Tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Paris

These are a few things that we found and enjoyed in and around Paris during our 2 month stay there in 2010.

Here are my eating tips:

  • It’s easy to get bad food there, especially at places that serve a bunch of different things. Go for specialty places.
  • If you want a crepe, look for a place that pours dough on the heating element, not one that reheats a pre-made one. Best crepes we had were in the market square right near Sacre Coeur.
  • Italian style pizza (knife and fork) is excellent in Paris. We went to Pizzeria_Da_Carmine many times.
  • L’As du Fallafel ... awesome. The schwarma pita is the way to go here.
  • If you want quick + cheap + delicious, look for a nice boulangerie and just get a baguette sandwich… hard to go wrong with a jambon fromage.
  • If you want to pay a little more, go to the nice parts of town (Marais, Ile St Louis, anywhere along the left bank) and look for small, crowded cafes. Cruise the menu and go for a prix fixe. The harder it seems to get in, the better the food.
  • For the most part, avoid the countless stereotypical cafes called brasseries…. scratch that, go to the one that looks the most authentic once and get a croque monsieur and a glass of rose wine and take an hour eating it. Then avoid them. Typically overpriced and uninspired.

Staying somewhere:

  • Best thing to do is to find it online and book it ASAP. If you go without plans, you could end up cheaper and better or worse and more expensive. In my opinion, it’s better to have a plan in place if you already know the dates.
  • Areas: Montmartre (9th arr) and Marais (3rd arr) will probably be your best value for location. Stay in a single-digit arr. so you’re close to things… though you can get ANYWHERE by the metro so it’s not a big deal. I found walking to be the best way to get around, though.
  • Trip Advisor is your friend.

Doing things:

  • A “a quick in and out” at the Louvre would be a mistake. Either plan for 3 – 4 hours or do something else, IMHO. I found it to be pretty incredible but it’s so massive, it would be a shame to go and miss out on half of it. If you do go, plan what you want to see, don’t go in cold.
  • Eiffel Tower is a must… pay for the ticket that gets you to the top but take the stairs to the second level. The construction is a sight to see, especially for visual types.
  • L’Arc is cool but more because of the circle, I found it fascinating. I didn’t go to the top but people said it was fun.
  • Top of Notre Dame is cool but the lines are really bad. I also threw my back out there so bad memories
  • If you’re in the area, the Pantheon was really spectacular… amazing view at the top and the interior, both the main part and the crypts beneath, were great. No lines, not expensive, cool spot.
  • Heard the D’Orsay was good but I didn’t make it. Anna said it was good but not amazing.
  • Place de Concorde… just a great place to see, really.
  • As mentioned before, Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre cemetery are two of my favorite places. Only need to visit one cemetery, FYI, either Montmartre or Père Lachaise, they are similar but I liked Montmartre better because it was smaller and quieter.
  • Luxembourg Gardens (Jardins) were stunning, one of my favorite places. If it’s nice at all, go there. If it’s rainy, it won’t be as nice.
  • Save some time to just walk around and wander… Marais is a great place to do that as well as the whole area surrounding the two islands
  • La Fayette mall… wow. Make sure to see the supermarket on the bottom, the dome from the inside, and get on the roof. Kids section is pretty incredible too if you like toys :)

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