General Question

paulc's avatar

Can you recommend some interesting things to do in Paris, France?

Asked by paulc (2919points) April 23rd, 2008

I’ll be visiting there for a little over a week with my wife at the end of May. Assume cost is not an issue (within reason); what should we do that’s not the typical touristic Paris fare?

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17 Answers

peedub's avatar

If you’re into flea markets, the one in Paris is the best I’ve ever seen, even if you have no intention of buying anything, it is pretty awesome just to look at all the cool displays.
The Masonic Museum was pretty interesting if you’re at least mildly into that sort of thing.

gailcalled's avatar

Have you both been before? High-brow (opera, Comedie Francaise, Louvre, Versailles, Fontainbleau Notre Dame, Chartres, etc) or more off-beat? How’s your French? Rent a car and see some of the Chateaux in the Loire valley and watch the Son et Lumiere shows at night.

paulc's avatar

@gailcalled, My wife has been before though not for more than a couple days and I’ve never been. I speak French well (although the Québecois variant). Yes we generally gravitate to the odd/quirky end of the spectrum in our travel interests but high-brow is also fun. What are these sound and light shows? Outdoor concerts?

syz's avatar

If you’ve never been, you need to do the touristy stuff anyway – it’s all amazing and definitely worth it.

paulc's avatar

@syz, yes we fully intend to do a lot of the usual things as I’m sure they’re great but we’re just trying to probe for some less-heard-of activities or locations.

jrpowell's avatar

If you can get a car and have time for a day trip you could drive across the Millau Viaduct.

Kay's avatar

Go to the Musee d’Orsay; its right near the Louvre and has amazing Impressionist art.

itodd's avatar

Paris has a strong rollerblading subculture – even the Parisian Police have some officers on blades. There is a big rollerblading club, their website is: The site is in French, but you can run it through Babelfish or Google to translate it and find out where they meet and when. It’s a great way to see the city.

amaryllis's avatar

In addition to the obvious stuff, we did a walking tour of Le Marais copied out of a Rick Steves book (we also used his walking tour of the Louvre to see the highlights without being overwhelmed.) The Picasso Museum is also good. We also did a day trips to Versailles by train, one to Amboise to see Chenonceau (train and then bus), and to Epernay by train to visit champagne houses.

woodford's avatar

Oh WOW you are going to have a blast. Depending on how much time you have I agree that you should do all the touristy stuff. Take the Bus 69 (a local street bus you catch near the Eifel Tower) and that particular route will show you the best tour of Paris you can buy. Go to the cemetery Pere La Chaise. Free and fascinating. Not only for the famous dead, but for the art of the tombstones. There are some of figures rising from the graves. Eerie, fascinating, thrilling. Enjoy!! It so depends on what excites you specifically. I agree also with the flea market entry. Cligancourt is a metro stop and on Sat mornings (check this with guidebooks) they have huge fleamarkets. Lots of crap when you first walk thru (electronics, stupid t shirts etc) but as you plow on and on, you see terrific things. Have fun!!

gailcalled's avatar

@Paul: The Sound and Light shows are given at the most famous Chateaux at night, but I fear that they take place only during the summer.

Chateaux de la Loire within results

Even if you rrrrroll your r’s, you’ll have fun using your French. The accent in Marseilles and the south is very similar.

And don’t forget the food and wine. (How could you?)

Get some good, recent guide books, bring comfortable walking shoes, chat up your concierge (who may get kickbacks but will be a good source of info). Bonnes vacances.

lifeflame's avatar

I was living in Paris for a year, and then one day my friend and I decided to do a ”Day of Madness” .. which basically consisted of getting onto any bus you like the number of, and hopping off when you feel like it.
We ended up on the river near the outskirts; and these amazing junkyards where you saw mountains of copper and steel; ...
Well, basically, if you have good company and a sense of adventure I feel like the best way to enjoy Paris is to discover the place for yourself. And there are so many delicious hidden corners, markets, restaurants, churches… Paris can be so cliched and tourist packed that it’s fun just to wander off the small streets and take it as it comes.
If you are into theatre you should see if there is anything playing at Theatre du Soleil
Their work is very strong, and quirky:

The parks on the outskirts are worth checking out, as are the forests.

gailcalled's avatar

Oh, a meal w. wild strawberries and cream for dessert at the restaurant in the Bois du Bologne. Late May? most schools are still in session; most colleges and universities are not..

susanc's avatar

Maybe you would like to take a bus out to Chartres. The cathedral is… transcendent;
it has a labyrinth laid into the floor, which gives us a good sense of its depth of feeling.
You usually can’t walk the labyrinth because there are chairs set out for normal post-pagan services, but it’s a good symbol. And the city of Chartres is mostly medieval.
My husband and I went there when he was all grown up and he said, well what an amazing museum this place is. it’s so big! so many Buildings, like Colonial Williamsburg!! or Disneyland!!! It’s amazing!!! I said, well honey those are houses and restaurants and stuff, and he said, no they’re not, look at them, they’re really old!, and the doors are really low! and look, they’re made out of STONE!!! and then people began opening their doors and coming out with baby carriages and stuff, and smiling at us and asking if
we needed directions.
Guess so!

lidyah's avatar

Paris now has public bikes for rent on nearly every block. To use them, you’ll need to have a credit card with a smart chip on it. The cool thing about the bike system is that you can pick up a bike at one part of town and then ride it and drop it off wherever you want for a low hourly price (a euro, I think). The best part is that you can do one-way rides… so you can pedal until you’re exhausted, drop the bike at a metro or bus station and then relax on the way home!

Have a great time!

finkelitis's avatar

Check out Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, just across the river from Notre Dame.

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