Okay all you seasoned travelers to France. You have all been such a help over the years we are going on our third trip to Paris in the spring and want to hear unique things you found in and around Paris. The truly unusual and interesting. Last trip we found a section of the ancient wall that used to surround the city and it was fascinating. Done all the regular stuff Eiffel Tower sacre-coeur Notre Dame etc etc want to do something to make this trip unique from the others. Thanks in advance
I know you have probably been to Verasailles, but if you haven't rented bicycles to ride around the gardens, I highly recommend it.
We HAVE been to Versailles but the gardens were our favorite part we literally spent hours wandering around the gardens and Marie Antoinette's Village and bicycling sounds like more fun. Thank you! We rented an apartment right on the hotel-de-ville Plaza and are planning on doing a nighttime bicycle ride like we saw so many people doing before and have not done yet, it looks like so much fun
Here are a few ideas, maybe not completely unusual, but often missed by 1st and 2nd time visitors.:
- La Defense: I went there for the first time on my 5th trip to Paris. It gives you an entire different perspective with modern architecture and art. If you go mid morning, it will just be you and a few other tourists. We stopped for lunch and when we finished the place was jam packed with all the office workers having their lunch.
- Promenade Plantee: a nice stroll.
- Canal St. Martin: another nice stroll.
- Market streets: I like Rue Montorgueil
- Organ concert at St. Eustache Church at Les Halles, Sundays at 5 or 5:30 PM (not sure of exact time.) Supposedly largest pipe organ in Europe in second largest church in Paris. -As you walk around, look up at the buildings. You'll find some original Paris street signs, unusual wall art like faces and mosaics, and I also like to look for unusual doors.
- Covered passageways: scattered all over Paris, you can Google for locations of many of them, but there are some off the beaten track. Two on Rue St. Martin are l'Ancre off Rue de Turbigo, and Passage Moliere, just down from Rue Henri Marcel. Both are in the third.
Fantastic ideas, actually the pipe organ concert was one of the things we were thinking about doing so thank you for recommending it
St. Denis; the most overlooked wonderful site on the Paris metro:
Do a day trip or two: Auvers sur Oise where Van Gogh lived and died; Crecy la Chapelle; Moret sur Loing; Chartres -- dozens of options.
Get a good walking tour book and do some on your own. Frommers has a good one; we liked the architectural tour in the 16th. Another fun one is Butte aux Caille. Do a graffiti walk: I did this one 6 years ago and the URL for the map is in this; although of course things change, there are lots of great examples in this area:
Choose interesting less central churches or parks etc and wander around the area after visiting them.
Check out Lafayette's grave in the Picpus cemetery.
We stayed in an apartment 2 blocks away from the Luxembourg Gardens. If possible to do the same ... 1. In the early morning get coffee and warm, fresh pastries, walk to the park, sit down and watch Paris come to life. 2. In the evening take the one you love to the garden, sit down, hold hands, talk about Paris and life while watching Paris at its best go by with lovers, kids and families. 3. Then go have a great meal with a wonderful wine in a small local cafe.
All great ideas thank you one year we visited st. Chapelle's which is a church in Paris made entirely of stained glass. You have to go through a government complex to get to it but it is gorgeous. We got a book called" An hour from Paris "which is full of day trips and we plan to take a few of them. If you get it be sure to get the 2016 Edition because it has been updated
We've been lucky enough to be able to visit Paris a number of times, and we've never run out of things to do! On our last trip, we went to St. Denis and Fountainebleu, and enjoyed both.
For other museums, check out Musee Andre-Jacquemart and Musee Marmatton. We also visited the Museum of the History of Paris, but didn't enjoy that as much.
On trip we spent a week in the Latin Quarter and went to a different park every day and read. The Luxembourg Gardens are fabulous in the spring and so are the Tuilleries. You could do worse than just check out every park in Paris.
As others said, Luxembourg Gardens (my favorite).
Nissim de Camondo museum (beautiful stately mansion next to Parc Monceau)
Vanves flea market (wonderful and not overwhelming like the one at Clignancourt)
Music concert at the Madeleine church (we're going next month - Vivaldi - you need tickets in advance, just Google for their website)
A ballet at Opera Garnier
A tour of Opera Garnier
Paris Walks walking tour
Day trip to Giverny
Day trip to Veaux-le-Vicomte
Day trip to Fontainebleau
Renting bikes at Versailles (garden), as previously mentioned, is a very fun way to get around
The Sainte-Chapelle is inside the Palais de Justice (law courts) complex. Anyone can go in the main building and even into the courtrooms. It's beautiful, worth a half hour for sure. You have to go through security but you don't need a ticket to the church.
