I'm taking a 19-year-old to Normandy and Berlin in April. We arrive in Paris very early (6 am) and will wander the city until taking a late afternoon train to Bayeux. We will visit Versailles on our way from Bayeux to Orly to catch a flight to Berlin. I'm wondering if there are forum members who have experience with timed entry tickets for sites in Paris during pandemic times. Specific things on the wish list for the day in Paris include the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. For anyone who has had experience, was admission at the scheduled time pretty precise? That is, did you have to wait or was it pretty much walking straight in? Same question(s) for Versailles. Thanks in advance for your insight!
I went to the Louvre 3 times in Sept/October with timed entries. One of the times was on a Sunday and there was a line to the outdoor tent to get the Pass Sanitaire scanned, then a short line to go thru the security scanners, then no line inside to get into the wings. I waited perhaps 15 minutes total at the 2 choke points. On the other 2 visits I didn't really wait at all.
I did not go up in the ET or Arc de Triomphe. I walked by the base of the ET a time or two and there was essentially no line for timed entries the afternoon I cruised by there.
You didn't ask but there was no line at Orsay for timed entries, in fact I got there about 20 minutes early and they waved me thru to the security scanners.
In the past most of the lines have been for security and not really the actual entry to the museum part.
I think the longest line I waited in was at the Carnavalet Museum with a timed entry to this free museum. This newly reopened museum did not plan well for getting people thru their security scanners in a timely manner.
Late October '21 visit (I did purchase the Paris Museum Pass).
Went to the Louvre on Monday, around 230pm - booked online. I was in line (check for Passe Sanitaire, then Security) for a solid 20-25 minutes.
Versailles - Tuesday, 9 am ticket, got there 845-ish, was #10 or so in line. Once they opened the line, went pretty quick, so I was in the Palace maybe 905, 910 at the latest.
ET - went on a Wednesday, did not buy in advance (the top was closed, too), waited in line maybe 15-20 minutes. I did not buy in advance b/c I did not want to go on a cloudy/rainy day.
I did not go to the AT.
We went to the Louvre in October and used the Carousel entrance. There was no line to speak of and they screened for the COVID pass in the security line. WE had to show we had tickets and then have our QR code checked -- the actual ticket check is at the entrance to each wing.
Last month, at the Orsay and Rodin museums there was no line. As in, no one on a weekday in the middle of the day. Very simple, quick security too.
Of course once inside, there were many people. Especially upstairs at the Orsay. FWIW. Just make sure you have your pass to flash.
Keep in mind it will be more busy at tourist sites in April than it has been for past few months. If it were me, I would not get a ticket to the Arc, I would just see it from the ground and from the Champs side across the etoile.
What do you plan to do with your luggage while you sightsee? That will be an issue, too. I would take it to the departure train station and store it there before starting the day. And keep in mind flights get delayed or canceled, so you might not arrive in the city when you think you will.
Early Dec experience for what it is worth: at the Louvre with a 1:00 entry time, I had about the same experience as Pam’s first visit. At Versailles with 10:00am entry time, maybe a 5 min wait for security. I would think there will be more tourists in April than what I encountered, though.
Thanks, all, for sharing your experiences
Pam -- Thanks for the info on the Orsay. We arrive on Tuesday, which is the day the Louvre is closed (or as I told the 19 yo, it is Mona's day off).
skunklet -- Thanks for hitting most of the sites on my list. Very helpful! Especially to establish expectations at Versailles.
janet -- Thanks for the additional info on your experience at the Louvre.
Phred -- Thanks for the weekday info. Hopefully a similar weekday experience in April... we'll see!
Diane -- Luggage was a big question. Happily, we will each just have a MEI carry on with shoulder straps that can be carried on the back. My thought was the same as yours, but unfortunately the St Lazare station does not have lockers. Searching the wonderful RS site, though, helped me learn that there are private storage lockers all over the city. We will catch a train to Notre Dame. There is private locker storefront there. Then Eiffel Tower. Then Arc de Triomphe. Then the long walk back to Notre Dame, seeing the sites as we go. As far as planes being late, Delta is pretty reliable (I think I've had 2 late arrivals in 25+ transatlantic flights over the last 8 years). I'm willing to gamble a few 10-20 euro tickets on a reasonably on time arrival 🙂.
Travelmom -- Thanks for your experience, too. I agree that April crowds will likely be a little heavier. I predict there will be a travel report to share my experience!
We will visit Versailles on our way from Bayeux to Orly to catch a flight to Berlin.
Holy cow ! Luckily you know what you are doing.
This trip goes against my travel style in all kinds of ways (like leaving Bayeux at 6 am to try to get to Versailles around 9 am before catching a late afternoon flight out of Orly). The kid and I only have 9 days for his first trip to Europe. I tried to sell 9 days in Berlin/Germany, but the kid (who starts a military undergraduate school in the fall) really, really wanted to work in Normandy. So, I'm doing more of a young-adult paced trip than my usual grumpy-old-man paced trip.
speaking of luggage, I seem to recall they were very strict about bringing stuff into the Orsay, but kinda arbitrary. As in, I could keep my shoulder bag but my wife had to check her fullsize umbrella. But the checking was free and friendly.
Dave, I'm thrilled the kiddo wants to go to Normandie even thought it kinks your trip up. See if you can get him to watch The Longest Day before you go. One of the Normadie guides I had said he felt that was the most account to the actual day whereas Band of Brothers was not.
I knew there had to be some method to your madness !!! That is very cool that you are doing this trip to incorporate both Normandy and Berlin. I have a feeling you are going to create some very special memories.
See if you can get him to watch The Longest Day before you go.
Yup. On the list of things to do. I watched it before going to Normandy the first time. Great film.