Best things to do in Paris, and what not to do

Paris’s seductive charms are legendary, and for good reason. Inviting sidewalk cafes, gleaming boutiques, world-class museums, endless things to do, and a fabled restaurant scene make Paris the runway model of cities—beautiful, fashionable, confident, and inspiring envy at every turn. We compiled our list of the things not to do in Paris—and what to do instead.

Don’t: Blow your budget on a Michelin-Starred dinner

 

Parisian dining may have gotten decidedly more casual in the last decade, but upscale and formal dining still reigns—and most of it can set you back $400 to $500 a pop. If that doesn’t deter you, book a table for lunch. Many Michelin-starred spots, from Le Clarence (owned by Prince Robert of Luxembourg) to Dame de Pic (Anne-Sophie Pic’s only Parisian restaurant) and the recently overhauled Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, have reasonably priced lunch menus for less than $150.

Instead: Go for evening meals at laid-back modern bistros

In the last decade, many Michelin-starred chefs have abandoned the rigid confines of haute-cuisine restaurants to open convivial bistros that serve up simpler yet still outstanding meals. And the locals are just crazy about them.

Michelin-starred chef Jean-Francois Piège is behind several popular, lower-priced establishments that play up the best of French terroir, from hearty French classics at A l’Epi d’Or (a bistro institution in the center of the city) to masterfully grilled or smoked beef at his modern steakhouse, Clover Grill.

Don’t: Expect to see everything at the Louvre

 

It’s massive, it’s overwhelming, and as travelers, we have a tendency to put tremendous pressure on ourselves to try to see it all. But Le Louvre isn’t set up that way. Manage your expectations and make a plan in advance. Rather than trying to achieve the impossible, research the works or wings you absolutely want to visit and aim to spend quality time there, saving the rest for return visits.

Instead: Split your time between the Louvre and Smaller Museums

You’ll find Monet’s famous Nymphéas (water lily) murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, at the far end of the Tuileries Gardens; the Musée Marmottan is home to the world’s largest collection of Monets; and the Musée Rodin, housed in a luminous villa with a lovely garden, is one of the most romantic places in all of Paris. There are plenty of museums that focus on lighter and frothier stuff, including fashion, wine, and money. Once you’ve discovered the pleasures of these intimate galleries, you might be hard-pressed to bother with the Louvre at all.

Don’t: Get around town in a cab or electric scooter

 

Taxis can be hard to come by and can’t be flagged down on the street, you need to call ahead for one or find a taxi stand. Cabbing around town also leaves you vulnerable to Paris’s famously snarled traffic. Avoiding them means preventing the ire from a majority of locals who want to see them banned from the streets entirely.

Instead: Take to heart the french word Flâner

While flâner technically means “to stroll,” it more generally suggests “to walk the city in order to experience it”—words to live by in the City of Light. The center of Paris is only a couple of miles wide, maps are ubiquitous, and the rewards for taking to the streets on foot include world-class window shopping, observing flirtatious exchanges in sidewalk cafés, and walking off that extra croissant. When going longer distances, hop on the Métro.

Don’t: Seek out Bohemian ambience on the left bank

 

Sartre and de Beauvoir may have loved Les Deux Magots on the Boulevard St. Germain, but these days, the one-time hangout of intellectuals has all the authenticity of Times Square. You won’t likely find yourself eavesdropping on any famous philosophers, but you may, however, find yourself delivering a tirade on the immorality of charging $16 for buttered toast and orange juice.

Instead: Find the “Real” Paris on the Canal St. Martin

Bobo (short for bourgeois bohemian) hipsters have laid claim to the area around the Canal St. Martin, a once-derelict part of the 10th arrondissement that now buzzes with cafés and hip boutiques, particularly along the Rue Beaurepaire. Settle onto the veranda of the Paname Brewing Company up on the Bassin de la Villette; it overlooks the water and ranks high for ambiance, location.

Don’t: Spend Hours at the Eiffel Tower

 

For extra protection, Paris has installed heavy security checkpoints around the Eiffel Tower following a string of terror attacks in the city a few years ago. Whereas anyone could previously walk straight underneath the monument to gaze upwards or take pictures, visitors must now endure a winding security line on both wings of the tower.

Instead: Find a view and shorter lines

If you want an incredible panorama that includes the Eiffel Tower, you should head instead to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the top of the viewing deck at the Montparnasse Tower, or book tickets (approximately $12) to climb the Tour Saint Jacques, only open to visitors from June to September (five people at a time or a maximum group of 17 people).

Don’t: Fill Up on Croissants

 

We all swoon over those flaky golden crescents. But it would be a big mistake to limit yourself to Paris’s best-known pastries and miss out on deluxe confections that aren’t as well known, or as easily accessible, across the pond.

Instead: Save room for a variety of sweet treats

There is much more to Parisian pastries than croissants and macarons (although there is no contesting their star status). Take your sweet tooth to Fou de Patisserie; Jacques Genin (don’t miss the pâtes de fruits); Yann Couvreur in the 10th arrondissement;Bontemps Pâtisserie for sablés; or Maison Aleph (exquisite Levantine pastries) for a complete sampling of the city’s best treats from some of the country’s most talented chefs.

(Text Courtesy: CNTraveller)

Images courtesy of Pocket Wanderings, Discover Walks, A Paris Guide, The Bubble, Image Time Out, Rick Steves Europe and Paris Perfect

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