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Paris for the First Time – Need Suggestions for a Non-touristy Experience

Paris for the First Time – Need Suggestions for a Non-touristy Experience

Nov 19th, 2014, 08:59 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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Paris for the First Time – Need Suggestions for a Non-touristy Experience

Hello,

My wife and I will be travelling to Paris for the first time in April. We will be staying at an apartment hotel with a full kitchen for seven days. We plan to cook most of our meals with goods from the local fresh markets. Please provide any suggestions or recommendation on what to buy and where. We are staying in an area filled with little shops, markets, quiet streets and small gardens close to the The Parc Georges Brassens. We plan to use public transportation. Aside from the major sites (Louvre, Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower) we would like visit as many non-touristy and charming places as possible. We would like to experience the culture and the romance that Paris is known for. Also, I have heard that the more touristy sites have long lines that can be very time consuming. What are the best times that we can beat the crowds and are there any places that we should avoid completely? I know that the Louvre is massive; any suggestions regarding what to focus on in the span of a few hours? I also speak some French and I plan to brush up before our trip. Is it preferable to (try to) speak French while in Paris?

Thanks in advance and I look forward to the responses.
VeeDubb is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:17 AM
  #2  
 
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Well first of all, the "touristy" things - I would not wait in line to go up either the Eiffel Tower or Arc De Triomphe - I'd go see both of them but not waste the time to 'into' them. Notre Dame is worth the time to go into the church itself but there are plenty of times when there are no lines for that. To climb the towers I think is a worthwhile experience but the line can be long so if that's worth your time is up to you. There are several strategies to avoid lines at the Louvre. There is the entrance from the underground metro stop,and an entrance from by the stairs near the arc de triomphe du carrousel - both of these by pass the big lines by the pyramid. Also time of day makes a difference.

One of the main things I suggest people do in Paris is to spend a day exploring neighborhoods - one day for the 5th and 6th, one day for the Marais, etc. There are numerous books of "walks" through different neighborhoods that your can follow or alter to suit what you want. The major guidebooks have walks as well (see frommers). There are also lots that have been posted here. Here's one thread to get started http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...aris-walks.cfm

There are numerous markets all over Paris. Do a search here for that as well, plus all the guide books list them, and a google search will bring up lots. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...od-markets.cfm
isabel is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:32 AM
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The new Promenade Plantée garden walkway along old rail lines runs from a corner of the Parc Georges Brassens to the Parc André Citröen. Most people don't know about it yet, so you can have it all to yourselves.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:39 AM
  #4  
 
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<< Is it preferable to (try to) speak French while in Paris?>>

Oui.
sofarsogood is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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"I know that the Louvre is massive; any suggestions regarding what to focus on in the span of a few hours?"

The paintings that interest you. FAR better found out by researching the collection (that interwebby thing is amazing) than by accepting some stranger's glowing praise for the Poussins.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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If you can brush up your french - fine.

Most important is to use the more formal attitudes in terms of greetings upon entering any store or stand at a market, not touching items yourself, but waiting for them to be shown to you and bidding a proper adieu.

Most people will try to help you if your french is understandable - but if people keep responding in English either they 1) want to practice their english or 2) don't really understand your french. (In a restaurant we encountered an american couple with a very strong southern accent - and incomprehensible French - who insisted on trying to speak it - even though the waiter couldn't understand at all. Perhaps had taught themselves out of a book?)
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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With a multi day museum pass you can avoid many of the long lines at the Arc and other popular museums. Buy it at one of the smaller, less crowded monuments/museums. We usually get ours at the Cluny or Musee de l'Armee

The Sunday morning market at Blvd Richard Lenoir near the Bastille metro is a terrific place for food shopping.

If you want to climb the tower steps of Notre Dame the best time is to get in line about a half hour before they open. You won't be the only one there but your wait shouldn't be much more than that half hour Have a great trip. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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There isn't any way to beat the crowds for the most part, at places like Eiffel Tower, etc. I guess that main way is often to go when a place first opens, or at the end of the day (and several museums have evening hours, those usually aren't nearly as crowded, and can be cheaper). End of the day may still be busy for Eiffel Tower, though, I've never gone up in it as that doesn't interest me, so not sure.

