What to do in Paris?
February 13, 2015 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me hit the highlights of Paris?

Work is sending me to Paris, for a week in March. I know nothing about Paris, other than the blindingly obvious, so I'm looking for recommendations for:
- must-see/do activities
- great places to eat
- anything that's badly overrated

I'm not a huge fan of art galleries, so planning to skip the Louvre (at least until I visit with Mrs Dave), quite enjoy museums and architecture/engineering, and classical music. I'll be staying in Issy-les-Moulineaux, and will have most evenings and most of a weekend to explore. Any suggestions for a good place to meet up with a bunch of folks who are coming into town would also be wonderful.
posted by coriolisdave to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (43 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Do. Not. Skip. The. Louvre. (Whatareyoucrazy?) Just for the archetecture and Mona alone it's worth it.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:10 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Also right next door is notre dame...and don't fill up on snacks before you go, the food is so insanely good you really won't believe it)
posted by sexyrobot at 2:12 PM on February 13, 2015

Louvre, I have spent exactly 2 days in Paris, on the first day I decided to do the Louvre tomorrow, which was a Tuesday, turns out the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays (or at least it was then). Regretted that one ever since.
posted by Cosine at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2015

There are people who spend weeks or months working on researching this exact question and writing books about the subject. You'll be way better off buying, reading, and carrying one of them than getting a few quick answers from strangers on the internet.

Suggested Paris itineraries from:
Rick Steves
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2015

If you were only going to see one art museum in Paris, you could make the case for the Musee d'Orsay. It has a lot of impressionist works and the architecture of the building is quite lovely (it's a re-purposed train station). Likewise with your interest in architecture, the Centre Pompidou contains a modern art musuem and undoubtedly you've seen what the facade of this building looks like. It is quite nice to see in person.
posted by mmascolino at 2:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

See, while the Louvre is iconic, I really LOVED the Pompidou. But I love modern art and sculpture.

Hit Angelina for a pot of African Hot Chocolate and a pastry. It's so freaking yummy!

If you have an interest, check out the Catacombs.

Just walk around the Left Bank in the evening. It's magical and full of activity!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:25 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm coming here to disrec the Louvre.

It is just... too much. It's huge, and exhausting. The only reason that I don't regret going is that I didn't pay admission. I recommend one of the smaller museums, like Orsay. Much more manageable and you can enjoy it more since it's not ALL THE PAINTINGS.

Also the Mona Lisa is overrated, especially since some fool of a curator put her right opposite the much larger and more stunning Wedding at Cana.
posted by Tamanna at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Smaller museum: Musée du Moyen Age. Awesome.
posted by amtho at 2:32 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Lots and lots of previouslies here. On the architecture/engineering side, there is a peripheral tramway that connects Issy with La Défense, and that's definitely worth a visit if you have the chance for its contrast with the city's historical core.
posted by holgate at 2:42 PM on February 13, 2015

If high Gothic architecture is your bag, you should visit Sante Chapelle because it's glorious and you will float in a sea of stained glass.
posted by PussKillian at 2:49 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

My favorite thing in Paris was just to walk around in the neighborhoods. I especially liked Montmartre, Le Marais, and the area around the Sorbonne.
posted by desjardins at 3:02 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think everybody has different favorite parts of Paris. My favorite is hiking up to Sacre Couer and then winding down Montmartre to Moulin Rouge, and then walking along the Thames in the twilight. Sacre Couer is my favorite church ever, though I haven't visited too many churches.

I think climbing/taking the elevator up the Eiffel Tower is overrated. You can get a similar view for a lot cheaper/less work/less waiting at the top of Arc de Triomphe, plus then you also get to see Champs Elysee. Plus, every city is a tower-thing now.
posted by ethidda at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree that Musee D'Orsay should be on your list--it's one of the best museums I've ever seen. It's definitely worth your time to head up to Montmarte. The neighborhood has great cafes and interesting little shops, and the Basilisque Sacre Coeur has great views of the city.

It's a total tourist thing, but I loved taking a boat along the Seine, as it was a wonderful way to see central Paris. Also, I recommend just walking along the river whenever possible.

