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!
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (Place Denfert-Rochereau), 14th
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.