Stuck In Paris — Top 10 Things to Do

alone in the tuileries.JPGThere are sunny blue skies in Paris and it’s a warm spring day, but all flights are grounded because of a volcano spewing ash in a country that is hundreds of miles away.   We are stuck in Paris.  Like thousands of others in Northern Europe, our vacation plans are on hold, or just gone, kaput. We are literally stranded in Paris, as no car rentals are available and the trains are full.  Unlike others, however, Paris is our home so we can find plenty to do even if it means taking a vacation in our hometown.  So what can one do? Here is my top ten list of things to do when stranded in Paris and you have nothing to do but wait for a volcano in Iceland to calm down and for the airports to re-open.  This list is useful anytime you are here, stranded or not and, all of these activities are light on the wallet, or free. 1.  Sit at a cafe and read a book.  Spring in Paris is the perfect time to sit at the terrace of a cafe and read a book, gab with friends, or just watch others walk by.  For just the price of a cafe, you can sit for as long as you want, without any pressure to leave (except maybe during lunch time or dinner time where they need space for diners).  Try Les Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore in the 6th Arrondissement, or Cafe du Trocadero with a big spanking view of the Eiffel Tower.  All three are great for people watching, and Cafe du Trocadero has some of the swankest people in Paris either walking by or sitting at tables for leisurely conversation. IMGP1073.JPG 2.  Take a bateau mouche.  Day or night, the Bateaux Mouches are a great way to see the city.  You can get off at various stops and then get back on after some sight-seeing.  All along the Seine, from past Trocadero down to Notre Dame, it is a fun way to spend time and is certain to please children. 3.  Go to a marche.  There are great markets (marches) in Paris where you can buy the best and freshest produce, meats, seafood and flowers.  Rue Cler is a market that Julia Child would frequent and remains a top marche today.  Other great marches include Rue Gros, Avenue President Wilson, and Boulevard Raspail. 4.  Go to one of the jardins (parks). Several parks, including Champs de Mars, Jardin du Luxemborg, Jardin du Ranelagh and Jardin des Tuileries are perfect venues to sit and relax on the grass, send your children to frolic in the playground, and spend quality time gazing at beautiful statues or sitting at a cafe sipping coffee or eating ice cream. IMGP0765.JPG 5.  Walk the Champs Elysees.  Go down the most famous avenue in the world, where you can walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde and see all kinds of shops, and snack at cafes or restaurants. 6.  Walk from Place de la Concorde through the Tuileries to the Louvre.  The Place de la Concorde, with beautiful grand fountains at the entrance to the Jardins des Tuileries, is a place of great contrasts as it was here that Marie Antoinette and thousands of others met a grueling fate, yet it is the most splendid area in all of Paris.  Located close to the Elysee Palace and the palatial Hotel de Crillon, it is a good venue to meet people and walk to the gates of the Jardins des Tuileries, all the way to the Louvre. 7.  Walk the bridges.  Paris has 37 beautiful bridges up and down the Seine.  My favorites include Pont Alexandre III near Les Invalides, Pont de Neuf, near Notre Dame, and Bir Hakeim, just about 1 kilometer west of the Eiffel Tower. IMGP1287.JPG 8.  Have a picnic.  There is no need to spend lots of money going to a fancy restaurant on a nice day.  Take advantage of the weather and buy a baguette, some jambon (ham) and fromage (cheese) from Marie-Anne Cantin with a good bottle of wine and spend your time on the grass at one of the jardins, or just find a park bench and sit down for a snack. 9.  Rent a Velib.  If you have a bankcard you can rent a Velib, a bicycle you can rent at one of several dozen stations found throughout the city.  You can park your Velib at any other station and then use your paper rental card (which contains a code) for 24 hours.  Velibs also have a basket which you can place items such as a purse or backpack and a nightlight so riding at night is okay (but, as always, be careful for drivers). 10. Go to the Marais.  On or near Rue des Rosiers in the Marais, you can eat the best falafel found anywhere in Europe at L’As du Falafel, buy fine teas at Mariage Freres, snack on fine gelato from Amarino, and shop among the trendiest boutiques in the city.  The Marais is where old and new Paris are mixed together, as it is both the old Jewish Quarter and a popular gay area, side by side.  The 17th century buildings can be slightly crooked or bent, and the cobble stone streets remind you this is old Paris, mixed in with some of the hottest fashion boutiques in the city. IMGP0703.JPG

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  1. cynthia ali shah
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I came upon this site by chance and I am enjoying it.
    I will visit Paris with my 3 children in July for 4 days. There is so much to experience that I will have a difficult time deciding on our itinerary.
    I know I’ll put on weight but hopefully all the walking will balance it out.
    Thanks again I will keep logging on.

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    • David Dadoun
      Posted April 25, 2010 at 2:25 am | Permalink

      We will provide a suggestion for a walking tour (and tours). Look out for a posting on Le Marais.

      Parisians stay thin because of walking, sensible meals, and small portions. I know a lot of people who lose weight while visiting because of the walking, so you should be fine.

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