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HELP! Where is the Paris I was imagining???...3 days left on trip!

HELP! Where is the Paris I was imagining???...3 days left on trip!

Old Oct 1st, 2011, 02:40 PM
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HELP! Where is the Paris I was imagining???...3 days left on trip!

My husband and I arrived in Paris at 11am today via train. After checking into our studio apartment near the Louvre, we spent a couple of hours walking around before meeting a small, 6 person walking tour across from Moulin Rouge. We were shocked with the sheer volume and crowds .I know some areas of cities can be more congested than others...but we walked for quite some time/distance and the crowds were basically the same everywhere we went. Paris is a huge city,of course, but I was expecting it to feel more "Parisian." It seemed to be a combination of Time Square, Picadilly Circus, and the leaning tower of Pisa...a huge cluster, basically.

We found the Montmarte area to be closer to our vision of Paris, but it was still packed. I am not sure if this is because it is a Saturday or because it is the Nuit Blanche, perhaps?

I am aware the going to Moulin Rouge area, and staying near the Louvre and going on a walking tour is all very "touristy" and that I am putting myself in these crowded situations, But I have spent 5 days doing the touristy things in Rome and found the city to be walkable and fun.....even though it was busy.

We are planning on seeing the Louvre and a few of the other "must see" major sights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame) while we are here, and we expect the crowds to be the same. But my question is...

Can anyone suggest some quieter activities/areas that we can do/see while we are here??

I need to go back home feeling like I have experienced a few hidden and precious moments with this famed city. It would be a pity to leave and not experience a small taste of what Paris truely has to offer. Thanks is advance!
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 02:55 PM
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We rented an apartment at Parmentier metro stop in the 11th and loved the area. Felt like mostly locals were there and there are lots of cafes and restaurants. We didnt find it touristy at all and definitely not as crowded. I would highly recommend a visit to the Richard Lenoir market on Sundays and then spending some time in the cafes in the area...

Another favourite pastime is getting some treats and sitting in Lux. Gardens for a few hours reading or people watching.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 02:56 PM
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Try going to the Orangerie Museum. I was there for the first time in May and it was not too crowded. Monet's water lilly paintings were gorgeous and the Renoirs were also. Because of the smaller size of the museum, it is not overwhelming. Hope you can enjoy the rest of your trip!
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 03:04 PM
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Well, it's the height of the trade show period in Paris and you're staying near the Louvre and visiting the top tourist sights, so this is no surprise.

Go to the Musée Jacquemart-André for brunch tomorrow morning, then head for the Parc Monceau and explore the area to the west and north.

Hop on a bus or métro and go to one of the outlying arrondissements, even the 11th, but also the 16th, 14th, 18th. Go to the Musée Marmottan. If you want to avoid the crowds, go where the crowds aren't likely to be, but if you want to see the main tourist sites of Paris, you'll likely have to deal with crowds (though in all my years of visiting Paris I can't say I have ever thought to compare any of it to Times Square).

Maybe you should take a day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise or the Ile des Impressionistes (lunch at the Maison Fournaise) or Giverny or some nearby place that will be relatively tranquil.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 03:10 PM
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If the weather's as nice as it is in London, my guess is the parks are likely to be pretty crowded, but you could try the Buttes Chaumont.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_des_Buttes_Chaumont

Another of my favourites is to walk along the Promenade Plantée, a garden made out of an old elevated railway line, above Ave. Daumesnil, running east from Bastille.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promenade_plant%C3%A9e

For indoors, the Cognacq-Jay Museum, rue Elzévir in the Marais, the Petit Palais (both free).
http://en.parisinfo.com/museum-monum...ee-cognacq-jay
http://en.parisinfo.com/museum-monum...lle-de-paris?1

But there's a reason why Paris can be crowded: a lot of people are looking for their dream vision, and a lot of people are trying to sell them a packaged version of it.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 03:22 PM
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Walk around the 17th - feels more like "local Paris." Anything near the Louve or the Eiffel Tower will be mobbed with tourists during the day.

