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Hidden Parisian Gems?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by iDanceonice, May 17, 2010.

  1. iDanceonice

    iDanceonice New Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I am traveling to Paris this summer, and I want to research some "hidden gems" to visit. Cafes, restaurants, shops, castles, churches, museums...you name it. I don't want to only be visiting tourist spots (although I will see some of them), so I am seeking the advice of anyone who has been to Paris that knows of some worthwhile places that are tucked away, or less well-known. I do speak French, and I am an avid figure skater and lover of all things skating. Visiting a place that has to do with skating would be neat, but not necessary. I'm open to hearing about your favorite Parisian spots. Any advice?

    Thanks so much!
  2. Squibble

    Squibble New Member

    For starters:

    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), 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 cafe 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.

    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.

    I would also recommend buying the Time Out guide to Paris and looking at its suggestions, especially for walks.

    I could go on and on, so feel free to send me a private message or post any questions in this thread.
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
  3. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    Great topic! I will be in Paris this weekend and appreciate the suggestions as well. I've been to Paris three times but there's so much to see and do that I still feel like I'm missing out on great things I don't know about and the guides I have suggest the typical things.
  4. uyeahu

    uyeahu Agitator. Sharpie lover (figuratively speaking).

  5. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    There is a rather amazing tapestry factory, the Manufacture des Gobelins right at the Gobelins metro stop. Many remarkable tapestries were woven here dating back to the mid-1600s. The tour was in French (not sure about whether that's still true) but even with fairly weak French I enjoyed it a lot. I didn't know about the Gobelins family home around the corner -- apparently it is also open to tour.
  6. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    Musee L'Orangerie. This is a small museum in the Tuilleries with impressionist and post-impressionist art, but the star attraction are the two rooms designed by Monet to house full-size paintings of his waterlilies. Each painting is three panels of what we normally consider the waterlilies. Each room has three paintings, each of a different season, and is oval, so you can sit or stand in the middle and view each season merely by turning. It is often overlooked because it is across the Seine from Musee D'Orsay (which is can't-miss).

    Sainte Chapelle is a spectacular chapel on the left bank. It is overshadowed by Notre Dame, but the stained glass windows are phenomenal. They often hold concerts in the chapel, but those are often after dark, so you miss the windows.

    I definitely second the rec for Berthillon. The lines can be long on a summer afternoon, but they are worth the wait. I don't think they shut down during the summer.
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  7. iDanceonice

    iDanceonice New Member

    Wow, thanks guys! So much to look at already. Squibble, I may take you up on your offer :)
  8. LynnW

    LynnW Politiking for Purple

  9. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

    Sorry for hijacking the tread a little, but my parents are traveling to Paris in June and asked me to also tap the FSU knowledge re: hotels.

    Has anyone stayed or heard anything personally about Comfort Hotel Opera Drouot Paris? Any recommendations for hotels within a reasonable budget? (i.e. not hostels, but not 5* mansions either?)
  10. MLIS

    MLIS Active Member

    I second this. And also the Concierge, in the same general area, which was the medieval palace and later the prison for the nobility during the Revolution. Very interesting, and sobering.

    I recommend the Rick Steves guidebook, which has a number of self-guided walking tours of various neighbourhoods and museums. I believe you can also download podcasts of the walking tours from his website, although I've never done so myself.
  11. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    Not exactly "hidden"..... but you won't see a huge crowd.....:lol:

    Church of St. Sulpice
    Organ Concerts at the church of St. Sulpice (across from Notre Dame)

    Jardin De Bagatelle
    Charming gated villa park in Rococo style, located in Bois de Boulogne. This park is good for a wonderful walk and/or a place for a picnic or any carry-on meal with a bottle of wine + company of swans and peacocks demanding their share of your baguette.
    The only place in Paris where you can still imagine Vicomte de Valmont or Marquise de Merteuil to stroll by with a parasol.

    Walker-Through-The-Wall Sculpture (La Passe Muraille)
    Located on a small plaza Marcel Ayme, on top of the Montmartre, there is an unusual sculpture which I think is a must-see, if you read or did not read the short stories by Marcel Ayme. La Passe Muraille is a character from one his stories. The plaza is at an intersection of Rue Norvins and Allee des Brouillards. One can have A LOT OF FUN with the fotos….

