"Paris - Over 40 years of love and hate." Top 5 Page for this destination Paris by pfsmalo

Paris Travel Guide: 22,831 reviews and 56,619 photos

Having first come to Paris in October 1970, I moved from London in March 1971. Stayed just 18 months, during which time I married, and went back to London. We then decided to come back in May 1975 and have stayed in France ever since, albeit since 1980 in St. Malo.
My love/hate relationship with Paris has been an ongoing thing since those early days. Driving a taxi in Paris is no easy thing and I hated the place for it's traffic, noise and Parisian attitudes. Over the years a fondness for the streets of Paris has developed, a thing that I can't say about London anymore. Although Paris has been re-developed since the 70's there are still pockets of urban life as it was back then. The great thing about Paris is its manageable size. If you get tired walking, you're never that far from a metro station. And walking is the way to see Paris, keeping your nose off the floor (the Paris town hall doesn't allow dogs to s**t anymore) and being aware of your surroundings.
** - Words spoken by Arletty, taken from the 1938 film "Hotel du Nord", directed by Marcel Carné.

Having so many friends around Paris means that you won't find much in the way of hotel reviews here. Having so many friends also means that I don't have to eat out that often but you will find a few restaurants reviews, although now, since I wrote that, in 2012 a couple have now gone on their last journey, so you may now see the odd review for a hotel or restaurant. I am not a museum buff and not an art gallery person so you may not find much in that direction either. I also believe that there are enough tips by Vters like Beatchick, Guyon, Shrimp56, my friend Nemorino and others of the main Paris sights, that I don't feel the need to include them myself, although there may be one or two tips that do include photos of these places.
I certainly do not profess to know all of Paris or discovered all its little passages and courtyards, but if you are looking for the pretty side, the little known, the out of the way, the oddity, then you may find a photo here somewhere. I am trying to organise things by arrondissement to make things a little easier to find them on foot. There is no better way of seeing Paris, just use the bus or metro for the longer distances or getting home. If you prefer a bicycle to walking, I can only reiterate the tips by my friend Don (Nemorino) for cycling around Paris are top of the class and are to be read.

I would like to dedicate these pages to my wife and my father in law (RIP), who first took me to those parts of Paris (Belleville, Menilmontant, Charonne and Croulebarbe) where tourists don't seem to go much, and where the real heart of Paris is. Also to Patrice, who was my first friend in Paris in 1970, and stayed my very best friend until he passed away in May 2010.
I must also say that I have been inspired by many of the VT'ers here that have written about Paris. Thanks also to the following in helping plan my routes.

www.parislenezenlair.fr (also good for historical facts and some great anecdotes.)
Leonard Pitt for his book "Walks through the lost Paris".
Editors "Parigramme" for a fine series of books about the lesser known Paris.
Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and Gerard Lavalette for being human before being great photographers of Paris.
And lastly to Vt'er Elodie-Caroline for telling me I could write as well as take photographs.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:So many things to see and do!!
  • Cons:Traffic can be a pain in the a***
  • In a nutshell:There's always something new to see.
  • Last visit to Paris: Sep 2014
  • Intro Updated Oct 20, 2014
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Reviews (367)

Comments (47)

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Paul, that 271 off the beaten path tips very well could be a VT record! Great piece of inside info. PJ

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Apr 5, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      Thanks PJ, never realised it was so many 'til you brought the subject up.

  • HackneyBird's Profile Photo
    Oct 11, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    I like what you've done to the photos Paul. Nice page ;-)

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Oct 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Thanks for the visit Shaz.

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Oct 11, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      Thank you both for your visit, ratings and nice comments, thanks again.

  • rosata's Profile Photo
    Oct 11, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Paul, really enjoyed your Things to Do in Paris tips - will return to read the rest. Thanks! Lia

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Oct 11, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      Thank you both for the visit,ratings and nice comments, thanks again.

  • lnrs's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    An excellent page. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your tips.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    Paul, I’ve just been looking at your new and updated tips since April 30. I didn’t know about Haussmann saving St. Germain l'Auxerrois by building a new town hall next to it. I didn’t even know Haussmann was a Protestant, for that matter. (Just like the architect who built the big Catholic church Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde up on the hilltop in Marseille.)
    And I have never been to Montmartre cemetary; didn’t know Dalida’s grave was so monumental.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Paul, you have again added dozens of fascinating new tips, especially the Off the Beaten Path variety.

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Apr 30, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Thanks Don, haven't finished yet though. In 3 days I actually walked 55 kms, I had my podometre as I was interested to see how far you could walk in a day. I must say I went back to the flat completely shattered each night.

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Quand je vois votre superbe collection de "off te beaten path" tips je me dis que:
    1° Je devrais sortir des musées (mais on y est au chaud et à l'abri de la neige ou pluie).
    2° Vous devriez-être dans le top 5 (mais il est vrai que vous vous occupez peu des restaurants ou hôtels).

    • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
      Mar 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      Merci Eddy pour la visite et ton gentil commentaire. Il est vrai que je suis souvent chez des amis quand je suis a Paris, alors les restos et hotels.....J'ai toujours été un homme de la rue, c'est pour cela que j'aime Paris,c'est tellement facile a circuler et voir a pied. Merci aussi pour les "ratings".

  • ines2003's Profile Photo
    Oct 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    hi i like your style to description this city, look natural, real and with passion for the city also the pictures look so nice

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2012 at 6:24 AM

    Hi Paul, I’m glad to see you are still scouring Paris for the greatest in Off the Beaten Path tips. A revelation to me was your tip on the Impasse Rolleboise, 20th, where you pointed out that those stones along the sides were originally put there to protect pedestrians from being run over by speeding horse-drawn carriages. (I have seen such stones in other old narrow streets, but never knew what they were for.)

  • gwened's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    A real work of art you have here on Paris buddy. So many nice shots, I am working on it, but not too keen on off places. Anyway need to work now on Brittany lol!!!

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