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Paris - Requesting advice regarding purchasing "skip the line" tickets.

Hey there,

My husband and I will be traveling to Paris at the end of the month (September 2023) for a 5 day stay. This is my first time to visit Paris. Not sure how soon (if ever) I'll have the opportunity to return, so I want to check off as many of my bucket list items as possible.

I'm hoping we can follow a hybrid approach to travel that will fit both my preference to schedule (breakfast through 2:30p or so + some evenings) -and- my husbands preference to explore the city without much of a plan. Which brings me to this request for advice. Which of the following sites should I purchase a "skip the line" ticket for in order to use our (scheduled activity) time more efficiently. Additionally are there scam "ticket sales" that I should avoid?

Greatly appreciate any information you can share with me.

Thanks,

WL

The following are places that I would like to visit during our visit to Paris:
Arc de Triomphe
Sacre-Coeur
Champs Elysses
Place de la Concorde
Eiffel Tower
River Boat tour
Notre Dame
Louvre
Jardin du Luxembourg
Tour Montparnasse*: observation deck on 56th floor
Palace Versailles
Sainte-Chapelle.
The Orangerie Museum.
Orsay Museum

Posted by
755 posts

Many of the sites on your list don't require tickets, and could be covered during your husband's unstructured time.

You can view l'Arc de Triomphe during a stroll down the Champs Elysses. The conventional wisdom is that there's little need to go inside or up to the top.

Sacre-Coeur can be combined with an exploration of Montmartre - and everyone says the interior isn't worth the time. This is your best opportunity for an elevated view of Paris - and it's free from the plaza outside the church. You may not have to bother with Tour Montparnasse if you like this view.

Place de la Concorde - just incorporate into the Champs Elysses walk. It's just a big square.

Versailles requires a commuter train ride outside of Paris, and could take the better part of the day. Touring the vast grounds could satisfy your husband's walking requirement. [But obviously ticket required]

Jardin du Luxumbourg is a park - it's free - incorporate into an afternoon walk.

I believe the best view of the Eiffel Tower is from the Trocadero - start there and then cross the river as you walk toward the tower.

Notre Dame hasn't reopened, so you can walk by before or after Saint-Chapelle [pray for a sunny day to see the stained glass fully illuminated], and/or your afternoon Left Bank stroll.

The best way to avoid ticket scams is to book through the official web sites - and I can see that this is becoming increasingly difficult, with the proliferation of re-sellers, tour consolidators [Viator], and Internet ads. The RS Paris guidebook can be useful in directing you to the official ticket portals.

Five days is a short amount of time for Paris, and your husband's instincts are correct that just walking the streets and experiencing the city will be incredibly rewarding.

Posted by
2560 posts

Any ticket you purchase in advance is a ¨skip the line¨ ticket. The only line you are ever going to ¨skip¨ is the ticket line. Security lines are for everyone. The first tickets you will want to purchase are those for the Eiffel Tower. Go to the official ET website 7 days before you want to visit. The Louvre requires a reservation, and Sainte-Chapelle might (check to be sure).

Just about everything on your list can be visited with a long walk from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame. Of course, you’ll want to break up the trek into manageable segments, but you can work your way over the available time you have.

Plan on one day for Versailles, and you will need to cross the Seine for the Left Bank to visit the Jardin du Luxembourg, Tour Montparnasse, and the Orsay Museum. On the outer edges are the Eiffel Tower and on the other side is Sacre Coeur/Montmartre.

I know of no scam ticket sales. Purchase tickets from a location’s own website.

Paris does not really have scams as do many other cities. Just avoid street hustlers, don’t sign any petitions, and guard your valuables. If anyone on the street asks you if you speak English, simply do not answer and walk away.

Logically, you will want some type of transportation solution, but that requires knowing when you are in Paris (the specific days) and how you are traveling to/from airports.

Posted by
2080 posts

I’m very glad that I went inside Sacre-Coeur and up the Arc. Keep them on your list. I believe it is good to have some planned activities so as not to have to stand in long lines and waste time.

Posted by
8105 posts

There is no such thing as a 'skip the line' ticket. All timed tickets are the same and for places that don't use timed tickets, all advance tickets are the same. Before COVID fewer people had tickets or timed tickets and so usually you could just walk right in as those with tickets had special security lines. I remember many a time buyiing a ticket to the Orsay at the newsstand out front and walking in while others waited to get tickets in two block long lines. NOW everyone has a ticket and so the ticketed lines are not as fast.

The reserve ticket lines at many places are organized by the half hour, so you get in the line that matches your half hour time slot.

Sacre Coeur is free you just walk in and you can climb the tower if you like -- you buy tickets for that on site.
Luxembourg Gardens are free. And Place Concord is, well just a big traffic circle.
for River boats just walk up and buy a ticket for the next boat.
Notre Dame is closed.

