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4th time to Paris

Hi-
Suggestions for someone who has been to Paris a few times? I haven't discovered the flea markets yet; so I will be hitting one- perhaps Vanves? And we are also going to Mt St Michel for a day and taking a half day cooking class. Other than that, I have about 2.5 days to see other things than the 'standards' (Montmartre, NotreDame, St Chapelle, Tour Eiffel, Orangerie, Tulieres , Arc etc)
I love architecture and history and there really isn't anything I haven't loved about Paris so far. I prefer hitting one area hard rather than going from one side of the city to the other. I know this is broad, but if anyone has suggestions of itineraries in certain areas that would be great!

Also, I haven't done much exploring in the Marais yet as well

Thank you!

Posted by
1096 posts

How about Malmaison. This was the actual home Josephine and Bonaparte bought to live in? Also I love the Place Des Vosges in the Marais. The Victor Hugo house in the Place is very interesting. I spent one whole day wandering in the Marais and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Posted by
3283 posts

Agree on the Victor Hugo house being worthwhile (and free!) Have you done any Paris Walks? I thought the one I took was great and provided much more in depth and interesting info.

Posted by
7327 posts

My favorite thing to do is to just walk and explore... the Marais is wonderful, full of gems. The Latin Quarter and St Germain are fun. Be sure to check out the Luxembourg Gardens, my favorite park.
Next to Parc Monceau is the Nissim de Camondo, a beautiful mansion built in the early 1900s that’s open to the public and really enjoyable. The French version of Upstairs Downstairs.
And of course, the André-Jacquemart mansion that’s in every guidebook is also worthwhile.
I love Malmaison, excellent suggestion. Beautiful gardens as well as the house.
Josephine actually bought it and Napoleon spent time with her there. His main home was Fontainebleau, also a great day trip.

Posted by
7791 posts

I vote for Paris Walks. I love to take these and always find neighborhood areas I would not have found on my own. IF you have any interest in WWII the Paris during the Occupation walk is excellent. I also enjoyed one regarding Jefferson and Franklin in Paris - wow, that was so interesting. I tend to have my meager history knowledge in compartments and it was fun to have the American compartment cross over to the French one, lol! They have a couple of Marais walks, too.

www.paris-walks.com

Have you done the Cluny Museum?

I've also been enchanted recently by watching A French Frye in Paris who is a local guide doing video walks every Saturday. I am catching up on his walks and recently watched the one at lesser known sites around Trocadero.....yes, I am now headed to this area next visit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMp7BtwjajA

Yesterday he did "doors" in the 9th.

You might find something there that is of interest to you!

Posted by
229 posts

I haven’t even been to Paris yet, but in my planning have found Tom’s Guide to Paris site has quite different itineraries from the usual tour guidebooks. I believe he’s an American expat living in Paris. I find him quite funny too.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Lisa,

I am planning my fourth (and second as sole female traveler) visit myself!

I love the parks. Luxembourg of course is huge and well known and very beautiful, but there is also Parc Monceau and le Jardin des Plantes.

The smaller museums can be the most rewarding. I loved Rodin, which was beautiful inside and out. There was quite a lot to see at Picasso as well. I haven't been to the Marmottan yet, but am planning to go on this next trip.

On my last visit I did a tour of Champagne region with O Chateau. It wasn't cheap (around $250 for an all day small group tour), but it was a great experience with a knowledgeable sommelier as our guide and visits and tastings at one large and two smaller champagne houses. (They offer other tours that are less pricey and also have a tasting room in Paris.) If you like wine, you can also visit the Loire Valley for an easy day trip (1 hr by high speed train, 2hrs by regular train).

I also enjoy the tea houses -- everyone knows Angelina, but there are so many good ones (Le Loir dans la Thiere, Mariages de Freres, etc).

And of course, the restaurants are fantastic. My favorite is Le Timbre.

Hope this helps!

Posted by
541 posts

My very first visit to Paris I stayed in an apartment right next door to Marché des Enfants Rouges. I’ve been back several times and always go back when I visit. It’s in the Marais in the 3rd, probably my favorite area of Paris. It’s the oldest food market in Paris. I’m leaving for Paris in a few weeks and I’ll be back!

Posted by
194 posts

I also enjoy architecture and history -- a couple years ago I had a wonderful Paris Greeters tour that focused on architecture in the 14th arr. I've stayed in Montparnasse several times, but saw areas I hadn't seen before. You can request the topic and area, and they'll try to match you up with a knowledgeable guide.

