biggish group of design students traveling to Paris suggestions
May 22, 2012 2:21 AM   Subscribe

Paris filter: A group of 17 design students in their early 20s will spend 3 days in Paris next week. The aim of the trip is to visit places related to books: Bibliotheque National, shakespeare bookstore, beaubourg etc. We're looking for suggestions.

a) Things to see, museums, design related stuff, book related stuff, geeky stuff.
b) Places to eat where they cater for big groups without breaking the bank and still having good food. During the day street food things, and for dinner preferably restaurants.
c) Clubs
d) Many in the group are also runners. Parks or running itineraries.
e)Anything that comes to your mind.

posted by buck:fuller to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
a) La Hune, and the other bookshops suggested in this previously.
posted by holgate at 2:28 AM on May 22, 2012

Many literary greats are interred at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and Cimetière du Montparnasse. The former is extremely pretty to walk around in--shaded, old, and generally interesting. Definitely worth the trip. The latter is flat and relatively ordinary, but it's in a neighborhood with some art stores just down the street from the Tour Montparnasse, which offers the highest view of the city (though not really the best view).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:33 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't miss the Basillica of Sacre-Couer
posted by bardic at 3:17 AM on May 22, 2012

If you're going to the Bibliotheque National, you won't be far from the incredible Drouot Auction House. A walk though is a must for people interested in design. Amazing, ever changing stuff up for auction. Suggest posting your same question on the france forum, where someone will probably weigh in with a fantastic list/itinerary for your group.
posted by Elsie at 3:27 AM on May 22, 2012

highest view

Er, second highest. I don't think the highest/best is hard to guess. :)
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:34 AM on May 22, 2012

d: If you want to see PARIS while you run, you cannot do better than the Jardins Luxembourg. If you want a nice park but no monuments, Cite Universitaire and Parc Montsouris are both out of the way but easy to reach from the Notre Dame/St Michel/Latin Quarter area.

b: Street food options for me are crepes (both sweet and savory) and falafel. Lots of crepes at the Quartier Latin (my favorite is Creperie Cluny, because even street-side they make them fresh from two different batters, one sweet one savory). Falafel is big in the Marais, but honestly my favorite is maoz, which has a location in the Quartier Latin and another around Saint Germain. Some of the very known ones have long long lines and weird hours.

A group of 17 will be hard to accommodate for dinner in a lot of places here, especially without a reservation, in the spring/summer. If the weather is good I highly recommend picnicking as a way to have space and keep the price down. Or to make reservations online. One way I do that is with lafourchette, an online reservation service that also offers some really good discounts. You will need some French knowledge, and possibly a French phone number.

a: You can still visit some of the cafes that were big back in the day, and any house that some famous author lived in has at least a plaque to attest to it. The Maison Victor Hugo is definitely worth the visit. Your group may also be interested in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs and the Musee de la Vie Romantique.

If you have any science-geeks in your group, they need to go to the Musee des Arts et Metiers. This is a science museum for people who are already into science, as opposed to those designed to get kids interested in science.

Also, at the Cinemathque de Paris (not far from Mitterand), there is currently a Tim Burton exhibition. I've heard it's really cool, and is more about his art and design than the movies themselves.
posted by whatzit at 3:36 AM on May 22, 2012

The Paris public library system is amazing, and there are some gorgeous libraries (a personal favorite is the newish Marguerite Duras branch in the 20th). Assuming someone in your group can read French, check out the listings of what's currently going on in the libraries: I've seen some great book-related exhibits at the various branches, including a wonderful collection of pop-up and other mechanical books.

Seconding the idea of picnics as a good choice for your large group. This is a very Parisian thing to do, and you'll have a much better time fitting in than if you descend with more than ten people on an unsuspecting restaurant. Great places to picnic include along the banks of the Canal St. Martin (hipsters and arty-types getting drunk in the afternoon; usually a very friendly crowd that gets rowdy later on weekend evenings); the Buttes Chaumont park (bring a blanket and enjoy great views of Paris); the pointy end of the Ile de la Cité under the Pont Neuf (this is a mini-park with great views); on the pedestrian Pont des Arts (the one with all the lovers padlocks). Don't try to picnic in the Luxembourg gardens unless you stick to the very restricted areas where this is permitted. You will get moved by the employees whose job it is to police this type of activity in the warmer months.
posted by tractorfeed at 4:00 AM on May 22, 2012

Yes, seconding the Jardins Luxembourg for a run. Non-runners can have a salted caramel ice-cream.

Is the Left Bank obvious? There are a lot of book stalls down there. There's also a Canadian bookshop somewhere but thfor the life of me I can't recall whereabouts it is. There's also Boulinier, which has branches throughout the city - it's a record/comic/2nd hand bookstore where I picked up some novels for a French-speaking friend.

I really enjoyed going to the flea market at Porte De Vanves. If any of you are interested in textile design, there are a few stalls there selling offcuts and old women's magazines from the '50s.

Geeky stuff - Oya boardgaming cafe. I found that in terms of shops things were placed together - so there's a street of bookshops, street of wedding shops etc. There is a road somewhere in the centre which is clustered with them - I think it's near St Michel.
posted by mippy at 4:15 AM on May 22, 2012

I just got back from Paris and had a look through my Officiel des Spectacles. There's "Sous les pavées, le design", the place and role of designers in the public space at Le Lieu du Design. Tho judging by the site it's all going to be in French (it's free tho!).

