A little while back, I wrote a post in defense of that which is dismissed as too ‘touristy’ and therefore shunned. I don’t know what’s prompting me to do so now, but I’ve decided to make a brief list outlining examples that support the argument I was making in said post:
“…just because something is frequented by tourists, it does not make it an undesirable place to visit per se […] shun all things “touristy” and you will miss out on some of the most fascinating or beautiful things the world has to offer.”
So, to illustrate this point with some actual examples, I give you…
5 Extremely Touristy/Cliché Things to Do in Paris Which Are Also Really Wonderful (in no particular order…):
- Picnicking on the Champs de Mars. Often not as crowded as some of the less ‘touristy’ parks, and the surrounding trees lend a surprisingly secluded feel to the spot.
- Taking a river cruise along the Seine. Especially in the evening. Especially one of the dinner cruises. But also just the normal sightseeing cruises. Aim to catch both sunset and full sundown.
- Having a hot chocolate at Les Deux Magots. Barely-liquid heaven, so thick and rich is that stuff. Although I do think doing likewise at Café de Flore is overrated; I tried their house chocolat chaud, and it was nice, but not in the same mind-blowing, tastebud-bedazzling league as its aforementioned neighbour and rival. For more chocolatey details, you can read about my experiences at Les Deux Magots here and that at Café de Flore here. Warning: not to be read whilst hungry.
- Taking a wine-and-cheese tasting session/class. Yes, it will probably be in English. No, that will not diminish the taste of the wine or the cheese. The sommeliers really know their stuff, whatever language they’re conveying it in.
- Visiting Shakespeare & Co. Be sure to go upstairs, and feel free to stop and read a while. If you’re lucky, someone might be adding to the ambience via the old piano in the corner of the cosy little back room.
Of course, there are many, many more examples I could add to this list – these are just the ones I had in mind this afternoon. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I’ve enjoyed just about every typically ‘touristy’ activity I’ve done in Paris so far… What can I say? Tourists love ’em for a reason!
I don’t usually do ‘questions to the audience’, but I really would be interested to know – what would you add to the list?
Since my mother is an artist, one of my main goals would be to see the Louvre for the art, the Mona Lisa (which I hear is overrated), and whatever museum Monet’s Water Lilies is in? Also Monet’s Garden which I believe is outside Paris might make a nice day trip? Perhaps you have posted on some of these and I missed it? But maybe the admission to these museums is high in the summer, better to wait for off-season with fewer crowds? Also the flea markets or food markets? And of course shopping is always fun? Just where do French women buy their clothes, not everyone can afford designer stuff? Do they have outlet stores? Plus there was a wonderful paper/stationary/pen store in one of those Paris books I read which I would love to read about a visit there? I will look up the name….
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I’m very keen to visit Monet’s garden, I’m definitely going to make that trip this summer. I enjoy the Louvre (including the Mona Lisa, although it is by no means the most interesting piece there, in my humble opinion) and the Musee d’Orsay is fab – as much for the building as for the art collections there! I’m very lucky in that both of these places, and lots of other museums and galleries in Paris/France are free for me, as i’m under 26 and an EU citizen.
Also, as far as stationary etc goes, there’s a small (I think) chain called Rougier & Ple and I have spent SO much money in there since I arrived. There’s one round the corner from my apartment and it’s two floors of arts-and-crafts HEAVEN.
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