Two weeks in Paris

We'be been to Paris several times before but either it was many years ago or for just a few days. We're going in March when, we hope, the museums will be less crowded. We're willing to give up nice weather for fewer tourists--like us! We've rented an apartment in the 8th with a great kitchen. We need suggestions for the out of the way eating places, markets, sightseeing, etc. And anything near Blvd. Malesherbes that is interesting. For the first time in our lives we will have TIME. Help us.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3207 posts

A lesser known place that I loved, the Nissim de Camondo museum next to Parc Monceau. It was formerly the elegant mansion of a wealthy Jewish family. Loved it. Not lesser known but often overlooked, the Luxembourg Gardens. My favorite place. Really enjoyed the outdoor market at Porte de Vanve. We love Versailles, but another place we really enjoyed is Vaux-le-Vicomte. An easy day trip. Old chateau with extensive grounds. Used for the movie "Man in the Iron Mask" with Leonardo di Caprio. It's in RS Paris book. Been twice in summer and hardly anyone there. Loved Fontainbleau too... I could go on and on, but most are in RS book. Enjoy!

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
969 posts

The Rue Cler market is good, not open on Monday, don't go on Sunday - not much there, pretty quiet. I preferred the Bastille market on Sunday in the 11th. Easy to get to by metro from anywhere and it's really big, I went there twice when I stayed in paris for a month. I went to the marche au puces (flea market at Vanvres) but I wasn't that impressed, guess I'm not a super flea market person. I did see some fun things but did not have a very big shopping budget nor did I want to haul a bunch of things home with me. My experience was maybe also colored by how hot it was the day I went.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Valerie, I think the Cluny and Shoah Museums are terribly underrated, they are marvelous places to spend a couple of hours. These museums are never crowded because too many tourist rush off to check the "big three" off their list at the Louvre ( Venus , Mona and Winged Victory) or rush off to see Impressionists at the Orsay,, just saying some people only go to what they THINK are the most important or intersting museums, but they do little research . Another museum we all love ( my kids and adults I have taken) is the Invalids Army Museum, starts back with medevil amour and weapons and goes right up through WWII... amazing, its will take you at least 3 hours.. There are about 200 museums in Paris, some small and specific, try looking up some , just google "museums in Paris" Also why not go on the Louvre website , and see if there are any special exhibits on while you are in Paris, in fact, I would google for exhibits in Paris in March, I took my 11 yr old dd to see the Xian( Terra Cotta) Warriors exhibit in Paris about 5 years ago, its closer then China! lol

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4877 posts

Pat mentioned the Shoah (Halocaust) museum, and I agree that it is well worth your time. There is no cost but high security to get in. Check their website to see if their one English tour each month happens to occur while you are there. If so, I recommend you take the tour. Another suggestion is that you look into the Paris Greeter program. You can make a donation to the program, but the tour given by a volunteer is free. We treated our guide to a drink after the tour. You complete your application online several weeks before your trip stating your interests. They then try to match you up with a volunteer. If you don't like their first proposal they will try to find something else

Posted by Valerie
Avon, CT, USA
3 posts

So helpful. New trains of thought for us. Many Thanks! Keep the suggestions coming.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
671 posts

Lucky you, two weeks in the world's most beautiful city! Apartment is the way to go. We were there in late March a couple of years ago and it was cool and wet but nothing a Connecticut Yankee can't handle. As for out of the way places: Parc Monceau and nearby rue Levis street market, NE of the Etoile. Also Luxembourg Gardens, Place des Vosges, anywhere else that Susan recommends. Marmottan Museum in Passy, great collection of Monets. Also the better-known Orangerie next to the Tuileries for more Monets including water lilies. Cluny medieval museum near place St-Michel, including the heads of statues from the west front of Notre Dame, lopped off by revolutionaries who thought they were kings. Crypte Archeologique under the square in front of Notre Dame, ruins of the original Roman settlement. More to come....

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
671 posts

Continued.... Promenade Plantee, a pedestrian path along a former railroad from behind the Bastille Opera out to Vincennes, as much or as little of it as you want. Canal St-Martin boat ride, from near Bastille out to science museum and/or back. Sit in the front of the boat northbound and you can get sprayed when the lock opens (in case you need to get wetter, see above). Tour Montparnasse as an alternative or supplement to Tour Eiffel. Not as high or nearly as iconic, but easier to do and you can see the Eiffel from it. (Others will disagree with this recommendation, but you don't have to tell them you did it!) One or more of the cemeteries, Pere Lachaise probably the best, but also Montparnasse or Montmartre. The Opera Garnier, try to get the English-speaking tour with the snooty guide who mispronounces some of our words so we can feel quietly superior. Ride buses so you can see the street life between destinations. Metro is great for speed and convenience but why look at a tunnel when you can look at a street if you're not rushing? Take some of the "Paris Walks," see http://www.paris-walks.com/. Excellent guides, convenient logistics. Stop me now before I think of more. Have a wonderful time!

