[France] Paris questions

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Cavesa
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[France] Paris questions

Postby Cavesa » Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:03 pm

Hi, everyone with some experience with Paris :-)

I'll be visiting the city in a few weeks for just a few days. It will be my (let me think a bit...) fourth or fifth visit. I'll be there for approximately two days with my family, planning to spend part of the time separately.

My questions and points of interest:

Any good book about Louvre, to study beforehand and get to know more than la Joconde? I've been there a few times, seen some of the expositions but not everything for sure. I'm looking forward to the next visit so much! Any experience with "parcours thématique" for children? This idea looks good and it could be a nice family activity to enjoy with my small siblings.

There is a temporary exhibition concerning Métamorphoses d'Ovide. I consider reading the book before going, as I have read only some parts so far. Have you read the English/French/Spanish translations? Any recommendation on choosing one? I suppose there should be all of the on project gutenberg but I am not sure.

Any tips about visit to Centre Pompidou? I've never been inside so far and the website doesn't help me plan the visit too much. Any tips? How much time should one have for a visit? Can you "see it all" in an afternoon or is it like le Louvre, a place you must return to repeatedly?

Any favourite bookshops? Second hand bookshops (I've been adviced one by a native parisien, so I'll let you know what it was like) or "just" awesome normal ones. I found a medical bookshop that should have something I've been wanting for a long time. So, anything more interesting than fnac that you can recommend? But I'll visit a fnac anyways, I suppose :-D

Tips on interesting program for children? I've been adviced the zoos (there are two), the dinosaur exhibition... but that might be a bit too far from the centre and we don't have that much time. Perhaps a good natural history museum or something like that? Or a good technical museum could satisfy everyone. Any experience with those?

I hope to go shopping as well (I hate the fact the Czech Republic usually gets just what isn't wanted elsewhere or at least it looks like in most shops around here. Unfortunately, even our HM and a HM elsewhere is simply not the same, that's why I go shopping wherever I travel. I am not a barbarian! (I almost feel guilty asking about such things like shopping on this intellectual forum) I just like the same or better prices for better choice. And cloths that actually fit me :-D), any tips? I've gathered some online and will remember my previous trips as well but still. Anything particularily worthwhile for a "middle class" girl (not a milionaire) who needs to renew half her wardrobe? (That's the dark side of losing weight. Spending money on better food and sport leads to more money being spent on new clothes) Anything interesting most "shopping guides" online don't mention?

And most importantly: Anything awesome people tend to miss when going to Paris? I've probably seen all the commonly sought monuments, but there must be thousands of interesting places left to amaze me. Anything that excited your eyes/ears/heart/brain/tongue during your visits?

Thanks for all your tips, I suppose I'll be adding questions later today and tomorrow, as I explore all the other options we've been considering.
Last edited by Cavesa on Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bakunin
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Re: Paris questions

Postby Bakunin » Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:50 pm

Cavesa wrote: And most importantly: Anything awesome people tend to miss when going to Paris? I've probably seen all the commonly sought monuments, but there must be thousands of interesting places left to amaze me. Anything that excited your eyes/ears/heart/brain/tongue during your visits?

Not entirely sure if this is going to amaze you but I'll put it out nonetheless ;) a visit to Barbès - l'Afrique en plein Paris! A friend of mine used to have rights to a small apartment in Barbès, so I had the opportunity to stay there a few times and always liked the atmosphere. It's a bit rough around the edges but does have its charm. There's a market which is worth a visit. Probably not the worst place to sample some African food either, I remember having had Senegalese in one of the local restaurants last time I was there. According to youtube, it's all good now: Paris : Que pensez vous de Barbès ? Just don't read the comments :lol:
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Re: Paris questions

Postby sctroyenne » Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:57 pm

Cavesa wrote:Any favourite bookshops? Second hand bookshops (I've been adviced one by a native parisien, so I'll let you know what it was like) or "just" awesome normal ones. I found a medical bookshop that should have something I've been wanting for a long time. So, anything more interesting than fnac that you can recommend? But I'll visit a fnac anyways, I suppose :-D


