At INSIDR, our underlying purpose is to give tourists the pleasure of enjoying Paris without getting caught up in the tourist traps in Paris. We want our travelers to witness the Paris that the INSIDR team knows and loves- the real Paris. This article is a guide of things to avoid in Paris, so that your trip to one of the most visited tourist destinations is completely authentic. We have also included some alternatives to the tourist-filled sites!
LA PLACE DU TERTRE
While Montmartre was once the epicenter of the the 19th and 20th century artistic movements in Paris, today the very center of Montmartre, Place du Tertre, has become a site not worthy of the prestige of its place in the city. Overlooking the Parisian skyline, knock-off artists and souvenir shops now fill this iconic spot, selling products at complete rip-off prices.
Alternative: Musée de Montmartre
Despite the horror that is La Place du Tertre, much of Montmartre is charming and worth the visit. An example of a spot that should not be missed in Montmartre is the Musée de Montmartre, a museum that retains the history that was once created in this arrondissement. The Montmartre based artists exhibited at this museum allow you to discover the real authentic art scene that was once present in Montmartre. This spot is not far from the skyline view and the museum even has gardens and vineyards far more charming to wander through than the tourists that dominate La Place du Tertre. For more information, check out INSIDR’s article on Musée de Montmartre- a true hidden gem.
The Moulin Rouge is the once iconic and hot French cabaret spot during the belle époque era and nighttime destination for the elite who wanted a night of sexual enjoyment in Montmartre. Today the crowds go to the Moulin Rouge for the touristic experience, that has turned into an almost soulless ambiance. If you want to pay for a cabaret show, you will get a small glimpse of the atmosphere at Moulin Rouge, but that’s about it.
Alternative: Paradis Latin
For the most authentic of Parisian family-run cabarets, go to Paradis Latin where the clientele is mostly French and the performances are in the traditional belle époque room.
Overpriced cafés, big brand name stores and constant foot-traffic- why visit this infamous Parisian high-street?
Alternative: Azzedine Alaïa
For an equally prestigious and glamorous shopping experience without the mass amounts of tourists, we recommend Azzedine Alaïa. Here you will have to ring a doorbell to be able to enter the showroom, which is in the same building as Alaïa’s apartment and headquarters. Alaïa is an original creator of haute-couture and sexy shoes from Tunisia.
Open Monday- Friday: 10am- 7pm
7 rue de Moussy
LE CAFÉ OZ
Le Café Oz is a chain pub with many locations in Paris. It is open throughout the night on the weekends, filling up with Anglo-Saxon tourists, all looking for cheep beer and a place to get drunk. The bottom line is, you can do much better.
Alternative: La Bellevilloise and the bars at Ménilmontant
La Bellevilloise and the bars at Ménilmontant is where Parisians go to drink a good artisanal beer in the 20th arrondissement, in places such as Fine Mouse or Trois 8. Here you can listen to good music and meet some local Parisians, with of course excellent food and beer.
LES BATEAUX MOUCHES
While a boat ride down the Seine may seem like the most idyllic experience one can have in Paris, they have become very commercialized and true money making machines.
Alternative: Hire a boat on the Marin d’Eau douce
A boat on the Marin d’Eau douce will still allow you to take a scenic ride out on the water, but in a more peaceful setting. At Villette park you can hire a fun electric boat and go around the canal at your own leisure, making for a fun family activity! For more information, check their website.
FRENCH BRASSERIES AT OPÉRA
While they claim to be ‘traditional,’ they are in fact overpriced and serve sub-par French dishes.
Alternative traditional French brasseries:
Richer: 2 rue Richer, 75009- Serves traditional dishes in a cozy environment.
Juveniles Wine Bar: 47 rue Richelieu, 75001- A wine bar with relaxed setting and delicious meals.
JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG
In terms of picnic spots, the Luxembourg garden is filled with tourists and rangers pulling you off the grass.
Alternative: Buttes-Chaumont park Buttes-Chaumont park is a true Parisian secret and oasis of greenery in Northeast Paris. Enjoying a picnic in this park makes you feel as if you are in a fairytale!
RUE DE LA HUCHETTE AT SAINT-MICHEL
This street has been deemed the worst tourist trap in Paris. Fake crêperies, fake brasseries, fake Greek restaurants– fake everything. Although the area is historic, the same cannot be said about the restaurants.
Alternative: Sentier quarter
Although trendy today, the Sentier quarter stays true to its textile roots with quaint boutiques and good restaurants.