Un meli-melo - a collection of miscellany, hodgepodge
mal barre = up the creek, in big trouble, screwed

Things to Do in Paris - 2013

Notre Dame (c) Kristin Espinasse
Le vélo = popular transportation when in Paris.


We are working on another city guide and when I say "we" I mean you and me! If you have been to Paris recently please help us out by sharing:

  • hotel or apartment or B&B suggestions
  • restaurants, cafés,  bistros
  • nightclubs, theaters, shows
  • unique shops, bookstores...
  • kids or teens - fun stuff and ideas for young ones
  • babysitters in Paris?
  • outdoor attractions (parks, markets, landmarks...)
  • helpful websites & books
  • taxi cab, train station and metro tips
  • tipping information or fees to expect
  • ATM and bank info
  • free or unusual things to do in Paris
  • best time/season to visit Paris
  • any place one should visit or any thing one should do when in Paris....

Click here to leave a tip or suggestion - or to see the recommendations. I'll post a link to the answers in Monday's post.

See the "share buttons" at the end of this post and be sure to forward this Paris guide to someone who is planning to visit France.

Mille mercis!

P.S. Where to Rent a Car in Paris? Readers have sent in their favorites in the France Car Rental guide. Thanks for adding your recommendations, too! 

love locks (c) Kristin Espinasse
Love locks in Paris. Note: I have just erased my previous message, here, about wanting to put up a lock next time I'm in Paris. After L&C wrote in (see first comment) I realize these locks are becoming damaging to the city's landscape. It is good to be aware of the issue and it brings me to one more tip I could have mentioned, in the bullet above: How to be a good guest when in Paris? Thanks for sharing your Paris suggestions in the comments box.

For more information on Paris, use this handy Google search box: 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

L&C Frame

Hi Kristin,
We love your French Word a Day mails and have been reading them since forever. We moved to Paris in 2004 and have become active in some historic preservation efforts over the years and there's one I think you should know about. The bridges in Paris are being inundated with these "romantic" padlocks and they're being severely damaged. http://tinyurl.com/b9lsnhe Please reconsider promoting this "tradition" that began just a few years ago from a cheap dime novel about two lovers in Florence. I have hundreds of pictures of the damage and the city's attempts to mitigate it. I hope you'll join the Parisians in protecting our beautiful bridges from this blight.


Stroll the markets in Rue Monge and enjoy your purchases with picnic in the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th

Great people watching at Le Fumoir in the 1st

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, LC, for the information. Sorry to hear about the damage these locks have caused. I will look for another photo to illustrate this post... Best wishes. Update: instead of switching the photo, it seemed a good opportunity to point out the issue to those, like me, who may not have thought about what one innocent lock might add up to! I've also included a new item for the bullet list: How to be a good (respectful) visitor when in Paris?


I put up my love lock and am so glad i did, what fun it will be to go back and find...or have my children find it on a visit. I dont think it damages the landscape at all. At one time there was a great outcry against that monstosity, La Tour Eiffel! Everthing is fun in paris, but i recommend a cooking class at La Maison and Josephine Bonaparte's home Malmaison. It is in Rueil-Malmaison. It is beautiful, and noone seems to know about it.

Marianne Rankin

I haven't been to Paris in 30+ years. But I'd like to recommend a restaurant, if it still exists. It's called Auberge du Vieux Logis, and might (I'm not sure) be in the Montmartre section of the city - but all this information should be checked. There are plenty of other good restaurants, and I urge tourists to EAT FRENCH FOOD! It's among the best in the world. On my last visit, I saw folks heading for McDonald's and other "foreign" eateries - a real shame. In general, when traveling, one should always try the local cuisine.


I keep losing my longer comment so I'll add my places separately. I've been reading your blog for years so am thrilled to have a chance to give something back.

This museum is charming: www.museedelapoupeeparis.com

It is small, and finding it is an adventure, but it has interesting temporary exhibits and is both adorable and interesting, whether you have children with you or not. It is near the Pompidou.


You can never go wrong renting from Paris Perfect. Great apartments in good locations. It is really great to buy food at the open markets and on Rue Cler and cook in at night. Also recommend buying a roasted chicken and just fixing up side dishes. Order during the day and pick it up before dinner. I highly recommend the smaller flea markets if you like to poke around that type of thing.

Margaret in chilly Durham, NC

Marianne Rankin

I wasn't sure if the link for "being a good guest" would lead to the same place, or I would have combined two posts into one.

The best way to be a good guest anywhere, even in your own country, and especially abroad, is to remember that you are a guest! You shouldn't expect people to adapt to you - you should be prepared, at least up to a point, to adapt to them. Don't expect everyone to understand English, especially American English. Learn a few words of the language, enough to say hello and perhaps politely order food or ask where the rest room is. Don't litter. Avoid being noisy and attracting undue attention. ASK before you take anyone's picture. Use the same courtesy that you would, I hope, use at home - waiting patiently in line, for example. Read a bit about the locality before you arrive, both in general and to familiarize yourself with customs - such as having a tip automatically added to your bill. In many countries, especially for women, the style of dress may be more conservative - and it is appropriate (or used to be) for heads to be covered in churches. I could go on, but you get the idea.


I also love this hotel: http://www.saintlouisenlisle.com/

It is in an old stone house on the Ile St Louis, clean, charming, comfortable, and reasonably priced (but not cheap.) It is so quiet at night it's hard to believe you are in a major city. Rooms are small, but they have classic French windows and excellent mattresses, and the staff are friendly.


I looked at the photos at the link L&C Frame gave and was really sad to see how people are trashing up Paris with this silly practice. The locks are as offensive as spray-painted graffiti, and the damage their weight will cause should be obvious to anyone. However you look at it, it's an expense for the people of Paris to repair the damage or remove the locks on a continuing basis. What an all-round lack of respect for the city and its tax-paying inhabitants. Perhaps the police should issue on-the-spot fines to people seen attaching locks.