Full disclosure: I've been to Paris twice and both times skipped the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. They might be lovely. I'll never know.
posted by mjm101 at 3:10 PM on February 13, 2015

Rodin museum is always on my 'must see' list.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I agree that you should visit The Musee D'Orsay, Montmartre and Pompidou.

Also probably Notre Dame, Pont Nuef and a nice walk along the Seine. Maybe a stroll down Rue Cler?

I have not visited either the Louvre or gone up the Eiffel Tower and I probably won't. Well, if I spend a month in Paris, I'll probably move into the Louvre, but otherwise it seems like too little and too much.

I really want to visit the Cluny and L'Orangerie next visit.
posted by Duffington at 3:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

L'As du Fallafel. Hands down the best falafel I have ever eaten. €5 of pure bliss stuffed into a pita. I've been back five or six times, and it never disappoints. Get the extra aubergine & spicy sauce.
posted by terretu at 3:36 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

The Hôtel Carnavalet--the sign galleries are delightful.
Time-Out's list of archaeological museums.
And if you like home repair and improvement-- Leroy Merlin.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:46 PM on February 13, 2015

Do you like crypts full of famous people? The Pantheon is pretty cool.

And this is a museum you don't want to miss and can do in an afternoon. It is art, and you've seen it all in books, but damn, if seeing this. full size doesn't rekindle your sense of mystery there is something wrong.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding both Sainte-Chapelle and L'As du Fallafel. Although if the line's too long at L'As (which it often is), walk down the block (to your left as you're facing the front door) to Chez H'anna, which is IME just as good.
posted by asterix at 4:28 PM on February 13, 2015

The Musee d'Orsay will restore your love of humanity. Arrestingly beautiful paintings and sculpture with nary a crucifix to be seen.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:29 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hit post instead of preview. There are all kinds of hidden places in the Latin Quarter. Big wooden gate? Push on it.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just off the top of my head, the things that stand out are the catacombs, the top of the arc de triumph, the Musee de la Musique is amazing, the grounds/park near the tower are great for people watching, the louvre is nice but not for the mona lisa... but if you're there you have to see it, right? Versailles is pretty good but marie antoinette's peasant village is just surreal, in a good way.

Walking around anywhere in Paris is pretty great.
posted by Huck500 at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would just explore a little. I went with my family and we had almost no plan, but wandering the streets of Paris, stumbling upon in non-touristy cafes to get baguettes, stopping at crepe stands, and just exploring a bit was fun. However, I did like Notre Dame and the area along the river.

But if you're walking around alone and clearly a westerner, you may be a target for scams. I know someone who went to Paris alone for a little vacation while she had to travel to Europe for work -- she was an American and a female, which it seems like you aren't, but she did find was she was a magnet for scam artists. Maybe as a guy you won't encounter it as much, but I'd watch out for it because it sure put a damper on her trip. She literally couldn't go anywhere without begger children or scam artist adults pestering her and not taking her polite refusals. She thought maybe she should've pretended to speak some other language, or been more forceful with ignoring/denying the scammers.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just putting it out there that I am not into art and I hated the Louvre. Okay I was 16 but I haven't changed much in that area since. I did like the D'Orsay okay.

I LOVED the Musee Picasso. Very interesting and accessible, with lots of information for the casual visitor. You're in luck because it was closed for 5 years but reopened in November.
posted by radioamy at 6:17 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is kind a splurge, but you should see if the brasserie La Coupole in the 14th/Montparnasse tickles your fancy. I loved it, and that was before I learned about her history and famous regulars.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:32 PM on February 13, 2015

Paris scams I've encountered :

The women in headscarves asking "do you speak English?" near tourist sites.

The women who pretend to pick up a "gold" ring as they're approached, ask if it's yours, insist that you take it when you claim it isn't and then demand money.

I've walked straight past them in both cases: a friend was sucked into the gold ring one.

I've also heard of the red string bracelet scam, similar to the gold ring.
posted by brujita at 6:45 PM on February 13, 2015

Best answer: As with most places, there's a ton of stuff to see and do in Paris. My strongest recommendation is to not try to take everything in, but avail yourself to it all. What to do? Well, I'd suggest procuring a copy of the various Paris travel books that're out. Fun to read, pretty pictures, and a ton of ideas. Also good reading for when you're about to snooze or on the pooper, and provides a little bit of background to things you may see or have already seen on your trip.

