Last updated May 26, 2020
Looking for some unusual things to do in Paris? Some super snazzy hidden gems in Paris that you’ve never seen before?
If so then I totally get it.
I’ve been to Paris more times than I can count and there are only so many times that you can visit the same, top Paris attractions without getting a little, well bored.
Don’t Get Me Wrong:
Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre are all exquisite. But after your fifth visit, where you continuously beat back tourists with selfie sticks, you kind of want to see a different side of Paris that is slightly less saturated with tourists.
Ya Feel Me?
I hope you do because otherwise there would be no reason for you to read this post about some of the many less touristy things to do in Paris.
Read on and get mildly inspired by some of the amazing and rather unusual things to do in Paris, France.
Dear reader, since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high chance that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Not sure where to stay in Paris? If you’re on a budget, Jo & Joe has a great location and fantastic customer service. It is a cross between a hotel and hostel and features fun, funky, and un-fussy, private rooms that start at $50 per night. However, if you’re looking for a hotel that is a bit more luxurious, then try the Hotel Opera Aida. This lovely accommodation sits in a quiet part of Paris that is still well located and within walking distance of several metro stations. Rooms here start at $130 a night and feature modern decor, spacious beds, LCD TVs, Wifi, air conditioning, and more. But, for an even more luxurious stay in Paris, try the posh, Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche. Centrally located in the Latin Quarter, with one of the best Eiffel Tower views in all of Paris, rooms here start at $210 per night and feature vivacious, red decor, with a vintage style bed and writing desk. Rooms here also include complimentary coffee and tea, plush bedding, free WIFI, and a 32 inch LCD TV. And if you’re looking for some uber-cool, non-touristy places to stay, then check out these amazing castle hotels in France.***
1. Palais de Tokyo
I admit it:
Typically, I’m not a HUGE modern art person. Sure, I appreciate the concept that anything can be art but sometimes, it’s kind of difficult to get excited about a piece of rope, lying on the floor, that supposedly represents the existential crisis that currently plagues our society.
I’ll literally shrug my shoulders and go, “huh?”
So when I decided to visit the Palais de Tokyo, I didn’t know if I would actually like it.
But Guess What?
I was truly gobsmacked (thanks thesaurus) by one of the best unique places in Paris! Seriously, one of the coolest modern art museums that I have ever been to, and yes, I’ve been to a ton.
The exhibitions transport you into a beautifully quirky, alternate reality where you begin to think about your world in a way that you never thought possible.
Be prepared for Palais de Tokyo to challenge you (I promise, no ritualistic animal sacrifices) but in a way that will excite even the most ardent museum haters.
There is a lovely outdoor restaurant and club area that gets poppin’ at night. Is that what the cool party kids say nowadays? I have no idea. I’m old and mildly crotchety.
But it Actually Gets Cooler!
This museum closes at midnight so you can totally rock out and visit after all the other museums are closed.
Not only is there a fun modern art museum literally RIGHT next door, but if you go behind the building, you’ll get an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower from across the Seine.
Avoid the hordes of tourists and check out one of the best unique places in Paris.
Hours: Open every day, except TUESDAY, from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.
Price: Tickets are 12 € for adults, 9 € for concession, and free for anyone under 18.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Iéna or Alma Marceau stations along metro line number 9.
2. See the Eiffel Tower from Atop Galleries Lafayette
I am typically not a mall person since well, I hate crowds and I hate shopping.
Galleries Lafayette is totally different. Not only does this famous Pairs shopping center have a rooftop bar with an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower, but they also have an amazing ground level food court where you can devour some of the finest pastries in all of Paris.
This food court offers up decadent delights from such iconic pastry chefs as Jean-Paul Hevin, Jacques Genin, Sadaharu Aoki, and more.
Not only can you catch a killer panoramic view of Paris for free (we did it all for the gram, come on the gram…), but you can also do a mini Paris foodie tour of some of the best desserts in Paris
Yeah, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Galleries Lafayette is literally right down the street from Palais Garnier, so definitely check out the exquisite architecture inside this iconic opera house.
Hours: Open every day from 9:30 am to 8:00 pm.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near theChaussée d’Antin La Fayette station along metro line 7 or 9.
3. Walk Along the Promenade Plantee (AKA Coulée verte René-Dumont)
As a New Yorker:
I am a huge fan of the High Line. Maybe you’ve heard of it? LoL. If not, it’s a reclaimed, above ground, railroad track that was transformed into a beautiful walking promenade that is frequented by both tourists and locals alike.
What do I NOT like?