Ronni Ebbers

The Academie de Chaumière in the 6th arr., holds classes, workshops and croquis sessions. A highlight of my 5 week visit last month and early this month.

The life drawing croquis (sketching) sessions are held several times each week for three hours. There's a different live model for each session. The cost is 17 euros per session.

Be prepared for a very crowded studio filled with regulars. But if life drawing is your passion, this is the place.


I have had good luck with apartments from vrbo.....also after many visits to Paris, I finally went to the Musee de Luxembourg......a nice, small, manageable museum....and I love shopping at the markets, outdoor, if you are lucky enough to be near one, or even the small groceries...and I also just discovered Picard....delicious frozen food you can take back to your apartment & eat like you are at a restaurant, but much cheaper

Ronni Ebbers

Chinatown in the 13th arr. in this the Year of the Snake. Shops and some great Vietnamese restaurants too. Take the Métro to Place d'Italie and walk. A Paris too many people never see. Be prepared for crowds on weekends in the restaurants. A great family outing.


And how about fining the street vendors too.

Ronni Ebbers

Applaud Marianne Rankin's reminder to mind our cultural manners, everywhere.

And Margaret, where is our early spring? Ah but it feels so much like Paris.

Ronni in Chapel Hill NC

Deedee McDonald

Tip for riding the metro: do not discard your tickets before you leave the station. While leaving the station to walk to Eiffel Tower, there was security checking valid tickets. My husband and I were allowed to pass however my daughter and her friend had tossed their tickets away. I assured this security group that I indeed purchased the tickets. ( I actually purchased a booklet which I showed them) . I wanted to assure them that we were not trying to get a free ride. I think they may have wanted to take advantage of the 'tourist'. This was not my first time to Paris so I never experienced this before. In the end it cost me 60 euro to leave the train station with my teenage charges. So, hang on to your tickets!!!


I live in Paris and have always enjoyed the locks on pont des art.
We can look at life in two ways. The glass is half full or the glass is half empty.
Off course, the lattice work on this bridge could be replaced with a stronger structure. And if putting locks here creates some enjoyment then why not. It isn't only tourists as I know numerous locals that have attached some pretty awesome looking antique locks. I think of it as an extension of love.
Paris has gone through many changes since my first visit in 1980. I fell in love with the city then. And the Louvre was beautiful, before the pyramids. When they were built, it took me awhile to adapt and accept them, but this is life, moving forwards as you can never move backwards and enjoy.
This is just my opinion as I sit on my perch in the Abbesses.

Adrienne Kinkaid

My favorite museums in Paris are near Parc Monceau. Musée Jacquemart-André and Musée Nissim de Camondo. Both have websites. But the best thing to do in Paris is walk, maybe get lost, relax in a cafe to regroup, then walk some more. Then there's the Jardin du Luxembourg where one can walk all the way to the end of the allée and have a drink in the bar at Closerie des Lilas. If it's dinner time, one can eat in the bar for far less than the expensive restaurant.


Best little hotel: Hotel du Levant. It is small and cozy with wonderful people working there. Situated in the Latin Quarter, it is close to Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Co., Luxembourg Gardens, many restaurants and many more places within easy walking distance.

Kathy Shearer

In addition to the old standards like Notre Dame, on our spring 2012 trip we enjoyed this little gem: St. Etienne. This small church has fantastic carved stone throughout and a gallery of reconstructed stained glass windows that were damaged by bombing in WWI. This is just a few blocks away from the very comfortable & affordable Hotel Cluny-Sorbonne. http://www.hotel-cluny.fr/hotel-cluny-sorbonne-paris-en.html

Herm in Phoenix, Az

On things to do. . .The bells that Quasimodo rang at Notre Dame have been taken down. They were sorely out of tune. New bells will be ready for the 850th anniversary of the cathedral later this year. It might be fun to attend the ceremony. I wonder if it might merit a visit from the new Pope.



Paris Perfect Apartment Rentals


Karen B in Winnipeg Manitoba

Well...we never miss a half day at Montmartre. It makes me dream of all the books about Paris way back when....the little cafes, the artists, (except now $$$)....the little vineyard, the magnificent cathedral and the fantastic views of Paris. It is a must see!!

jane grossman

Marjorie Williams' THE MARKETS OF PARIS is a great little book --even if you are staying in a hotel....she sends you to all the great ones. It is easy to use, a delight to read and makes you feel very much "in the know."

Ron Sellers

My "home away from home" in Paris: Hotel du College de France, 7, rue Thenard, in the Latin Quarter. Just a stone's throw from the Sorbonne and Blvd. St. Germain. It's a charming little B&B hotel with a wonderful staff. Great central location. Metro Maubert Mutualite is just a few minutes from the front door. And there's a wonderful restaurant right across the street, Le Pre Verre.
Web site: www.hotel-collegedefrance.com

Debbie Ambrous - www.AFrenchOpportunity.com

Staying in an apartment is a great way to visit Paris. Then you can visit the markets and bring flowers, food and the good stuff you find to the apartment, your "home" in Paris. I recommend: www.iLoveParisApartments.com


Take a Fat Tire Bike Tour. What a great way to orient yourself and get some history as well as a little exercise. In fact, doing a bike tour in almost any city is a great way to learn your way around.

Stephanie in Webster

I love visiting the Cluny Museum, and the catacombs are very interesting. I would definitely give the sewer tour a pass, though. The smell was so bad that I had to leave halfway through!


