Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do In Paris

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A yes, no, maybe for Paris was hard to write … a city that is dear to so many makes it hard to criticise anything. But I’ve managed to get some things you should do, things you can skip and things I’ve heard of and are on my list for my possible future trip. Here we go.

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Because Paris is a city you need to ”feel” and there is nothing wrong with strolling around, enjoying the architecture, the people and the atmosphere. Or sit down on a terrace and watch the people go by. No rushing. This is what Paris is all about.

If you are visiting the city on the first Sunday of the month you can go to certain museums for free (these include Musée d’Art Moderne, the Pompidou Centre and the Musée d’Orsay) other museums are free all year round for people under 26 (the Louvre, the Conciergerie and the Sainte Chapelle to name a few). Also…Musée de l’Orangerie is actually worth a visit.

Rue Denoyez and Parc de Belleville are the best places to spot street art.

If you like music then check these venues Le Pompon, La Flèche d’Or, Autor de Midi, L’International, le Gambetta, and Le Klub.

Beware of pickpockets (it already starts even at Gare du Nord) and scammers (everyone who is trying to sell you anything near the tourist attractions). Watch for people with petitions or surveys – they’re often a distraction so their colleagues can swipe your wallet.

Do go to a patisserie and enjoy bread and pastries. I am a fan of Stohrer (located in the 2nd arrondissement) but there are so many good ones that if you ask a dozen people you will get two dozen answers.

Enjoy a free view of the city at the cafe at the Printemps Shopping Centre. For this you need take the lift to the top floor, then take the escalator to the upper floor and snap away.

Cantine Merci is a great spot for a healthy (veggie) lunch for a reasonable price.

If you are want to go for a less healthy but don’t feel like McD and go for the local Quick.

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I once paid €7 (that’s $8 or £5) for a tea and learned the hard way. Try to avoid eating and drinking in the busy tourist areas and check the prices before you order.

Don’t be mad at me, but going up the Eiffel Tower was just nothing special. If you’re happy to pay, try the cafe at Montparnasse Tower or Printemps Shopping Centre. For a free view try Parc de Belleville and up the Montmarte.

I found the Paris from the river tours a rip off. If you want to see the city but don’t feel like walking I recommend you take a bus. Line 69 takes you by all the famous landsmarks you see in all of the Paris montages in movies.

Don’t expect to find Ewan McGreggor or anything related to the movie at Moulin Rouge. Instead you will get a lost glory show. At least, I did. Just go for the photo opp outside, preferably at night for the lights.

Around Le Pere Lachaise you will find a lot of places that sell maps of the cemetery. But this is a waste of money as there are maps posted in the grounds. And I know people usually avoid cemeteries but La Pere Lachaise is quite impressive.

Don’t ride the metro without a ticket, seriously I’ve haven’t seen as many checks as in Paris and they are really really strict.

You can’t leave Paris without having a crêpe, don’t go for Nutella but try ‘au sucre et au citron’ (with sugar and lemon).

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Leaving a love lock on one of the bridges has become a thing, but maybe read into the No Love Locks campaign before you decide to leave yours.

Or a day trip to Versailles to see the pristine palace where Marie Antoinette lived. Would recommend to go in spring/summer because of the gardens.

If you are looking for a boutique hotel then Mama Shelter might be for you. It’s not central, but for €90 fair (it’s also near Pere Lachaise).

How about a visit to Disneyland Paris? There always seem to be a lot of offers online, so if you buy it ahead you can get them for cheaper. One of the newer rides is based on Pixar culinary epic Ratatouille.

Amelie fan? Why not visit the some of the locations? Paris Cheapskate wrote a mini tour that you can find here. Or a Sex & the City tour? Check this one by Misadventures with Andi.

If staying at the classic Plaza Athenee (made famous to everyone under 60 by Carrie Bradshaw) doesn’t fit your budget then go for a breakfast. Yes, it’s around €50 but in the words of Tom and Donna: Treat. Yo. Self (plus you won’t have to eat anything the rest of the day)

What is your favourite thing to do in Paris?