Some big ones are Gibert Jeune near Place Saint-Michel (which takes up several buildings - check the awnings for which categories they sell) and Gibert Joseph nearby closer to the Jardin du Luxembourg (a good park for kids, BTW). Last time I also discovered Bookoff near l'Opéra and the tiny Japanese district of Rue Sainte Anne which has some really cheap stuff but you have to dig to find the good stuff (they buy used books by weight and sell them cheap). There are tons of other used bookstores scattered around with a similar setup - I can't even think of any specific ones. They'll usually have a bin of books or DVDs to look through out front. I'm pretty sure there are some along Rue Mouffetard in the 5th and in some neighborhoods in the Rive Droite (like near Grands Boulevards).

Cavesa wrote:Tips on interesting program for children? I've been adviced the zoos (there are two), the dinosaur exhibition... but that might be a bit too far from the centre and we don't have that much time. Perhaps a good natural history museum or something like that? Or a good technical museum could satisfy everyone. Any experience with those?


Here's theMusée National d'Histoire Naturelle in the 5th.

Cavesa wrote:And most importantly: Anything awesome people tend to miss when going to Paris? I've probably seen all the commonly sought monuments, but there must be thousands of interesting places left to amaze me. Anything that excited your eyes/ears/heart/brain/tongue during your visits?


So hard to even know where to begin lol. All the trendy hipster areas are now on the East side of the Rive Droite (the 10th, 11th and even the 19th and 20th) but you should find some lists of recommended spots to check out. I get a lot of those "Top 10" lists in my Facebook feed so I'll keep my eyes peeled.

For some more interesting things to do check out theatre tickets here or think about going to a TV/radio taping. While at the bookstores check out the local tourism section - there will be a selection of books with interesting walking tours aimed for Parisians and the French (I had one that had walking tours for all the former villages annexed by the city along the outer arrondissements, for example). There are also puzzle ones that are fun but difficult that I did with Parisians from OVS.

Also find a bus guide which will be sold near the map by arrondissement books (which look like this). You'll see so much more by bus than by metro and the bus is usually less crowded/chaotic (if you like I can list some interesting bus routes).

I don't recommend eating at the restaurants around the Saint-Michel area (the really touristy area leading up to Ile de la Cité). They're pretty much all bad and French media have done exposés on them.

Feel free to browse through my photo collections and see if there are any spots that look interesting and I can answer any questions:
Collections from my 2 years abroad plus my first trip there
An album from my last trip
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Re: Paris questions

Postby sctroyenne » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:01 pm

Oh and if by a few weeks you mean October 7-11, I highly recommend the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, especially the fireworks show by Sacre Coeur which is the best fireworks show I've ever seen!
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Re: Paris questions

Postby Cavesa » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:25 pm

You're absolutely awesome!!! Thanks!
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Re: Paris questions

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:07 pm

sctroyenne wrote:
Cavesa wrote:Any favourite bookshops? Second hand bookshops (I've been adviced one by a native parisien, so I'll let you know what it was like) or "just" awesome normal ones. I found a medical bookshop that should have something I've been wanting for a long time. So, anything more interesting than fnac that you can recommend? But I'll visit a fnac anyways, I suppose :-D


Some big ones are Gibert Jeune near Place Saint-Michel (which takes up several buildings - check the awnings for which categories they sell) and Gibert Joseph nearby closer to the Jardin du Luxembourg (a good park for kids, BTW). Last time I also discovered Bookoff near l'Opéra and the tiny Japanese district of Rue Sainte Anne which has some really cheap stuff but you have to dig to find the good stuff (they buy used books by weight and sell them cheap). There are tons of other used bookstores scattered around with a similar setup - I can't even think of any specific ones. They'll usually have a bin of books or DVDs to look through out front. I'm pretty sure there are some along Rue Mouffetard in the 5th and in some neighborhoods in the Rive Droite (like near Grands Boulevards).