After reading "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay and watching the movie, I wanted to see the memorials to the Jewish citizens who were taken to the Velo. One memorial is across from the little park behind Notre Dame. The entrance is barely noticeable because you must descend a stairway to enter. The second memorial, a statue, is near the Eiffel Tower. The tiny park runs parallel to the river and you walk towards a statue of several people. I also saw plaques on schools to commemorate the children who suddenly disappeared. I'll try to send a photo.


Being in Paris is its own reward. We usually rent an apartment in the 7th arrondisement, shop in the rue Cler or the wonderful rue St. Dominique, and live our fantasy life.

Walking around and stopping for a glass of wine or tea ranks at the top of our list. We also love to sit at the shamelessly overpriced cafe at the Ile St. Louis end of the bridge that connects the Ile with the Ile de la Cite, enjoy a patisserie or some ice cream, and just soak up the extraordinary beauty of the view--the rear of Notre Dame, the Seine flowing around the islands, and the hubbub. It's a glorious way to spend an hour.

Pierre Lehu

I've rented apartments from friends in Paris but I read (somewhere) that renting an apt was illegal and they were trying to put an end to it, yet it seems there are still agencies that do this. Was the law repealed, not enforced or what?

Amy Sheppard

My favorite free thing to do in Paris is take a walk or run along the Promenade Plantee in the 12th arrondissement - it leads you to the beautiful Bois de Vincennes - 4.7 Km in length. My routine on a recent trip was to take the M to a stop near the Bois and run back to my place along the Promenade: It is amazing to be 3 stories above street level - then following the old rail grade to the East, you end of going through several tunnels beneath street level as the hills rise.
And, it's Paris, so the pathway is lined with sculptures and other artwork and fabulous landscaping and benches and water features. In April, the trees and flowers are blooming. Don't miss it.

David Berger

We have had great results with VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) for apartments. For bistros and other info, check out [email protected]
And remember to bring good shoes (not sneakers) for walking! Paris is best seen by walking.


A lovely museum is the Musee Guimet with the bonus that taking the metro there on part of the ride is above ground with a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower--especially worth the metro ride at night. The museum itself has wonderful and unusual Asian art.

Also, this year especially, go to Ste. Chapelle where the restoration of the windows is explained and demonstrated as you look at the windows themselves.

The street markets are good even if not staying in an apartment for the cheeses--sample, buy a small one, pick up some good bread and eat.

Mary Ellen Doris

In 2009 we were in Paris and we had a wonderful dinner at Le Coupe Chou at 9,Rue Lanneau, 75005 Paris, France (Panthéon). I is a wonderful place, filled with charm. If it is run by the same people... you'd be in for a real treat.


Love the top floor hotel room at the Hotel Parc Ste. Severin. Wrap around balcony. Pleasant, uncomplicated service. Great location.


Pittsburgh, PA


I've never had occasion to call them (thank goodness) but keep this number handy for emergencies. SOS Médecins… CALL 3624 12 EURO MINUTE

They have over 1,000 emergency physicians within 62 associations spread over the territory (mainland and overseas) on call 24/7. They claim to have handled 4 million calls, performed 2.5 million home interventions or consultations with 60% of them having taken place at night, weekends or holidays.


Never go underground except to visit a site that happens to be there. Wear comfy shoes and walk everywhere. You will stumble across the most interesting places. Several years ago a friend and I found ourselves in front of a circus shop. I have no idea where we were, but we spent several hours there, enthralled with stories even though neither of us knew more than a few words of French and the owner spoke no English.

Also, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is a wonderful repository of disected models of several well-known structures, sciencific developments and old bicycles, among other items, all displayed within an old church.

Harrington Laufman

St. Julien le Pauvre

The oldest "sign" in Paris is statuary in the stonework just above a theatre at 42 rue Galande. It's St. Julien le Pauvre as ferry man when he took a leper, who turned out to Christ, across the river. If you've read Flaubert's Trois Contes, this is the "St Julian le Hospitiler story. Anyway, the sign appears in tax records dating from the 14th century. Like, "the baker next to the shop with St Julian's ferry paid 12 francs . . . etc." St Julien's small church, an old Gothic style church is right around the corner. There has been a building on this site since Merovingen times. This is all on the left bank, very close to Notre Dame. You might stumble across rue Galande, its very short. This sign was a pilgrimage for me. You have to look up for the sign, its maybe 9 feet up over the first floor of the building.

Musée Moreau

Moreau's fabulous paintings are overwhelming in size. Moreau's two floor studio has huge rooms, maybe 12 - 15 foot ceilings, and connecting them is absolutely the coolest spiral staircase in the world. Easy to get to on the Metro. I've stayed in tiny hotels in this quartier de Paris. I travel cheap :)

Gustave-Moreau Museum
14, rue de La Rochefoucauld,
F-75009 PARIS


I'm renting an apt. on Ile St-Louis from www.guestapartment.com. The apt. are beautifully presented, and the staff has been terrific with every detail.


We will be in Paris toward the end of August and beginning of September and just booked a 2 bedroom apartment for the week through Paris Perfect. I found them while I was doing a little bit of internet research and they received wonderful reviews. They have many lovely rentals on their website and were extremely helpful in helping us choose the right apartment for our family.

Parisian Fields

Something that is new in Paris since 2009 is the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art and Culture in a little jewel of a house facing the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It hosts exhibits and concerts, and you can get an affordable lunch with a view into a pretty garden.


I love the Paris walks http://www.paris-walks.com/. I always learn something interesting and the guides are thoughtful and informative. I also like the Cluny museum and tapestries http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/. The flea market is worth a trip and this site describes how to get there: http://ohhappyday.com/2011/03/how-to-get-to-the-paris-flea-market/. I had a lovely meal at the rooftop restaurant at Terrass Hotel with a wonderful view of Paris: http://www.terrass-hotel.com/

Judi Hepworth

Hotel La Perle at 14 rue des Canettes howevef if it gets too popular I don't want the rates to go sky high. Also right off the street are 3 super restaurants!