Well, the High Line is always chock full of people. So instead of enjoying a leisurely stroll through the park, you feel like you’re being corraled like a freaking herd of cattle.
Not the Case with the Promenade Plantee!
This park too is an above-ground railway track that was converted into an oasis of greenery.
Believe it or not:
The Promenade Plantee is not only much less crowded than the High Line, but it was also created first. Like way back in the ye olde year of 1993.
So if you’re looking for a gorgeous green space that will get you away from the crowds, then look no further than the Promenade Plantee.
Addtess: 1 Coulée verte René-Dumont, 75012 Paris, France
Hours: Open every day from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Quai de la Rapée station along metro line number 5.
***A huge fan of railroad tracks? Then you can also check out La Petite Ceinture, a hauntingly beautiful set of abandoned railroad tracks in Paris. ***
4. Learn About Unicorns at the Musée Cluny (Now the Museum of the Middle Ages)
Let’s hop on the unicorn bandwagon for a second, shall we?
And no, this is not another post about where to find the most Instagrammable, unicorn latte in Paris.
Sorry to disappoi you:
But if you are interested in learning about the origin of unicorns and their historical significance in European society, then the Musée Cluny is for you.
This museum is dedicated to all things Medieval and currently (until November 25, 2019) has an exhibit that explores both the development and the importance of unicorn based myths throughout the past and present.
An intellectual approach to our continued infatuation with all things unicorn.
At the heart of this exhibit?
A beautiful set of six tapestries that are aptly entitled, “The Lady and the Unicorn”. Woven in the 1500s, as society moved from the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, this masterpiece is truly one of the more unique things in Paris.
This museum is located at the heart of the Latin Quarter, so you can easily explore the Pantheon, Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore, Jardin de Luxembourg, Place St. Michel, Eglise Sulpice, and so much more while you’re here!
Address: 28 Rue du Sommerard, 75005 Paris, France
Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday from 9:15 am to 5:45 pm (CLOSED TUESDAYS).
Price: Tickets cost €5 for adults (€9 for temporary exhibits), €4 for reduced rates (€7 for temporary exhibits), and free for teenagers, any EU citizens under 26,, and everyone on the first Sunday of the month.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Maubert – Mutualité station along metro line number 10.
***PS: This is definitely not the ONLY slightly more unusual, Paris museum that you can visit if you’re looking for some of the more unusual things to do in Paris. Other, super cool, totally unique Paris museums include the Sewer Museum (WAY cooler than it sounds), the Museum of Romantics, the Fairground Museum, and the Counterfeit Museum. Plus, many of these museums have the added benefit of costing less than 10 Euros to visit or being totally free to European citizens under the age of 26. So, go on now and get your museum loving swerve on!***
5. Explore Parisian Covered Passages at Gallerie Vivienne
One of my absolute favorite things about Paris is the insane amount of historic architecture that can be found throughout the city!
Many of these iconic places can be overrun with tourists, especially during the summer.
One of the relatively tourist-free things you can do in this amazing city do is take a stroll through the many beautiful, covered passages of Paris.
These passageways ways became popular shopping arcades during the early nineteenth century, and helped increase connectivity between many of Paris’ streets.
These corridors are long and narrow pedestrian walkways that are lined with quaint shops and covered in enormous glass ceilings.
And While Yes, these Edifices do Protect Shoppers from Inclement Weather:
The really amazing aspect of these structures is that they were beautifully and intricately designed, adding a depth and breadth of beauty to an already enchanting city.
They don’t sound as snazzy as the Eiffel Tower, but I promise, these passageways are truly amazing and well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day.
Address: 5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris, France
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm (CLOSED SUNDAYS).
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Bourse station along metro line number 3.
,***Some other covered passageways to visit are the Passage des Deux-Pavillons, Galerie Véro-Dodat, Passage Ben-Aïad, Galerie Colbert, and more.***
6. Learn About the History of Paris Amusement Parks at Musée des Arts Forains
This museum is probably one of the most unique Paris tours that I have ever been on!
If you hate museums, then this is the museum for you.
So What Exactly is the Musée des Arts Forains?
Located in the heart of Bercy Village (a lively area filled with amazing shops and restaurants) this museum is an eclectic assortment of vintage rides, games, and decorative items that were used throughout the traveling circuses and carnivals of the early twentieth century.
Prior to My Visit:
I thought that, like most museums, you would be escorted through the facility and introduced to the history behind these fascinating objects.