Cavesa wrote:Tips on interesting program for children? I've been adviced the zoos (there are two), the dinosaur exhibition... but that might be a bit too far from the centre and we don't have that much time. Perhaps a good natural history museum or something like that? Or a good technical museum could satisfy everyone. Any experience with those?


Here's theMusée National d'Histoire Naturelle in the 5th.

Cavesa wrote:And most importantly: Anything awesome people tend to miss when going to Paris? I've probably seen all the commonly sought monuments, but there must be thousands of interesting places left to amaze me. Anything that excited your eyes/ears/heart/brain/tongue during your visits?


So hard to even know where to begin lol. All the trendy hipster areas are now on the East side of the Rive Droite (the 10th, 11th and even the 19th and 20th) but you should find some lists of recommended spots to check out. I get a lot of those "Top 10" lists in my Facebook feed so I'll keep my eyes peeled.

For some more interesting things to do check out theatre tickets here or think about going to a TV/radio taping. While at the bookstores check out the local tourism section - there will be a selection of books with interesting walking tours aimed for Parisians and the French (I had one that had walking tours for all the former villages annexed by the city along the outer arrondissements, for example). There are also puzzle ones that are fun but difficult that I did with Parisians from OVS.

Also find a bus guide which will be sold near the map by arrondissement books (which look like this). You'll see so much more by bus than by metro and the bus is usually less crowded/chaotic (if you like I can list some interesting bus routes).

I don't recommend eating at the restaurants around the Saint-Michel area (the really touristy area leading up to Ile de la Cité). They're pretty much all bad and French media have done exposés on them.

Feel free to browse through my photo collections and see if there are any spots that look interesting and I can answer any questions:
Collections from my 2 years abroad plus my first trip there
An album from my last trip


Great advice here - Gibert Jeune also has used books sections either in the thematic buildings or in the general bookstore. Voigt and a few other medical editors have bookstores near the medical school (walk up away from the river from Fontaine St Michel and turn right on the first large street you'll see them).

The Louvre - go visit the sculpture in the Denon wing - a bit less famous and yet such a richer context.

Other museums that are a must are the Bourdelle Museum (a gem - and all I'll say, it's a place to discover by yourself), Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière, Musée du quai Branly, Musée Rodin and Musée Orsay (especially the top floor).

I'll take a little more time tomorrow to provide some "secrets" - I lived there for over 10 years as a biomed student and early in my career...
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Cavesa
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Re: Paris questions

Postby Cavesa » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:39 pm

Thanks a lot!

wow, ten years of experience with the city! It must have been great!

I've seen Musée Orsay last time and I must say that while I enjoy art and museums, I am somehow more drawn to older pieces and there is only so much time I can spend in museums. I hope to find something good outside as well, perhaps a new view on the city (not La tour eiffel, not Montmartre,...) or just a nice place to have a coffee and enjoy atmosphere of a less known bit. I wish I had more time to spend in Paris this time (it will be at the end of September and really just a few days squeezed between my dad's job obligations and my new year at the university, so there is no hope to squeeze in more), to just roam around a few times, get lost properly, and find tons of beautiful place not plagued by the huge crowds of tourists.

The sculptures sound like a great idea. Looking at the list of expositions, I am sure to have seen the paintings, antics, ancient egypt and so on. The sculptures are missing on my list.

Bourdelle sounds interesting, it's definitely on my list of things to google tonight.

Thanks a lot for all the advice!
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Re: Paris questions

Postby sctroyenne » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:47 pm

Cavesa wrote:Thanks a lot!

wow, ten years of experience with the city! It must have been great!