Bernard Duhaime

If you like gardens you should be sure to visit le jardin Albert Kahn. It is especially beautiful in the early Spring. There are actually three gardens within the this garden: Japanese, English and French. It is easy to find and is at the very Western end of line 10 at Metro stop Boulogne, Pont de Saint Cloud.

Betty Rosbottom

I love reading your posts! I spend 2 months a year in France's capital and have a Paris Page on my blog that I hope your readers will find helpful.


Click on "About Paris"on the top bar of the blog for lists of my favorite bistros, pastry shops, French blogs (including yours),shopping tips,and more.

Edie Schmidt


The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore at 22 rue S t.Paul4E in the Bastille is a very nice bookstore. They do speak English but I'm sure could recommend books in French as well. I also love the Place des Voges in the Marais for people watching and gallery gazing.

Edie from Savannah

Romeo Danais

I take it, everyone knows about The Orange Card, or Carte Orange, the unlimited Metro/autobus pass. The only way to get around Paris easily and quickly is the Metro. You can buy individual tickets, a carnet de billets (a book of 10 tickets at a reduced price) or a Carte Orange, which may be had for one week or one month, obviously, depending on your needs.
You need to go to one of the helpful cashiers/attendants at the entrance to most Metros, smile, say, "Bonjour," and ask for a Carte Orange. It'll cost somewhere around €20 +/-, and, its good for unlimited travel between 24:01 Sunday morning to 23:59 Saturday evening or monthly (I never bought a monthly pass, so I can't comment) on the Metro and the auto bus. You could even (I've done it before) take the RER to CDG on the Carte Orange and jump the turnstiles when you exit at CDG (it seems everybody does it, so don't worry!).
Before you leave the attendant, smile once again and ask for a Plan de la Cité - which is a great map for all of the Metro lines (I believe there are 14 different lines) and all the surface bus lines. There is even a Peripherique bus line (two buses, you'll have to change at the end of one bus' line and get on the other) that allows you a 360˚ view of Paris from the Bus' point-of-view.
BTW, don't forget, the Metro is a haven for pick-pockets (the word is the same in French), especially when everybody is boarding a train - keep your hand in your pocket on your money or be certain your purse is not being 'rifled' by somebody else's 'sticky fingers'.

Enjoy getting around Paris the easy, fast and inexpensive way!

jim lewison

Electic Velo Tour - Paris Charms & Secrets
We have been going to France for years and this was the single most fun and unexpected thing we have done in Paris.
Also check:
> Rue Mouffetard in the 5th on a market day
> Grand Mosque [cafe has a little patio]
> Arènes de Lutèce on Rue Monge [Roman site]
All in easy walking distance of each other

Romeo Danais

The Louvre! Did you know, admission to The Louvre is FREE every first Sunday of each month! Get there early, line up at the Pyramid. The Louvre opens at 9AM and the line moves quickly, however, if you arrive much past 9:15 or so, you may wait as long as 2 hours before you are allowed in. That's because, if you arrive after 9:15 AM, by then the line will be so long, by the time you approach getting in, they will be cutting off new admitants until some prior attendees begin to leave.
Needless to say, Free admission to The Louvre is very popular!

One more thing, wear very comfortable shoes, the Louvre is way bigger than you ever thought possible!

suzanne dunaway

FOR THE PARIS GUIDE: Lovely hotel in the Marais, St. Louis Marais at 17 rue du Petit Musc. Central to all, best room at the top on 4th floor but great bathrooms and kind service. Plain but good breakfast.
For ritzy dining with a real master, Claud Colliot in the marais. Innovative, which normally I do not care for, but this one is special. Oyster sorbet, for one and delectable chocolate ganache for dessert.
Another great bistro, inexpensive and delightful, family run is Le Vin du Pyrenees (see my article on Paris at www.theamericanmag.com) and a place to avoid is Le Beniot, I'm sorry to say. It has turned touristy with huge plates of mediocre food and no charm of the past.
More on this site as I collect the info from our trips.

John Malsberger

Cooks and bakers should not miss a visit to E. Dehillerin, doing business since 1820. Julia Child shopped here whenever she was in Paris. It's on a small side street north of the Louvre. http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/index.php

Even if you're not a cook, it's a great shop to see!


Most of the suggestions here are terrific, especially the Carte Orange tip; but the suggestion about using the (I assume Zones 1 & 2) Carte Orange on the RER to CDG and jumping the turnstile is not one I'd ever pass along, having watched both Metro and RER guards nab offenders. Yes, many jump and get away with it, but many do not! And the folks whose job it is to enforce the rules have no sense of humor, believe me! Also, remember, you're likely to be dealing with some sort of luggage, further complicating the issue. One ticket to zone 5 (CDG) won't break the bank or cause you to miss your plane home!

TIsh Tyler

I second the poster who recommended Hotel du College de France just up the street from the Sorbonne (I'll be there again in April). Hotel Muguet in the 7th is also nice.

Parisbestlodge is great for apartments. I've rented from them many time. I've also rented from Paris Perfect which is another, although more expensive, apartment rental company.

I second the tip about Fat Tire Bike Tours, especially their all day trips to Giverney and Versailles. I also highly recommend Blue Bike Tours and Bike About Tours for their Paris bike tours. Great fun!

If you like to cook, I've done classes at CooknwithClass and LaCuisineParis. Both are affordable and fun.

Chateau de Vincennes - at the end of Metro line 1. Never very crowded and has a moat/drawbridge....kids would love it.

Tish from Powhatan VA

Tish Tyler

FYI: the Carte Orange is now called the Navigo Decouverte. You can buy it for a week (Mon-Sun) or for the month.