The Canadian bookshop mippy mentions seems to be The Abbey Bookshop. Also on the left bank, it'll be unfar from Shakespeare.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:58 AM on May 22, 2012

On the weekends, the Parc Georges Brassens in the 15th has a used and antiquarian book market.

Depending on what aspects of design interest you, the Musée des arts décoratifs might be worth a visit. The decorative arts sections in the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay are also worth considering.

As for running, the Tuileries are popular, especially in the morning when there aren't a lot of tourists. The Bois de Vincennes, which can be reached via the metro (line 1 to château de Vincennes, or line 8 to Porte Dorée or Liberté), is a very nice place to run, especially around Lac Daumesnil.
posted by brianogilvie at 5:01 AM on May 22, 2012

The house of Victor Hugo, Place des Vosges.
posted by bru at 6:17 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

This may seem kind of out there, but bear with me. The Musée national du Moyen Âge has a set of tapestries that are really, truly a kind of precursor to the graphic novel: The Tapestry of Saint Stephen (La Tenture de saint Etienne). It's amazing, and the way the story is told in the tapestries is, I think, worthy of study for a designer. The museum itself is a gem, too.
posted by amtho at 6:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

So many great ideas already. Piggybacking on Monsieur Caution, the Panthéon also houses the remains of some writers (Hugo and Dumas are the most well-known) as well as major French political figures and scientists. I nerded out there. Plus, a Foucault's pendulum!

Does your group have to stay together at all times? Perhaps you could break down some sample itineraries by era: Those who want to study the design and decorative arts of the Middles Ages, here's your itinerary. Those who want to follow in the footpath of literary greats, here's another itinerary. Etc.

It's expensive, but the Café Procope is well worth a stop for a coffee and to bathe in the history of the place. The Café de Flore and the Deux Magots are not far away if you want another kind of literary history.

It's probably quite late to arrange this, but I have always been surprised by the number of antique book sellers and restorers in France. Maybe you could set up a meeting or demonstration with one of them?
posted by Liesl at 6:29 AM on May 22, 2012

The Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève.
posted by jann at 6:42 AM on May 22, 2012

If you're interested in stuff to actually make books with, go to Relma. That site doesn't have great pictures of the shop, but it's far better than the official website. The shop is in the 6th arrondissement.
posted by clockbound at 6:43 AM on May 22, 2012

Another lovely library is the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, on rue Pavée (near the Place des Vosges) . The Musée de la Vie Romantique is a quirky museum full of junk (and some good stuff) associated with George Sand and her circle.

For food - I would also recommend picnics; the Pont des Arts is another good location for an evening picnic - there are often buskers and a general party atmosphere. Or you could buy a Sandwich Grecque [kebab] on rue de la Huchette and sit on the parvis of Notre Dame. If you want to go out for dinner try Chartier an old-fashioned Belle Epoque restaurant, lots of character, classic rude waiters and pretty good standard brasserie food [and a very well translated website...] If you have student cards, and are looking for cheap food, try a Restaurant Universitaire. It's not fabulous quality (though better than standard UK university food) but it could make for a fun cross-cultural encounter.
posted by melisande at 7:08 AM on May 22, 2012

Balzac's house too.
posted by brujita at 7:51 AM on May 22, 2012

Victor Hugo's house is definitely worth visiting
posted by Flood at 9:19 AM on May 22, 2012

Are we talking favorite libraries? My favorite is the Mediatheque Marguerite Yourcenar in the 15th. Anyway, if you want city libraries, you should know they also do a lot of concerts, photo exhibits, and other events for freeee:
posted by whatzit at 9:32 AM on May 22, 2012

The biggest, strangest collection of weird, fascinating publications I have ever seen:

slide show of store.

pix of store.

more pix of store.

10 Rue Git-le-coeur. Walking instructions: Metro St. Michel. In the plaza St. Michel, face the big fountain. Take the street forking off to the right. Walk 50 meters and turn right onto Rue Saint Andre de Arts. The next right will be Git-le-couer. The store is 50 meters in on the left.

All I want to do for the rest of my life is catalog whatever is in that place.
posted by rexknobus at 9:33 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whenever I have asked, Parisians always say that the Tour Montparnasse has the best view of Paris, as it is the only view which does not include the Tour Montparnasse.
posted by notionoriety at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2012

The Buttes-Chaumont has already been mentioned, but only for picnics and views: it's also great for running (with a level run along both long 'sides', insofar as a kidney-bean shape has sides, a steep ascent/descent at either end, and beautifully changing perspectives as you go) and, in its loopy mid-C19th fantasist way, for design.

Similarly, the Parc de la Villette, also up in the 19th arrondissement, would combine these things very nicely. It's flat, unlike the Buttes-Chaumont, but it's packed full of weird late-C20th design artefacts that include a lot of follies as well as the science museum, the Grande Halle de la Villette (these two being retooled abattoirs from the 1970s and 1860s respectively), the cité de la Musique, an IMAX cinema housed inside a reflective geodesic dome, and a retired nuclear submarine. Lots and lots of things ticking box (a), in other words.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 2:53 AM on May 23, 2012

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