Also, go out early in the morning and walk around. At 6am, the Eiffel Tower is not lit up but is pretty in silhouette against the dawn sky - and there's almost nobody around.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 03:32 PM
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>>For indoors, the Cognacq-Jay Museum, rue Elzévir in the Marais
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 04:20 PM
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I agree with seeing the Jacquemart-Andre. Also, when we visited the Cluny Museum, it was not at all crowded.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 04:42 PM
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The Musée des Arts-et-Métiers had a nice Sunday brunch when we were there, and it was not crowded at all. But one has to like 18th & 19th century technology. The Carnavalet has never been crowded when we were there.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...ith/4357634380
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 04:45 PM
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Head to the 14th, Montparnasse. We have stayed in this area twice and really like it because it feels much more like a neighborhood than a tourist area.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 05:09 PM
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I know exactly what you mean, knwolf. We were in Paris from Sept. 15 - 19th. I am just getting to the Paris portion of my trip report, and my story will sound just like yours.

Hopefully, the advice given above will get you away from the crowds and let you enjoy Paris the way it is meant to be enjoyed.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Get up and out at sunrise. Enjoy what you can while the sun is coming up. It will make it easier to deal with the crowds.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 06:21 PM
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Go to the left bank and explore some of the other neighborhoods. visit the Cluny Museum - I have never sen that crowded - and it's exquisite.

Naturally if you go to biggest tourist sights you will be mobs of tourists.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 07:45 PM
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Gruezi!

Of course Paris is crowded, it is Fashion Week. Plus, you are staying near the Louve. The Place Vendome and the Ritz Hotel are nearby. This is where much of the fashion congnoscenti congregate. I am sure the Tuilleries are a mob scene.

Why don't you go over to the Viaduct des Arts or the Arab Institute or the Jardin des Plantes?


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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 07:55 PM
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If you were thinking of visiting Pere-Lachaise, Sunday would be a good day to go. It is never crowded, although there are visitors roaming about. Then use the weekdays for sights in the city center when they should be less crowded.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 07:59 PM
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There's also the Parc de la Villette.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 07:59 PM
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I've been in Paris many times at very peak tourist seasons (eg July) and didn't really encounter what you say except right around the tourist attractions, so I'm a little surprised by what you say. If you are just referring to the immediate proximity of the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, Louvre, Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, then sure that is what you will find. But even in the central arrondisements, if you walk some blocks away from those, you aren't going to find masses of tourists like Times Square, so I just don't even understand how this could happen.

All you have to do is go into the outer arrondisements or walk away from the main arteries and tourist attractions, if that is what you really want to do, just walk around regular neighborhoods. If you go to any of the minor museums, even they won't have crowds, only the few big ones do. Now that might not be what people want to do with their time, though, going to minor museums.

I think you just have to take some responsibility for your own interest. Asking other people to direct you to hidden treasures isn't the way it works. YOu should go to areas because you have some knowledge and interest in them.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 08:49 PM
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I'm not surprised by this report.

In addition to business and trade fairs, a HUGE number of today's travelers are affluent empty-nesters and seniors. They are the ones with the means to travel. They wait until the summer is over - that is, after Sept 23 -- because they want to be clear of heat and school kids on tour. A great many tour groups are timed to capture this demographic.

knwolf -- my sympathies. In the Louvre, head for the ceramics collection. I'm not kidding. It is fabulous. Palissy ware. Renaissance plates. You'll feel like you are on a desert island. I also loved the covered passages in the 2d arr., especially the Passage Sainte-Anne on rue Sainte-Anne. Maybe you could there and browse and chill.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/5136674...n/photostream/
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 08:52 PM
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PS: The Passage Sainte-Anne is really close to the Louvre, in rue Sainte-Anne.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 10:18 PM
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I have been here since Wednesday and found yesterday afternoon to be crazy crowded. The morning was normal. In fact, I went to the Orsay and Orangerie and neither were crowded, but by the time I finished lunch it seemed that everyone in Paris was out and about! And not just in tourist areas. I headed up to Canal St Martin and almost could not fight my way though Place de la Republic to get there. Coming back was the most insanely packed Metro ride of my life. I am betting that today the crowds will mostly be in the Marais and the museums (since it is the first Sunday of the month and the museums are free), so if you will plan to go somewhere else today you will probably find things more relaxed. By Monday things should be back to normal (though as others pointed out this is a very busy time of the year for Paris).
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