Another great place to cycle around is the Bois du Boulogne.
It might be nice to get out a good map and have a wander around the Montparnasse and La Butte aux Cailles areas. Just go and get lost, try to avoid Sundays and Mondays when many things might be closed.
Canal St. Martin
Basilica St Denis
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
....but I did get a thrill from getting off the metro at Vincennes and seeing the chateau (really a small fortress) just there. It seems so incongruous, and the Marquis de Sade connection makes it all the more interesting.
Malmaison - gorgeous eighteenth century house constructed for Josephine Bonaparte. An easy bus connection from La Defense.
And for a change of pace from museums and churches, spend a bit of time in the luxury grocery store, Madison de Fauchon, on Place de la Madeleine. Much better than Harrod's food hall, of dubious fame.
Day trip to Chartres
Musee Marmottan - we took the bus to get there, and enjoyed the walk through a non-touristy neighborhood to the mansion. It was a beautiful collection. As we walked back to the bus stop, we were behind an elderly French couple, who were walking arm in arm through the park. Something about that sweet scene has stuck with me ever since - it was very different than the hustle and bustle in the central areas that are abuzz with people.
Explore some covered passages
Take a cooking class
Musee Jacquemart-Andre, and enjoy a treat in the beautiful tea salon
If you're into food and cooking, check out Dehellerin store, where Julia Child shopped. It's like stepping back in time, and we had fun exploring all of the interesting corners of the store. Giant stock pots, tiny soup spoons, beautiful fluted tart pans, knives, etc. We bought a few small items as souvenirs that we enjoy using at home.
Tour of the Opera Garnier - such a gorgeous setting. My favorite part of our tour was sitting in the seats and looking up at the beautiful Chagall ceiling. Each seat had a brass plaque with someone's name on it. I think next time we go to Paris I'll try to see a production there.
A Paris Story movie (near Opera) gave us some interesting perspectives on history and culture of Paris, and relative locations of the famed sights. We went there on our third trip to Paris, and it had more relevance to us then. There's a miniature model of the city with buttons and light up sights that helped me feel like I knew where things were better. http://www.paris-story.com/en/
Cluny museum - I think it doesn't get as much publicity as the other museums, but we really liked it. Small in size, many cool things to see, and the Frigidarium Roman ruins part gave us a welcome cool respite during the heat wave in 2015. If you're going to buy a Museum Pass for this trip - the Cluny is a good place to do that. It wasn't crowded when we visited, and it's in the 5th arr.
Have a great trip!
Thanks for all the great ideas Laurie. We have been to the D'ehilleren store a number of times. on our first trip to Paris it was on our schedule of stops and we ended up purchasing an entire copper cookware set and on subsequent trips have added pieces to it. The best thing about that shop if you like copper cookware is they offer tin lined, (hard to get serviced in the US), but also stainless steel lined, less expensive and thicker lined more expensive ones which hold up forever which is what we got. Expensive but worth every penny and 10 years later we have no regrets of spending the money. Also if you end up purchasing a lot of stuff like we did they will package it up for you and you can actually check it as a piece of luggage . They wanted $400 to ship the cookware set back to the us and we were able to check it on American Airlines for $50 . Plus to make things even better we loaded up the pots with fresh cheeses and jellies that we purchased in Paris at the Paris Fermier. Even if you're not going to purchase anything that store is worth visiting and there is a really neat church one block away that is worth visiting as well however I can't remember the name of it. Thanks again for your suggestions , we are keeping a list
Rent a car for a day and drive around the metropolitan area. Stop by the Aeroville Mall near CDG. Decide never to drive around Paris again!
Rue Mouffetard near the Pantheon, and the Pantheon itself.
Rue Mouffetard near the Pantheon, and the Pantheon itself.
I would spend at least two days going around, (walking and bus) the districts not the objective of North American tourists. Go the 20th, the 13th, 17th, or the 16th...explore the districts in that manner. You would be surprised in what there is to see.
@KevinK -- funny! But SO true!