The best way to go to non-touristy places is just to walk around neighborhoods and explore on your own, really. Your location is a start, but in practice, hardly any places are that super touristy except right in the center (meaning Latin Qtr, St Germain, Marais, islands, Champs-Elysees and Rue de Rivoli) and the main attractions you know about (ET).

I can't think of any place I'd tell someone to avoid if they really wanted to see it, just because it is popular. If you want to go to the Louvre, go, if you don't, don't go just because you think you are supposed to. Can you imagine saying you should avoid Notre Dame because it's touristy? YOu have no other way to see some of these things that are popular.

The 15th arr. has tons of good places to buy food and markets (like rue St Charles), no need whatsoever to go to other arrondisements for that.

Speak French and see what happens -- often they answer in English and won't let you speak French in Paris, unless you are really good, but try and see. Guys working in the news kiosques, etc., will probably appreciate it, things like that.
Christina is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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I just read this today in planning for my own trip to Paris next week. It was from a walking tour company website (Paris Muse) but they had a page on their with tips for enjoying Paris even beyond one of their tours. They suggested the big museums are actually easier to get into about an hour after after their opening (rather than right when they open as lines form before opening and then people also have to get through the security check of their bags) or in the evenings when they are open late (I think Louvre it is Wed and Fri and d'Orsay Th). I can't speak from actual experience but it made logical sense to me.

Also do not underestimate how much you might enjoy instead the lesser known museums of Paris. Such as Rodin, Decorative Arts (next to Louvre), Cluny, Carnivale, Cognac-Jay, I have all enjoyed immensely.

On my list for next week (not that I will see them all, I just make list of what I might like to do and then see what I feel like each day) are the following:

http://www.quaibranly.fr/en/musee/visit-the-museum.html (open until 9 pm Th, Fr, Sa)
Musee Quai Branly
222 rue de l’Université 75343

http://www.imarabe.org (opens 10 am, open until 930 pm Fr)
Institute de Monde Arabe
1, rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard 70005

http://musee.curie.fr/
Musee Marie Curie
(Open Wednesday through Saturday 100 pm - 500 pm)
1, rue Pierre et Marie Curie 75005

http://www.arts-et-metiers.net/musee...or-information (opens 10 am, open until 930 pm Th)
Musee des Arts et Metiers
60 rue Réaumur 75003

http://www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/ (opened again in October finally)
Musee Picasso
5 rue de Thorigny 75003

http://www.zadkine.paris.fr/en/museu...ue-dassas-1928 (opens 10 am, no late nights)
Musée Zadkine
100 bis, rue d’Assas 75006

http://www.musee-delacroix.fr/en/mus...or-information (opens 930 am, no late nights)
Musee Nationale Eugene Delacroix
6 rue de Furstenberg 75006
“The admission ticket to the Musée du Louvre’s permanent collections (€12) also gives access to the Musée Eugène Delacroix the same day. The ticket can be bought at the Musée Eugène Delacroix.”

Have fun planning your trip!
laurie_ann is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:26 AM
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Some other suggestions from what I have been doing last few weeks:

Reading on my Kindle "Forever Paris, 25 Walks", "Markets of Paris", "Paris Stories", "Paris 10 Locals Tell You", "Stuff Parisiens Like".

Putting apps on my phone -- ulman citymaps2go (recommended by NYT or WSJ article as one of best off line map apps) ratp for metro, Larousse for English/French dictionary (includes can press icon to hear pronuciation), Patricia Wells foodlovers for restaurants, shops etc., thefork for restaurants (it is like opentable here in the US), meteo paris for detailed weather, ecab (so can order cab and charge to credit card like I do with Uber for cabs here in Chicago).

Practicing speaking French with pod casts on my phone "Coffee Break French".