I've seen Musée Orsay last time and I must say that while I enjoy art and museums, I am somehow more drawn to older pieces and there is only so much time I can spend in museums. I hope to find something good outside as well, perhaps a new view on the city (not La tour eiffel, not Montmartre,...) or just a nice place to have a coffee and enjoy atmosphere of a less known bit. I wish I had more time to spend in Paris this time (it will be at the end of September and really just a few days squeezed between my dad's job obligations and my new year at the university, so there is no hope to squeeze in more), to just roam around a few times, get lost properly, and find tons of beautiful place not plagued by the huge crowds of tourists.

The sculptures sound like a great idea. Looking at the list of expositions, I am sure to have seen the paintings, antics, ancient egypt and so on. The sculptures are missing on my list.

Bourdelle sounds interesting, it's definitely on my list of things to google tonight.

Thanks a lot for all the advice!


Too bad you won't be there this weekend, as it's the annual Journées du Patrimoine where a ton of stuff that isn't normally open to the public will be open and free (something to think about organizing travel dates around).

Views that aren't the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre - well, there's always the Tour de Montparnasse :) But I think taking in your other wishlist items,that might call for Belleville/Ménilmontant area. I did a quick search of my saved articles and found some of those top 10-style guides I promised. You can browse the websites for more suggestions:

Paris inconnu - Parcours
Rues insolites de Paris
Balades
Nos bars coups de coeur du 11e
Les meilleurs bars du 20e
La buttes-aux-cailles (13e)
Citybreak à Paris
Timeout.fr Paris
Hipsters in Paris
Paris Bobo
Topito (many, many lists)
Nos 21 Coffee Shops Préférés
Good Coffee in Paris
Sur les toits de Paris

Oh! And if you're around Montmartre/Pigalle try this bar right near where I used to live: Marlusse et Lapin :D

et j’en passe et des meilleurs...

I want to go back now :cry:
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Cavesa
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Re: Paris questions

Postby Cavesa » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Thanks, those links look absolutely awesome!
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Re: Paris questions

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:22 pm

Ok, less known bits of Paris that are still fantastic.

-- If you go to St Michel to do some bookshops then I would suggest you try one of the following:
  • see La Venus Noire - 25 Rue de l'Hirondelle - it used to be called Caveau de la Bolée, it's a hidden little bar where Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, François Villon and others hung out - I used to play chess there, I don't know how much it has changed but a quick peak inside, perhaps an afternoon drink before moving on. It was sort of a low quality bar, mostly of interest for a touch of the poets.
  • walk up to Blvd St Michel and if you are into Bande Desinee you'll find two of the best shops, Boulinier and on the left after the Mcdonalds a store called Album.
  • Back on St Michel - head towards the Odeon metro - between the street Danton and Odeon, on the right you'll find a small cobble stone pedestrian passage - The Cour du Commerce St. Andre. Worth the walk, it's a peak at 18th century Paris street - and the back of the Procope - a famous bar. At the end of this little passage is a restaurant called La Jacobine - it is small and not too fancy - it is also excellent (leave room for the desserts!!)
  • - get lost from this passage as you work your way towards L'Eglise St Germain - on the way you might see Place Furstemberg - a tiny hidden plaza. Try to get to La Hune - another bookstore or "the bookstore" of art and design books, and a great collection of French literature and theory.
  • Wander about the streets behind L'Eglise St Germain and Deux Maggot - a famous cafe - and the expensive coffee!! Picasso would use it quite often, it was the place to be seen. Several literary awards are presented here each year.


From the Louvre:

Cross over to the Comedie-Francaise and walk into the Park of the Palais Royal - you have the Buren columns (not my favourites but...) at the entrance walk through the park (perhaps see the shops and galleries on the sides - a long time ago the apartments above these shops belonged to ladies of the night...). It's a lovely park.
Walk through to the other side - the back of the park and there are some stairs there. Take them up and out. You are now behind the decor and right smack near two less known glass galleries - Galerie Colbert and Galerie Vivienne - both worth visiting, perhaps a good stop for a coffee or shopping. Wander about - you have a Basilica, art galleries, etc...
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