A Travellerspoint blog

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How do you avoid tourists in Paris?

Hint: You are a tourist, a visitor, someone who wants to see and experience Paris. You may want to see different parts of Paris, but unless you are moving here, you are a tourist. Enjoy the experience.


View Dordogne and Occitanie & Around France and through Switzerland 1998 & Provence 2014 & Pays de la Loire & Bordeaux, Basque country and the Dordogne 2017 & Around France with Jean 2000 on Beausoleil's travel map.

Notre Dame from Square Viviani in the Latin Quarter - Paris

Notre Dame from Square Viviani in the Latin Quarter - Paris

Isn't that really why you came, to see things? Since I'm a tourist, I don't get too upset about touristy things. We don't make a real effort to avoid looking like tourists nor avoid doing touristy things. We enjoy the tourist sights. Paris is a city divided into twenty arrondissements (districts) and each is a separate village with its own mayor and city council. In effect, these are each a village to visit rather one huge city although there is an official Paris mayor and the famous Hotel de Ville (city hall) in the very center of the city. Each village has its own particular character and all are different so you have many choices depending on what you expect from your visit. Of course, you can spend your entire time in the very center and visit the most famous sites, but you don't have to if you don't want to. We always visit the Louvre and the Orsay because we love the art they hold. We always visit the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens because they are our favorite parts of Paris, and we always visit Notre Dame de Paris and Saint-Sulpice churches. Other than that, we try to find something new on each visit and with over 100 museums and sights, that is easy to do.

Crowds in the Tuileries on a hot summer day.

Crowds in the Tuileries on a hot summer day.

Galerie Vivienne - The Original Shopping Mall

Galerie Vivienne - The Original Shopping Mall

Very often, we've been spotted as tourists and have been taken under someone's wing and shown things we never would have seen otherwise. Most people are very proud of their homes and areas and love to share parts of them with travelers. People just love to tell you about a favorite spot of theirs and we've had people draw maps on napkins and even take us to see things. People have spotted my camera and run across the street to suggest things I might want to photograph and they've always been good ideas. Tourists with open minds can have a lot of fun. If you look like you live there, you will be ignored. Who wants that?

Wallace Fountain near Shakespeare and Company - Paris

Wallace Fountain near Shakespeare and Company - Paris

Place Igor Stravinsky - Paris

Place Igor Stravinsky - Paris


They need to know you are new to the area and that you are curious and appear to like what you are seeing. We've found neat out of the way (untouristy) sights this way and found lots of really nice unknown, inexpensive and local restaurants. We've been places where no one speaks English but everyone is willing to communicate.

Place du Tertre, Montmartre in Paris

Place du Tertre, Montmartre in Paris

Place des Vosges - Paris

Place des Vosges - Paris


If you get right down to it, Paris in its entirety is touristy but that doesn't make it one bit less lovely. Lac Annecy is mobbed with tourists but it's still the clearest lake in Europe and utterly lovely. Provence is overrun with tourists but the history and the views are still spectacular. If this weren't true, there wouldn't have been tourists there in the first place.

Musée d'Orsay, View of the Interior - Paris

Musée d'Orsay, View of the Interior - Paris

Notre Dame de Paris at night

Notre Dame de Paris at night


Don't let labels discourage you if you want to see something, just go for it.

A good first stop is always the local tourist office. See below . . .

Click Here: Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau web site

Posted by Beausoleil 13:34 Archived in France Tagged villages paris france sights Comments (1)

Don't get lost in Paris

It is easy to find your way around Paris if you know the secrets. It's a very well organized city.


View Dordogne and Occitanie & Around France and through Switzerland 1998 & Provence 2014 & Pays de la Loire & Bordeaux, Basque country and the Dordogne 2017 & Around France with Jean 2000 & Southwest England and Northern England on Beausoleil's travel map.

2014 Paris Pratique par Arrondissement

2014 Paris Pratique par Arrondissement

Want to see Paris without the tour group but you're afraid of getting lost? Don't worry; do what the Parisians do. Use a small discreet booklet map. Paris taxi drivers use this map!

I highly recommend the "Paris Pratique Par Arrondissement" which is a dark blue 5 x 7 inch booklet map that has a complete index. An arrondissement is a district so each page is a distinct district of Paris. Each arrondissement is on a separate double page (larger districts on two double pages) and there is a Metro map, an RER map, bus map and emergency phone numbers for Paris. You can't possibly get lost with this little booklet. It fits into a pocket or purse and is easy to open and view even in close quarters (like the Metro). Update: For some reason the 2014 edition removed the emergency phone numbers. It has been replaced by an alphabetized list of famous sights and map locations. In an emergency dial 112. Just program it into your phone.

You can get the little map booklet at most news stands, tabacs, bookstores, FNAC stores or at Amazon.com online. We update at a news stand because there are so many on the street. The last time I checked amazon.com it was $14.15 so I'd recommend waiting and buying it in Paris or getting a used one. When the trip is over, it's a great souvenir. Amazon also offers an English-French version and it is a waste of money. You need the French street names because that's what you see on the street signs. There are no explanations so the English is an unnecessary expense ($39+) and FNAC sells the booklet for 5 euros.

Update: Be sure to get a 2014 edition or later since they have changed the end stations of four Metro lines. You need the name of the last station on the line to navigate the system. If you have an older edition of the map, stop at any Metro entrance and get a new and free map of the Metro to use with your Paris map.

Click here for the FNAC web site to see the booklet map

Posted by Beausoleil 17:07 Archived in France Tagged paris maps book-map Comments (6)

Back to Paris

We enjoyed our 50th anniversary month in Paris so much that we decided to spend another month in Paris to celebrate our 55th anniversary. We moved the trip up so we ended with our anniversary and thus avoided much of the Paris crowds of June.