    Espace Dali
    (a lesser know Dali Museum with original works, which is hidden on a side street right underneath the main square of Montmartre Plaza.)

    Paris Opera Granier - not exactly "hidden" but some of the private tours can be very special if planned in advance.

    For Phantom of the Opera Fans – expanded private tour (must reserve in advance at the main ticket booth) of the Paris Opera Garnier. Request to see the old catacomb-level dressing rooms, and BEG TO TAKE YOU TO THE HIDDEN DOOR that leads to an actual subterranean pond/water canal……. And then beg and beg to open this door, even if they say “there is nothing there”….. There is!

    But for sure there are old corridors which old dressing rooms and storages for old costumes, and yes, they are quite subterranean even if they won’t take you to the “hidden water ways” no matter how you bribe them (or this particular guide may not know). But even if you can’t convince the guide to go that “far down”, the rest of the tour is very interesting, including the walk up to the Roof (although it would be no longer “secret Paris).

    !!!! DANS-LE-NOIR RESTAURANT - Total Darkness Dining Restaurant where everyone (except cook) is in the dark and blinded. Food tastes different, sensory depravation.... to say the least, if you find the mouth....

    Serge Gainsbourg’s House Museum – Graffiti House –
    To “walk by” only if you’re a fan of the guy is worth it. His grave is at the M-tre Cemetary.
    He is a famous musician/actor/poet/director of the 60’s and a short term lover of Brigitte Bardot, and his house now a museum that’s worth a visit. Weird stuff….. Address Rue De Verneuil # 3 (or #5…. ) You can’t miss it. There are no organized visits. But if you ring the bell, and/or lucky to see a care-taker, which is a rare site indeed and may require few walk-buys, and will convince him you are A BIG FAN, you might get lucky.

    Paris Sewer Museum
    – the tour of real underground Paris, the sewers which are part of Les Miserables chase of Jean Valjean by Joubert. It’s real a underground tour, just like better known Catacombs.
    Web-site with info

    Edith Piaf Museum – Rue Crespin Du Gast #5 in 11th sector
    Location/time info

    Last Tango in Paris – Tango Dance Halls
    While the film location is Salle Wagram on Avenue De Wagram # 39, and is no longer a dance hall, there are several Tango Dance locations in Paris where one can get the flavor, but they vary days and seasons, and held at different locations.

    But there are other clubs where you can take classes and dance all evening after the class.

    Casa Del Tango – School and Night Dancing
    Check dates and events on the web-site. You can dance for sure starting in the afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm, Tue to Sat.

    Le Balajo Bastille - http://www.balajo.fr/
    Very nice night club, where they hold a “dance party” classes in various dance styles.
    See the site.

    BISTRO LATIN – in Marais, 20 Rue Du Temple – 3rd floor, door 4-E (tel 01 42 77 21 11) They hold dance lessons and evening dance sessions every week-day from 7 or 8 pm to 1 am. Admission is just few Euros.

    Outdoor dance locations/Open Air Dancing (from May to September)

    Quai de Saint Bernard/Tino Rossi Square (near gare d'Austerlitz)
    All night dancing, come and dance, every night during summer, people gather by 8-9-10 pm. Free.

    I had few friends stay at that hotel couple of times, when I had little time and had to reserve rooms through www.venere.com instead of sending messages directly to few other hotels.

    The Location is great. The rooms are small and basic. No major complaints except for bathrooms.. Breakfast is minimum but reasonable, you won’t go hungry. When younger people stayed, all was ok. Older couple did not like it.
    Last edited: May 29, 2010
  12. Skate Talker

    Skate Talker Replaced the display under my name

    Wish I could remember the name of the hotel I stayed at. We had spent a few nights in the Paris hostel before leaving to tour around and I was going to have a one-night stay back in Paris before an early morning flight. Before we left we scouted out a couple of hotels - asked to see a room in each. This one was smallish rooms but had it's own bathroom and was really reasonable rate and very clean and modern so I just booked it then. Didn't seem to be any reservation problems anywhere in France - maybe I was just lucky. But if we had any pre-reserved accomodation we seldom stayed more than one night before moving to a nicer place at same or less cost after a tiny bit of scouting around. It seems to be quite normal to ask to see a room before deciding - didn't get any strange or hostile looks and that is one thing that never seems to be in short supply in France :D