On one of our last visits we stayed at the Melia Colbert Boutique Hotel, 7 Rue De L'hôtel. This charming hotel provides views of Notre Dame and the River Seine.
Since we find the best way to see the city is by walking, I would highly recommend "Paris Walks" a walking tour company. Especially good is the tour of the Louvre. The guides are very knowledgeable and in 2 1/2 hours we had seen all of the Louvre "must see" masterpieces.

Bill Facker

Feeling Her pulse while sitting at any cafe table on any sidewalk on any street. Lady Paris captivates, enthralls, and is always at her very best from this perspective. She is most assuredly the Queen of Cities, completely intoxicating us as we become the voyeurs. She emits a life force and pulse of creative energy which is unparalled any place else on our planet...this is Her true beauty. For the cost of a cup of coffee, and for all the time you wish to spend, She will share her mystery and overwhelm your senses with Her passion for life.

L&C Frame

Unfortunately the Carte Orange was discontinued about 4 years ago. It was replaced with an electronic card-key called the "Navigo Découverte". It's a credit card-size card that you must buy for €5 and apply a passport-size photo to. After you buy the card, you can "charge" it with weekly or monthly fares in any of the 5 travel zones in Paris. Within the city limits of Paris (zones 1&2), the cost to charge the card for a week's travel is €18.35 and can be used on any mode of transport; bus métro, trams, funicular, etc. The card itself is good for 10 years so you can recharge it next time you visit Paris.


We always suggest that visitors to Paris buy themselves one of the several Paris by Arromdisement books, either small or a bit larger (better for older eyes!); even if you are only in Paris for a day or two, it will be a wonderful souvenir and very useful when you can't quite remember where you went. If you go to Paris frequently, you can refer back to your notes taken right in the book, about restaurant hours, shops to revisit, which Metro stop is best for a particular cafe or market. And then you can transfer all that information to the next copy when you've used the first one to death!

Two very handy little books to peruse both pre- and during your visit: Quiet Corners of Paris by Jean-Christoph Napias, a treasure if you like pretty out-of-the-way places to spend a peaceful hour or two between exciting adventures; almost all are free, many are lovely gardens or architectural gems. Fodor's Around Paris with Kids, perfect with or without kids.

Lastly, a couple of markets that we love: Blvd. Richard Lenoir starting at Place de la Bastille, Thursday and Sunday mornings; Place Monge, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday mornings (small, but village-like).

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

It might be touristy, but I loved taking a boat ride along the Seine on one of my first trips to Paris, especially at night with the monuments lit up - http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com
Place des Vosges on a Sunday when the grass is full of families enjoying a day of rest. The Marais is a good place to shop on a Sunday when so many other stores are closed.
Stopping at a market for a picnic lunch and eating it along the side of Canal St. Martin.
Hotel Saint-Jacques in the 5th is a lovely little hotel, reasonably priced and good location. For a splurge, the Park Hyatt was fabulous.

Al Hoefer

Le Souffle - 36 rue du Mont - Thabor - incredible.


www.3colleges.fr/...Hotel across from the Sorbonne. Small with modern style.
Also if you are interested in genealolgy, Anne Morddel from the Bay Area who lives in Paris and writes the FrenchGenealogyBlog [email protected]


Perhaps the best rental apartment in Paris, based on the "quality for price" equation the French use for determining the worth of anything, can be your home in central Paris.

My husband, the architect, renovated our centrally-located, light-filled space on the most charming cobblestone passageway. We offer it for short term rentals to discriminating visitors.

Please have a look at our web site:

Heather Donaldson

Rent a bike. Bike depots are everywhere and you can pick your bike up at one and drop it off at another. Like most cities in Europe - it's an easy way to get around when you don't want to walk - or just want alternate exercise. You can get a 1 or 7 day pass on line http://en.velib.paris.fr/
We even rode around L'arc de Triomphe and I used to ride from my apartment in Le Merais to classes at Alliance Francais.


Don't miss Sainte-Chapelle a short block from Notre Dame! It is the former chapel of the kings with stained glass on three sides. On a cloudy day, take a seat in the upstairs chapel and watch the windows light up as the sun comes in and out.

Next, check the 18th century hospital just to the right of Notre Dame Cathedral as you walk out. It isn't well-marked and still functioning,but it has a marvelous courtyard and architecture that takes you right back to the 18th century.

Finally, go for dinner at Caveaux du Palais on Place Dauphine behind the Palais du Justice on the eastern end of Ile de la Cttė. It has wonderful ambience and good traditional French cuisine. Tell Nina Tom sent you.

Betsy Shequine

Most of my ideas have been mentioned, so may I just second the suggestion of walking the Promenade Plantee?

Also GuestApartmentServices - two wonderful guys run an excellent apt. Rental service on ile St. Louis.

Hotel de Lutece and Hotel des Deux Iles, also on the Ile are excellent!

There's an unusual restaurant on the Ile: Mon Vieil Ami, where the "sides" are featured au lieu de the protein. Great vibe.


Oh, nearly forgot my favorite hotel - the Relais Saint-Sulpice. A converted 18th century home, centrally located in the 6th by some great patisseries, and across from a beautiful church. Prime location but relaxed and quiet. And beautifully decorated rooms make for a very romantic stay.

Beverly J. Campbell

The ONLY money exchange agency to use is Multi Change.....best rate and no fee. Check www.multi-change.com for their eleven locations. Until five years ago I spent at least six months a year in France and got ripped off many times with the many exchange places mostly in touristic locations who post confusing rates on plachards on the street and have hidden exchange fees no matter the amount you exchange.

Now every year when going through Paris on my way down to my little summer cottage in Perigord I exchange my dollars for Euros as soon as I arrive.


