Siri Mitchell

 

 top Paris sites

 

 

 

Sign up for my newsletter and get a free short story related to Flirtation Walk.

 

Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter @sirimitchell

or the other me: Iris Anthony

Iris is on Facebook and Twitter @irisanthony

                                                      

 
 

Museum Pass

    A museum pass is available for purchase for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days. It includes most of the popular museums and allows you to avoid standing in line. The Carte Musées et Monuments may be purchased at Tourist Offices or museums where the card is accepted. Depending on which museums you plan to see, this may or may not be a good deal.

 

Louvre and Musée d'Orsay

    I recommend visiting the Louvre at night if you’re in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday; visit the Musée d’Orsay at night if you’re in Paris on a Thursday. Don’t be tempted to walk to either the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay from wherever you are – your feet will be too sore to tour the collections.

     The Louvre is open late on Wednesday and Friday evenings. Any day of the week, admission is discounted in the afternoon (check out the Louvre website for particulars). Grab one of the free maps on your way in (kiosk in the center of the lobby area; the best of the collections are highlighted). Don’t enter the museum from above ground through the glass pyramid; take metro line 1, get off at the Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre stop and enter that way – you’ll beat the long lines.  This entrance is not open first thing in the morning, and metro access is barred late in the evening. Remember, the Louvre is NOT open on Tuesdays. In the Louvre, get the big three out of the way first (Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Mona Lisa).

    The Musée d'Orsay is usually crowded. I suggest starting on the top floor first (once you enter the museum walk straight toward the back wall on the left side; take the escalator to the top). The top floor houses the most famous impressionist works. If you have more time, it’s interesting to re-visit the first floor and see how the artists painted before the impressionist movement took off. The Musée d’Orsay is NOT open on Mondays. If it’s a nice day, the bouquinistes will open their green book stands along the Seine. They sell postcards and posters as well as books.

    Under the Louvre is a shopping mall/food court. For stores, the Academie Française store has nice drinking glasses and tableware. The Tie-Rack always has nice scarves at a fair price. The Louvre Museum shops are very nice: good prices for posters (make sure you also buy the triangular box to protect the posters as you travel), excellent guidebooks in the bookstore (go upstairs to see jewelry replicas, statue replicas & kids’ bookstore).

 

Versailles

    Versailles is NOT open on Mondays. Take the regional train (RER C) in the direction of Versailles Rive Gauche. You’ll have to buy special train tickets (separate from metro tickets). Go to the station and tell the clerk, “Deux billets, aller-retour, pour Versailles Rive Gauche.” You can also write the preceding phrase on a piece of paper and hand it to the clerk. Most of the time, the RER trains run in the opposite direction as the metro, so make sure you’re waiting on the correct side of the platform. The RER trains have multiple termini, so remember to consult the flip boards hanging from the stations to make sure that you get on the right train (if I remember right, the Versailles trains have Swedish names like “Sven”). Keep your ticket, because you’ll need it to get out of the station once you arrive.

     In Versailles, exit the station to the right and follow the street (right). You’ll pass a two-level shopping area on your left, across the street. (Beware, once you get inside Versailles, there aren't any convenient restaurants; you might want to stop at McDonald’s if it’s near lunch time.) After a minute or two, there will be an old official-looking building on your right (Gendarmerie) and you’ll have come to a grand avenue with tree-lined side roads (Avenue de Paris). At this intersection, turn left, and continue up the street towards the chateau. On your left, you will find a Tourist Center. Buy your tickets here to avoid longer lines at the chateau. 

     If you’re in town on a Sunday afternoon in summer, the fountains are put into action, and are accompanied by Baroque/Renaissance music. 

 

Eiffel Tower

    No further details needed... It’s beautiful to see the city’s lights at night, and sometimes the lines aren’t as long.

 

Sacré Coeur Basilica and painter’s square

    Take metro line 2 to Anvers station. After exiting the metro, walk straight up the hill (you won’t actually see Sacré Coeur until you reach the top of the hill). If you don’t feel like climbing the stairs, there is a funiculaire to the left of the basilica’s base; it costs 1 metro ticket. The painter’s square (Place du Tertre) can be reached by exiting the basilica from the main doors, and proceeding right. At the end of this short street, turn right. Half-way up the short hill, you’ll begin to join the crowds. Do NOT let any roaming artists take you portrait/cut your silhouette; even if they say it’s free, they’ll make a scene and make you pay for it. If you want a portrait, make sure you see them paint one or you may be disappointed. Souvenirs are usually reasonably priced in the street leading up to the basilica from the metro and along the back streets up the hill from Place du Tertre.

 

Les Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb and Military Museum)

    See where the man is buried (along with some of his top aides). The museum is the best military museum in Europe. Middle Ages – WWII.

 

Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Deportation Memorial

    Don’t forget to see Pointe Zéro, in front of the cathedral where all distances to/from Paris are measured (a gold medallion in the square). Walk behind the cathedral (there’s a small garden/park). Across the street which runs behind the cathedral (buses usually park there), is another small park. Enter to the right (toward river) and walk down the stairs. Set into the hill is a Holocaust/ Deportation memorial. Worth seeing. Souvenirs are usually reasonably priced in this area.