As you embark on one the most unique tours in Paris, your tour guide will let you hop on a carousel, play a vintage derby game (or two), and even listen to the beautiful sounds of handcrafted organs.
A one of a kind experience that is perfect for kids and grownup kids alike.
Hours: Guided tours for individual visitors take place in the afternoon on Wednesdays, weekends and during french vacations.
Price: Tickets cost €16 for adults, €8 for children 4 to 11, and are free for anyone under 4.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Cour St Emilion station along metro line number 14.
***Don’t make the same Paris mistake that I did and show up without a reservation. You MUST book your tour in advance since this museum only allows visitors as part of private English and French tours, that run 90 minutes. ***
7. Visit a Straight Up WINE Vineyard in Montmartre
Wanna visit a wine vineyard while in France?
No need to head to the French countryside! Look no further than the charming neighborhood of Montmartre.
Crazy Right? But Totally True!
Between the quaint, cobblestone streets and the charming, historic homes, this section of Paris reminds me more of the French countryside than it does Paris. A perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of this amazing city, at least for a little bit.
But What About this Vineyard?
Hidden away behind the Musée de Montmartre, the Clos Montmartre is the last remaining vineyard in this neighborhood. And while the vineyard is usually closed to the public, you can catch a glimpse of the vineyard through the surrounding gate.
Want a Better View?
Then stop by the Musée de Montmartre and explore the charming gardens behind the facility. From here, you’ll get an amazing view overlooking the area’s lovely vineyards.
This underrated museum is well worth a visit too. With an assortment of artwork that was created by artists living in the area, this enchanting museum offers a unique look into the development of the neighborhood and the daily lives of the artists who called the 18e arrondissement home.
***To really enjoy all that Montmartre has to offer, check out my self-guided tour of Montmartre!***
8. Visit Victor Hugo’s House (Maison de Victor Hugo)
Umm, Victor Hugo is kind of like a national hero in France.
Visiting his home, now museum, is a great way to peak into the French psyche and spirit.
Now in Case, You Didn’t Know (no judgment here):
Victor Hugo is the French, romantic author and genius behind such legendary literary works as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables.
The writer’s home, between 1832 and 1845, was turned into a city museum that is free of charge and open to the public between 10 am and 6 pm, every day, except Tuesdays.
In This Museum:
You’ll not only find rare books, letters, and artworks that belonged to this icon of literature, but you’ll also get to walk through his home and experience the way Victor Hugo lived throughout the early 1800s.
One of my Fave Super Cool, Unique Paris Experiences. And Way More Impressive than I Expected!
Plus, the museum sits along the perimeter of the beautiful, Place de Vosges, a fantastic place to sit, relax, and have a picnic.
Address: 6 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris, France
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, with the last admission at 5:40 pm. During your visit, all bags must be left in the cloakroom.
Price: FREE (My favorite price!)
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Bréguet – Sabin metro station along line number 5.
***I really enjoyed eating at the cafe right next door so yuo can do that either before or after your visit. Also, the Picasso Museum is within walking distance so you can definitely visit that while you’re in the area.***
9. Palais Garnier
Paris is known for having some of the most exquisite buildings in the entire world.
And the Palais de Garnier?
Yeah, this neo-Baroque style Opera House is no exception (AVOID THE LINE AND GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!). Designed by Charles Garnier and completed in 1875, the decadent decor of this radiant building, which seats over 2,000 people, is reflected in the beautiful stage, stunning balconies, divine salon, and an exquisite library.
You might just use an entire memory card while taking pictures here. I think I did since visiting this building is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.
Palais de Garnier showcases some of the unique costumes that were used in past performances and hosts some awesome temporary exhibits, like the fascinating Picasso exhibition that is on display until September 16, 2018.
While this Parisian landmark isn’t exactly a huge secret (I mean it has its own metro station), it’s well worth a visit just to walk through these hallways and experience the tremendous decadence that exemplified Paris’ historic past.
Address: Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris, France
Hours: Open to the public every day from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm (September 10th-July 15th) and from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm (July 15th-September 10th).
Price: If you want to tour the building, tickets cost €12 for adults and €8 for anyone between the age of 12 and 25.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Auber metro station along the RER A line.
*** FYI: This building still hosts ballet performances (since the official Parisian opera relocated to the Opera Bastille) that you can purchase tickets for.***
10. Learn About Marie Antionette’s Imprisonment at the Conciergerie
The Conciergerie is one of those dank, dark, and strangely fascinating places that you would only find in Paris.
it’s not the most exquisite Paris attraction.
It’s located in the basement of the Palace of Justice: Not exactly Versailles level gorgeous.