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  1. Lots of food for thought here as I’m off to Paris for a weekend at the end of February – thank you!

  2. The food, oh yes the food. I am a big fan of French cuisine and i would love to recommend Frenchie bar a vin, le comptoir, clamato and Le Hide.

  3. When you are at the Sacre Coeur and you see men walking towards you with bracelets, run. Because they will take your arm and put the bracelet on and the moment it’s on there, they will make you pay for it. I’ve had a warning about that when I went and I was glad I did, because I’ve almost had a bracelet around my arm. But I’ve ran away, they looked a bit confused though :D.

  4. crepe au sucre without a doubt, even a must-do without the lemon! I really want to visit Paris again soon, but afraid it won’t happen for a looong time given the fact that my boyfriend doesn’t really want to ánd promised to take me to Disneyland (the place of all his nightmares) when we do visit 😉

  5. I’m not a very big Paris-fan, it is beautiful but it’s just not THE city for me. Once we had to pay 13 euro for a veer and 8 euro for a coke. Ehmm.. what? (And it is not like we were sitting on a terrace near the Eiffel tower or something)

  6. Paris is so amazing! I used to go every year (I live in Europe and a train ticket is quite cheap), but I haven’t visited my favorite city since my son was born almost 6 years ago. I miss it!
    Have you ever had a cup of hot chocolate at the Angelina (Rue de Rivoli). You totally should, it is sinfully delicious! It’s almost pure chocolate and you won’t need a meal for the rest of the day, but it is totally worth it! That’s my little tip 😉

  7. I definitely recommend Printemps Shopping as well as Galeries Lafayette for amazing views. If you have the will power to wait in the queue (sometimes not too bad, but be warned they’re very long in the summer), I would also suggest going up the tower to the top of Notre-Dame. There you have stunning views of the city.

    Even though I am currently living in Paris, there are some things on this list that I am yet to do, so thank you so much!

  8. As much as I love being in the UK, I still find Paris an amazing city. My favourite things to do there are to go to the Louvre (I could go there a hundred times and I would never grow tired of it!), because there are so many things to see there.
    I also really like the Jardin des Plantes (7e arrondissement), which is really pretty especially during the summer and surrounded by beautiful buildings.
    And I’m glad you mention the Château de Versailles, it is just the most beautiful place ever! Of course as you said better to go there when the weather is good to see the gardens, and preferably go very early since in the summer months you can well wait outside for two hours – but still worth it in my opinion!
    Also if you know French, maybe you could get a ticket for the Comédie Française and watch one of their plays. This theatre has got some of the best stage actors and is such a beautiful place to enjoy a good play.

    Sorry for the long post, but I do love Paris! And your post is great, really helpful 🙂
    Julia xx

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  9. For me, the more valuable experience surrounding the Eiffel Tower was not going up the tower itself (gorgeous views but more people than Superbowl Sunday at your local bar) but rather eating the most decadent meal of your life at Jules Verne, inside la Tour. You get gorgeous views, and even better food! Just…..prepare your checkbook if you want to dine there (oh, and you have to book at least 3 months in advance or something)–world famous views and food don’t come cheap! Overall Paris captured my heart in a special way and it’s definitely worth a trip (or five).


  10. Thank you so much for sharing! I am really looking forward to visiting in 3 months!

  11. Hi! I loved going up the Eiffel tower and the view! There’s nothing like it!Even though we waited for hours to get our tickets. And I loved the Seine boat trip!:)

  12. Thanks for featuring my post. I love Paris, have been there many times and I totally agree with your no list! Another option for the bateau mouche tours is to buy a Batobus ticket instead. It is a longer route, you can jump on and off and it is cheaper. So you still see the sites from the water, you just aren’t getting ripped off! Last time we weer in Paris we rode it around three times in row because I just wanted to rest my feet!