Posted by debbie
phoenix, az, usa
29 posts

What ever you do buy all of your tickets in advance. This would include eiffel tower and the paris museum pass. As well as all other tickets not included with the paris museum pass. The pass saves time and money. Enjoy.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

You can really screw up by buying an ET ticket ahead of time. If the weather sucks, you're stuck with a ticket that you probably won't use. If you go a couple of hours before closing, the lines are acceptable, especially that early in the season. The view at night is more impressive, anyway.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Debbie the pass does not always save time or money. You must really be aware of using it at least 2-3 times a day, and as for time, seriously lines are not an issue everywhere or all the time , years of visits under my belt and only used it twice.. and I always go May-Oct so busier times then january!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4877 posts

Traveling in March you should be fine not getting advance reservations for the ET. As Ed states, you don't want to be locked into a time and have bad weather with poor visibility.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3207 posts

Dick, you're so right about riding busses! We rented an apt in Paris for a month two years ago and learned to take busses for the first time (always took the metro when I lived and vacationed there) and I loved it. Aside from getting somewhere, it was fascinating to be surrounded by Parisians going about their daily life. Listening to conversations and people watching was so fun. We were there from mid-June to mid-July, rode the bus constantly and never once saw a tourist on the bus. Very fun.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

In March, it's unlikely a Paris Museum Pass will save you much time (lines at most attractions are not going to be too long). Whether it will save you money is something only you can determine. If you're going to expensive places like Versailles, or going to places more than once, or you can use a 6 day pass (much cheaper, per day, than the 2 or 4 day passes), it can be a very good deal. If you're only going to a few places and are worried about lines, you can always get advance tickets for just those places (either from FNAC or from the official websites of places like Versailles). Go to the official website and take a look at what's covered. See how many of these you will want to see, and if you can bunch the days to make the pass financially worthwhile (it's good for consecutive days only). This will also give you a list of some museums you may not have known about. For my last 3 Paris trips: on one, I used 150% of the value (going up the Arc de Triomphe twice helped); on another, I ran around and just broke even; and on the third I didn't buy it, because I was almost exclusively seeing things not covered by it. In terms of what to see, I'd get a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to supplement the Rick Steves Paris book. They go into more details about less famous attractions and less central neighborhoods. I liked the Museum of Counterfeits, in the 16th. It doesn't just have fake purses, but more sinister things, like fake medicines and car parts.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

Especially since you are staying close by, don't miss one of the daily ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. The eternal flame is relit every evening at 6:30 pm. It is a very moving and amazing event.

Posted by Geor
Seattle, Wa, USA
170 posts

Two weeks in Paris? Lucky you. One destination that I enjoyed was the Chateau de Vincennes which was built in the 1400s and served as the summer home of the king before Versailles was built. What you see is a medieval fortification along with a chapel with a stain glass window similar to the one at St Chappelle on the Ile de la Cite. Here is a link to the web site: http://en.chateau-vincennes.fr/ The web site says that it is one of the largest castles in Europe, and it is located at the eastern edge of Paris. As I explored this castle like structure I imagined armored knights engaged in battle. It was in the moat surrounding the castle where Mata Hari was executed for being a German spy. The tour was in French since this complex attracts mainly French citizens rather than foreign tourists, but there was a printed guide in English that explained all of the sights at Vincennes. To get there you take the west-east RER to the last station on the line which is Vincennes, and than walk maybe ten minutes to get there.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1057 posts

Valerie - I like the Palais Royale and the old shopping arcades such as Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert that are near the Palais Royale. Also the Boulevard Raspail market on Sunday morning, and Rue Mouffetard. Also, check out the Paris Walks tours. Very much off the beaten path is the charming L'Oisive The in the 13th. Check museum websites to see if there will be special exhibitions while you are there. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

Here are some of my faves - not in any particular order. Carnavalet Museum in the Marais - and it's free. It's a gem, all about the history of Paris and some very good paintings too. The Marais quarter on the weekends. They close the streets to vehicles and the Parisians go out to enjoy, especially on a sunny day. Lots of trendy boutiques and the Place des Vosges can be delightful. St. Denis Basilica The Conciergerie The Pantheon - take the tour that climbs the dome for great views of Paris Several churches have organ recitals on Sundays, look for them. Notre Dame's is at 4.30. I think there are a couple on the Rive Gauche in the morning, but I never made it. Get the weekly metro passes (Navigo). The week begins on Monday morning and ends on Sunday night. It's worth it for the convenience - not having to fumble with the tickets, and there are dedicated turnstiles in the metro, so it's time-saving in rush hour. It's good for the buses too. There is a doll museum (Musee de la Poupee) near the Pompidou Center and the lovely Anna Frank garden is next to it. Even in high season, the Louvre is pretty quiet on its late nights (Wednesday and Friday). You can download themed visits from their website - self-guided tours. I made a day trip to Mini France and enjoyed it very much. I also doubt that the Paris Museum Pass is for you. With 2 weeks, you probably aren't going to want to cram a lot into just a few days. And you will probably want stay outdoors when the weather is nice. The little mom-and-pop neighborhood restaurants are often quite good. Do take the Paris Walks chocolate tour. It's interesting and yummy too. And go to angelina's at least once for hot chocolate.

Posted by Valerie
Avon, CT, USA
3 posts

Thank you all so very much. We are delighted with your suggestions and advice. I know our time there will be more enjoyable thanks to all the RS writers and travelers.