But what it lacks in beauty:
it makes up for in intrigue since this section of the palace was converted into a, you guessed it, prison that was used to house enemies of the state during the French Revolution.
The Conciergerie provides a fascinating look at the lives of the people who were imprisoned here and the conditions of their imprisonment.
AKA not good.
So amidst the stunning, Gothic-style vaulted ceilings, prisoners were housed here, anxiously waiting for the Revolutionary Court to determine their fate.
The most famous prisoner?
Why, Marie Antoinette of course, who now has a commemorative chapel that stands here she was imprisoned (it’s a really touching tribute that is well worth a look).
So My Verdict on this Unique Paris Attraction (Get it? I made a lame funny)?
A must-see for any crazy history nerds like me! You seamlessly fall into the world of the French Revolution as you walk through these prison cells and experience what life was really like for the unlucky souls housed here,
Address: 2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Hours: Open every day from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are € 9 for adults and € 7 for reduced admission.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Cité metro station along line number 4.
*** If you can, purchase the combined ticket for Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie to save money and time! Trust me, Sainte-Chapelle is AMAZING! Plus, if you purchase tickets there, you’ll have to wait in an insanely long line (boo to that). ***
11. Enjoy a 19th century Paris Pastry Tasting and Literature Walk!
Want to fuse your undying love for French pastries with a literary walk that will blow your mind?
If so then the geniuses behind all of the amazing culinary experiences at Eatwith have TOTALLY got you covered.
Not only does this amazing company have a variety of unique foodie experiences for your to choose from (tours that can be found ALL over the WORLD), but their 19th Century Paris Pastry and Food Walk was definitely THE highlight of my 4 days in Paris tinerary.
The only question that remains is, “What are you waiting for?”.
Because this tour is everything you want, and more, since it will immerse you in 19th century, Parisian culture by introducing you to some totally SECRET, Parisian locations where you can enjoy fun anecdotes about some of Paris’ most remarkable authors.
And all while sampling four different, totally iconic French pastries, including chocolate and Paris Brest.
You’ll definitely wanna rock a pair of elastic waist pants to THIS tour!
Wine AND tea are also included in the price of your tour.
You might even see the smallest paved street in Paris and visit a full-on, wine museum along the way (SPOILER ALERT: You WILL see both of these things).
Gastronomic dreams of the Parisian kind really DO come true!
12. Visit Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore
Located just a hop, skip, and jump away from Notre Dame Cathedral is the one and only, Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore.
it is ABSOLUTELY imperative that you visit this bookstore while you’re in Paris!
“Why?’, you may appropriately wonder. Well:
Shakespeare and Company is one of the quirkiest/coolest bookstores that I have ever been to (Think narrow passageways, wonky-looking bookshelves, and an antique, upstairs library that is full of cozy little reading nooks).
It’s also an insanely magical place where writers and artists of every variety congregate to soak up the residual, intellectual inspiration that lingers from the various icons of the past that once called this place home.
Even today, you can still sleep among the store’s cozy stacks of books. atop small beds that double as reading benches and writing desks during the day.
And believe it or not:
Since Shakespeare and Company opened, over 30,000 young writers and artists have stayed here, including then-unknowns like Robert Stone, Ethan Hawke, Geoffrey Rush, and David Rakoff (Shout out to Geoffrey Rush because I just really love his work).
These stacks of books have this aura of greatness about them that makes you want to endlessly comb through the shelves and create a piece of art that actually means something to the world.
It’s like somehow:
These temporary guests have left an indelible mark on the intellectual community of this store.
If you only visit ONE bookstore while in Paris, then let this one be it.
If you do get the chance to visit at least two bookstores in Paris, then definitely check out nearby Abbey Bookshop, which is a quirky bookstore on Rue Parcheminerie where books are, quite literally, falling out onto the street.
Yup, a total book lover’s dream!
Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and on Sundays from 12:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Maubert – Mutualité metro station along line number 10.
13. Visit 59 Rivoli
Looking for another one of the super quirky hidden gems in Paris? A place where you can un-apologetically get your hipster swerve on?
If you’re delightedly nodding your head yes, then 59 Rivoli is the place for you!
A mid-1800s Haussmann era building that is located at, you guessed, 59 Rivoli, this edifice was once a popular residence for artistically inclined squatters who wanted a place to stay but who also had a bit of a cash flow problem (You know, the whole starving artist thing kind of got in the way).
The city of Paris was none too happy about all of these squatters totally taking over the building (think dead pigeons and used syringes everywhere).
