What do you do in Paris?

Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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What do you do in Paris?

My wife and I will be 6 days in Paris in April for the second time in ten years.

Aside from eat tasty unpasteurized cheese and drink tasty armagnacs, what else do people do?

I'm a photo buff so I know I'll spend some time taking pictures of the endless architectural achievements, but we've already done the museums we care to see and the major tourist attractions.

I'm not being critical or suggesting there isn't a billion things to do, I just want to know what most people here do...do.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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try wandering through the passages.

On another thread I wrote:

You might want see if you can pick up the book Parcs et Jardins de Paris ...à pied which offers 23 walks through various neighborhoods of Paris. The book seems to be a collaboration between the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre and the Mairie de Paris. FNAC might have a copy or might be able to tell you where to get it.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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Wow, where to begin. Just a few initial thoughts:
- walk across the Pont des Arts (and every other bridge!)
- have a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg
- visit the Musee D'Orsay
- lunch at Au Lys d'Argent on the Ile Saint-Louis followed by exploration of the tiny island and it's larger neighbor, l'Ile de la Cite
- dinner at Oh Duo - a little out of the way, but the food is INCREDIBLE and the hosts are wonderful -54, Avenue Emile Zola
- dinner at Le Petit Pontoise - 9, Rue Pontoise
- visiting the Sainte-Chappelle in the daytime and then attending a concert in the evening
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:24 PM
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Well, I'm a museum and history fiend, so my wanderings probably won't be of much interest to you. I've been to Paris several times and I never manage to see all that I'm interested in. Lots of people shop, though, you know.

I'll be there for eight days in May and have just started pondering this very question because this will be my first solo visit. I know from my other solo trip to France that the difficult part for me is deciding what to do every day without consulting someone else. It's weird not to have to plan around what someone else wants to do/see/eat.

My vague lineup:

I've booked a ticket to the ballet at the Opera Garnier, which I have never visited. Looking forward both to the performance and the theater with its Chagall ceiling.

St. Denis

The itsy bitsy and weird museums of the 15th (check your Green Guide).

Victor Hugo's house

Balzac's house (I'm open to other suggestions along this line, by the way)

Jacquemart Andre museum

La Madeleine and other churches--I've missed most of them

Carnavalet Musuem



Arenes de Lutece

Musee Quai de Branly

Musee de Judaisme


Revisit the gardens I've seen and check out some new ones.

I hope there are some special exhibitions, but will check on that closer to my trip.



Book a massage?

Sleep late. Go running. Have fun.

By the way, Morrissey is playing three days after I leave. It has always been an irrational fantasy of mine to see the Smiths/Morrissey in Paris, so if I had known I would have chosen different dates and that would have been up on my list. Someday.

Have a great trip and please let us know what you end up doing.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you looking for suggestions? It would help to list the places you've already been and have no interest in returning to.

You could plan some themed walks. There are several detailed walking itineraries on the boards. I don't have the threads saved to my favourites but if you do a search you'll easily find them. Try degas or kerouac and paris walk.

You could go shopping and browsing at food or flea markets.

You could look up the Paris Opera website and see what operas and ballets are playing. The Palais Garnier is an exceptionally beautiful theater and seeing a performance in that setting is a memorable experience.

You could go to the big museums' websites and find out what special exhibitions will be on during your visit. I think the Pompidou, for example, is having Kadinsky and Alexander Calder exhibitions this spring.

Myself, I've only been to Paris twice. My first trip was two weeks long, my second trip one week. The first time, we spent lots and lots of time walking through different neighborhoods, visiting museums, took daytrips to Chartres and Versailles and Fontainbleau, and spent the evenings in restaurants and bars.

The second time I went alone and I spent most of my time in museums (returned to the Louvre but the rest were "new" to me). I went to St Denis and saw the basilica and spent the afternoon in the neighborhood. I went to the ballet.

I'm interested in art so I welcome repeat visits to my favourite museums, especially a place like the Louvre which is so huge it would several visits to even begin to see it all.

If you're interested in modern architecture you might like the Pompidou Centre, la Defence, and the Institut du Monde Arabe to name a couple of places off the top of my head.

Basilique St Denis is the first church built in the Gothic style.

If you're interested in Art Deco design, you should look up MademoiselleFifi's trip reports.

There's the catacombs, and the sewer museum tour, and the cemetaries- Pere Lachaise and Montmartre and Montparnasse.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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ciaony, do you like to read? Have you picked up a nicely illustrated Paris guidebook? (a la Knopf or Eyewitness) It seems to me that you haven't been exposed to a thorough inventory of the treasures and pleasures of Paris. How did you plan and know what you wanted to see for your first visit? If you find it difficult to unearth interesting places, there is a chance Paris isn't your 'cup of tea' (yes, that happens once in a while).