Write down a list of things you'd like to see (I'll post some recommendations below). Fire up Google Maps. Mark everything down (click "Save" to mark the place with a star). Cache your map on your phone (enter "ok maps" in the Maps app). Don't forget to mark "Home!"

Great! Now when you get to Paris, you'll undoubtedly come across one of the many paper folding maps of the city. They're awesome to navigate by, have all the major landmarks and destinations, and have maps of the metro. Now all you've gotta do is look at Google Maps, and draw circles around everything you've saved.

Pizacake! Congratulations! You've just done 90% of the work! Now all you've gotta do is pick a single destination, walk out your bunker, turn left or right and hit the RER or metro and just kinda sorta get close to it. Then walk around. Whatever's nearby, hit it! See something that you haven't marked down but looks neat? Go! Then hit whatever's nearby!

You'll see a whole bunch of stuff. You'll never be bored. You'll never really be lost. And you're not forcing yourself to fit in a billion things into an itinerary. Don't feel like you're going to miss out on X, Y, or Z. You will absolutely miss stuff. That's ok! Just make one destination per evening/day, and branch out from there.

Things you should definitely look into before your trip:
- look into how the metro works
- where you'll be staying, exactly. Which metro stop is closest? Is there an RER stop nearby? From where you're at, you can either take the RER C or the 12 train (the RER system is separate from the metro). Buy your carnets in the books of 10, good for travel within Paris proper (zones 1-2, which you'll be in). There are also Paris Visite tickets you can purchase for unlimited travel over 1-5 days, but this tends to be more expensive, I think: remember, you'll be walking a ton!
- find out if your credit cards have foreign transaction fees. Looks like you're coming from Australia, and so you should be familiar with chip and PIN cards. Travelers from the US don't have chip and PIN yet-- we've got chip and signature, which won't work for most automated kiosks
- find out how much you can withdraw with your ATM card per day, and use it! Better than hauling a bunch of cash around
- tell your bank and credit card companies that you'll be traveling, so there are no unexpected freezes to your account out of security concerns
- find out which and when museums are open late, and when they have free days. Things tend to get a little less busy into the evening.

Things to see and do:
- yeah, yeah. The Louvre. It's tremendously huge. You'll never see everything in one visit, or ten. I think it's always worth seeing, even if your first visit is a quick run-through. Skip the main entrance and the line and enter via Passage Richelieu or Port des Lions entrances (marked at 1 o'clock and 7 o'clock on this map)
- Musée d'Orsay. Absolutely. Take a guided tour if you've time: it's well worth it. Check out the clock from the inside! And don't forget to check it out from the outside at night!
- the Montmartre funicular. Totally sweat! I mean, you're gonna walk around Montmartre, right?
- if you're going west, and want to check out some nifty buildings, take a look at La Cinémathèque française, very near by the Bibliothèque nationale, which is superimposing. You'll cross the neat Simone de Beauvoir bridge. Don't forget to get some nifty postcards from the Cinémathèque, which you can mail from the Eiffel Tower for a cancellation mark. Take your chances and drop it in a yellow postbox (be sure you drop your correspondence in the proper, international mail slot!), or mail it from the small office at the south pillar. The Cinémathèque sells cool stamps!
- L'As du Fallafel is indeed pretty good. Lenny Kravitz recommends it! And it's a perfect destination/excuse to walk through the Marais
- there's a very small Japantown, with noodles. Ramen. You know. Lenny Kravitz probably didn't recommend it, and I'm not sure I would, either. But hell, if you're in the area, look up Higuma on rue Sainte Anne. Ain't the best, but it's good enough, and near stuff. Gets crazy busy, go early or late. Bunch of other places to eat around there, too
- hell, might as well walk westward and up the Champs-Élysées! Oh, hey, there's tons of stuff I've got circled around there! Like the Musée de l'Orangerie, Ladurée for macarons (if you really wanna go nuts, there are a TON of places to get fine macarons, in different styles, all over the place!), and rue Saint-Honoré, where you can spend the couple hundred thousand euros you've got laying around
- rue Cler, when you inevitably head for the Eiffel Tower. Cute (some would argue overpriced) market street. But the food really is pretty damn good! If you're more to the east, you could check out the market on August Blanqui in Place d'Italie. Check hours/days. The latter market is right outside the metro stop, and can be part of a trip to the library and the Cinémathèque française. Holy cow I'm hungry
- if you're around the Pantheon, you could try looking for the steps seen in Midnight in Paris and be amused at how framing and shot selection really makes it look different
- oh, while you're at it, check out La Samaritaine, across Pont Neuf. You know, like Jason Bourne. See how ridiculous the movie is and how obvious anyone standing on its roof would be!
- if you're anywhere near Notre Dame (and you will seem to be, all the time!) be sure to stop by Le Trumilou for dinner! Might wanna check the menu out first, to see if it's your style. They've got a kickass Attack From Mars! pinball machine. Good luck: the quiet fellow behind the bar looking you up and down? Myeah, he's trying to figure out if you're competition for him. Which you're not. Which no one is. They'll plug the machine in for you (just look at the machine, point to your chest, say "JUH SWEE BEST!" No, don't say that, really. Just look at it forlornly and they'll plug it in!). Have a beer, bring some change! Cry. Ah, Le Trumilou: did you bring your Pepto Bismol?
- really, walk. Take a boat tour up and down the river: why not? See the bridges from another angle. Walk along the Seine at night. Beautiful!
- one more thing: do you like trains? Check out Gare du Nord and its huge departures board! Stick around, and listen to the thing spin places and time. Chikkachikkachikkachikka!
- oh, ok. One last thing: the Latin Quarter at night. The end.

