Tell me what’s good in Paris
February 14, 2022 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Planning to be in Paris the week of March 14. What should I see, do, eat? I’ve been very COVID conservative at home, so I feel a little wary of restaurants/bars. Outdoor suggestions appreciated. How is masking there now?

Things I like when it’s not a global pandemic: immersive theater, art, food, anything magical/unique/surprising, good music, beautiful places, anything offbeat or weird or one-time.
posted by shadygrove to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
In which part of Paris will you be staying?
posted by SoberHighland at 7:32 PM on February 14

Response by poster: Staying at Hotel Joke, near Montmartre
posted by shadygrove at 7:46 PM on February 14

There is The Brasserie near The Madeline, which had good breakfast, at least a while back. The omlette Compagnard was a good plate.
posted by Oyéah at 8:38 PM on February 14

Best answer: You might find the Rodin Museum magic/unique/surprising. Many of the exhibits are outdoors.
posted by JonJacky at 9:05 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Paris is certainly beautiful and romantic, but one of the best experiences I had there was visiting the Paris Sewer Museum. Despite the name it’s actually a history of Paris itself, from its origins as a Roman outpost to its growth into one of the greatest cities in the world, a growth only made possible by technological developments addressing the primary needs of a city: Getting fresh water in to its denizens, and flushing waste out. The museum is actually located in the Paris sewers, which is great for being able to see history with your own eyes, but unfortunately you can also smell it (though it’s not as bad as you’d think).
posted by ejs at 9:08 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]

Walk! You’re in Paris. There are parks and art everywhere. Walk some more. Then get a falafel sandwich from the window.. Go to a outdoor market. Sit at a cafe outdoors and people watch. Ride a bike. The best parts of Paris are outside.
posted by morchella at 9:13 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]

In Paris (and all of France) you need proof of vaccination to sit down (even outside) at cafes and restaurants, and enter other cultural spaces like museums. Have you checked that you can prove your vaccine status (scroll down to To obtain a vaccine or booster pass if vaccinated in the United States)?

You will have to wear a mask at all indoor spaces, on public transport, plus in some outdoor spaces like bus stops, outdoor markets, and others.

Despite all this Paris is still very much open for tourists, the weather has been lovely recently, I haven’t done many touristy things I can recommend unfortunately but have a lovely time and feel free to memail me if you have any questions.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:05 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cookbook author, David Lebovitz, has provided an excellent list of places to eat and visit on his blog. I like his list because it includes innovative, modest places. He also provides information on classes, markets, and ateliers so have a good look around his blog here under the Paris category.
posted by jadepearl at 12:05 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]

Best answer: It's a touristy destination for sure, but the Musee d'Orsay. If you haven't seen a Van Gogh in real life before I can't recommend going and seeing them enough, I found it a magical experience that bought me to tears. The paintings look completely different in 3d than they do as a print on the page. And if you have seen one before the amazing collection of art is totally worth a visit, and much more doable in one visit than the Louvre.
posted by wwax at 5:13 AM on February 15

Response by poster: Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I’ve been to Paris before and have the obvious things covered. Looking for special experiences taking place as one-offs that week or unique or new places I might never have heard of. Definitely will be doing lots of strolling/“flaneuring” and seeing the museums!
posted by shadygrove at 6:04 AM on February 15

Best answer: Arsène Lupin!
posted by MelissaSimon at 7:30 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

The Cluny is the museum of medieval art and artifacts - it has the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries in a dimly-lit room. The building and site are interesting in themselves --- the building was a medieval abbey. Part of the museum is an archeological excavation in progress, of Roman baths. The surrounding Left Bank neighborhood is good to walk around.

Sainte-Chapelle is an astonishing gravity-defying wonder of gothic architecture. It is held up by its flying buttresses so its walls are almost completely composed of stained glass windows; with the sun shining in the effect is unique. Sometimes they have concerts there, which are magical in those surroundings. It is hard to find because it is hidden, completely surrounded by grim government buildings, including a police station.
posted by JonJacky at 8:23 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also - if you go to the Louvre, it's worth a quick detour to walk through the newly opened Samaritaine department store, which is next to the Louvre by the Pont Neuf. Don't know if you remember the old Samaritaine before it closed in 2005, but the new incarnation caters to international visitors more than Parisians, and has not been received warmly by locals. But it's beautifully designed and worth a quick walk-through.

Your hotel is not far from one of my favorite shopping streets, Rue des Martyrs, where you can check out Popelini and La Meringaie as well as lots of interesting shops.

We love Breizh Cafe which has wonderful galettes and crepes. The location in the Marais also has a wonderful little store where you can buy products from Brittany.

Our most recent trip was four months ago, so even though mask compliance was great then, don't know about now.
posted by MelissaSimon at 8:24 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

FYI the Cluny is closed for renovation.
posted by MelissaSimon at 8:30 AM on February 15

Best answer: To narrow it down a bit more, the OP's hotel is two blocks from the Moulin Rouge.

I am not that great at offbeat, but I can suggest some areas that will repay the attention of a flaneuse. The area around Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is great, rolling hills in a way you won't find in central Paris. Watch "The Triplets of Belleville", loosely set in the area. It can be combined with a trip to Pere Lachaise if desired. Bois de Boulogne is closer to you, quite large, I've not been. You can go up in the open-air Ballon de Paris, great view from 150m up. Pleasant walk along the Seine.

I beat this drum on almost every Paris thread, but the French Museum of the Playing Card, just south of the city, is superb. There were literally two people there when I went pre-pandemic. Great art on the playing cards, and it's mashed up with a tiny Rodin museum, since he lived in the area.

