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Wednesday
Feb102016

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 8pm, with the last entrance at 7pm, you have plenty of time if you go right around 6pm. In fact, the official website even recommends visiting Tuesday through Friday after 3pm 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 €12, 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 €27 per person (kids 5-17 years old are €5), including audio-guide in several languages. There are two catches: the only booking times available are Wednesday-Friday 3pm, 4pm, 5pm or 6pm. And the ticketing site is only in French (you have to create an “account” with your name and address before purchasing tickets). So you have to work for that discount, but it’s worth it if you’d rather spend those extra euros on a nice dinner afterwards!

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

Tip: To find the entrance look for the little green building in the center of the intersection. If you can’t see it when exiting the metro, look for the huge lion statue in the center of the square: his left ear is pointing to the entrance.

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. 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

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-Hall
Hi,

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?

Thanks.
March 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Pham
Hi,

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.

Enjoy!
Tomas
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
Hello,

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

Thanks!
May 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTourist

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