21 Oct 2014

What “Not To Do” In Paris

Paris, 9th, What Not To Do In Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I recently read an article in Condé Nast Traveller about what NOT to do in Paris.

I was pleasantly pleased to think that we have it covered here.

Most of us Francophiles love Paris enough to have explored further and wider, with bright eyes and inquisitive minds.

Briefly,  some thoughts on what not to do.


Shop on the Champs Elysées… it’s overly crowded and stressful to navigate.

At a pinch I would visit the Guerlain store but only on a quiet day.

Instead the Marais on a Sunday, Palais Royale and Galerie Vivienne, Le Bon Marché and rue de l’Université.


Eat only in the Michelin starred restaurants.

Instead explore the brasseries, take the fixed price menu and venture up to the 9th arrondissement.

Dine in the smartest restaurants at lunchtime… indulge youself and save at the same time.


Spend all day queuing at the Louvre.

Paris is full of incredible museums and galleries.

Instead visit the Natural History Museum, Jaquemart- André Museum, The Rodin Museum, or the Museum Carnavalet


Rely on the taxi system.

Instead ride the Metro, the Velib, download Uber or walk… the best way to see Paris of all.


Stay only in hotels.

Instead rent an apartment and immerse yourself.

What was your favourite moment in Paris ?  What shouldn’t we miss?

Or is there something we should never do?? xv

p.s the best thing i ever did in paris was promise myself to return often… each visit i make myself the same promise… so far, so good

it’s working :)

VA In Your Inbox

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Anita Rivera

Oh Vicki,

First of all, I somehow missed YOUR Petit Bijou post yesterday! I ran off to work quite early and missed it! But this post is a very necessary read for me as I will be going to France in May and will end up in Paris – I will be with a lovely group of high school students, but my husband wants to meet me at the end of my trip and we shall live it up in Paris! I am going to copy your information here and go by it because I want to see the best of Paris again, because the last time we went, we enjoyed ourselves so much but felt we missed out on many things.

Thank you my friend, for coming to visit my post and home…it is humble, it has great features that I have not shared since it is hard to photograph. But the sentiments I share are real, because who I share my home with makes the difference. And yes, you must come out during an autumn peak season so you can see our colors. This year in particular is the most stunning I’ve seen here where I live…when I lived in Boston, every autumn was outrageously gorgeous.

Do come to New York or any of the New England states in October – you will love it! Anita


I know I will Anita… I might never come back… :)
Let me know when you will be in Paris once you finalise your dates… if I can possibly can co-ordinate a trip I will … That would be the best… to meet in person… :) :)

Nona Moran

The only sad thing about Paris is how fast the time flies while we are visiting. As you know, it is impossible to choose one thing, but I will share two occasions that are at the top of list. First, a performance at Sainte Chapelle of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Speechless. Second, a French woman performing at Maxim’s on a Thursday evening during dinner. Soooo French, even her appearance was wonderful. Ive never shared with you that your blog is the first I read each morning. In my mind, you are a close friend. Thank you!!


Thank you Nona… how lovely that you would feel that way. I too think of you all as dear friends… and I spend so much time talking here I think my real world wonders if I really exist anymore… ;)
I wiah I could be in multiple places at teh one time and meet you all in person… that would be the best… :)


Dear Vicki,excellent tips for the PARIS TRAVELER!Have a great day!

The Arts by Karena
Cartier in the 20th Cenury

Caroline Lacroix

Dear Vicki, I agree with you. We don’t like les Champs-Elysées at all. I dare say that we don’t like Montmartre either. We don’t feel comfortable in these very touristic places. My favourite museums are Musée Camondo and Petit Palais. There is a nice exhibition now about Baccarat. A bientôt.


Thank you Caroline… I did change my mind about Montmartre last year… it has really improved and there are a few good boutiques and restaurants now… The very top, apart from the view, has it’s moments but the lead up is great… :)


If you love textiles, the enormous Marche St Pierre on the lower slope of Montmartre is fantastic. Floors of fabrics – including toile de jouy, some for dressmaking, some for home furnishing. Kind of sadly, the wonderful old liftier (lift operator) has now retired and is much missed.
Agree, the Musee Nissim de Camondo is fabulous. A beautiful collection – and such a sad story about the family and how they were lost (despite the son giving his life for France in WWI and the family’s enormously generous gift to the nation) in the tragic and shameful French Government wartime round-up of Jews for deportation to the Nazi death camps.
There are several other fascinating house museums worth visiting, eg Musee Jacquemart Andre (also has a lovely restaurant and shop) and the Muse Cognac-Jay in the Marais (the collectors were the owners of the old Samaritaine Department store that sadly no longer exists).
One of the places to visit on the Champs Elysee (near Etoile) is the giant mother store of Sephora. They have such an enormous offering of French perfumes with testers – and their own beauty products too. And even a sitting area for men and families. There are lots of other Sephora stores around Paris but this is worth a visit at least once, just for the sheer size and range of fabulous perfumes. If buying, you can ask for a Sephora loyalty card which gives the opportunity for discounts and special offers.