If you're taking a child to Paris Jardin du Luxembourg is wonderful! We took our granddaughter to the Marionnette show, as well as the playground, with all sorts of things to climb on, including a rope Tour Eiffel. It was the highlight of her trip.


She also loved riding on the carousels you'll find all over Paris. In a week long visit, she must have ridden 5 carousels!



Dinner at Chez Robert et Louise in the 3rd. (http://robertetlouise.com/) Oh my! And don't miss Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th--gorgeous and fascinating. There's a little cafe right around the corner where we had croques monsieur after our tramp through the cemetery--delicious! We also did the Fat Tires bike tour to Versailles--fantastic way to see that incredible palace. The best part though, was that we stayed in a wonderful apartment in the 15th (http://www.theparisapt.com/index.cfm) and sat each morning in the cafe around the corner to people-watch. Sipping cafe au lait and munching a croissant while we watched the neighborhood wake up was delightful!

Leslie NYC

I get excited just thinking about Paris.

Renting a velib bike for sure. You pay just a couple of euros/day. As long as you return it to any stand within 1/2 hour, you pay nothing extra. Then you can take a new one(or check out the same one) and ride to the next stand.I never laughed so much, and it was a great way to see the city. The bikes are sturdy and there are bike lanes. Parisians can rent them for only Eur20/year, so you'll be in local company.

Hammam at the Mosquee de Paris. This is a way to really feel like you're in Paris and slough off jet lag or weariness from being a tourist. There are marble rooms of increasing heat, a cool pool in the hottest room, mint tea, a lounging area for naps or pretending to be an odalisque. You wear a pair of underpants(bring a spare pair) or a swimsuit bottom and put your valuables in a locker with a refundable euro. There are separate men's and women's days. The complex(mosque, baths, bakery, courtyard, restaurant) is a 1920's Alhambra fantasy.

Buy flowers for your hotel. I stay in cheap hotels, then invest in flowers. You can cut the top off a water bottle off(liter for large bouquets, 1/2 liter for small) to make a perfect vase.Then rip off the label.

Alleosse for cheese
Poilane for bread
Julien for pains au chocolat & sandwiches
Laduree for breakfast
Keyser for picnic stuff (or the shops along rue Cler)
Porte de Vanves for a tiny flea market
Au Pied de Cochon for oysters
Musee Rodin
Buy museum tickets at FNAC bookstores
Walk as much as possible
If you wonder about going into a little church you stumble across, go in! If not, you will get home at night and read about it in a guidebook.


Excellent place to stay nearby the Montparnasse Station- Hotel Mistral. It is quaint and has the French feeling of a small hotel. It is only located about 3 blocks walk from the Montparnasse station. There is a convenient eating room equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, utensils and outdoor eating area. Only thing is that they do not have an elevator, but that's the French experience!

Lanier Cordell

The Metro was extremely easy to use and people were very helpful. As someone who loves to cook it seemed essential that I cook while in Paris. I found La Cuisine in Paris. Very easy to get to, lots of different classes and loads of fun if you've never cooked or are an old hand. The prices were also very reasonable. I would do it again. Their Bellies on Foot class was wonderful fun. We also had a great time at the flea markets. Lots of fun just looking around which costs nothing. Our tow side trips that we were really bald we made were to Rouen and chateau Villandry.

Cindy Clark


hotel or apartment or B&B suggestions

Relais Christine, 3 rue Christine, 6th

Hotel St. Germain des Près, 36 Rue Bonaparte, 6th

Hotel Port Royal, 8 Boulevard de Port-Royal, 5th

restaurants, cafés, bistros

For a GREAT cup of coffee (which, oddly, is hard to find in Paris), there's a little place that's just behind the Parthenon:
GAUDEAMUS, 47 rue de la Montagne Sainte Genevieve.
If you're feeling particularly decadent, get the "Café Gourmand" !

Although it may seem odd to get "tapas" while in Paris, I HIGHLY recommend a little place in the 5th:
DANS LES LANDES, 119 bis, rue Monge

There's a fantastic wine bar in the 5th:
L'ANE ET LE MULE, 14, rue Guisarde (just off of rue des Cannettes, south of Rue du Four)

For some "fine dining", with a great atmosphere (also something that's hard to find in Paris -- The French light exteriors and buildings like no one else can, but when it comes to restaurants, they light everything like it's a school canteen)...
5 MARS, 51 rue Verneuil (off rue de Bac) 6th.

nightclubs, theaters, shows

For Jazz, check out:
ATELIER CHARONNE, 21 rue Charonne, 11th (east of Place de la Bastille)

For everything from blues to jazz to RnB, check out:
NEW MORNING, 7-9 rue des petites Ecuries

any place one should visit or any thing one should do when in Paris...

1. NUIT BLANCHE -- Concerts, music, dance, art exhibits, video performances and light shows give rhythm to Paris' NUIT BLANCHE. The goal, it seems, is to place art at the heart of the city for everyone to experience -- and also to give everyone a new perspective of the city by opening up to pedestrians areas in the city that are normally forbidden. Imagine a QUIET stroll along the Seine -- completely free of cars !
Overnight, Nuit Blanche seemed to erase the boundaries of the city and open up new and unusual views of the city's richness and beauty. Incredible !
Nuit Blanche 2012 featured nearly 100 "projects" (art, music, light, films, dance, lectures, videos, performance...) and about 15 unobstructed viewpoints normally closed to the public.


There's a SALON DES VIN (which is a bit pricier) in NOVEMBER

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
I saw this on TV one Sunday morning about the padlocks on bridges..

I think just being polite in general and trying to speak French is very helpful. I always found the people in Paris to be lovely, but I was always polite, smiled even when I knew my French was horrible. Also being respectful of people and not being a loud, obnoxious American. I saw lots of those while we were living in Europe!


