How to Skip the Lines in France

Join Us in France has no commercial relationship with the Museum Pass or any of the sites recommended on this page. I recommend them because I use them myself and love them!

How to Skip the Lines in Paris

This is a list of all the places where I buy tickets in preparation for my trips to Paris. I hate waiting in line, and in Paris in the Spring and Summer, there are lines everywhere!

Be aware that even if you buy your tickets in advance, you still have to go through the security line. Everybody has to go through the security line, but they usually move faster than ticket lines.

The museums where there are always lines in Paris (in high tourist season) are the Louvre and the Orsay. If you don’t have your ticket in advance for those two museums, I’ll just snicker at you while I zoom past because you’re a fool for not planning better.

And by the way, don’t buy tickets from the scammers outside the Louvre. The tickets  look legit, but they’ve been scanned already and will not work.

Do you need advanced tickets for the other museums in Paris? Well, it depends on the day. I know you wanted a more definitive answer, but I can’t give it to you because it depends on the time of year and whether or not that particular museum has something special going on that day.

For special exhibits in Paris it is wise to purchase your tickets in advance because some of them sell out on-line before you’ve even landed in Paris!

The Museum Pass

So here’s my advice: in Paris bite the bullet and either buy timed advance tickets for specific museums you want to visit OR get the Museum Pass.

What’s the advantage of one one over the other? With timed advance tickets you have to pick a day and time. It’s not very flexible because you have to show-up within a specific time slot. What if you have a blister and would rather not go that particular morning?

With the Museum Pass you can skip the line whenever you show up. You have complete time flexibility. You can also go back to that museum as often as you’d like.

Who Should Get the Museum Pass

I think the Museum Pass is perfect for people who are in Paris for the first time. They haven’t seen any of these museums anyway, if they know they can get in “free” and quickly, they might as well pop in and see how they like it.

People are always asking me where the gems are in Paris. Well, most of them are inside of museums that you may have never heard of. So, get the museum pass and explore freely!

The Museum Pass is also ideal for people who visit when the weather is bad. If it’s cold and  rainy, trust me, you’ll want to duck into a museum!  If it’s super hot as it can get in Paris in the summer, guess who’s going to want to spend some time inside an air-conditioned museum?

Where to Buy the Paris Museum Pass

If you’re thinking of getting the Museum Pass, stop by the “Visitor Information” booth at the airport in Paris. They will sell it to you and explain how it works.

The Tourist Office in Paris also sells the Museum Pass, they are on 29 rue de Rivoli in the city center, right by City Hall.

Or, you can purchase the Museum Pass at the first museum you’ll be visiting. This is particularly effective if your first Museum is NOT going to the Louvre or the Orsay. If you start with a museum that doesn’t have as much of a line (for example the Cluny or the Orangerie) that’s a good option.

You don’t have to start using the Museum Pass the day you buy it, you will date it when you do your first visit.

The Museum Pass does NOT include the Eiffel Tower or the Catacombs or any other private Museum in Paris.

The Museum Pass seemed expensive to me at first, but the first time I used it I realized how easy it made my visits,  I saw the light. I’ve been a fan ever since. You can get one for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days.

Museums Are Free Under 18

If you’re visiting with your kids/teens under 18 be aware that they don’t need a ticket at all to enter any city or national museum in Paris (those are all the ones included in the Museum Pass). They will walk right in with you as a family.

If your teens look mature it’s a good idea to have something to prove their age. A passport card or school ID is ideal for that. That’s explained in details in this episode of the podcast.

Best Sites to Get You Paris Tickets

This is where you can get tickets to visit the Sainte Chapelle.

Fancy attending a concert at the Sainte-Chapelle? This is where I get my tickets for classical music in Paris.

Going to the Catacombs? Get your tickets before you go or you may meet with you own natural death while standing in line!

Tickets to visit the Louvre, unless of course you get the Museum Pass where both Louvre and Orsay are included.

Tickets to visit the Orsay Museum.

Tickets to the Eiffel Tower.

Elsewhere in France

If you’re coming to France but not to Paris (I commend you, there is more to France than Paris!) you should check out events in other areas of France.

Look at France Billet, the site is only partially translated into English, but it’s such a good resource.

In the same vein, you can also use FNAC, either online or in person when you get to France.

Note that all major French supermarkets sell tickets both online and at the physical store. Look for the word “billeterie” in conjunction with the names Auchan or Leclerc or Carrefour, etc.

Keep in mind that getting the ticket is only one part of the equation. Many venues must also implement crowd control measures. They can’t let 1000 people go down the stairs at the Catacombs all at once because that would be dangerous. So, if a place has lots of stairs, narrow passages, or are very small, they will only let so many people in per hour.

And, of course, everybody has to go through security. Typically in France, you go through security first, then you line up for tickets if you didn’t follow my advice and get them in advance. Book your tickets, make it real!

Learn More: First Time in Paris

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