Fun things to do in Paris in late Jan/Early Feb
January 30, 2009 3:03 AM   Subscribe

We will be in Paris from this Saturday to Monday, help us make the best of it.

So myself and Mrs nfg will be in Paris this weekend (flying in Sat morning, and home Mon night) and we're wondering what we should get up to. In a previous visit we saw most of the well known highlights, and generally tried to cover lots of ground wandering around and getting a sense for the place. This meant that we skipped some of the more time consuming sights (going up the Eiffel tower, boat trip on the Seine, or going into the Louvre for example). It would be nice to get some suggestions on things to do over the weekend. I'm mostly looking for three things:

1. Time consuming things which are really worth doing in your experience, and the best way to do them (the Louvre for example).

2. Quirky things that might be seasonal and are worth doing/going to see (along the lines of ice skating, which someone suggested we do).

3. Suggestions on what to do at night, for example we'd love some suggestions for good jazz bars.

At least the weather looks good, help us make the best of it!
posted by nfg to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle [location] is really great and somewhat quirky, as is the Musée de l'Homme [location], but of course I'm really into that sort of thing. The Louvre is absolutely worth visiting, even if you just choose part of it (the Near Eastern and Egyptian galleries are great, though I'm sure most here would walk right by that stuff to the big European paintings). Depending on your taste in art, however, the Musée d'Orsay [location] is absolutely spectacular.

Some of my favorite places in Paris are its cemeteries, particularly Père Lachaise [location] and Cimitière du Montparnasse [location]. If you're only going to visit one, make sure it's Lachaise, though Montparnasse isn't too far from the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Breton crèpes in Montparnasse.
posted by The Michael The at 4:25 AM on January 30, 2009

Oh, I forgot to mention that I adore the Centre Pompidou [location], the modern art collection of which is fantastic. It's probably my favorite museum in the world, and I've been to quite a few in several countries. Nearby is the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie [location], which is smallish but has some fantastic exhibitions; I didn't realize just how remarkable and imporant the exhibitions were until long after I came home. And close to there is the Île Saint-Louis, where you can get some great Berthillon ice cream [location] (probably not what you want in the dead of winter, though) and great views of either side of the Seine.
posted by The Michael The at 4:36 AM on January 30, 2009

I'll start by giving my generic Paris answer and that is - check the Paris tag. Almost everything is covered, including quirky, seasonal things and what to do in a weekend.

Jazz club - New Morning.

Time consuming stuff -

See Sainte-Chapelle. The queues are always long but it is absolutely worth it. Magical. After seeing it spend some time exploring the Ile St Louis and Ile de la Cite. Don't miss Square du Vert Galant, Place Dauphine, the Pont St Louis (there are often bands/buskers there) and Notre Dame. From there you can walk up into the Marais which is a nice area to explore on foot.

The Eiffel Tower. Again, you will just have to grin and bear it when it comes to queueing. Go all the way to the top. The winter display is still there at the moment.

The Catacombs. If you've never been to an ossuary/crypt before then go. Even if it doesn't seem to your taste it's worth having on the backburner in the event of bad weather. Takes around an hour.

The Louvre - if you have specific interests then you'll have to research them yourself, but if you're short of time and looking for a touristy overview then I'd skip the art there and just see the ancient antiquities, and go to the Orsay for the art. The Orsay is smaller, easier to see, and has all the big hits of modern art that you'll recognise. And it's worth getting a taste of both.

Seasonal stuff - there is an ice rink in front of the Hotel de Ville. Winter is definitely the best time to see Pere Lachaise. Try hiring a Velib, they are a joy. Much quicker than trailing around the metro.

Planning is the most important thing if you've got limited time. Double check opening hours and check what's on around the main stuff you're seeing should you need to change your plans.
posted by fire&wings at 5:12 AM on January 30, 2009

Thanks for great answers so far lads, fire&wings I know the stuff at the end of the paris tag like the back of my hand at this stage, was hoping to catch any 'late breaking news' so to speak.
posted by nfg at 5:52 AM on January 30, 2009

For the Jazz clubs i add :

Caveau de la Huchette
Duc des Lombards

Sunday there is a celebration for the chinese new year in the Paris chinatown

There is also a very popular Picasso exhibition at Le grand Palais

for an oriental walk in the park i recommand you le Jardin d’agronomie tropicale

and you can see Paris from the clouds with le Ballon air de Paris
posted by Jaloux Saboteur at 6:33 AM on January 30, 2009

If you're looking for anything that might be happening while you're over there, try some of these links - Tourist Info, Go Go, Paris Muse, Readings in Paris. This resource guide is also helpful for planning a trip.
posted by fire&wings at 6:45 AM on January 30, 2009

First, buy a baguette anywhere, and then go to the Marais and frenchify yourself. :-) Mrs. NFG will want a hat, scarf, and coat sold anywhere. Then, walk over to Notre Dame, go inside and catch a boat ride around the Seine, this will give you a sense of how the different neighborhoods are structured. If you are planning on doing the Eiffel tower, you can catch the boat from there as well.

Also... spend some time without an agenda. Just walk. It's one of those cities, like New York, where you come across the most interesting and unusual experiences by chance. I guarantee you will not regret it, even though you have limited time. For a while when I first visited Paris, I thought that I was visiting special "tourist" areas with amazing wine, cheese, meat shops, etc. When I veered off course, I realized that every nook and cranny of Paris was no less special than any other. Allow yourself to have a small bit of your own, unique experience.

Out of everything I did, the Louvre blew my mind the most. Be sure to go, and walk through the adjacent part afterwards. The biggest surprise was the Musee Dorsay. If you go and are short on time, go immediately to the top floor where the most amazing Impressionist paintings are shown.

Eat and drink as much as humanly possible. You absolutely CANNOT go wrong.

You are going to have the time of your life :-) Please do not spend it all at Museums, instead see some neighborhoods. They are much more interesting.
posted by xammerboy at 9:02 AM on January 30, 2009

Thanks for all the advice guys, we took most of it on board had a fantastic weekend.
posted by nfg at 4:08 AM on March 3, 2009

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