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First Trip to Paris - Please Advise!

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Nomad, May 22, 2012.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    I'm going to Paris for the first time and would like some advice on lesser-known attractions not to be missed. I will be there for the first two weeks of June and have rented a studio apartment in the Marais, within walking distance of the Seine. Restaurants, shops (cool clothes for teen nieces?), museums, bookstores, all recommendations welcome. Merci beaucoup.
    numbers123 and (deleted member) like this.
  2. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    Marais is awesome, but take the teens (and yourself) to the Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter.

    have a great time! :cheer2:
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    Thanks, Genevieve. The nieces aren't coming, however. Early June is swim season, so they've now turned down Venice, Mexico, and Paris. Silly bints. But I want to buy them cool souvenirs anyway.
  4. morqet

    morqet rising like a phoenix

    Le Relais de Venise in Porte-Maillot for the best chips in Paris. It gets very busy though!
  5. jl22aries

    jl22aries Active Member

    Laduree (their macarons! the raspberry passionfruit tartelettes!): http://laduree.fr/
    Though there are so many amazing patisseries in Paris, prepare for gastro heaven.

    The Centre de Pompidou is one of my favourite contemporary art museums in the world.

    Dinner at Le Gaigne was one of those amazing meals that you carry with you. One chef, one server/hostess, 20ish seat capacity, small and ever changing menu, delicious!!! http://restaurantlegaigne.fr/

    For a bookstore of course you must stop at Shakespeare and Company. Or the stalls on the quais along the Seine.

    Have an amazing trip!
  6. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    I love the Musée Rodin, the museum is lovely and the grounds are beautiful.

    It's always fun to stop by one of the markets - I think this list is up to date.

    I know it's not very original, but do drop by the Pierre Hermé shop on the Rue Bonaparte - and you can take whatever you buy to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is always a plus! Speaking of sweet things, you can also try A l’Etoile d’Or.

    Personally, I think the best thing to do in Paris is just walk a lot, and stop anywhere that looks interesting. It's hard to go wrong!
  7. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    This is my recommendation too!
  8. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    I third this! I think that is the best thing to do in any city that you are visiting. I don't like guided tours, I love to get lost in a city. Wander and find wonderful shops, people watch. One thing we did in Paris: one evening we didn't feel like going out to a restaurant so we went to an amazing cheese shop and bought cheeses and different hams (sliced), then we went to a bread shop and got some incredible bread. Finally a wine shop and got some wines. We took it back to the hotel and ate on the balcony. It was the most pleasurable meal we had! I'm not much of a ham fan, but in France it is incredible.

    Favorite Museum - The Musee d'Orsay. Also the Dali Museum up near Sacre Coeur. The entire area around the church is nice to wander, lots of artists, and their paintings, sketches, pastels.
  9. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Exactly my thought before I opened this thread!

    I also think a trip to Versailles is very much worth it, especially since you have lots of time. It's been awhile, but I'm pretty sure there is a convenient train, and then you can spend the day touring the palace and walking the grounds.

    Again it's been awhile, but I recall you had to book in advance to see certain rooms, so if you are interested, be sure to check into it ahead of time.
  10. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    There is a "convenient" train. But you have to switch trains about halfway. It is a bit confusing because there is (was when we were there) no platform info, and the day we went, there was no one there to help us. Fortunately a young couple, who spoke English, were very kind and got us on the right train. But I agree Versailles was wonderful! Especially the gardens.
  11. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Well, this one is a fairly well-known spot but it hasn't been mentioned yet: La Cimetière du Père Lachaise. It's the final resting place of sooo many famous people, such as Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Balzac, Modigliani, Bizet, Chopin, Heloise & Abelard, Marcel Marceau, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison (sort of). Aside from the history, it's an absolutely beautiful location. You can take one of the tours, or pick up a free map and explore on your own.

    Second the vote for Musee d'Orsay. In addition to the great impressionist paintings, the setting (in an old railway station) is magnificant.

    For shopping, be sure to visit Les Galleries Layfayette. Even if you don't buy anything, the store is spectacular.

    For a great view of the city go up the Montparnasse tower – cheaper and easier than Eiffel, plus includes a view of the whole city including the Eiffel.

    And I agree with others, just pick a neighbourhood and walk. The Lonely Planet pocket guide is good for this because it's divided into neighbourhoods -- and it's small and easy to cary.
  12. Sofia Alexandra

    Sofia Alexandra Well-Known Member

    Fromwhat I recall from my visits to Paris as a kid:

    Eat crepes with Nutella from a street vendor. Don't step in dog poo. Be prepared to shower every day and launder your clothes often (unless you bring one outfit for each day you're there) - the air pollution is rather clingy.

