Paris for Paris haters.
May 8, 2014 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I am booking a trip where the most cost-effective option will have me spending about 24 hours alone in Paris with nothing much to do. I've been many times before, done all the tourist stuff, and honestly, don't really like the city. Some bad memories plus something about France just doesn't sit right with me. What's the least Paris-like place in Paris where I can enjoy my day/evening?

I'm a pretty seasoned traveler, and have been able to entertain myself alone in a dozen world cities... but Paris, man. Help me make it bearable and save the few hundred bucks it would take to change plans?

I would prefer not to just stay in my hotel, although if you know an amazing and not crazy expensive hotel, I might be open to the idea. Yes, I hate Paris that much. I speak a few words of French - can order in a restaurant if need be - but would prefer not to interact with any actual French people. Any cool ethnic enclaves I can hide out in? Expat hangouts to get dinner and drinks? I'd be getting in by train and flying out of CDG, as far as logistics go.
posted by jetsetlag to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (20 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Edited to Add: I really hope not to cause offense to anyone who lives in or is from Paris. I know objectively it's a great city... I've enjoyed other parts of France, I've worked for French companies with great colleagues, but for whatever reason I just seem to be allergic to Paris itself. Like, my mood plummets whenever I get off the plane/train. And if there's an off-the-beaten path way for me to actually enjoy myself, that would be a huge win. Especially since I'm likely to need to go back in the future.
posted by jetsetlag at 4:35 PM on May 8, 2014

Hello fellow Paris-hater! I'm glad I'm not the only one.

How about the Shakespeare & Company bookstore?
posted by bq at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

You could stop by Bob's Juice Bar for a little taste of California. The primary language (employees/customers) is English (although it's been a couple of years, so this might have changed). There's also Bob's Kitchen but I've never been there.
posted by acidic at 4:58 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

least paris-like place?

seriously though, i found la défense to be the part most unlike the rest of the city (albeit in an american/corporate way). also, the bibliothèque nationale is a good place to go if you don't want to be bothered.
posted by bruceo at 5:08 PM on May 8, 2014

This is probably not what you're after, but there's a large underground mall area -- "Les Halles" -- that's full of fairly generic mall-type stores. Didn't feel very French at all. Full of French people, as well as people from other ethnicities who seemed to be there just to shop.

There are the two large parks adjacent to the city, one to the east and one to the west. Maybe you'd enjoy hiking around there?

Where is your hotel?
posted by amtho at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2014

The Instuit Monde D'arbe is an Arabic cultural center and musuem designed by Noveau, and right on the Seine. It has strong, interesting programming, and according to some Algerian photographer friends, is much less racist than the rest of Paris: Also, the Goutte D'Or section of the 18th adrossiment and the Marche Berbre might be interesting for similar reasons.
posted by PinkMoose at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Breakfast in America
posted by dayintoday at 5:38 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

MetaFilter IRL?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:41 PM on May 8, 2014

Seconding oceanjesse -- I considered including this in my earlier response. Sounds like you should set up a meetup for fellow Metafilter users, all of whom will know at least some English. That sounds pretty cool, actually.
posted by amtho at 7:30 PM on May 8, 2014
posted by basketballandinternet at 9:29 PM on May 8, 2014
posted by basketballandinternet at 9:32 PM on May 8, 2014

if you *really* want out, you can always consider taking the Eurostar to London, and then come back later. Its a 2-hour trip, straight to St Pancras/King's Cross.
posted by alchemist at 12:05 AM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

La Defense definitely doesn't feel like Paris, but it's so boring. La Chapelle is pretty cool. Kind of like a little India/Sri Lanka... for some reason whenever I hung out there I felt like I was in San Francisco. But that just might be me. Chateau Rouge has a lot of African restaurants and stores but is kind of sketchy at times. Wikipedia tells me that there's also a Quartier Asiatique which I'd never even heard of (makes sense since I never visit the 13th arrondissement.) That might be worth checking out. For a nice quiet place to read/hang out, there's the American library, which I have not visited yet hear is awesome. As for expat hideouts, I LOVE WOS. Full of friendly English speakers, good beer and cider, and there's always a football game on TV.
posted by mollywas at 12:21 AM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are several expat groups in Paris on, so depending on what day of the week it is there is very likely to be something going on.

You could go to one of the shopping malls at Bercy, Beaugrenelle or Noisy-Le-Grand and spend the day shopping, sitting in a cafe or restaurant and going to the cinema, if the film titles have VO after them it means that the film is in English with French subtitles.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:04 AM on May 9, 2014

I live near La Defense. There's one of the biggest malls in the world there: Le Quatre Temps. Full of restaurants, a cinema (UGC), and shops for every taste. There are touchscreen maps throughout the mall, in several languages.

As an extra bonus, you'll mainly only have to deal with tourists. If you take the RER A, it gets to La Defense faster than metro line 1, too.

And you could always try a meetup, but in addition to being American, I am also French, so you might hate me. ;)
posted by fraula at 2:13 AM on May 9, 2014

Shop in foreign branded stores: eat at MacDonalds, get sandwiches from Marks and Spencers or visit Starbucks and buy things they don't serve at home. The incongruity of familiar experiences made unfamiliar is refreshing.
posted by epo at 3:14 AM on May 9, 2014

I'd stay near the airport, and then give myself a spa day.

Workout in the gym in the hotel. Then something unique. If you're a lady, try the O'Kari Hammam.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:45 AM on May 9, 2014

Feel like an indoor/outdoor water park? There's one just on the edge of Paris proper. Waterslides, wave pool, sand beach, pretty crowded so go early on a weekday. French swimsuit restrictions are unique, if that matters.
posted by wnissen at 8:42 AM on May 9, 2014

I found Paris to be one of the best cities in the world for the sheer number of movie theaters... with a huge number of them showing old classics, independent films, and international selections. If you want to avoid people, sitting in on a couple afternoon movies might do the trick. That's what I'd be doing.
posted by jimmereeno at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2014

You may have already taken your trip, but if not I suggest going to Sugarplum Cake Shop. It's an American café (with amazing carrot cake, rice crispy treats, filter coffee (or espresso you prefer)). Everyone who works there is American and you'll probably be greeted in English with a big, "Hello!".
posted by Blissful at 2:17 AM on May 26, 2014

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