I think that's it for me. There are fifty billion things to see, much more obvious than the above. Mark 'em all down on the map! Walk around! Buy and eat food, always. And keep your folding paper map for future trips. Take notes on it. Tape it together. Keep it safe. Have fun!

Whoops, one last thing: for your music fix, try Sainte Chapelle. It's pretty pretty inside. It's right next to the Conciergerie, which is pretty nifty, too. Actually, it's near everything! And of course check out the Paris Opera.
posted by herrdoktor at 7:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [24 favorites]

Ugh, one more thing: look into the Museum Pass. Not only is it a bargain if you think you're going to go the a bunch of museums, but it's also a perfect backup for finding toilets. Caution: read up on where you're granted entry for any restrictions (eg: days, hours), and whether or not it includes special exhibits (eg: it didn't for an exhibit at the Pompidou). Well worth it, in my opinion.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:09 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I like the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides for first time visits to new cities. They give a good overview - a bit of history, major areas, must-see sites.

I'd say give the Louvre a pass if you aren't dying to see it. I was so disappointed with the environment these treasures of art - the visitors don't give a damn, the staff doesn't give a damn, flash photos everywhere. Shameful. I thought it would be like a church with dedicated staff and reverent visitors but it was nothing like that. The Orsay was fantastic. Everything I thought the Louvre would be. I got chills when I saw the Van Goghs.

The Eiffel Tower sparkles at the top of the hour at night. It's touristy but it's a fun community experience - people have picnics and sometimes people clap at the end. The downside is the guys who constantly come around selling bottles of wine and crap souvenirs but they do go away when you say no or just ignore them.

One thing we didn't do that we wanted was to have a picnic on one of the bridges over the Seine. We saw a group of younger people doing that the first time we went and it looked delightful.

Our other favorite experiences were things like sitting in the plaza in front of Notre Dame just watching people and admiring the architecture. One night there were fire dancers! We saw some amazing things just wandering around that amazing city. So do yourself a favor and don't plan a bunch of specific things. Just explore. Have a great trip! We can't wait to go back!
posted by Beti at 10:47 PM on February 13, 2015

Nthing skipping the Louvre! If you're really not into art museums, and will be returning with someone who is, don't bother. Musee d'Orsay IS lovely, but I arrived an hour before opening, and waited that entire time in line! (this during late fall, too.)

If you are a fan of architecture, obviously the entire city is a treat, but I have to +1 for wandering around the Marais. If you like tea, you must visit Mariage Frères. While they have several shops in Paris, the Marais location is the original. The Mariage family founded the business in 1854, but the family began traveling the world to buy exotic goods for royals in the mid-1600s. They have both a tea room and a retail shop. It smells heavenly, and is very fancy!