I will report when I get back after next week what I thought was most valuable.
laurie_ann is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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There's an antique and used book market undercover at Parc Georges Brassens every weekend.

http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/20...ok-market.html

Information here about food and other markets around Paris, including Georges Brassens:

http://meslieux.paris.fr/marches

More details here about the walk recommended by Kerouac:

http://www.paris.fr/accueil/paris-ma...340_port_23863

The official City of Paris website, www.paris.fr , contains a great deal of useful information including about the many interesting municipal museums offering free admission and where you will seldom find a crowd.

http://www.paris.fr/musees

This interactive map on the RATP site is very useful for figuring out public transportation options for getting around the city.

http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php?lang=uk
MaineGG is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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A couple of non-crowded things we liked a lot on our recent trip:

Carnavalet Museum (Museum of the History of Paris). Had we had one more day in Paris, we would have returned to this great museum.

Basilica St. Denis--tombs of the French kings. The remains were exhumed and destroyed during the French Revolution but the effigies remain.

But as Christina says, just walk around and avoid the crowds. You'll see something interesting almost anywhere.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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<< The Sunday morning market at Blvd Richard Lenoir near the Bastille metro is a terrific place for food shopping. >>

There is absolutely no reason to cross the city to go to a market like that when the market on rue de la Convention in the 15th is even better. Too many tourists are turning the Bastille market into the new "rue Cler" obligation as though no other markets in Paris are worthy of interest.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 19th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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<< are there any places that we should avoid completely? >>

The only sight in Paris I was less than thrilled with was the Expiatory Chapel.

<< I know that the Louvre is massive; any suggestions regarding what to focus on in the span of a few hours? >>

It depends on your interests. In a museum this size, why depend on others telling you what to see. Go to the Louvre web site and look at the collection and then decide what to focus on. I'd be interested in sculpture and Islamic art but you may not be. The excavations are interesting as is Vermeer’s Astronomer.

<< we would like visit as many non-touristy and charming places as possible. >>

My list:

Houses of worship:
Mosque (followed by tea in the garden)
Val-de-Grace church
St-Etienne-du-Mont church
St-Julian-le-Pauvre Church
St-Gervais/St-Protais church

Museums:
Jewish Museum
Nissim de Camondo Museum
Maillol Museum
Post Museum
Museum of Romantic Life
Gustav Moreau Museum

Montparnasse Cemetery

Paris has something for everyone. If you tell us your interests you'll get responses tailored to you.
adrienne is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 12:13 PM
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staying at an apartment hotel with a full kitchen for seven days. We plan to cook most of our meals with goods from the local fresh markets

Well, that will be pretty non-touristy--eating at home in one of the culinary capitals of the world.
Personally, I LOVE being a tourist in Paris--seeing the iconic architectural places, walking the iconic streets, sitting in a café with a glass of wine. I also love wandering around and finding things that I like to see--maybe they are on some other tourist's list.

for the Louvre, get the Michelin Green Guide and make a choice of a wing that suits your tastes.

The Passages are charming and beautiful. The Promenade Plantee is wonderful, as are the shops that are housed in the arcs of the former viaduct.

A week is not long--it will go fast.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 12:52 PM
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Frankly, being able to cook local products in a foreign country is one of the things that appeals to me the most. I go to restaurants only when I do not have a choice.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 19th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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Here are the food markets of Paris:

http://www.paris.fr/pro/commercants-...004_port_23615
Michael is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 04:16 PM
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What are these apartment hotel kitchens like? When we rent an apartment there are always left over spices, oils, coffee, pasta, etc from former renters. I have stayed in Hotels with a kitchen and there is nothing but some dishes and a couple of pots.
We did love picking items up from the markets and bringing home for breakfast and snacks in Paris. Wine and cheese and bread and some pastry makes a great meal imo though.
flpab is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 04:18 PM
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I am not sure if you like gardens like me but I do and I like palaces so I will suggest a stroll in Jardin de Luxembourg (there is a palace there)... I will also suggest to visit Versailles palace and gardens (15 min out of Paris) but this is a touristy place though....in Paris, if you do the louvre walk towards place de vondome through the jardin des Tuileries and have a drink in the cafe inside the small garden....again hope you like gardens though
mishotravel is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 04:19 PM
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Oh another suggestion (but also touristy sorry)), take a cruise over the seine
mishotravel is offline  

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