Absolutely agree with the idea that those wasteful and rather ugly bridge additions are just little bit over the top for the French (or for any other) culture.

I always thought marriages are created in Heaven, and what those Parisian (and other) bridges and little pieces of metal have to do with the marriages?! Or with the marriages being strong and lasting?

Plus, the padlock culture seems to be spreading quickly. Now they even have those on St Petersburg (Russia) bridges:


Or in Moscow. Just look at this tree!


or in Florence, Italy.


or in Taiwan.


Do we get any divorce rate reduced yet?!

Candy in CO

If you are a DYI traveler then my newly published book is for you! It's called "A Petit Guide to Paris and Nice" and you can order it at www.blurb.com/books/2423459. For FWAD readers I will send you the text-only version for Paris (or for Nice) if you email me at [email protected] I am a retired French teacher who has taken students, colleagues and friends on dozens of trips over the past 35 years. I finally put all my notes (and many of my photos) into a book. Thanks for taking a look at it! Bon Voyage! And Merci to Kristin for providing this opportunity for all of us francophiles. BTW, the book gives you a day by day itinerary for spending 1-4 days in each city.

Andrea Hughes

To me the definition of a gracious visitor is one who has done his/her homework and knows the local etiquette and all that that entails, which, in a nutshell, is: know what to say, how to say it and when to say it.

As for suggestions of what to see and do in Paris, the comments so far have been truly impressive and noteworthy!
I would like to add just one:

A barge trip that begins across from the Museum of Science and Industry on the Canal St. Martin, running through residential neighborhoods under a canopy of tress and even underground under a square for a 1/8 mile and eventually flowing into the Seine and ending across from the Tuileries Gardens. It took about 3 1/2 hours with interesting sights all the way! It is one of our most memorable experiences in Paris!
It is operated by Paris Canal Croisieres.


i emailed you a list!

Mr. Casey Dunaway

Cher Kristin, I am the designer & owner of www.AllFranceInfo.com and would be happy for you to share any of the links to the pages about Paris from my website. Or perhaps a link to the home page. As you will see, I have divided the Paris pages into smaller groups to make it easier.
I greatly enjoy receiving the French Word-A- Day in my e-mail box & look forward to each post.
Kind Regards, Mr. Casey Dunaway, Richmond, VA, USA.


Found our Paris flat through airbnb.com. Loved the neighborhood location in the 11th, far from the touristy places, but about 3 blocks from Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Easy to get everywhere we wanted to go on the Metro.

Fat Tire Bike Tours - wonderful!!!!!!!

Lee Isbell

I've just looked through all the pictures L&CFrame have linked to about the locks on the bridge. As charming as you may think it is to leave a lock there for posterity, for you and your children to revisit over the years, you can see that this will not happen. I'd be surprised if your lock is there for a week. Just imagine how many thousands of people have done this, then see the damage as a result. Kiss your lover on the bridge and release the kiss to the sky, without trying to commemorate it in metal.

Mary Beth

I've rented 4 apartments thru parisaddress.com. A very luxurious one when I took my granddaughter for her birthday; more modest ones when it's just me. Good value & service.

If you have a bit of time, I recommend photographing all the bridges that cross the Seine inside Paris. There are 37. Also once did a quest to visit and photograph a parish church in each arrondissement. Great way to see the city.

Ellen from B.H.

Last March my husband and I rented a tiny but glorious studio directly on the Seine across from the Hotel de Ville. Lit up at night, the view was amazing, but equally romantic and full of the murmurs of history at dawn. The owners are a great family that speak fluent English. See www.vrbo.com/160070, and their new, similarly tasteful studio at www.vrbo.com/411536. It is so important, especially for first time visitors, to stay at a hotel or apartment that is centrally located, so they don't spend too much time traveling on the metro. I also recommend Elka Halliger's apartments at www.halliger.com and Paris a la Carte at www.alacarte-Paris-apartments.com.
It is easy (and fairly inexpensive if done several months ahead) to buy tickets for the Paris opera houses. If a person has never been, I recommend they be sure to choose a performance at the Garnier, rather than the Bastille, because going up that marble staircase to the incredible red velvet seats under Chagall's ceiling is a fabulous way to visit the past. Pick a ballet performance if opera is too heavy or long for your tastes. So much better to attend a performance than just taking the tour! Go to www.operadeparis.fr and click on links to the calendar and "en" for English, and you will see what is available for the time you will be in Paris.
Look for the cafeboats moored to the Left Bank on the Seine in good weather. You can have a lovely lunch with a fantastic backdrop of Notre Dame for a photo op!
Bon voyage a tous!

Ellen from B.H.

For unusual and up-to-the-minute shopping tips, be sure to check the latest advice (and archives) at chicshoppingparis.blogspot.com. I was just introduced to this blog recently, and was very impressed with it - above all when I saw French Word A Day listed as a favorite link! Synchronicity!


If you are there for more than a couple of days, take the bus not the metro. This way you really get to see the lay of the land and everything in between. We usual take a bus to our destination for the day, eg Montmartre and meander home to the left bank.

maria bergman

If do your homework and study the history of Paris you will reap the rewards of appreciating what you are seeing, walking on and being a part of!!

Before you go, tour Paris a la Google Earth to familiarize yoursekf with the city and to help you decide where to stay.

Consider renting an apartment. We used VRBO with seamless success. Just be sure to speak directly with the owner prior to booking.

Don't worry about the weather. The world is just more beautiful, no matter what the weather, in Paris.

Be sure to WALK, WALK, WALK and bring VERY comfortable shoes to manage the wonderful cobblestones. (leave the white sneakers at home-try something a bit more chic!)

Buy your tickets to Le Tour Eiffel at least a month before you go and you will avoid at least one long line at the base.