The bike share plan Velib' is very handy for covering moderate distances outdoors, it's a bit hard to sign up but once you do it's easy as can be.
posted by wnissen at 9:35 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I’m pretty cautious and I felt ok in Paris, i avoided super busy places though.
I ate at this excellent restaurant Flocon last month

Super short highly seasonal menu. Wonderful! On Rue Mouffetard which is a lot of fun to stroll on.

Fondation Cartier and the Museum of European Photography always have awesome exhibitions. I also love the Institute du Monde Arabe.
posted by tardigrade at 11:18 AM on February 15

I've been to Paris a few times. Two highlights for me were on my most recent trip during COVID: the Catacombs and a private pastry tour. When I went there were some restrictions in place so the Catacombs tunnel wasn't too busy (less people in my immediate proximity than near the main shopping areas/on the metro). For the pastry tour, I was taken around by a professionally trained pastry chef to their favourite patisseries and got to sample a variety of pastries. Learned so much about pastry and Paris. 10/10 would recommend. With restrictions, we sampled all the pastry outside.
posted by Robocat at 2:41 PM on February 15

Best answer: I follow the Earful Tower, a podcast and blog by an Australian ex-pat who lives in Paris. He often makes entries he calls "Paris Secrets" which cover off the beaten tracks locations in and around Paris. For example, Ten unusual graves at the Paris pet cemetery.
posted by statusquoante at 3:03 PM on February 15

Best answer: I last was in the city in spring 2019, but all these places still seem open on Google Maps.


- bread/pastries: blé sucré (Instagram), 7 Rue Antoine Vollon, 12th; Du Pain et des Idées, 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th; Carl Maletti, 51 Rue Censier, 5th; Utopie, 20 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th

- all-day café: Mokonuts, 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 11th

- tea/cake-centered café: Le Loir dans La Théière, 3 Rue des Rosiers, 4th

- cocktail bar: Combat (Instagram), 63 Rue de Belleville, 19th

- Senegalese restaurant: Waly-Fay Senegalese Restaurant, 6 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 11th

anything offbeat

- I'm a teacher and am (duly?) obsessed with stationery so I found Papier Tigre, a fantastic paper shop at 5 Rue des Filles du Calvaire in the 3rd, a very worthwhile stop; they also do online orders.

- La Roche House/fondation Le Corbusier, 8-10 Square du Dr Blanche, 16th

- I realise this will almost certainly not apply to you, but it had been impossible for me to get a once-in-a-lifetime yellow-fever vaccination that I needed for a future trip where I lived in time for that trip; I got it at the Air France vaccine clinic at 38 Quai de Jemmapes in the 10th. The waiting room features airplane seats. I booked in advance, so I was in and out in 30 minutes with a Yellow Card.

anything magical/unique/surprising

- I didn't get to go to a match, but I was very keen on seeing Red Star FC play a match at their very low-key and community-vibe-feeling stadium in Saint-Ouen. Here's a video which shows what it's like to go to a game.

- I didn't rent a bike while I was in Paris, but this video ( from the awesome Not Just Bikes channel on YouTube goes into how dramatic and rapid many of the pro-cycling changes have been in the city recently. It's worth a watch if you're wondering if a bike will be worth it for part of your explorations.

- I was there when Notre-Dame burned and without intending to, ended up seeing it on fire from the Pont d'Austerlitz, which was horrible. But the next day I went to Chartres, and I can't recommend the cathedral ( there enough - unlike so many European cathedrals now in the heart of large, noisy cities, you really get a sense of the awe a person from back then would have felt given how small the rest of Chartres is. It's an easy one-hour train journey from Gare Montparnasse and a quick walk from the station, like under 10 minutes. Get the video guide - the details on the construction and the incredible windows are at just the right level of detail.
posted by mdonley at 1:39 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]

Best answer: To expand a bit on my answer in general, I've been lucky enough to spend several weeks in Paris, and my impression is that even a dedicated tourist would never be able to explore the city fully. By the time you've gotten to the end of your list, so many new things have popped up in the meantime that you've got to start all over. It's the Golden Gate Bridge paint job of cities, and it richly repays research and exploration. There is just so much to see and do there. A "florist" that only produces chocolate flowers, a circus museum, an indoor waterpark, a crêpe district. There are 125 museums within the Paris limits, and most of them never see a fraction of the tourists of the more popular ones. There used to be a bunch of indie papers with event guides, like Time Out Paris, I assume those listings are somewhere, either online or in newsprint. You might try to find an art opening and explore the neighborhood from there. Obviously, a bit of French will help enormously. Or you can do what I did, which is walk through every arrondissement in one day. That's 3/4 of a marathon, but you get a feeling for the city you can't get just by hopping from point of interest to point of interest. You find stuff like the church of Saint-Agustin, which in any other town would be the centerpiece. Pretty much any time you see the figurative grooves in the street worn by anglo tourists, make a left turn, would be my advice.

David Leibowitz is extremely reliable, but he tends to focus on value places, which means indoors and advance reservations. I find I'm often willing to pay more to keep some flexibility, and in the pandemic seating en terrace becomes much more than a "nice to have".
posted by wnissen at 9:58 AM on February 16

Best answer: I'm sorry I don't have any recommendations in Montmartre, but here are a few things I've liked that I would do again:

The À la folie Théâtre has charming plays for both young and adult audiences. My French is pretty terrible, but we took our kiddo twice for two different plays and I enjoyed it nonetheless!

I'll second the Musée des Egouts. Fascinating and not too stinky.

The Marché couvert des Enfants Rouges has both food stalls with tables where you can enjoy a very nice meal, as well as merchants selling all kinds of produce, cheese, etc. We had a great meal of West African dishes after visiting the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature.

Lastly, the Coulée verte is like the High Line in New York: an elevated walkway that's nice for a stroll.

Hope you have a wonderful visit!
posted by cacahuete at 4:01 PM on February 16

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