Friday, 17 January 2014

New Year in Paris 2014 (Part 2) Tips & Tricks to beat those queues!


So in part 2 of my Parisian adventure I did the tourist thing-all the usual hotspots, but without the hassle. I found out a few ways that you can avoid the crazy queues you will find at 2 of the biggest tourist hotspots in Paris...all that and more after the break.

The Eiffel Tower

I did my research online before hand and found a great site full of tips about beating Paris queues. In particular, I followed the instructions given for The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre in this article How To Skip The Longest Lines In Paris , and here's how they panned out for me.

At the Eiffel Tower, people tend to make a beeline for the elevators. In the article, Wendy Perrin suggests to walk up the steps to the second level and then take the elevator up to the top from there where there are no queues. You have to bear in mind that this was the 1st of January, so there were probably much bigger lines than usual. It backfired slightly straightaway because when we got there we discovered that the top was closed (this happens a lot, and without warning), so you could only get to the second level anyway. This meant that more people got into the queue to walk up to the second level than normally would, but it was still a significantly smaller queue than the one for the elevators. We queued for about 20 minutes for our tickets which wasn't too bad and then up we went. It's been a long time since I've worked out, so walking up the  2,681 steps to the second floor was quite tiring but to be honest, not that bad. And you get great views as you walk up. When we got to the second floor it felt good that we had walked up-like we had accomplished something, and we started taking snaps.

Then a New Years miracle happened-the top was open again! So we quickly got our tickets and got in the elevator to the top, no queue. So it all sort of worked out the way we wanted it to in the end. And the icing on the cake was the fact that we made it up to the top for sunset which meant we were able to see the Paris skyline in daylight, then sunset, and then darkness, all equally as beautiful to look at. We took some lovely snaps too.

Another cool thing happened when we descended and got outside. Just as I stood beneath the Eiffel Tower and posed for a selfie with it, it lit up with sparkly lights and I captured it:

So I guess pre book your tickets, but if you can't do that, get to the Eiffel Tower and opt to walk up to the second floor which will be a much smaller queue and then take the lift up to the top. If you can time it the way I did you will get to see Paris in all it's splendour in daylight, sunset, and darkness, AND see the Eiffel Tower go twinkly at night. But to be honest I didn't plan any of that, like I said it was a New Years Miracle ;-)

The Louvre
 There was advice on how to beat queues for the Louvre in the same article I referred to above, but this sounded a bit too good to be true. The writer details a secret side entrance that she walked straight through without any fuss while thousands of tourists queue for hours outside the main pyramid. If I could pull this one off I'd be a legend!
So off I went, and as usual, the Louvre queue was humungous, snaking around the main pyramid and off into the distance. Easily over an hours worth of line. Here's a very cool panaramic shot of the main area with the Pyramid in the centre (enjoying my new iphone!).

And here's a goofy shot of me in front of the pyramid.

So off I went to find this secret entrance which, when I asked security guards and other people working there, no one seemed to know anything about! Luckily, the writer in the article above has given very detailed instructions including a map of how to get there and a picture of the entrance. Here's a picture of the entrance:

So off I skipped, excitement building. As I approached I couldn't see anyone in sight, and I wondered, could I really be the only person who has done my research? Unfortunately, just my luck, the entrance was closed. There was some sort of renovation work going on. As this was the reason for it being closed I would suggest that you still try this if you go to The Louvre-it might be open when you go, and it's only 5 minutes around the corner.
I wasn't ready to give up though, and after consulting my old friend google, I came up with another too good to be true sounding plan. My google search revealed that just a little further down from the entrance to the Louvre, on the main street, there is the entrance to an underground shopping mall which you can access via the metro too. And that you can get straight into the Louvre via this mall! This really did seem implausible, but with nothing to lose, and no intention of standing in the freezing cold for hours, I decided to check it out. Here's a picture of the outside of the mall, which is called Carrousel De Louvre, via google maps:

After walking in through this entrance, I went down an esalator and followed the signs straight ahead into an open area which had lots of buzzing activity. When I looked up at the ceiling I realised I was looking up at the inside of the main pyramid! I proceeded to buy my ticket from a self service machine (no queue) and then walked up an escalator, and straight into the maze that is, The Louvre! I couldn't believe it, I was in! No queueing whatsoever! After that I spent a couple of hours inside, taking in as much as I could including the Mona Lisa, and surprisingly, a Lady Gaga exhibition which I didn't even know existed. I got a cool panarama shot of the room that the Mona Lisa is in (squint for Mona at centre back):

Gaga exhibition:

And Venus De Milo herself:

So I hope you find those tips useful and try them out for yourself! If you do, let me know, or if you can better them-comment back and fill me in on your experience!

Until next time,

Anita xxx