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How to Avoid Lines at the Paris Catacombes 

The Paris Catacombes are known for their long waiting lines. No one likes wasting time in lines, right? A popular misconception is that going “early” is the best tactic to avoid lines. When I run past in the morning at 9am – a full hour before they open – there are already at least a dozen people standing in front of the door. They have guaranteed they’ll be waiting an hour to get in. That’s just absurd.

As I’ve mentioned before, almost everyone goes to the museums first thing in the morning. That means the best time to go is in the afternoon, two hours before closing time is optimal. And since 2014 the Catacombes have extended their opening hours to 8:30pm, with the last entrance at 7:30pm, you have plenty of time if you go right around 6pm. In fact, the official website even recommends visiting Wednesday through Friday after 5pm for the shortest wait times.

But let’s say you just can’t take a chance on waiting for even a few minutes, so you want to purchase a “skip the line” ticket for a specific time. Up until now the only option was to book a group tour through one of the many tour operators selling tickets for €48-€85 per person. I usually tell people it’s not worth it for that price, considering the actual entrance price is only €13, and the audio guide an additional €5. There's another option you won't find on TripAdvisor or Viator. 

Best-Value Catacombes Skip the Line Tickets

To save money (or avoid being in a “group”, which I know many of the Secrets of Paris readers hate), you can now actually book your tickets in advance through the official Paris Municipal Museums website for just €29 per person (kids 5-17 years old are €5), including audio-guide in several languages. It used to be very complicated to get these tickets, and they were only available on the French website. But now that all has changed and you can easily book the exact date and time you want to visit HERE

Paris Catacombes
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (Place Denfert-Rochereau), 14th 
Metro/RER Denfert-Rochereau 
Opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10am-8:30pm (last entry 7:30pm).

The new entrance of the Paris Catacombes (replaced the one in the little green building in 2017). 

Warning: there are no bathrooms, no coat or bag check, a lot of stairs…and a lot of bones. But you no longer need flashlights, the lighting was completely redone a few years ago. Tripods are not allowed.


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Reader Comments (22)

Heather, thought you'd like to know something I inquired about recently at the Catacombs. They no longer want long lines of people waiting, so if the line extends beyond a 20 minute wait, they now hand out coupons with a return time to those waiting in line. You return at that time and will wait less than 20 minutes for entry (similar idea to a Disneyland FastPass). I'm not sure when they began doing this, but I heard about it in December and confirmed with staff when I passed by in January. I should have asked if you can choose your return time, which would be helpful for people trying to fit in multiple venues in a day.
February 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette
A few years ago it was fashionable to have parties in the Catacombs, reached by entering through certain manholes but I suppose these are now all locked up. Tis a pity. Or should I call it a boner?

Barney Kirchhoff
February 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbarney kirchhoff
Two quick questions. I have created an account with the museum's website (thank you Google translator!). Before purchasing our tickets, however, I'd like to confirm ... with pre-purchased tickets, do you get to skip the line when you arrive at the site? AND do they EMAIL you your tickets upon purchase? If you happen to know, please, feel free to email me? Thanks.
August 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJim
Hello Jim, When you purchase tickets it's for a specific time, so you don't wait in line, you show up at that time (15 minutes early would be smart). I don't know if they email you a confirmation, but I'm guessing that is how it works. Try and print it off to be sure.
August 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler

I noticed there are some updated information but wanted to make sure. The catacombs you can purchase individual tickets in advance now for a specific time slot. If you purchase the tickets in advance will there still be a wait and is there a different queue for ticket holders?

March 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Pham

Must of the questions here are about whether or not you get to skip the line if you have a purchased a ticket online and have a set entry time.

And the answer is - yes! You can simply go to the front of the queue a few minutes before your scheduled entry time. The tombs are not the most organized, so you may have to wave someone down but usually you can just go to the front desk person and show them your entry ticket.

And yes, they do email you your entry ticket once you've booked it. But you can also log back into the account you've created with the museum (you create an account when you purchase the tickets) and download them at any time from there.

Aeon Tours
April 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTomas
I just want to let you know, I used the whole "french site audio tour" thing in September last year and it worked like a charm! I definitely recommend it to those who want to avoid lines.
May 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRiley

Does anyone know a good place to store a bag nearby? It says that it doesn't have a place at the site itself.

May 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTourist
So I went to the Museum site, I created an account, and the only choice it gave me to book was the Skeleton Story - and tickets were 5 Euros each - the line said children 5-17 included? I didn't purchase because I cannot quite tell if this is the right thing or if I am only purchasing the Audio guide? Any thoughts? Thanks.
February 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTSW
You can also purchase the front of the line tickets directly from the Catacombs website now for $29 USD per adult. It is a timed entry, with skip the line status. It seems to be the same as what's mentioned in this article, but easier to do. The website is mostly English.

That website is: http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/homepage-catacombs-official-website
March 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

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