5 Parisian Experiences

I talk a lot about how Paris is my favorite city. I’m not sure why, considering that 1) the longest amount of time I spent there on my three visits was only four nights and 2) I don’t even speak intermediate French, and yet it’s a city that I am completely and utterly enthralled with. Many people go to Paris with such high expectations that they leave  feeling disappointed-that it just wasn’t what they thought it would be (I know I definitely felt this way with Rome). Me? I’m realistic where Paris is concerned. Sure, Woody Allen in the film Midnight in Paris made the City of Light look amazing but I know the truth, the things that are never shown in Hollywood-the graffiti laden walls, the decrepit buildings, the over-packed Metro cars that often smell and make you paranoid about thieves, the “entrepreneurs” who won’t stop harassing at you at popular tourist spots. Still, even with all of that, I still love it. It’s a city I would love to spend a month in (or more) if I ever had the chance. So I thought I would round up a list of the five things I have yet to do or experience in Paris.

1) Be a Parisian foodie.

While I’ve enjoyed ice cream from the famous Berthillion and feasted on incredible pastries from tempting patissieries, I’ve never bought cheese at a fromagerie, baguettes at a boulangerie and snacked on them by the Seine. And even more of a big deal is that on all my visits there I’ve never dined at Parisian restaurants that left me with a wonderful impression. And I’m not talking about 4 star Michelin ones-I just mean honest to goodness bistros that Julia Child herself would have approved. All my visits were short and I was always more concerned with packing in as much sightseeing as I could. But on my next trip there, I definitely want food to play a prominent role (and naturally that’s where spending a month would come in most handy).


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2) Visit the Picasso Museum

I’m a huge Picasso fan. He’s probably the only Modern Art painter that I actually like (with the exception of a few Dali pieces). His “normal” works are of course stunning but so are his modern pieces, the ones that you look at and say “what?” and yet still absolutely love. On my second visit to Paris I was beyond disappointed to discover that the Picasso museum was closed for renovations. Then four years later on my last visit there, I was with D and with it being his first time in Paris, we did more of the “mainstream sights” (he’s also not the biggest art fan to begin with). But beyond the number of incredible works it has, it’s also housed in what looks to be an utterly stunning building from an architectural standpoint (the Hotel Sale).


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3) Experience Jewish Paris

Thanks to the book  Sarah’s Key and the movie La Rafle I became immensely interested in the Holocaust in France, specifically Paris. People always equate the Holocaust and its brutality with Germany and Eastern European countries and yet almost 90,000 French Jews were murdered during World War II. I’ve been to the Deportation Memorial as well as the Shoa Memorial but I would very much like to see where the Vel d’Hiv once stood (this is where the Parisian Jews were kept after being rounded up in 1942) and also the monument that commemorates its victims. I’d also like to spend time just wandering in the Marais, the former Jewish neighborhood.


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4) Make the trek out to Pere Lachaise

My last time in Paris I had every intention of visiting Pere Lachaise. But by the time our final day arrived, I was feeling somewhat under the weather, especially since we had been on the go constantly for the last week. It’s not as far as making a day trip to Giverny but it’s also not as quick as a metro ride from the Louvre to the Opera Garnier. I love visiting cemeteries, famous or obscure ones, so while I’m sure I would love to see some of the graves of its most famous residents, I’d also love just wandering among the unknown ones as well.


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5) Go in search of Hemingway

He was by all accounts a terrible father and an even more terrible husband, but writing-wise, Hemingway was incredible. I did have a meal at Les Deux Magots, one of Papa’s Left Bank haunts, but the food and service were less than memorable. However, I’d also like to try out La Closerie des Lilas and also pay my respects at the small apartment where Hemingway and his first wife Hadley lived after first coming to the City of Light-74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine.


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Have you been to Paris? Did you enjoy it? Is there something you missed seeing and or doing while there?

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  • Reply
    Jo Ann M. (@JoAnn0924)
    June 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I understand what you are saying about Paris. I think many people have the same expectations about New York City. Since I have been going there since I was a kid I know the good and bad of the city, but it still remains magical to me. When I get to Paris I will try to keep that in mind and concentrate on the positive things about the City of Lights!

    Although art and architecture will be my focus, I will definitely put your great ideas on my list of things to do! Pere Lachaise has always been on the list.

    I would definitely like to stay away from the touristy restaurants and clubs and try to visit those establishments frequented by the locals.

    It would be wonderful to walk in the footsteps of the artists of the Salon! I love the idea of wandering around neighborhoods with no particular destination in mind, just for the experience itself.

    Great post! I always love thinking and reading about Paris!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Yes, I think if you go somewhere with realistic expectations, you will definitely have a great time and not be set up for disappointment.
      Paris is definitely one of those cities where so many things can draw you in I feel 🙂

      There are so many places I want to visit and return to, but I really am dying for the opportunity to simply wander around neighborhoods and feel more like a local!

  • Reply
    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    June 26, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I have many of the same feelings! After my first trip to Paris was less than stellar, it was hard to see why everyone loved it, but after my last trip I got down to that second layer and started to understand the city much better. Being a Parisian foodie was one thing I did on my last trip (which I didn’t do on the first) and really made me feel like I was assimilating more into the French culture. I hope you make it back soon!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…A Second Chance for ParisMy Profile

    • Reply
      June 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      I felt exactly the same way about Rome (well, and Florence too). Granted, I haven’t been back since (not on purpose, just hasn’t been in the cards), but it was also while I was a 20 year old college student who in hindsight, probably did everything wrong and didn’t nearly appreciate the stuff I should have (e.g. the culture and food).

      I am dying to be a Parisian foodie! I try to get my fix here in Pittsburgh (we actually have 2 macaron shops which is quite big considering how many others the city lacks lol) but boy do I wait for the day to return there and go crazy with the breads, cheeses, and pastries! I totally agree that food is the best way to assimilte into the culture.

  • Reply
    Liz Kelly
    January 18, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Please, please go visit Hemingway’s apartment! I visited last year, and afterwards, we wandered along, through a square and down Rue Mouffetard where we had the most magical afternoon. It’s definitely not to be missed!

    • Reply
      January 19, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for commenting! And you can bet that on my next visit to Paris I will definitely be doing so! I read the novel “The Paris Wife” a bit ago and just loved it (it’s a story told through the eyes of Hemingway’s first way, during the time they lived in Paris). Any time one gets to walk in the footsteps of a literary great is always a terrific time in my opinion 🙂

  • Reply
    June 15, 2015 at 5:34 am

    I have a Christmas trip to Paris planned so I’ll be coming back to all your posts to add to my list!
    Rebecca recently posted…Seoul, South KoreaMy Profile

    • Reply
      June 18, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Christmas in Paris-I can’t think of anything better!

  • Reply
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    […] a little bit of everything-how to catch a mouse a la Parisian,  to the time kale first arrived in Paris,  to history, lots of it ranging from martyred saints and the Renaissance period to the Holocaust. […]

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