Posted by
12139 posts

See Paris and Malmaison too. Napoleon spent his last days there after Waterloo, his 2nd abdication and surrendering himself to the British with Hortense, who by then had inherited Malmaison. Josephine died when Napoleon was on Elba.

They both saw each other last in January 1814 before Napoleon left to join the troops since the invading Allies (the Russians and Prussians) were already on French soil. Along with Josephine on that occasion, Napoleon bade farewell to Marie-Louise and his son. Napoleon never saw any of them again.

Posted by
3101 posts

There are numerous free museums to check out to serve the history interest.just google free museums for the list.

Posted by
7 posts

Wow- so much great advice! Thank you so much for everyone's input and insight. I did do a Montmartre Paris Walk last time I was there. That is a good reminder. Malmaison has never been on my radar and would be a great option I think. We weren't able to do Cluny last time either, and it looks really worthwhile to me. I think the problem now is limiting myself to just a couple of things so that I can fully enjoy it rather than trying to fit too much in. That gives me a great excuse to go back as well! ;)

Posted by
7791 posts

Well, laughing...you might as well go ahead and start the never-ending list of "Things to do in Paris". If you've been four, you'll go back! AND after every visit you'll add more things!

I have heard there is some reno going on in the Cluny but I'm not sure what rooms might be affected. They may also change based on what they are doing. Rick does have a "highlights" tour of the Cluny in his Paris guidebook.

If you are a Monet fan, Marmottan which someone mentioned above is fabulous. Really, really excellent with the number of Monets in one location.

Posted by
12139 posts

Currently, an exhibit of Monet's paintings is being shown in SF, of which numerous paintings are from the Marmottan. Obviously, you can expect the exhibit to be packed.

Posted by
3456 posts

If you Google for "street art" in Paris -- that's grown-up graffiti, sort of -- you can find several guided tours and also suggestions for DIY walks. Belleville is a particularly interesting locale, as well as encompassing one of the Paris Chinatowns.

Posted by
455 posts

Another vote for the Marmottan museum. It is kinda out of the way, so it doesn't fit your description of "hitting one area hard," but it is a wonderful place that doesn't fit the mold of the "standards." If you're into walking, from the Marmottan you can get to Pont de Bir-Hakeim (half-hour?), and maybe even an extended jaunt to include the mini Statue of Liberty at the the other end of the L'ile aux Cygnes (the far end of the little island that the Pont de Bir-Hakeim crosses).

I also second the recommendation of visiting the covered passages. They are not only good for keeping out of the weather, but when I am in them, I feel like I am surrounded by Parisians—not tourists.

Posted by
3580 posts

My next trip I want to explore some passages. i love the Marmatton Museum. The first Sunday of each month traffic is banned from the Champs Elesee (sp). I plan to walk most of it, down the middle of the street.

Posted by
28 posts

How about the museum at the Pasteur Institute. I have been to the institute for work but not to the museum. however, the web site says that it is closed to individuals but that was posted in 2015. I don't know if it just hasn't been updated or it is still closed. Could be worth checking

Posted by
9 posts

I second Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. Especially when you need an escape from the noise and crowds in the city. I try to go there every time I travel to Paris. The photographs I have taken there are some of my very favorites.

Posted by
5719 posts

The best often overlooked sight in Paris (or just over the border but on the metro) is IMHO Basilica St. Denis -- not to be missed and easily reached on the metro line 13. The tombs of the kings of France were spared as 'art' when their bodies were dug up during the revolution and trashed (the remains may or may not be in a common grave now at the Basilica.

Posted by
694 posts

I went to Paris for my birthday last year. It was my 4th trip as well. I tried to plan things we'd never seen before. Highlights were the Montmartre Museum, wandering the back streets there & ending up at the restaurant where Amelie was filmed & Musee Jacquemart-Andre. Since it was January, we didn't do any parks but j'adore Luxembourg Gardens and Parc Monceau. Have fun on your trip. I'm already planning my next one.

Posted by
124 posts

2 things you didn't mention that I love in Paris that are sometimes missed the first time - l'Orangerie museum and l'Opera Garnie. I'm heading back for my 5th time in June - enjoy! sue

Posted by
12139 posts

I believe "Amelie" had one scene filmed in a Paris Metro station too. That station was "Barbes"....a lovely movie.

