Need advice - What to see in Paris off the tourist trails?

As a well travelled Brit I am almost embarrassed to say that I haven’t ever stayed in Paris! I’ve travelled around and through it numerous times en-route elsewhere in France or Europe… and always said “one day”!!

Well now the “one day” has finally arrived. We live just 3 hours south of Paris so we’ve decided our break this year will be a week in Paris in September! I’ve spent the morning studying available Airbnbs and researching the different “arrondissements” and now have way too many options :slight_smile: We are going by train to avoid issues with the car and parking.

So we are looking for advice including your favorite areas to stay in with good public transport links. We are great street walkers and cyclists, love markets, cafes and quirky shops. We aren’t looking so much for info about the main tourist sites unless it’s an unusual perspective, but more the quirky little places people have found… markets, parks and walks.

Look forward to hearing your suggestions on the lead up to our time away that will also hopefully serve as a good resource for sitters in Paris!! Thanks all :slight_smile:

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Parks: the obvious Jardin de Luxembourg and Jardin de Tuileries in the morning, strolling with a take-away coffee in hand

  • Have a picnic in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Sundays: Marché aux puces à Saint-Ouen, a mix of expensive antiques + records/books/…

I like the Montparnasse area a lot. (Lots of cafés, restaurants) + if you have a train to catch from Gare de Montparnasse, go towards platform 1, climb the stairs and you’ll find yourself in a rooftop garden built on top of the station. Really nice!

Enjoy!

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I found a little airbnb right in heart of Saint-Ouen… it’s on my favorite list at moment!! I’m sure Els I’ll be messaging you before we go :slight_smile: It’s partly you that’s inspired this trip seeing all your lovely photos! Thanks for all the tips… going to look up Montparnasse now !

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Take a day out and visit the Palace of Versailles. It is easy by train and well worth the cost. It will take a whole day so take a picnic, the gardens are breathtaking. Of course the Louvre is a must and any chocolatier that serves lunch. I can’t remember the one that was recommended to us but it was a must do experience.
We spent the majority of the time just walking around and soaking in the atmosphere. Every street seems to have a “must see” iconic Paris landmark.

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I think that’s what we’ll end up doing too… lots of walking ! Thank you for the tips!!

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Hi @Vanessa-Admin ! We are also walkers and absolutely loved our time house sitting Paris.

We agree with @Els, Paris has some of the most wonderful parks, our favorite being Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and Parc Monceau being a runner up.

And while you’ll probably spend time dedicated to the Eiffel Tower, we recommend a lesser traveled view point of the Eiffel Tower from Bir-Hakeim bridge.

We tend to be pretty thorough when site seeing and posted our sightseeing map with everywhere we went in the city.

Happy travels and we hope you love Paris! :grinning:

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Feel free to message me!

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Thank-you for sharing your link - just had a quick look at your map which is very impressive… will study that in much more detail over coming week. What part of Paris did you house sit in? My hardest decision at moment is choosing where to stay. There’s so much choice on Airbnb and I’ve now got a wish list that spans the whole city :roll_eyes: :grinning:

Thank you :blush: When we visit a new place we like to explore it like we may never return!

We house sat in a suburb that was 30-ish minutes from city center by train. We enjoyed it because it gave us the everyday-life-experience and enjoyment of being in a smaller village. Plus the homeowners were wonderful. However, if you’re finding an Airbnb, it might make sense to stay closer to or in city center. And since your up for walking, biking and transit, just make sure you have the amenities you desire and are near a metro station. The rest will take care of itself :slight_smile:

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It might seem strange or even morbid to suggest visiting a cemetery, but Cimetière du Père Lachaise is so interesting! It is the final resting place of many famous people, so it is like walking back in time through history. It is a Parisian monument , a very large park with beautiful architecture, trees, plants, and an open-air museum rolled into one.

It is also walking distance to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, recommended above by Els., where you get great views of Paris from the top of the knoll.

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Not strange at all… we have frequently visited cemeteries on our world travels - they are full of history and Cimetière du Père Lachaise is already on my list, so I’m glad to hear you mention it. I finally booked our Airbnb last night (after a day of dithering) and it’s in the 13th which seems to be an area full of real old Parisian history, built on the old filled in river.

