An American Idiot In Paris.
December 31, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

American Male In Paris For The First TIme: I've read the previous questions but looking for some exact things. I'll be staying in Monmartre' for a few weeks and looking for things that are uniquely Parisian, laid back gay spots, and clothing that'll make me look halfway human. Details below.

1) I'm staying for an extended time, so after I get the Tourist Checklist done, I'd like to feel a feel for the neighborhoods and the daily life of the city. My reading French is "okay" but my speaking French is *terrible*. Are there still tiny movie theaters?

2) I have an allergy to loud dance music but I also want to check out cute boys. What do I do to keep from getting a splitting headache?

3) My wardrobe is dying all around and for some reason I thought a trip to Paris would be the best way to perk it back up. Looking for clothing, cuts, or styles that are not normally found or hard to find in the States. Money is a *bit* of an issue, so it'll either be one big big item or a collection of awesome everyday stuff-accessories. I'm about 5'11 and on the husky end of 210lb and tend toward more traditional styles. Where would I shop?
posted by The Whelk to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
1) There is a small cinema in Montmarte - Studio 28. You'll get some other ideas on interesting cinemas from this question. If your French isn't 100% then look for "VO" on the posters - version originale.

2) I have no experience of the gay scene in Paris so can't give specific advice, but there are a lot of gay bars in the Marais.
posted by fire&wings at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2009

When are you going? I'm not sure if you know about the French phenomenon of soldes: instead of having sales whenever they feel like it, Parisian stores are required by law to have their sales during a specified time period. That means that literally every store will have steep discounts. It looks like the next wave is from January 6 to February 9. The last time I was in Paris, it was coincidentally summer soldes, and it was freaking awesome. Here's a very web 1.0 list of the major department stores-- people there will speak English, and they'll have any item of clothing you'll need.

And I can't recommend a specific bar or club, but le Marais is the hip gay arrondisement.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Jan 3rd thorugh most of Jan, with a quick trip to Prague in the middle.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 AM on December 31, 2009

Hey Whelk! Looking forward to meeting you in person. I don't know much about the gay bars, although it's definitely true that the marais is reputed to be the place to go, but I can definitely help you out with the cinemas. Parisians love cinema, and we do too. We go all the time; in fact we have an "all you can eat" subscription to the UGC-owned cinemas (which include UGC and MK2) which comes out to about 35 euros a month for two people. There are also tons of tiny and charming (read: not stadium seating, no popcorn) cinemas in Paris. You should pick up a copy of one of the weekly publications like Pariscope or l'Officiel des Spectacles -- my favorite, if only because of the awesome 70s font -- which are like the listings section of the Village Voice only for Paris, and in a smaller format, and not free, although less than a euro. Any of the cinemas with "Action" in their name (mostly located in the 5th) are great arthouse venues with lots of revivals and indie stuff. I can't recall ever coming across a film that was not in V.O. which means "original version" for the audio track, which means that it's subtitled rather than dubbed. So you can see lots of US films without knowing a lick of French, sometimes even before they're released in the US. When we first got here we went to a ton of films in the David Lynch retrospective series, and the Orson Welles retrospective, and the Lars von Trier retrospective...

In short, there's certainly the option of sitting in a local cinema with the locals, watching some black and white American film from the 40s. The cinemas are no longer smoky, in fact nothing is here since the smoking ban, and sometimes you'll find that you're the only one in the whole theater who's laughing because something got lost in translation, but it is definitely a fine way to see non-touristy Paris.
posted by tractorfeed at 9:59 AM on December 31, 2009

I can really only help you with your first question.

If you want to get a feel for neighborhoods, almost any one will do. They're all different and each holds a special kind of charm.

Aside from the Marais, as others have suggested, you can combine your tiny-movie-theatre quest with a walk through the Quartier Latin (5th arrondissement), which hosts some of the city's best small cinemas. While you're there you might as well walk over to visit the slightly posher area of St. Germain (6th arrondissement) next door.

For slightly less touristy areas, try:
- Strasbourg St. Denis between boulevard St. Martin and Gare de l'Est (ethnic meets branché)
- the rue de Charonne and rue du Fbg. St. Antoine (Bastille edging into the 11th and 12th arrondissements)
- the bars on the rue St. Maur/rue Ménilmontant (11th and 20th arrondissements)

The Jardin de Luxembourg is beautiful, don't miss it; but the hip northeastern Parisians go to the Butte Chaumont. There's a pretty neat bar in the park called the Rosa Bonheur.

Oinopaponton is correct about the sales. You'll hardly be able to miss them. Great time to shop, but watch the crowds, they can be overwhelming and the French are very serious about les soldes.

Some general advice: if you can't afford to take taxis all over the place, buy a métro pass and take the bus -- any bus. It takes a bit longer to get where you're going, but it's a great way to see the city and its people.

Don't worry too much about your French. Smile. Be sure you know how to say "excuse me," "thank you" and "a glass of red wine, please," and you'll be just fine. Have a great time.
posted by Paris Elk at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2009

Oh! This is also a good resource for English-language cinema in Paris:
posted by tractorfeed at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2009

hoo, be glad that I saw this question today! because I'll share with you my favorite little Parisian secret! (and I hope you like it too)

In the Marais, there's a tiny little vintage shop with the best clothes and the most incredible prices with a shockingly good €3 bin. (Google Free'p'star for more info, but you can trust me on this one). Head downstairs for the men's (you'll be sure to find some cute boys there) and brace yourself because it gets busy. That whole little area is great for people-watching(/oggling).

I also really enjoyed visiting the cinémathèque fraçaise. They have screenings of all kinds of film, a pretty great permanent collection if you're into the history of cinema, and fantastic exhibitions (I saw one on Dennis Hopper that I enjoyed a lot without knowing I would).

It's taken a long time for me to warm up to Paris, but after finding these two gems I'm pretty into this seduction. I look forward to finding more if I can make it back to France.
Bon voyage!
posted by inkytea at 11:27 AM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey tractorfeed! I'll probably tell you this in person but thanks for the english language movie list - I
ve got plans to see Inglorious Basterds tomorrow cause I want the universe to fold in on its self.
posted by The Whelk at 6:36 AM on January 9, 2010

This is but a mere bagatelle in your exciting sejour, but since no-one else had mentioned I though I might.
Regarding the bit about your aversion to loud dance music: I have a similar sort of thing... I find I enjoy myself a lot more at clubs and concerts when my eardrums are not being battered to death, so I just take along a pair of earplugs. Disposable foam earplugs aren't a good idea as the sound will be all muddy, but if you invest in a nice pair of $10-$20 earplugs you can still hear the music as it should be, just less harsh. Here are two brands worth checking out.

Enjoy your time in Paris!
posted by mandrake at 7:16 AM on January 10, 2010

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