Maybe this will stir something:
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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Well the food markets are terrific. I can happily plan my day around going to the food market and checking out the neighborhoods. I also love the cemeteries and they are great for taking pictures. Wandering the neighborhoods is endlessly entertaining to me - the Marais is especially interesting. I like the 'walking tours' that are in guidebooks. Going up to the top of Notre Dame is great and many cool photo ops. I can't imagine going to Paris and not walking up those stairs to the top.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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What do I do? Sleep late, take breakfast in bed, watch French TV, walk, shop, go to museums, go to bars, taste test different flavors of Amorino, test the comfort of different cafe chairs, go to the park, drink champagne, people watch, ride the metro, eat, drink more champagne, go to another park, go to another bar,eat some more, shop some more, stay up all night and watch the sunrise, go to a movie,take a boat ride, go to a concert, flirt with Frenchmen. But one thing I never do in Paris is take the bus. YMMV.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:42 PM
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ciony, like you, I love armagnac. You must visit
Ryst Duperon at 79 rue du Bac. They specialize in
Armagnac and have tastings in this very old shop.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 09:37 PM
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I (and to a lesser extent, DH) are history and art buffs. Each time, we visit one or two of the museums we've already been to, plus one or two new museums. We try to visit new neighborhoods - last time, it was the lovel area around Musee Marmatton (a beautiful little museum, too).

We always take an evening trip of the Vedettes boats, the company that leaves from the end of the Pont Neuf. I never get tired of those views. Most visits, we also visit the Arc de Triomphe, mostly because it's so funny to watch the cars whizzing around.

On our last visit, our son and I made a quest of trying macarons at every bakery we could.

The next time we visit, I'd like to stay in the Montparnasse area and explore around there some more.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 03:35 AM
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Wow, these seem like great suggestions.
I'm looking deeper into each of them.
Keep 'em coming, please. I definitely want to do that Armagnac tasting and one of those listed walks.
What's up with the Moulin Rouge? Should I bother?
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Last summer we took a Segway tour at night. It turned out to be one of the most fun things we have ever done. Different, and exciting. I recommend it for any age group. We had our dd and dgd with us, they still talk about how much fun we had.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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We take a half bottle of champagne out onto the Pont des Arts at about 7:45 or 8:45 in the evening. This gives us enough time to find a seat or a place at the rail, open the bottle of wine, and wait until the Eiffel Tower begins to twinkle at the hour.

We also particularly like wine bards where you can select a glasser two of wine and a petite assiette of meat and cheese and small peppers and enjoy. For example...


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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 10:04 AM
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thanks for this tip. Where are the seats?
Is this the best Eiffel Tower best viewpoint?
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 10:11 AM
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Well, we're both history freaks - so we go to every museum, cathedral and historical sight in the city. We also enjoy exploring the various neighborhoods, browsing galleries and bookshops, sitting in a cafe with a glass of wine watching the world go by (at busy intersections). Have you considered day trips - there are a bunch that are interesting - Chartres, Versailles, Fontainbleu, Giverny and even further using the TGV.

BUT - if you can;t come up with a long list of your own in about 10 minutes - I would consider going someplace else - where you haven't seen everything you're interested in.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 11:46 AM
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I just wander around. I pick one part of the city per day and start with that, then work my way back to my hotel's neighborhood as the day goes on. I love sitting in the public gardens (Tuilleries, Luxembourg), and sitting drinking wine in sidewalk cafes. I like walking along the Seine.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 12:30 PM
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Check out Rue Cler (not far from the Eiffel Tower). It's a 2 or 3 block long pedestrian street and a very typical Parisian neighborhood, with cheese and wine shops, a bakery, and several sidewalk cafes.

I used to only take the Metro to get around, but on my last trip I used the bus quite a bit. The bus is slower, but you can see the neighborhoods as you go from place to place. Bus #69 is a great route to just see the sights. The biggest problem I had was finding the stops, but now there is an interactive map for the all the public transport, including the bus system at http://ratp.fr/ (click on the British flag for English). If you get a transport pass, you can just get on and off the buses as something strikes your fancy.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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If the weather is good, a trip out to Giverny can be a delight, especially since you are a photo buff. Before you go, look through a book of Monet's paintings. Once there, you can spot many of the paintings sites. For an idea of what you will see, you can access my collection of Giverny photos at www.flickr.com/photos/basingstoke2/collections.

The Montorgueil Market in the 2nd is historic and has wonderful authentic shops. Stop there at the Stohrer Patissier Traiteur for some out of this world pastriesThey have been at that spot since 1730. The Baba au Rhum is a specialty. Eat two and I dare you to walk a straight line.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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By the way, if you go to the flickr site above, the Giverny pictures are in the Europe 2008 collection. They were taken the first week of May. Scenes of the Montorgueil market are also in that collection.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge with wooden benches along the middle. It is the next bridge over, away from the Pont Neuf which connects the Left bank with the Ile de la Cite and then the Right Bank. It is a hugely popular place for younsters of all ages to be at night and has a good view (as in excuse to watch) the tower.

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