For the Eiffel Tower get tickets on line at 1 pm Paris time 7 days before you want to go -- that is when the most tickets are released. Even with. a timed ticket you may have a goodly wait. We waited 70 minutes to the elevator a year and a half ago.

For museums go to their web sites and get a timed ticket or a general admission ticket for when you want to go. Avoid Tuesdays for the Orsay as lines can be crazy that day even with timed ticket.

Posted by
2749 posts

So I was in Paris in March and we had pre-purchased tickets to the Louvre. We’re standing in line to go to Security and Ms DYKWIA runs up to the front of the line with her family and she’s waving her ticket and she tell us a security guard that she has “skip the line tickets” , the security guards just pointed the back of the line. she proceeds to continue to argue with him until finally some other Americans in line tell her to shut up and go back.

She walked to the back of the line almost in tears, telling everyone that she was going to go complain to management because she had “skip the line tickets”. . So please don’t be like Ms DYKWIA.

Her husband had a certain I told you so look on his face😂

Posted by
8105 posts

LOL. I saw the same exactly thing a few years ago at the Orsay. Those of us with tickets were standing in the line for the ticketed entry and I'd estimate it was about a 15 or 20 minute wait and an American tourist walked to the front with his skip the line ticket and was sent back -- we waved our tickets and said 'hey we all have timed tickets -- this is the line for those with tickets.' He did not make a big fuss after that but was clearly disgruntled that his SKTL tickets were just 'tickets.'

Posted by
45 posts

Hello Fellow Wanderers,

Thanks so much for the helpful information. Sounds like the ET and Louvre are the tickets we should try to secure ahead of time.

I was in the process of creating a list of attraction entry fees, when I came across the "Paris Museum Pass". If most places are "free" what would behoove someone to purchase such a pass?

:-) WL

Ps... Why am I not surprised to have read the accounts of the (misguided) tourists. ;-)

Posted by
8105 posts

Most museums are not free. The Paris city museums like the Carnavalet and the Petit Palace are (although special exhibits have a fee). You can see a list of what the PMP covers on their web site. It is rarely worth getting although if you plan a museum marathon doing a couple or three museums a day for several days you could save money.

Posted by
45 posts

Hey y'all,

We returned home late Wednesday evening and are presently working on getting back into the groove of things here in Texas.

Thanks for your helpful tips! Much appreciated.

WL


The following are the places that we were able visit during our recent vacation to Paris and Normandie (I've included any notes regarding tickets that I can recall. In an attempt at consistency, I, likewise, included notes on the obvious "no ticket required" places.):

Arc de Triomphe (Visited the exterior = no ticket necessary.)

Sacre-Coeur (No ticket necessary.)

Champs Elysses (No ticket necessary)

Place de la Concorde (No ticket necessary)

Eiffel Tower (Searched online for tickets Friday, 09.15.23 -9 days prior to our trip. At that time the only date/time tickets available were for "STAIRS" Thursday 09.28 at 6:30p. I bought them just in case we were unable to secure "lift" tickets - onsite the day of. Thankfully we arrived mid-afternoon and were able to secure a couple of "lift" tickets. WHEW! After having toured the Louvre that morning, aaand walked to the Eiffel Tower there's nooo way we would've been up to climbing those stairs. I didn't mind losing $ on the previously purchased "stairs" tickets. I filed it under a valuable lesson learned.

River Boat tour (Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf was so nice we road it twice. Same day/night tickets were easy enough to purchase later that week.)

Notre Dame (No ticket necessary)

Louvre (Likewise searched for tickets Friday 09.15.23. Earliest date/time was almost 2 weeks later - Thursday 09.28 @ 10:30.)

Jardin du Luxembourg (No ticket necessary.)

Tour Montparnasse*: observation deck on 56th floor (Bought a 2 day pass. Wound up spending our time elsewhere on the 2nd day of the pass. No worries, as it was the perfect way to close out our first day in Paris. We were able to take in the "City of Light" in all it's sparkling glory. Plus we were able to capture the city by day via visits to both the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur.)

Palace Versailles (We made a virtual last minute decision to visit Versailles. I searched for tickets the evening of Thursday 09.28 and was able to buy tickets for the following day at 12:30p.)

Sainte-Chapelle (Tuesday evening, 09.26, we searched for tickets and were surprised to discover that the next available tickets were Saturday 09.30 @ 12:30p)

Orsay Museum (Another relatively last minute decision. Wednesday the 27th we searched for opening day tickets to the Van Gogh exhibit - Tuesday 10.03.23. I was delighted to secure tickets for 2:30p.)