Of course you have to wander along the Seine at twilight.
posted by missmary6 at 10:49 PM on February 13, 2015

Père Lachaise is all the way across town, but could be a good point to backtrack from.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation recently opened. You could let us know if it's any good.

Nthing Musée d'Orsay over the Louvre.
posted by lowest east side at 11:09 PM on February 13, 2015

The current long-running special exhibit at the Branly is about the history and practice of tattoos and tattooing throughout different time periods and in different cultures. I saw it last summer, and it was fascinating. It'll be there until October of this year.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:21 PM on February 13, 2015

Herrdoktor's comment that you marked as best answer really is excellent. I wanted to add an additional bit to his suggestion about the Museum Pass--I liked having it for all the reasons he states but also because it removed a lot of the self-imposed anxious pressure to SEE ALL THE THINGS in any museum I went to. I knew I could pop in for just a short time to any one of them and then leave before I got exhausted, because I could always go back the next day.

Re: places to eat--we tried out Les Fines Geules because of a recommendation on David Leibowitz's blog. It was wonderful!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:38 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

You love architecture? Right well, wander the 16th Arrondissement. Art Nouveau heaven.

When you've wandered that, hit the Palais de Tokyo. Then right nearby is my favourite hideaway - the Galerie Musee Baccarat which is like having an Alice in Wonderland moment. Go to the loos there and prepare to swoon.

Other places in Paris:

I LOVED 104/centquatre which is a great repurposing of a morgue into a fantastic art space. Really, it's fab.

You must try the old rag workshop/now unconventional restaurant Le Derriere for the great food and the quirky and fun design. it's set up like being in someone's house, so there's a living room with a ping pong table and loads of books, a tatty bedroom with tables set up against the side of the bed, a smoking room that you enter via a wardrobe etc [Maybe that sounds cheesy, but not in Paris. It's done well, serves terrific food. Been there many times and every time has been amazeballs. Also excellent wines]

Also try Le China for French/Chinese fusion, great service, and sexy, beautiful decor. Plenty of room, awesome cocktails, old style colonial meets French escapism. Love it.

These are both reasonably priced places and unique designed spaces.

I love Marche Monge food markets in the fifth arr for beautiful produce and a great atmosphere. Cheese, baby, load up.

And of course, nothing whiles away the days learning more French than wandering flea markets.

Shop at Merci on boulevard Beaumarchais - that shop is a dream for design, spaces and has a library cafe that is a lovely retreat when the shopping is too much.
posted by honey-barbara at 12:28 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions all, really appreciate it. I'd forgotten to ask about markets!

Any markets in particular that I should check out (our avoid)? I love me a good market!
posted by coriolisdave at 12:51 AM on February 14, 2015

I've left the most important for last. Learn to scan the footpath for dog shit — this in my experience is a rolling sweep of the eyes 3 or 4 metres ahead of you as you walk, crowd conditions permitting. All Parisians do this. Copy them.
posted by Wolof at 2:00 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Years ago family members visited the Cite de l'architecture et du patrimoine (link is to blog entry about it) and it is filled with models of buildings. (link to english version of museum website)

As someone who enjoys architecture and engineering, you may enjoy this.

A building with a cool architectural feature: Institute du Monde Arabe has a museum of art as well as this huge facade pierced with photosensitive apertures that is quite beautiful and functional (although back when I was there (admittedly a million years ago) they didn't work all the time; it is still beautiful even when non-functional).
posted by sciencegeek at 3:19 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

All the markets are great. The Marche Aux Puces is famous, and one of these days, I'm going to wander around it.

