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LOVERS OF PARIS, PLEASE HELP ME DODGE THE CROWDS

LOVERS OF PARIS, PLEASE HELP ME DODGE THE CROWDS

Old Jun 16th, 2015, 08:58 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 58
Don't get me started on the selfies either! I was just in Hawaii where I witnessed a few kids body surfing with selfie sticks. One kid held one for about an hour while he splashed about.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 09:14 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 58
Kovsie, I really hate crowds so I always try to enter museums right when they open and I've found I have a good hour, or so, when they are not crowded. I love walking around a city in the early hours, seeing the delivery trucks and watching it come awake.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:27 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
I'll offer a possibly weird and useless idea, but it worked for us: try to see the Mona Lisa as the museum is closing. We did as AlessandraZoe suggests: headed straight for the Mona Lisa and saw it in pretty crowded circumstances, then moved on to the rest of the Louvre. We heard the first closing announcement that gave, I think 10-15 minutes; then, at the second one, we went downstairs, and saw to our surprise that there was almost no one at the Mona Lisa. Everyone seemed to have heeded the first announcement. So we had her almost to ourselves for a few minutes.

We are late risers, which was why we got to the Louvre in the afternoon--not necessarily a strategy I recommend. But there you have it. Everyone knows to get there early, but few stay until closing.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:29 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
I would also gently suggest that avoiding the well-trodden path (especially on one's first visit) is perhaps an over-reaction to online advice--it is well-trodden for a reason!
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:34 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 22,239
When I am a tourist, I want to do all of the tourist things. I am even going to Versailles the day after tomorrow with some tourist friends. Would have I chosen this time of year myself? No way, but my friends don't have any other choice for their vacation time.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:49 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
The reality is that the crowds go to the places that are the most worth visiting. With a month at your disposal, don't miss those places. As Paris lovers it would be a shame to seek out only those places that don't attract crowds. Some may be worthwhile, many are not. Listen to advice on times that are likely to be less hectic and enjoy your visit.

After 9 visits to Paris, we always return to the Louvre - and it is usually crowded. But we wouldn't miss it. go to Chartres. It is beautiful and seldom crowded.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 05:08 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 5,474
Versailles without crowds: Skip the chateau! (Horrors!) We spent a fine sunny day walking the grounds, touring the Grand and Petit Trianons, and visiting the Hameau. Also saw the fantastic fountain running while they tested the works for one of the evening shows. Walked about 5-7 miles all told. No crowds at all.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 05:36 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 229
For cooking classes in English, there's La Cuisine Paris and Cooknwithclass. I've taken classes with both and recommend them.

Also, I agree that if you want to avoid the crowds at Versaiilee, skip the palace. I was there in April and visited the grand and petit Trianons and MA's Hamlet. Very enjoyable and not crowded. We got to the palace around 4 and it was mobbed.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 11:27 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 428
You have plenty of time to plan your attack, rather than have the crowds attack you.
First thing - do you have a good street map of Paris? If not, get one and learn how to use it before you arrive. The one everyone uses (because it has all the streets listed, plus other important things - Metro and Bus maps, markings for Taxi stands, Post Offices, Churches, Museums, Parks, etc) is called "L'Indispensable - Paris par Arrondissement". You can order it in advance online from Massin.fr or sometimes from Amazon - about 8 EU. Make sure not to order an old copy, which costs a fortune and is too out-dated to be of much use. If you can't get it in advance, pick up a copy at any newsstand in Paris.

Second thing - congratulations - you are lucky to have free lodging. Now you have more money to spend on fun stuff.

Third thing - Now, you will have to train yourselves to be early-risers, and either plan to leave Paris in mid-afternoon or stick it out until around 8 PM. Getting on one of the first trains into Paris and after the evening rush hour is really the only way you'll avoid a jam-packed transportation system.

The good thing about this is that you'll have the city to yourself for a few hours in the morning, and can walk around taking some good photos, if that's your thing - but most cafes won't open before around 7:30, and most museums, attractions and shops don't open before around 9:30. You should make every effort to be first in line, though, no matter which major attraction or museum you choose to visit. So you don't waste your time, make sure to check the official websites of attractions (and even restaurants and shops, if they are important to you) to find out when they will be open. Many places will close for a week or more during this time, some close on different weekdays, some won't open before noon, etc. It will be important to maximize your time, but not micro-manage things.

You won't have any problem getting back to your lodging if you choose to stay in Paris late into the evening, since Paris is a safe city which just requires normal "street sense". Walking around is fine, no matter which area you are in. You just need to be sure you know how to get where you're going, since you might not be able to find anyone to give you directions.

Fourth - it's a good idea to do some in-depth research on the official websites of places like the Louvre, Versailles, Eiffel Tower, etc. The official sites often have "flow charts" or info about which days and times are historically the most crowded. They are usually pretty accurate. As someone mentioned, you should avoid going anywhere that is "free", because everyone else will be there too. Evenings can be nice, IME - but pay attention to the closing times. The guards start clearing out the place anywhere from 30 - 60 mins in advance of the official closing time, which might not leave much time for you to see what you wanted to.

It would take about a month for someone to work his way systematically through the Louvre and glance at the artworks here. The official website has all the information you need to plan your approach - and what you would like to avoid. Most tour groups and selfie-manics only hit the top 3 or 5 things, which are easily avoided until late afternoon or early evening.
Versailles is simply incomprehensible in its scope and size. You will need one full day to do it justice, and will be exhausted. You can avoid the crowds here by taking a private tour of the King's apartments, etc - best to reserve on the official website.

Fifth - you have plenty of time to get out of town and enjoy the rest of the areas around Paris. Look on the SNCF website for inexpensive day trips - you can go to Lyon for lunch or even to a nice sandy beach in Normandy, both in about 2 hours.

Sixth - I don't know where you're from, but it will be extremely hot, during most of the time you're here. There is little a/c - I hope the place you're staying has it, or at least some fans. You will need to pace yourself, and try not to overdo things - especially if you are used to living with central a/c and lots of ice.

Seventh - Get some good shoes now. The kind you can walk in comfortably for at least 7 miles at a stretch. If you can't walk this far now, you have enough time to get in training. Do some stair-climbing, while you're at it - don't wait until you arrive in Paris, where you'll be faced with tons of steps everywhere.

Finally - have a good time! You will have a challenge, getting back and forth and managing your time efficiently. There will be days when you might not want to deal with going into Paris, and that's OK, too. Make sure to find out all you can about the suburb you're staying in - there's usually a municipal swimming pool, cinema, etc - something nearby that you could do if you didn't want to face the city. If your house-host can't offer suggestions, there's always Google and GoogleStreetView to help you.
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