantee your entry should still be by prebooking, just in case they run out of space.

      Regardless, it sounds like you made a great decision to buy those second tickets on your visit- whatever it takes to beat the crowds! ☺️

      I hope you had a great time in Versailles- I know I did!

  2. I enjoyed your post and had to chuckle with the memory of such a busy vacation in Paris that my sister and I almost ran past a tourist-mobbed Mona Lisa. Years later, we just floated past her too.

    1. The person I was traveling with has such vivid memories of camping out on lines in Paris when she was younger, and pushing through people’s legs to see the Mona Lisa. It’s definitely worth the wait but I’m glad I didn’t have quite the same experience as her!

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