In just a couple short weeks, I’ll be heading back to Paris. As someone who’s ventured into Paris probably hundreds of times, you may be wondering what else I can possibly get out of yet another visit to Paris.
I’ve done the main tourist sites so many times that the idea of going up the Eiffel Tower again makes me feel lethargic just thinking about it, and imagining the crowds at the Musée d’Orsay makes me feel instant dread and irritation.
The amazing thing about being a frequent visitor to Paris is that all the tedious stuff is old news. You don’t have to stress about learning the public transportation system because you already know it. You don’t have to meticulously plan an itinerary because you’ve already been everywhere. Once you get all of that initial learning and tourist check-listing out of the way, you’re free to simply soak up the atmosphere.
That’s what I want for this trip, to just exist in Paris. Not try to conquer it, not try to dig deep, not to try and feel edgy or cool. Just to be there completely.
But I think in order for me not to fall back into my old, expected routines, habits and walking paths, I’m changing up a few things that will add just the right amount of newness to my experience.
Here’s what I’ll be doing differently on my upcoming trip to Paris:
The following tips are things that I’m doing, but I think they can easily be adapted to your own trips. It’s all about changing it up just enough to keep it fresh, and always making soaking up the culture and environment a priority.
1. Staying in a new part of town
Whenever I visit Paris, I’m always approaching the city from the left bank, whether that be from my old home base of Versailles, or from my little student apartment in the 15th arrondissement, or from an apartment rental in the 7th when I used to work for Paris Perfect. In my mind, I organize my trips around a left bank starting point, but I want to create a new frame of reference by staying in a completely different neighborhood.
That’s why for this trip, I booked an AirBnB in the Haute Marais, near the Arts et Metiers metro station. I’ve always loved the Marais, but I’ve always been slightly intimidated to explore a little more north into the Canal Saint Martin area. This time I want to really dig deep into those streets and see what it’s like to use different metro lines, and be able to walk to some of the city’s best coffee shops.
2. Bringing a film camera
Last year, I finally took a film photography and darkroom course at my local community arts center. The knowledge I gained was very basic, but it did open the door to film. Now I’m less intimidated by the idea of loading a film camera, getting the film developed, etc. I don’t know if I’ll actually print any photos myself in the darkroom, but I do want to practice a new way of photographing Paris. I’ve taken thousands of digital color images, so it’ll be a completely new process to think in black and white. Film also requires you to slow down and be very thoughtful about pressing that shutter release button, because you only have a handful of exposures available.
3. Going to those museums I’ve always put off
When I lived in Versailles, I had a mental list of small museums I was going to visit “one day.” Well, unsurprisingly, there are quite a few I never actually made the effort to visit, and on this trip, I’m going to do it!! Since I’ll be staying right next to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, I’ll definitely be going there. I also want to go to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, as well as the Musée Maillol. For more unique or non-touristy ideas of things to do in Paris, check out this blog: Messy Nessy Chic.
4. Visiting friends or meeting up with acquaintances
On my last solo visit to Paris, I made it a point to meet up with not only my good friend who still lives there, but also a couple of internet friends I had “met” through Instagram or my former job. It really added a much-needed social element to my trip. I think it kept me from getting too anxious and spending too much time alone with my thoughts during the trip. This time around I want to make meeting up with real humans a priority.
5. Reading an entire book while there
I recently picked up a book called Flaneuse. It has mixed reviews, but I’m excited to see what I think of it while sitting on a café terrace, and taking breaks to people-watch. I like the idea of finishing an entire book from start to finish on a single trip, or even listening through an entire new music album, because you’ll forever associate those things with your trip and always remember it every time you see that book on your shelf or listen to that song.
Overall, this trip to Paris is going to be about simply enjoying the sights, sounds, and feelings the city brings me. I want time to get lost in my thoughts and in observing things around me. I’ll be sharing about my trip over on Instagram, so be sure to follow me there.
Oh, and after a few days in Paris I’ll be heading down toward Bordeaux to assist my boss at her styling & photography retreat! I can’t wait to share a bit of this experience as well!
Great strategies! My June visit will be my…14th I think and it will be just as good – no, better – than the first. My goal is similar to yours – I just want to live in Paris for however long I am there, rather than tour Paris, sightsee in Paris, etc.
I’m already thinking about my trip next year – in March, I think – and while it is a little scary, I’m thinking of staying outside of the 7th/15th area where I usually stay.
By the way, the book idea – it is a little (no, a lot) cliched, but during my first trip to Paris I read the DaVinci Code. Being in the city where much of the book took place really enhanced my trip and my enjoyment of the book! And the first time that I saw that upside-down pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre – very cool!
Thanks for reading Debra! I’ve actually never read the DaVinci Code. ;) But I agree about there being something awesome about reading a book set in a city that you’re actually in. It adds a whole new element to your explorations!
We recently stayed in the 17th…2 blocks from Parc Monceau, and it was wonderful!! Boulevard Malsherbes…metro and Monoprix…what else do you need other than the overall PARISIAN ambience!! <3
Have you taken the barge trip down (or up) Canal St Martin? Reciprocal people-watching thru a variety of neighborhoods…
Hi Lee. No I haven’t! I’ve taken a cruise down the Seine but perhaps I’ll look into this idea you suggest. :) thanks!
” … to just exist in Paris.” I couldn’t agree more and I love that quote! To date, I’ve visited Paris 29 times, having just returned last week, after a 7 day trip. Friends will often ask what I did on my most recent trip, but at this point, having visited nearly all of the attractions, I simply wander around new neighborhoods to see what little treasures I may find, or sip coffee for hours at a cafe. I’m planning to return in October for a quick weekend trip. Paris holds a spell over me.
Wow 29 times is quite an accomplishment! I could be doing practically nothing in Paris, but it still feels 100 times more romantic and poetic and magical than doing the same mundane things back home. That’s the beauty of Paris!