PS taxis are fairly cheap in Paris, if you’re staying somewhere central. We rarely pay more than 12-15 euros and almost never take the metro. Also if you’re staying fairly central you can walk to so many places and enjoy all the sights instead of always being underground and just seeing tunnels. In the connections tunnels at Chatelet the distances are so huge you could probably have walked about the same distance to your destination and enjoyed the sights. Best wishes, Pamela


There is so much to do in Paris, like London… we can never see all that is available… We can keep trying though… :)

my notting hill

Love your list. On both our visits we’ve pretty much followed the advice you’ve given. Our trip to the Louvre was during their reduced fee and it was just the right amount of time for our kids. We stay in the Marais and our favorite area is around Place Ste. Catherine.

Heather in Arles

Oooh how fun.
For the Louvre: do the line downstairs inside of the mall, way faster and then just see a part of it or skip and go to L’Orangerie instead!
Don’t: eat anywhere that has a really big menu and has folks outside trying to tempt you in = frozen food.
Don’t: spend too much time in the Metro either. A salesman at Hermès told me he only takes the bus because it is above ground.
Don’t: miss out on a walk at sunset through Les Tuileries…sigh…la romance totale…
Don’t: plan too much! The best of Paris is discovered during those long, rambling walks that Vicki knows are key.
Do: eat in! Whether for a room picnic or at your rented apartment (yes!)…eh oui…now we are talking…even at your local Monoprix you can get everything you need. Small meals at night are what most French folk do, save for special occasions or going out with friends.
Do: your research. If you are a foodie, the Chowhound France board is one of the most up to date resources for what is going on in the Paris restaurants. The list on Carla Coulson’s blog (search for it!) is the best of the quirky real Paris musts I have ever seen too.
Do: Ok, this is so basic but do say, “Bonjour” each time that you walk into a shop.
Do: Enjoy!


Having recently returned from a holiday to France, which included Provence ( and the delightful St Remy!) and Paris, I am nodding/smiling my way through this list, as these were many of the things we did during our stay. Walking around Paris & staying in the Marais definitely help one absorb the charm of Paris. I hope to return another time, but until then will rely on your wonderful posts to relive my memories.


I have never been… and am so tempted… but also nervus that they may be too scary for me!

Pamela RG

I agree with all of Heather’s recommendations. I just returned from Paris last weekend and did all of that. I rode the bus all over Paris and discovered so many places that I wouldn’t reach just by walking itself I.e try the Bus line 63, 89 and 21. I also eat at the best repairs to there during lunch. I was lucky to try Angelina at the Rue Rivoli during lunch with no line up but it is more filled with excited and happy tourists. Then I tried the other Angelina on the Left Bank at the Musée de Luxembourg and it was filled with locals, mostly elegant French ladies and gentlement. The interior is like a Dior salon with its grey and white chairs. I also avoided the Louvre except for the Dries Van Noten Exhibit at the Musée de la Decoratif. I was enchanted by Monet’s Nymphaes at the Musée de L’Orangerie. Loved it that we visited his house and garden Giverny the next day. Also better to shop on the Left Bank as you suggested here.minaslo discovered the shoes boutiques at Rue de Rennes. Love Rue Bonaparte. Shopping at Le Bon Marché is heaven. Also buying dinner at the Grand Epicerie where they make the best sandwiches from their Boulangerie there is just the best in Paris! Then just eat in at your own place with wine and dessert from the Epicerie.


My two favorite experiences in Paris were visiting Sainte Chapelle and spending time in L’Orangerie. Ascending to the upper floor of Sainte Chapelle was breathtaking. It made me cry. Such ethereal beauty! L’Orangerie was just the right size, just the right art, and just the right level of visitor activity. I found the Louvre just an exercise in frustration. Next time I will visit Pere Lachaise and the catacombs, just for grins.

Karen in VA

I love to sweep the stalls on the Seine on Sunday. Drop into a ew cafes and people watch.

Love the blog today/oops yesterday. I’m going to read all your wonderful fan responses now.

Paris always …

Karen in VA


You don’t have to spend all day queuing at the Louvre if you have a “Paris museum pass”. (do they still do this? Special, shorter line, different entrance!)

Even if you only visit one or two museums it’s worth it – isn’t your time worth something?

Bev Prentice

As a family with two adult children we are visiting Paris and Provence in June/July 2016. I will read with interest all of your suggestions and the comments by your lovely readers. We are staying in Montemarte Air BNB and in Mazen in Provence.

Maryanne Flaherty

Loved this! BTW my friend will be going shortly on a trip with clients.. As a sidebar they are shopping for something chic to wear to a wedding… Any suggestions?



I would probably look first in the big department stores and then after try Gerard Darel, Maje and Sandro for more casual options… always the hardest of all to find, a wedding outfit. :)


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