You think you really, really know Paris? While it’s a city known for its elegance and culture, scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a weird, curious and downright criminal side to the French capital. The awesome folks at The Paris Pass put on their historical detective hats to uncover some of the strangest objects you’re ever likely to encounter in the museums, streets – yes … sewers – of Paris. read more
A while ago, when I shared my Yes/No/Maybes for Paris, I asked your tips, tricks and recommendations for enjoying the French capital. I didn’t want them to go to waste so today I’m sharing them as they might come in handy for your next trip to the city of love, lights and getting pick-pocketed as soon as you arrive at Gare du Nord or Charles de Gaulle.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?