As we’ll be there for a week, we wanted something larger than a tiny studio (mostly all that was available closer to the centre) and my persistence found us a great apartment with a balcony. I’m now very excited about putting together our itinerary - seems like a long time since we did some proper travel planning !! Thank you for your suggestions :slight_smile:

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Seems like a good area to base yourself in! And the metro is super efficient! Now, the hardest bit: planning in Paris. There’s just soooo much to do! :joy: And you can just fill entire days with walking & people-watching! Enjoy your stay, looking forward to the pics!

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St Ouen may be a quite dangerous suburb it’s not Paris atmosphère at all. Only interesting for the flea market other wise you’ll be far from most interesting places of interest. It’ the end of a metro line…

Vanessa, If you want to feel safe at night, choose another district.

I’ve lived in Paris all my life before "ermigrating "to the south of France, 3 years before retiring
.
Airbnb might ve more expensive in central fashionable spots, but If you choose 11th instead of 4 th or Latin quarter (5 and 6th ), you’ll be happy. You could do everything on foot

I may send you on private message many ideas, my favorite restaurants (not all in guides) i’ve lived only in 3, 4, 5 6 th districts (Marais, latin quarter) and be a student there too. i still go to Paris as all my friends live there.
Tell me what infos you need; museums, librairies, cafés, restaurants, markets, architecture walks

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As it happens, the Airbnb we picked was double booked so we cannot stay there, but I have read so much interesting history about the 13th we will still spend a day there exploring. We are now booked further west in Issy-les-Moulineaux, but very close to public transport and bike rental so we don’t mind the travel in to the city. We found a lovely apartment and a week gives us plenty of time to see several different areas… and of course, being close we can always return! Please do send your favorite recommendations, they would be much appreciated :slight_smile:

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Hello Vanessa,
The 13th arrondissement is a good choice. I don’t know where you will stay, but try going to the Tang brothers, it’s in Chinatown, it’s the big Chinese grocery store. See " la butte aux cailles “, in this district a lot of street art. La " manufacture des Gobelins” is in this arrondissement (tapestry).
Take a random walk, there is always something to discover…

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Thank you Flora… our Airbnb has sadly changed but will still be exploring this area. Love those big Chinese stores… great tip, thank-you! I was reading about the tapestry museum just last night!

Time I write and it is not the 13th.:grinning:
If you have metro and buses, it is good too (and vélos…)

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If you have time, you can visit the “Château de Vincennes”

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Issy les moulineaux again is another end of a metro line why haven’t you chosen inside Paris? 14th, 13th are less expenive than 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
(Paris is a snail, districts are 1 -Louvre-2 Opera 3,4 Marais, place des Vosges on the right bank, then on the left bank 5, 6 -Latin Quarter, St Germain dès près 7, then on right bank acain 8, -champs elysees-9, 10, 11 then 13, 14 Montparnasse (close to 5, 6) 15th then on the opposition right bank of the Seine 16, 17 (Etoile) 18, 19, 20 (north)
Vélos can be taken everywere in Paris, given back everywhere. (Velib)
If you take a weekly pass, it will be less tiring to use buses in order to see well Paris (and any metro too) than riding a bike… public transports are less expensive than in London

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Our reasoning, apart from lack of choice at this late stage, is we really don’t mind being away from city centres and traveling in. We’ve done that in many large cities around the world and it’s always worked really well, even in places like Mexico City and Venice where we stayed in residential areas away from more expensive tourist centres. They are great to visit but less appealing for relaxing at the end of a day - we’ve always had great interaction with locals and found restaurants and local eateries less setup for tourists, more friendly and not so expensive.

We’ll be well placed for Versailles, it’s only 30 mins into the city, and we have a much bigger, well equipped apartment with a lovely balcony compared to the tiny studios with sofa-beds closer in.

Great tip for weekly passes, we’ll do a mix of transport I’m sure… but you are talking to two avid cyclists :grinning: Thanks @Provence

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