Posted by
162 posts

My favorite unknown site is the Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité. Ignored in the corner of the plaza of Notre Dame is the entrance to the underground museum and excavation of the earliest parts of Paris under the plaza.
http://www.crypte.paris.fr/en/crypt
The entrance:
https://www.google.com/maps/@48.8535807,2.3477079,3a,75y,359.5h,69.2t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1swM9rfh6xg_mh3xOP5-2p3w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

I haven't done this but I'm so going to in a couple of months. It looks other-worldly cool.
https://www.atelier-lumieres.com/en/home

What about France's museum of stuff and things aka Musée des arts et métiers. A must for fans of Foucalt's Pendulum. (On the museum pass.)
https://www.arts-et-metiers.net/

Not off the beaten path but the Rodin museum is beautiful - set in his old house - and the rose garden is amazing when it's in bloom. (On the museum pass.)
http://musee-rodin.fr/en

If you want to try a bunch of things the museum pass makes it easy to pop in and enjoy something for as long as it is interesting and then move on. My $.02.

Have a great time!
Tod

Posted by
7327 posts

“My favorite unknown site is the Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité.”

It’s in Rick Steves’ Paris guidebook...

Posted by
162 posts

You're right Susan I should have said woefully "overlooked" or "ignored" given the number of people who go see Notre Dame and walk right past it.

Outside of the RS circles I have met a wide variety of people who don't know it exists despite "summering in Paris". I even met a physical anthropology student who studied in Paris and didn't believe it until I showed her the entrance on Google street view. I probably champion the Crypt because while I love Paris, as a huge fan of the ancient you get to see little of what is buried under everything.

I was at the Cluny (famous mostly for the unicorn tapestries) many years ago when their excavation work was on-going and it was tantalizing because it was visiting a working dig site. I'm anxious to see their new Roman exhibit but I can't recommend it until I get a chance to see it. And I know part of it is closed until 2020 so I'll have to wait and see.

=Tod

Posted by
978 posts

We enjoyed our time in Parc Monceau. It was a refreshing respite from the bustle of the city.

Posted by
53 posts

We went to the Atelier des Lumières (mentioned above) and saw the Klimt visit during our last visit to Paris. I cannot recommend it enough. You are in the art. The paintings are all around you - walls, floor, and ceiling. We are going back for our fifth visit to Paris and will be going back to see the Van Gogh exhibition.

Posted by
750 posts

Hi Lisa, see the link here, another poster asked about flea markets.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/best-flea-market-in-paris

Though I haven’t done a cooking class, I have done a few food tours with Paris by Mouth. They have all been great, including some history of the area and about regional foos, and the wine is great too!

The Pantheon has been mentioned. I thought it was so beautiful. I also loved the Jardin des Plantes, so many locals out enjoying the park.

I cannot remember if I mentioned this in the post in the link; the open air markets are one of my favourite things to do. I love the Grenelle marche, which starts at the Motte Piquet Grenelle metro stop and continues under the elevated metro line. Open Sunday and Wednesday. Another fave is the President Wilson Marche, in the ritzy area near the Iena metro; Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes I just walk through the market soaking up the sights, other times I shop for a picnic lunch or snacks. The Grenelle marche has a great stall with prepared foods with the tastiest ham in a mustard sauce. One visit I took my purchases and had lunch sitting on a bench by the Seine. Heavenly.

Architecture near the President Wilson marche is lovely. I walked by the Hotel Shangri La as I left the market. Sorry, I don’t remember the street it is on. I too love architecture.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
101 posts

I highly recommend Paris Greeters. They are volunteers Parisians who provide tours of their beloved city. Each tour is uniquely designed by the tour guide. I always book a tour with this group. The tour is free, just give a donation. You will not be disappointed.

Posted by
7327 posts

Tod, i hear you. It is a wonderful place for people that are into archeology.
I went once in 2001 because it was in Rick’s guidebook (and most other guidebooks) and we were in Paris for a couple months. My 11 yr old son and i enjoyed it. There were lots of people there, and many grade school classes on a field trip, when we were there.
Haven’t taken the time to visit again since 2001 as there’s never enough time above ground in Paris for me no matter how long I’m there - lol.

Posted by
7 posts

A follow up:
Just got back and so grateful for all the replies! I am adding all of the stuff you all suggested that I didn't get to do for my next few trips :) Did the Paris by Mouth tour and HIGHLY recommend it. We did it on our last day, but wish we did it first so that we had the list of places to shop for food at. I also did the covered passageways but didn't make Malmaison as I was hoping to. I hit the Pantheon- something I had been trying to do but never did and it was beautiful- and so many great contributors are buried there: Marie Curie, Victor Hugo (my personal favorite), Voltaire, and many others. Always so much to see but so little time. My first time in spring however and absolutely loved it. <3

Posted by
613 posts

Suggestions for someone who has been to Paris a few times: go to Prague instead.

But if you must:
La Defence
Versailles- 1 day for the palace, 1 day for the garden fountains (not a daily event)
The canals of Paris
Cemeteries