Here's a list of markets.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:41 AM on February 14, 2015

If you are in Paris for the first time, and expect to be back with your spouse, I strongly recommend just just walking around. Eat well, and yes, visit the markets. Get advice from these blogs: david lebovitz and hungry for paris
Personally, I like newer museums like Palais de Tokyo and Branly better than the Louvre, but I always remind myself that Paris will most likely stay where it is. The only place I visit every time is Sainte-Chapelle, mentioned above
posted by mumimor at 10:14 AM on February 14, 2015

Lots of good info above. It does sound like you'll be a bit constrained for time. Just to add a couple of things:

The Musée des Arts et Métiers might be of interest. It's a science and tech museum with a heavy dose of steampunk-ish stuff from the 1800s, but also some more modern stuff. Just north of the Marais, easy to get to, worth a couple of hours, I enjoyed it a lot. It has its own Métro station which was redone in steampunk style in the 1990s.

You don't have to go up the Eiffel Tower to see it, of course. The area around Palais de Chaillot/Trocadéro across the river has great views. Your friends at home will be perfectly happy to see you in a photo with the Tower in the background. The nighttime illuminated view is great, too.

But if you do go to the top, buy a ticket online in advance. The walk-up lines can be horrendous. Note that if you don't spend hours in line, the Eiffel Tower actually doesn't take that much time to do. Go to the top, enjoy the view, have a plastic flute of champagne if the bar's open, you're done in half an hour.

Notre Dame also can have big, long lines to get in. If you want to tackle it, try to get there super early, and have a plan B in case you're not willing to spend time in line.

Catacombs are another place that can have unavoidably long lines. They limit visitors to 200 at any given time, for good safety and security reasons. Worth doing, but get there early and/or plan accordingly if you decide to do it.

If you've got a bit of French, the Gault et Millau online guide is a good central point for researching restaurants, not just the unbelievably expensive, but also the nice places in a more regular person's price range.

Paris Visite pass for transportation and Paris Museum pass are a very common tourist combo, and for good reason. Major convenience factor in both.

For 1800s/early 1900s architectural decor, you can visit the Opéra Garnier and walk around the premises for about 10 euros or so, and think about what it could have been that made Le Corbusier hate it so much. Views from the front (outdoor) balconies are more great photo-ops. The flagship Galeries Lafayette store is very close by, with its ornate interior dome from about 1910 or so, and is a tourist destination for the shopping, of course. Either of those are examples of something you could do without a lot of time or commitment.
posted by gimonca at 10:17 AM on February 14, 2015

Paris is amazing and you could easily spend a month. Issy-les-Moulineaux is kind of out in the 'burbs, you want to be familiar with how to use the RER or Metro to get into the city itself.

One new suggestion: Paris Walks, which runs low-key walking tours in English every day. No need to reserve or anything, just pick a walk that sounds interesting and show up at the meeting place. They tend to be quite academic and thoughtful, often young professors or students from the Sorbonne.

The Eiffel Tower is overrated, don't waste time waiting in line to go up. Do go if it's a short line and the weather is clear enough for the view. The Trocadero just across the Seine has a marvelous view from the terrace back to the tower, there's a metro stop at the top you can go to and avoid the climb.

I suggest the Musee d'Orsay too, but specifically suggest when you get inside to go immediately to the back left, top floor, where the Impressionist paintings are. That's the highlight of the Orsay and you want to see them before you get tired. Then see the rest as you have time and energy. Also unless it's changed, you can avoid the horrible ticket line by buying a ticket in person a day or more in advance, or else getting one of the combo museum passes. There are similar tricks for avoiding the Louvre ticket lines too. (Also watch out for pickpockets; most of Paris is very safe but they prey on the Orsay visitors and the Paris police for some reason ignore them.)
posted by Nelson at 8:16 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sorry if someone already mentioned this (I skimmed through the responses and didn't see it) but if you go to Notre Dame, make sure to go up to the top to see the gargoyles and view of Paris. MUCH better than the top of the Eiffel Tower in my opinion as you are just not so high up and can see more of the city. Plus the gargoyles are just really cool.
posted by seraph9 at 6:20 AM on February 16, 2015

I saw this question late and sorry if someone already got to it, but when I visited Paris for two weeks a couple years ago the Metro Paris Subway app (for iphone) was invaluable. It doesn't require wifi, and all you need to do is input the starting metro station and the ending metro station (which would usually be listed next to the corresponding attraction/spot in my guidebook) and the app would list out exactly which connections you'd need to make to get there most efficiently. Just a few days in and I was navigating the metro like I lived there.
posted by sprezzy at 8:04 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

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