    Have fun! :)
  13. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Chacun à son goût, of course, but IMO crêpes from a street vendor are best, and most French, avec citron et sucre (lemon and sugar). :cool:

    The dog poo situation is much better now than it was 10 or more years ago, since they passed a scoop-your-poop law ... and Parisians are finally obeying it!
  14. kylet3

    kylet3 Well-Known Member

    I went on a Contiki Trip but aside from the trip to the eiffel tower and the palace of Versailles, Paris is just somewhere you really need to do a lot of walking and just get lost in. The architecture, the culture, the museums, you really can't go wrong with anything you do. I'm not crazy on museums myself but I of course did about 90 minutes in the Louvre and that was more than enough for me for the museum side of it. Picnic on a nice day with a baguette a cheap bottle of wine and some other desserts on the Champs Du Mars under the eiffel tower is awesome too. I did that last year and you'll never know what you run into on those grounds.

    The Sacre Couer is really awesome too, the view around Paris can't be beat, all the fabulous eateries and artists around as well. It just really depends what you like to do.

    I would also reccommend a tour of the main opera house as well. The architecture and just the grandeur is fabulous as well!
  15. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    Adapting my personal list that I send out to friends seeking advice on the subject:

    Basics and Getting Around

    I recommend buying the Time Out guide to Paris. It has an amazing array of information, including suggestions for lodging, walks, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. It will have some good suggestions about where to shop for your nieces. (The area extending from Beaubourg into the Marais has a lot of shops that might be suitable, but I can't give you any specific suggestions.)

    Once in Paris, you should buy a copy of Pariscope, which is sold at every newstand, comes out at midweek, and costs about 50 cents. It will have all the listings you need for exhibitions and entertainment.

    Walking is the best way to see most of Paris, but the Metro system is excellent and taxis are, along with wine, cheese, and flowers, one of the few reasonably priced things in town.

    Getting out on the Seine is wonderful, and there are several ways to do it, including the Batobus (public transportation), the touristy bateaux mouches, and smaller boats that serve dinner.

    Lastly, it is important to take sensible precautions against pickpockets, who are a much greater problem in Paris than in other large northern European cities.

    Sites off the Beaten Path

    1. The Marais. The whole area, but especially the Place des Vosges, the Musee Carnavalet (history of the city of Paris), the Rue des Rosiers (Jewish neighborhood), Rue du Faubourg St.-Antoine (food shops), and the Rue Vieille du Temple (art galleries and gay neighborhood).

    2. The Ile de St. Louis. Make sure to get some ice cream at Berthillon if it's not closed for summer vacation.

    3. The Monument to the Deported. Paris' Holocaust memorial. At the eastern end of the Ile de la Cité. One of the greatest monuments in a city of great monuments.

    4. The Place Dauphine. On the opposite end of the Ile de la Cité.

    5. The Coulée Verte, also known as the Promenade Plantée. A former railroad line turned into a garden and walkway, with art shops under the viaduct. It runs from near the Bastille to the Porte de Vincennes.

    6. The Institut du Monde Arabe. Interesting exhibitions and great food at the café and restaurant upstairs. The view from the roof is one of the best in Paris.

    7. The Luxembourg Garden. Try to go on a weekend morning, when the locals take their small children to the pony rides and puppet shows.

    8. The Palais Royal.

    9. The passages. These are several arcades spread out between the Louvre and the Palais Royal.

    10. Houses by Le Corbusier: The Villa Jeannet and Villa La Roche in the Square du Docteur-Blanche, and the incomparable Villa Savoye in suburban Poissy.

    11. The Musée Marmottan, 2 Rue Louis Boilly, has an excellent collection of Impressionist Are and will have a special exhibition devoted to the works of Berthe Morisot while you are there.

    12. Outdoor ballroom-style dancing at the Square Tino Rossi, Quai Saint-Bernard (between the Gare d'Austerlitz and the Institut du Monde Arabe. Three outdoor amphitheaters where people go to dance on summer evenings. On weekends, at least, the dancing continues well after midnight.


    There is an English-language bookstore, The Red Wheelbarrow, right in the Marais at 22 Rue St Paul. Shakespeare and Company is at 37 Rue Bûcherie on the Right Bank opposite Notre Dame. The Fifth Arrondissement is rich in bookstores, especially on the Rue des Ecoles and as you go up the hill along the Boulevard St Michel towards the Sorbonne.

    If you have questions, feel free to send me a private message.
  16. Theatregirl1122

    Theatregirl1122 Enjoying Vicarious Voids!

    Personally I believe that the ham and cheese crepe from a street vender is truly the best option. You don't even want to know how many I had the last time I was in Paris.
  17. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    I like the lunchtime ham on a baguette available at many of the boulangeries -- "jambon beurre" -- and while I wouldn't have thought of putting some good butter on bread and then ham, they were yummy, cheap, and eminently portable to the nearest park or public space for eating and people watching. Boulangeries often have other lunch-type carry-away foods, and sometimes a special where you get a sandwich and a drink and a treat for a fixed price. I don't think I had a bad one.

    Love the crepes carts too -- but my favorite is Gran Marnier with sugar. Mmmmm.

    Also, there was some kind of museums pass you could buy that gets you into a bunch of museums and most importantly, allows you to avoid what can otherwise be some awful lines. Don't remember what it is called, though.

    I liked the Eyewitness Paris walking guide suggestions. Got me to some places I'd not have considered.

    I also found that walking in the city very early in the day was much different than the busier mid-morning.

