If you’re not keen to wait or risk waiting in multi-hour lines when visiting Paris during peak season, it’s important to become familiar with the term “skip-the-line” as well as book everything from hotels to special tours as far in advance as possible.
Bypassing long lines in Paris is fairly easy to do—yes, it can cost more—but if your traveling companions are not the most patient, there may be value in upgrading your experience based on this alone. Not only did we learn more about sights visited, with time saved, we were able to see more than we otherwise would have during a short (to me) stay in the City of Light.
Louvre and Musee d’Orsay
Nowadays, you can buy tickets online in advance and enter through a shorter queue. Admittedly, at the Louvre last summer there were so many people and lines that I couldn’t figure out where the ticket holders queue was because all were long.
However, we’d booked a THATLou scavenger hunt at the Louvre and met our guide at a designated spot. He whisked us right to the very front (I never would have spotted this entrance) and we walked right into the museum. He also led us exactly the wing we were to start in and gave us a few tips for navigating the summer crowds.
THATLou (which stands for Treasure Hunt at the Louvre) has organized several themed hunts throughout the massive museum with detailed clues for finding the piece of art. It’s great for families, team building and for seeing the famous Paris museum in a different light. My daughter was 8 at the time and loved it so we’ve booked a THATd’Or scavenger hunt at the Musee d’Orsay next month.
Read: Our THATLou scavenger hunt
Private Seine Cruise
The concierge at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris recommended a private Seine cruise via a retrofitted Venetian water taxi as a unique way to cruise the river. It’s something my husband always wanted to do so though it’s a splurge, we booked it.
Guests spend roughly an hour and a half cruising down to the Eiffel Tower for an epic photo opp and then up and around the Ile de la Cite. Plush leather seating and a bottle of champagne provide comfort though you can ride standing up, hair blowing in the wind, through the water taxi’s sun roof. It’s a special experience. Be sure to arrive early in order to find the boat, however. We paid €750 + €100 for snacks (don’t get the snacks… just the boat will do).
Book: Hotel concierge or River Limousines.
I was unable to book this tour last summer because it had sold out on multiple tour operators months prior. Lines for the Paris catacombs are rumored to reach over 3 hours long during peak season. Keep in mind that it’s also hot and humid so line waiting is not that bearable.
This year, through site partner Viator I bought a skip-the-line catacombs tour and can not wait to let you know how it was. I chose a tour with a five-star rating that is 90 minutes long but there are longer, more detailed tours to choose from.
With a lunch reservation at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, guests can enjoy expedited access into the Eiffel Tower via a private elevator. After lunch, if crowds permit (and they usually do, I’m told), restaurant staff will let you on to the second floor viewing deck for panoramic views of Paris without a ticket for the Eiffel Tower or waiting in any line whatsoever.
Not to mention the food, service and presentation are absolutely exquisite. We dined for lunch so I can only imagine the views through the restaurants floor-to-ceiling windows at sunset or after dark.
Book: Le Jules Verne
(Viator has other skip-the-line Eiffel Tower ticket options.)
Disneyland Paris VIP Tour
A Disneyland Paris VIP Tour is the ultimate way to skip-the-line at this Paris attraction. They’ll share stories along the way and help you plan your day with fast entrance to all rides. As many Disney park lovers know, even FASTPASS lines can have waits up to 15 minutes and since that is where VIP tours enter the larger rides, a little waiting is to be expected on the big rides.
The only way to find out pricing and availability is to call or email which I did before our trip last summer. Then, the price was €900 for 5 hours and €200 for each additional hour after that for I believe up to 10 people. Because it was June, and we’d only allocated half a day to visit, I almost booked the tour because I wasn’t interested in waiting in line. I didn’t luckily because I wasn’t totally convinced we’d make it to the park. However, since school wasn’t yet out for most of Europe, Disneyland Paris was nearly empty but the security lines to get into the park (everyone must pass through them) were chaotic. In July and August, however, the VIP tour is likely a good idea.
Book: Disneyland Paris
It’s possible to skip-the-line in a variety of ways at the Palace of Versailles. Buying tickets in advance will send you to the ticket holders line, which can also be very long at this popular attraction. We’re talking over an hour long. So, if you REALLY want to skip the lines a tour is the way to go.
One of the items on my to-do list is a bicycle tour around the gardens of Versailles. You can just do a bike tour or both bike and tour the palace. Some skip-the-line tours will pick you up in a private car and take you directly to Versailles, which is incredibly handy.
(You may also want to check out the Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass to bypass ticket lines at major museums. Note that you will still stand in a ticket holders line.
We’ve always opted for skip-the-line tours or private excursions so haven’t used either one of these passes yet.)
How do you skip lines in Paris?