There are lots of Paris Tips included in previous entries and pages of only Tips so feel free to consult the Table of Contents on your right. Following are my journal entries for the current trip. I'm trying to keep all Paris information on one blog. You can find information on France in general at Beausoleil in France TravellersPoint Blog

Air France leaving San Francisco

Air France leaving San Francisco


May 10, 2019 — Day 1 (Friday)

Up at the usual time, skipped our daily walk and finished packing. Ate breakfast; took care of our kitty, Mimi and set off on our adventure. First stop was the bank for money and then we started for San Francisco. There was an accident on the 80 near Ikea but Google routed us around it. Arrived at Peg’s a little late due to the accident but pretty much on schedule. We let ourselves in and used the facilities. I found my Mother’s Day present and tucked it in my backpack. Called a cab that soon arrived and whisked us to the Pleasant Hill BART station. An hour later we met the long line for baggage check at SFO Air France. We got through that and long lines at security. We both got a minor pat-down and headed for our gate. Ed got a couple croissant sandwiches and some water and now we wait.

Posted by Beausoleil 11:34 Archived in France Tagged sfo bart Comments (4)

Arrived in Paris

Nothing like an overnight flight to wipe you out. We cheated and booked a shuttle to get to our apartment.

rue Mouffetard, Paris

rue Mouffetard, Paris


May 11, 2019 — Day 2 (Saturday)

We boarded and flew for eleven-plus hours. Dinner was okay. Some of breakfast was okay but the outstanding moment of the flight was a Fudgsicle handout. They were great. Super crew; smooth flight. My bag came off early but Ed’s was nearly last. Then we called our shuttle and he picked us up as a rogue cab driver was trying to fleece a young couple. As we passed them, I quietly suggested they use a standard cab at the taxi rank. I hope they did. We drove to our apartment as I called and messaged back and forth with Alex, the manager. It all worked out.

We’re moved in and the rain has stopped. We walked up to La Fontaine Restaurant near Place de la Contrascarpe for dinner. Considering the weather, we ate inside. The 14 euro menu advertised outside became a 19 euro menu (weekend) and the 19 didn’t look as good as the 14 but we were tired so stayed and got it. Probably the worst meal we’ve had in Paris . . . ever! Tasteless salmon and sea bream duo with rice and overcooked vegetables. Literally no flavor at all . . . The bread was cardboard. The saving grace was the ice cream that was delicious. They were very friendly though . . .

After supper we walked in the rain to St. Medard for Mass. It will be our church for the month. Nice organ and friendly folk. During the offering we noticed you can make your offering by credit card. They actually have a credit card basket. After Mass we walked home hoping for sleep . . . lots of sleep . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 08:44 Archived in France Tagged flights cdg shuttles Comments (7)

Sunday in Paris - Notre Dame after the fire and a Paris walk

We managed to walk at least ten miles today. It wasn't good for us after a long plane trip, but we couldn't stop. We wanted to see everything in one day. It was Mother's Day in the USA so I got to open some presents in France.

Sunday street dancing on rue Mouffetard by St. Medard Church

Sunday street dancing on rue Mouffetard by St. Medard Church



Concert in the Luxembourg Gardens

Concert in the Luxembourg Gardens

Started by opening Mother’s Day gifts from Peg . . . a lovely scarf and chocolate from Pike’s Place in Seattle. I got my other gifts when we celebrated last week before leaving on this trip. We walked down to Cave Bourgogne for lunch and had a nice salad and fun waiter. Left the restaurant and watched the dancing at La Place Georges-Moustaki at the foot of rue Mouffetard, and walked through the huge outdoor market. A horrible band was playing a few blocks away and we quickly escaped. Decided to check the Luxembourg Museum so programmed Google to walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. It was packed on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We listened to a fun community chorus and then checked the museum. Not too exciting so we’ll save it for a rainy day. Then walked over to our favorite restaurant La Bastide d’Opio that we heard had closed, and it is no more. It has been replaced by a “trendy” club. So sad . . .

The Luxembourg Gardens with the Eiffel Tower in the background

The Luxembourg Gardens with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Fountain of the Orators in front of St. Sulpice Church in Paris

Fountain of the Orators in front of St. Sulpice Church in Paris

Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris after the fire

Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris after the fire


Then we decided to walk down to Notre Dame and see what was left after the tragic fire. To get there we walked through a Fête du Pain along Place Louis Lépine which was set up with several large white tents filled with bakers and would-be bakers and lots of delicious sights and smells. It was also packed with small children trying to learn how to make bread. Great fun.

Fête du Pain, the Bread Festival

Fête du Pain, the Bread Festival

The Hotel de Ville of Paris (city hall)

The Hotel de Ville of Paris (city hall)



Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris after the fire

Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris after the fire


Every other tourist in Paris had the same idea, all looking for Notre Dame, and the police had blocked off all possible routes. We tried all the streets to no avail and finally went around the back where we got some photos of the poor burned Cathedral. The businesses along rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame next to the church are still closed but much of rue d'Arcole leading to the church is now open to tourists . . . and a living for the vendors.

Notre Dame de Paris with temporary covering

Notre Dame de Paris with temporary covering



The Pantheon on our way home

The Pantheon on our way home


Walked back looking for the #47 bus but couldn’t find it so just kept walking until we got home. Had enough time to change my shoes before we returned to Cave Bourgogne for dinner. Got a table and ordered a kir to celebrate Mother’s Day. For dinner Ed got the magret de canard and I got a gigot d’agneau. Both were excellent and we had another really nice waiter. Fun!!

Back to the apartment for some much-needed sleep.

Posted by Beausoleil 11:21 Archived in France Tagged churches gardens paris france restaurants notre_dame luxembourg_garden Comments (6)

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