    Took my niece on one of the boat rides down the Seine on a misty May evening, and it was lovely.

    Loved the Musee d'Orsay, and the Rodin sculpture garden, which was cheap to enter.

    I took an evening walking (guided) tour and thoroughly enjoyed it -- wasn't this company, but something like it:
  18. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Yes, I got one at a Metro station, and was able to sail straight into the Louvre without getting into the line hundreds long snaking around the courtyard. Definitely worth it.
  19. Marilou

    Marilou Well-Known Member

    Here's my vote for the museum pass - it was well worth it! I'm so envious that you get to spend two weeks, we had three days last summer and can hardly wait to go again! It's a fantastic city. And I echo the advise to just walk and get lost in the city. We stayed in the Latin Quarter, and I would definitely recommend a walk through it as well.
  20. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

    This: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUser...0-r105291960-Amorino-Paris_Ile_de_France.html IMHO is the best ice cream EVER!! There are a number of locations in Paris.

    Lots of info already in this thread, but I'm not sure if anyone mentioned the hop on hop off pass for the little ferry on the Seine. It is a great way to see Paris. I agree with those who say walk, walk, walk, and this little ferry is just a nice break during the day.

    ETA: I also agree with the museum pass. You should purchase it from one of the smaller museums where the line isn't as long. Then you can jump ahead at the bigger places with longer lines.
  21. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    We did the very cliche night time boat trip on the Seine. It was beautiful, the Eiffel Tower, at night, is all lit up and just glitters like tiny diamonds!
  22. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    I was somewhat disappointed in the Seine boat cruise the last time I was there, just because the banks/walls are so high you don't get to see as much as you'd like. Certainly compared to the Thames river cruise (which I'd done a few days before that), where you get much better views of the city.

    The Canal St Martin cruise, OTH, gave us some really good views of the city.

    But maybe do a Seine dinner cruise -- with enough good food and wine you won't care so much that you can't see the sights. ;)
  23. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    Was it dark when you went? Maybe that makes a difference?
  24. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Nope, high noon. Like I say, it was because the Thames one was so good that the Seine suffered by comparison -- on the Thames there's basically no height difference between the river and the land, whereas the Seine runs a lot lower than the banks.

    (Just edited my previous post to add the Paris Canal cruise, which was great.)
  25. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    That may be why you didn't enjoy it as much. At night, you can't really see much at eye level, anyway. But you can see all of the brilliant sparkling lights. If you ever are in a position to do it again, go in the dark, I bet you'd enjoy it much more :)

    I forgot something really important!

    Nomad - Have a wonderful time!
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  26. cailuj365

    cailuj365 Well-Known Member

    double post, whoops
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  27. cailuj365

    cailuj365 Well-Known Member

    Just came back from a vacation in Paris today actually. Quelle belle ville!

    I am also in favor of the Paris Museum Pass, especially if you will be there for that long. It includes admission into nearly all of the big attractions. You also get to skip the line at the Louvre!

    If you get a chance, I highly recommend going to Versailles. The chateau is amazing, but the gardens are simply spectacular. Wow.

    My Parisian friend gave me a short list of things to see, and I only got to one of them. However, one park that he recommended was Andre Citroen. He said that it's not so touristy and it's a great place to have a picnic.

    Enjoy Paris!
  28. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

    Please take me instead. :saint:
  29. MarieM

    MarieM Grumpy Cynical Ice Dance Lover

    If you intend on going to museum, try buying the tickets in advance, you can find most of them on the internet. It'll save you a LOOOOOOOOT of time.

    As for the rest, I think you should just walk and wander around, and take your pick on whatever you like. Things get very expensive in Le Marais BTW or Saint Michel since they're crowded with tourists.
  30. Sandra

    Sandra New Member

    Just adding a few suggestions to the great ones already coming in. You will be near Place des Vosges, so make sure you don't miss it, there are so many things too see anywhere you turn, sometimes we miss a treasure right close by! It took me a few visits to Paris until I discovered the (also nearby) musee Carnavalet (history of Paris), I even walked past it a few times, until the gardens called my attention, and the marvel of it is just the start for what awaits you inside. Right off Place des Vosges you will find many small boutiques with a wide variety of choices for quality gifts. Watch the prices and quality, there is a wide variety of those too... but it's a fun place for treasure hunting.

    Another jewel is the musee de Cluny (Middle Ages and the Roman thermals). The iconic tapestries of The Dame and the Unicorn are there, among so many other treasures.

    The Parc Monceau is a bit far from the Marais, but if you are into walking, it's a gorgeous way of discovering fab architecture and gardens if you walk from Vosges to Monceau. Comfortable shoes is a must to meet this challenge...

    The souvenir stores at the Louvre, Carnavalet, and Cluny have high quality souvenirs and books at a fair price.

    One unexpected hint that I have for you is, wear mascara, a lot of it! Besides the obvious glamour point, it protects your eyes from the ever present pollen and dust that adores to get inside our Paris-adoring eyes. I tried wearing larger and larger sunglasses but nothing helped until a friend told me to wear two or three layers of mascara. It works!

    Have lots of fun!