Always begin your interactions with a cheerful Bonjour! Knowing a bit of French makes it really fun. People were very helpful and kind and are truely proud of their beautiful city. Your respectful enthusiasm can go a long way to ensuring a wonderful time.

Thank you Kristen for allowing this Frankophile to imagine being there again!!

Jane Hoppe

I agree with many earlier suggestions. I might add that hearing a classical concert in Sainte Chapelle is memorable. We learned of concerts there in Paris Scope, which can be purchased at newsstands. We also had a half-day cooking class and half-day watercolor painting class in Paris. Neither provider still does this, so I cannot give their websites. Paris is so wonderful. I will just add a practical tip for visitors with food allergies. I cannot eat gluten and was able to buy some gluten-free breads and pastries at an organic food store called Naturalia, which has more than a dozen stores in Paris: www.naturalia.fr.

Andrea Hughes

I forgot to mention a wonderful pastry shop by the name of LaDuree on rue Bonaparte. They produce the utterly delectable marcarons which actually have crossed the Atlantic and can be seen here in the States. LaDuree has the atmosphere, though! Just know that it's a very popular spot!

Andrea Hughes

Oops! I spelled the name of the pastry wrong! Je n'en excuse!! It's "macarons"! And this is not to say that they are macaroons. They are made of infused egg-white cookies joined by a scrumptious essence in the center, of either fruit, pistachio, chocolate or other. Not to be missed!! They have several location throughout Paris, but the one on rue Bonaparte is my favorite (also found in Le Printemps Department Store tea room on second floor).


Ah, the memories! As an international flight attendant, a full day to enjoy Paris two or three times a month was wonderful enough to allow for wandering and wasting time-so back streets and pretty corners were my specialty. Even still, I recommend forcing oneself to slowly wander an interesting neighborhood-you will find your own special spots and memories along the way. For interesting luxury in accommodations, check with Panache. Our three couples recently rented a gorgeous apartment of Prince Aga Kahn in the 6th, and next trip, the apt. of opera singer Renee Fleming. Very special, historic, and interesting spots!
[email protected]


an Amazing Bakery is Poilâne
Saint-Germain-des-Prés district
8 rue du Cherche-Midi,
Paris 75006
Tel +33 (0) 1 45 48 42 59
Opening hours :
From Monday to Saturday, 7:15 am to 8:15 pm
Next door is a little cafe where you can get delicious tartines and a lovely glass of wine.
We were there in June 2012.

Donna Peters

The basement of BHV near Hotel de Ville is one of the most interesting place to shop. It is mostly hardware on that level. If you would like to make your own shoes, they have everything you will need down to and including complete tanned hides.
One of my favorite little shops is Annick Gutal who makes the most wonderful soap. A little pricy, but what a treat!
Our favorite restaurant is on the right bank and called Pot Au Feu, 34 Rue Vignon 75008 Paris. Don't skip the apple cobbler!

Kathy Mattern

Just finished fabulous book entitled forever Paris: 25 Walks in the footsteps of the City's most illustrious figures...read it before you go take it with you and discover the neighborhoods and walk the streets where people
like Sartre, Napoleon, Piaf ..all those famous people we love,once lived. Can't wait for the next trip and will read this again!


I love all the suggestions. I spent a month in Paris in 2010 and used the 2009 guide/blog post for ideas. One of the things I discovered while in this beautiful city was the City Free Tours. University students conduct tours of various areas of Paris (Montmartre, Latin Quarter, etc.) for a voluntary donation. They are very good! http://www.cityfreetour.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=36&Itemid=72


I've visiting Paris once a year since 1990 and I do agree on the damage that was mainly due to these love locks. The wood bridge used to be my favorit for watching the River, not anymore. So do please refrain from adding additional 'damage' to this otherwise beautiful bridge.


Here's a favorite Sunday adventure..Chateau de Vincennes, it was lovely, quiet and a perfect place to immerse oneself in medieval Paris as well as a lovely picnic spot...check it out!

Elizabeth Hamilton

We discovered the most wonderful B&B call Manoir de Beauregard in the 19th. Just delightful and oh so Parisian.... only 3 rooms but run by a wonderful elderly french couple. Beautiful decor and just like a "mini Versailles". Breakfasts to die for! Check them out at
Also just adored the segway tour run by Fat Tire tours http://www.fattirebiketours.com/Paris
This was a real fun event for the young and young at heart. Our 14 year old son thought it was "really cool". The night trip was amazing and we had an unforgettable experience zipping around the Louvre on these crazy contraptions.

Marc Holm

I love staying at the Hotel Victor Hugo in the 16th (www.victorhugohotel.com). Less than a block walk from the Victor Hugo Metro stop. The 16th is very quiet and the hotel is right in the middle between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. It was great to be able to walk down to the Trocodero and people watch by La Tour Eiffel anytime. There's great flower and cheese shops on Avenue Kleber and an awesome place called Cafe Copernic on the corner of Avenue Kleber and Rue Copernic. He 16 is great - quiet, not a tourist trap and has a ton of Parisian charm.

Andrea Dudek

Take a walking tour to find the sundials of Paris. Here are two websites
on sundial locations: http://www.shadowspro.com/en/paris.html and http://www.sundials.co.uk/~paris.htm. Also, I found the book "Cadrans Solaires de Paris" by Andrée Gotteland and Georges Camus at the bookshop at the Hôtel de Béthune-Sully in the Marais. The bookshop specializes in art and architecture books and guidebooks for regions throughout France but with emphasis on Paris. English and French titles and is worth a visit for anyone touring Paris or France. The official website is http://mobile.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/monuments/recherche-libre/bdd/monum/208. For more information see http://en.parisinfo.com/museum-monuments/167/hotel-de-bethune-sully-centre-des-monuments-nationaux.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)