 

Sainte Chapelle and the Conciergerie

    Sainte Chapelle is a small chapel built to house the Crown of Thorns. The most stained glass/square foot of any place in Europe. A sight to see on a sunny day (I wouldn’t spend the money to see it unless the sun is shining). It is located inside the Palais du Justice complex (French law courts), a couple of blocks from Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité. The Conciergerie was the “prison” used to house revolutionary prisoners such as Marie Antoinette. Put it on your sightseeing list if you’re interested in revolutionary France/Marie Antoinette, otherwise skip it. You can get a combo ticket to Ste. Chapelle and the Conciergerie.

 

Jacquemart-André

    A museum in a 19th century mansion filled with period furniture and a wonderful collection of Italian art. Audio tour included with admission. Tea house restaurant in garden. They serve brunch on Sundays.

 

Georges Pompidou Center (Museum of Modern Art)

    If you’re a fan, this is an excellent museum.

 

Garnier Opera

    The Garnier Opera is the setting for the Phantom of the Opera. There is a nice museum inside and you can take tours.

 

Musée de Cluny / Musée Nationale du Moyen Age (Museum of the Middle Ages)

    Features Roman baths from the first settlement of Paris, the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, and all types of art from the Middle Ages.

 

Picasso Museum

    Housed in a building called Hôtel Salé in the Marais district. Provides a good overview of the breadth of Picasso’s work.

 

Père Lachaise Cemetery (Jim Morrison’s grave!)

    Jim Morrison's grave... along with those of Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Molière…

 

Rodin Museum

    If you love Rodin, this is definitely the museum for you. Housed in an old mansion, Hôtel Biron. The sculpture of The Thinker is in the garden.

 

St. Denis Basilica

    Pre-dates Notre Dame. This is where most French monarchs were buried and all French queens were crowned.

 

Champs-Elysées

    There are three stores on the Champs-Elysées for average-priced clothing: Zara, Naf-naf, and Monoprix, which is also good for cosmetics. Its Bourjois brand is the second brand of one of the pricier cosmetic houses. Monoprix is the French equivalent of Target (with a grocery store in the basement). As you walk up the Champs-Elysées toward the Arc de Triomphe (from Place de la Concorde), they are all on your right side. If you’re taking the metro, take Line 1 to Franklin Roosevelt, use the exit coté nos pairs (even numbered addresses). Tara Jarmon, a more sophisticated/career clothing store is on the other side of the Champs, just below avenue George V. It will be pricier than the stores mentioned above.

      

Trivia – Adrien's apartment (from my first novel Kissing Adrien) is #42, avenue George V (above the Hermes shop, top floor), 1-1/2 blocks off the Champs-Elysées.

 

Place de la Concorde

    Musée de l’Orangerie houses Monet’s Waterlilies. The rest of the museum is Impressionist/modern, ending with a small room of Picassos. It’s a nice museum and takes only a couple hours to go through. Waterlilies are in the basement.

     La Madeleine church is in the vicinity (La Madeleine = Magdalene). Interesting small church to walk through – no windows. The upscale, gourmet food stores are both behind the church (Hédiard and Fauchon). Lots of yummy things to buy, but too expensive for a simple picnic.

    To see $10,000 blouses and $20,000 dresses, walk along the rue Faubourg-St-Honoré. Most of the haute couture fashion designers have shops in this area.

     The arcades along rue de Rivoli is also a nice place to shop for souvenirs.

 

Department Stores

    There are several department stores in town: Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, and La Samaritaine. BHV usually has things a bit cheaper. It’s located on metro Line 1, Hôtel de Ville. Stepping off the metro, you should see signs for an underground entrance. If not, follow exit signs for Hotel de Ville and you’ll come up in front of Paris’ city hall (Hôtel de Ville). BHV will be just across the street. This same metro stop is the easiest one to take for Notre Dame. Again, follow Hôtel de Ville exit signs. Above ground, cross the bridge and keep walking. Within several blocks, you’ll be in front of the cathedral. There is good souvenir shopping around Notre Dame.

 

Antiques 

    Following is information on the antique fairs we haunted when we lived in Paris. They are biannual, occurring in both spring and fall. If you show some interest in a particular vendor’s items, they’ll probably give you a pass for free admission for the following day of the fair. Like anywhere, cash talks; you’d probably be able to bargain at least 10% … maybe more at a place like the Foire Nationale. To find this year's dates, type the name of the salon into your browser. 

 

1.  Les Antiquaires à Auteuil, Antique dealers at Auteuil

(metro line 10, direction Boulogne – Porte de St. Cloud, Porte d’Auteuil or Michel Ange Auteuil stops)

    This show has the nicest offerings, but is rather pricey.

 

2.  Antiquités Brocante à Champerret, Antique/Flea Market sale at Champerret

(metro line 3, direction Pont de Levallis-Becon, Porte de Champerret or Louise Michel stops)

    This show is usually held in conjunction with a book/papers fair in the same complex (extra admission). It's a slight step down from the show at Auteuil.

 

3.  Foire nationale à la brocante et aux jambons, National Flea Market and Ham Sale

(RER A1 train line, direction St. Germain-en-Laye, Rueil-Malmaison stop; come above ground and you’ll see the bridge over the river and the fair on the Island.) 

    This fair is a huge flea market with a wide range in price and quality. You can find priceless treasures and absolute garbage. This Foire takes a couple days to completely see; it’s located on the Ile des Impressionistes.

  

 

 

Books by Siri and Iris Anthony:

 

  

   

    

            

(click on cover to go to link)

 

 

 

E-mail: Siri "at" SiriMitchell "dot" com                                             Search |  Site Map  

 

Copyright 2005-2016 Siri L. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Photo by Tim Coburn & background images from GRSites.co

Last update: 03/07/2016