|Subject: Re: Paris|
Below are tips I put together 5 years ago for friends of the family after
living in Paris for a semester, and then returning with a friend for a 5 day
visit. I've edited slightly since then, but most tips hold true. One thing I
don't mention that was mentioned in a previous post is St. Chapelle.
Absolutely don't miss it - it's stunning.
General: Skip the Eiffel Tower. The area stinks, and in my opinion, it's all hype. There are better views on top of Sacre Coeur at Montmartre for a lot less money - also no lines. Get the Streetwise Paris map. It includes the metros, is laminated, and is the best map of Paris that I've come across. You'll be able to find everything.
Museums The key to museums in Paris is not to get sucked in by all the things that you are supposed to see. In my opinion, what's important is to get a feel for the city. If you don't make the Louvre - don't worry. There are other, smaller museums with much shorter lines and really interesting works that are much more accessible. Some of the better ones are: * Musee d'Orsay - lots of Impressionist art. A beautiful building. * Musee Rodin - An excellent museum with a really cool park and cafe in its courtyard. * Musee Picasso - My favorite. It takes you through his life chronologically. * L'Orangerie - Definitely check this one out - it will take an hour tops. Don't miss the basement - that's where Monet's Water Lillies are. He designed the room specifically to showcase these paintings. * Pere Lachaise - Not really a museum, but I didn't know where else to put it. This is the cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. It's very beautiful, and not to be creepy, but it's a nice place to bring a picnic.
Food You definitely have to have crepes. The little stands on the streets are pretty good, but for the exceptional, go to Rue Montparnasse. It's off of Blvd. du Montparnasse near the Vavin metro station. This street is full of crepe restaurants. My favorite is the white one with blue letters and a sailing motif (I forget the name). All of the restaurants on that street are good though. When I eat at one of these restaurants, I usually go for the really simple - butter and sugar, because the crepe itself is so good. At the street stands I tend to load on the Nutella, chocolate sauce, bananas, jam, etc.
At restaurants and cafes, if you want coffee with milk, say cafe creme instead of cafe au lait. Cafe au lait is breakfast coffee in a huge bowl that you usually have at home with breakfast.
My favorite place for coffee is La Coupole on Blvd. du Montparnasse. Picasso used to hang out here. It's also good for a fancy dinner - they have great shellfish and great steak tartare - if you're into that kind of thing.
Speaking of which, if you're a meat eater, check out the sandwichs greks on rue du la Huchette near St. Michel. They're like gyros but with french fries stuffed in the pita as well. These shops are all walking distance from the Seine, so it's nice to buy one and eat it down by the water.
Chez Madeleine on rue des Hospitalieres-St. Gervais (metro St. Paul) in the Jewish quarter (Marais) is a great place for dinner. It's right off of rue des Rosiers. They have tons of little dishes like hummus, falafel, tabouli and baba ghanoush. You can pick three or four or five, and get pita bread. They also have a great wine selection - the walls are filled with wine bottles from top to bottom. Sometimes at night there will be a woman walking around and singing. It's a pretty cool place.
Beer My favorite bar is Chez Georges (11 rue des Canettes). The metro station is St. Sulpice. It's the cheapest beer in town and it's usually lots of fun with good music. When you go in, make sure you go downstairs - upstairs is a hangout for old men. The building is 1000 years old - it was a wine cellar. They have two kinds of beer; Pelforth is dark and Tuborg is light.