I’m headed to Europe and I actually usually prefer it in winter than spring. At Christmas time in Paris it’s cold and many things are closed, but you have Christmas markets and there are few tourists and it’s not as if it’s as cold as in the Northeast United States (where I lived before moving to Austin). In contrast I’d never go to Rome in summertime, because I don’t want to spend my holiday primarily with American teenagers.
Nomadic Matt makes the important point, though, that places are only touristy if you spend your time in touristy places.
Places are only touristy if you make them. Get away from the crowds in Paris this summer. If you hang out in any one of these districts, you’ll avoid all the touristy crowds!
— Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) April 1, 2023
But touristy places have their place! They’re popular for a reason, and if you haven’t seen them before you should probably visit them yourself to build cultural context. You should go to the Eiffel Tower. Maybe you don’t need to waste a meal eating there, though Le Cocottes is walkable (though not a super quick walk) and quite good.
Some restaurants frequented by toursists are actually quite good. L’Ardoise always sees a bunch of Americans staying at the nearby Westin Paris – but is excellent and an excellent value, classic French fare with a price fixe menu.
And Angelina’s on the Rue di Rivoli (next to Le Meurice Hotel) is an absolute tourist trap. Yet the hot chocolate *is* absolutely incredible. I was first turned onto it over a decade ago by the Emmy-winning co-writer of the Oscars who used to pair with Billy Crystal. Artie Lange, from MADtv and the Howard Stern Show, who took the same recommendation said that the place “changed his life.”
I’m a big fan of popular attractions during shoulder season. There are fewer people – fewer tourists – but the same great things to do and see much of the time. Go to the good ones at the right time. See if there are ‘skip the line’ options with a bit of advance planning. And research where to eat nearby that the rest of the tourists don’t go… unless they’re actually going for one food item. You can skip most of the food at Angelina’s, though, you’re going for the hot chocolate not the savory items.