In ye olde 2009, 59 Rivoli was eventually renovated by the city and transformed into to an amazing collective for something like thirty different artists.
This six-story building is FREE, open to the public, and filled with a wealth of whimsically wonderful art displays that are sure to appeal to any contemporary art lovers in the crowd!
The art here today definitely isn’t as wild as it was pre-2009, but whatever. The pieces here are still totally impressive and super-expressive.
You won’t have to do battle with as many selfie-stick wielding tourists while visiting this amazing art gallery (not like at The Louvre), something that I for one am all about!
Address: 59 Rivoli, Paris, 75004, France
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Châtelet metro station along lines 1, 4,7,11, and 14.
14. Stop by the Museum of Vampires
Tucked away at the end of a small, gravel path in Les Lilas is this unique AF museum.
It unceremoniously welcomes you inside with an uber-creepy, cemetery-like garden that is brimming over with plastic bats and human remains dangling from trees.
Don’t panic though because you’re not in some episode of Hannibal Lecter gone wild.
Believe it or not, you’ve actually just found the one and only, Museum of Vampires in Paris!
Started many moons ago by owner and operator Jacques Sirgent:
This eccentric Parisian museum was first started as a visual representation of Jacques’ love for all things vampire.
As a result:
This modern-day cabinet of curiosity is filled with a variety of rare texts and mysterious, demonic relics that all come together to tell the rather cryptic history of Parisian cemeteries where Vampire-related rituals were once performed (And yes my friends, that is a 100%, TRUE STORY!).
While you’re here, feel free to take a seat on one of the museum’s many crimson, velvet couches and marvel at a rather unique collection of items that includes vampire killing kits, Dracula toys, and antique books that will all leave you thinking, “Wait, maybe vampires really do exist.”
Address: 14 Rue Jules David, 93260 Les Lilas, France
Hours: Since this is a private museum, you must visit as part of a guided tour (reserve a spot on one of their tours using the phone number listed on their website) which runs at 12:30 pm, 3:00 pm, and 7:30 pm daily.
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Porte des Lilas metro station along line number 11 (The entrance is behind the building and difficult to find, so be prepared!).
15, Stop by the Catacombs of Paris
Who doesn’t want to spend their VERY Parisian vacation underground, walking through an assortment of dark, damp, dirty, and TOTALLY cramped tunnels that are all lined with nothing but human skulls?
I know I do!
But I also have an uber-weird obsession with all things macabre, so feel free to ignore me.
I know it’s not just me because when I visited, I definitely had to wait in line for a solid hour and a half, before I could even get in.
So moral of the story?
Be sure to book those skip-the-line tickets WELL in advance.
Just in case you have no idea what the catacombs are, let me slow my roll for a moment and explain it to you.
Believe it or not, this labyrinth of tunnels and quarries was first used to house human remains, from the Cemetery of the Innocents, way back in 1785, when the Cemetery became a cesspool of disease and infection (YUM).
To address the issue:
The Council of State decided to prohibit further use of the Cemetery and instead, had the BEYOND brilliant idea of stuffing excess, remains inside disused quarries that are now, more commonly known as the Catacombs (make-believe that was said in an ominous, super creepy voice).
And while Paris is thankfully, no longer riddled with disease.
The Catacombs remain and are a fun and interesting place where you can go and get a better understanding of Paris’ slightly not-so-glamorous past.
When booking your tickets, I would recommend getting the audio guide since some of the information placards inside the tunnels are a bit hard to see and easily overlooked.
Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm (CLOSED MONDAYS)
Price: Individual tickets (not as part of a tour) are € 14 for full rate, € 12 for a reduced rate, and free for minimum rate. I also suggest renting an audio guide (listen time 30 minutes) € 5 since it will help explain what you’re looking at (You can also get your skip-the-line catacomb tickets with an audio guide here).
Nearest Metro Station: Located near the Denfert-Rochereau metro station along lines number 4 and 6.
***Since the catacombs are on the way to the airport, you might want to explore them before you head to the airport and go back home. They also took me about an hour and a half to go through (not including the time I had to wait in line) and make a good half-day trip in Paris.***
16. Stroll Along Rue Cremieux
At one time in history:
This quiet, cobblestone street in the 12th arrondissement really was one of the most epic hidden gems in Paris.
It’s kind of overrun with Instagram mavens of every variety.
And you can understand why since a quick walk along this enchanting little street will reveal a wealth of pastel-hued homes that come in, quite literally, every color of the rainbow.
Basically like the Notting Hill or Burano of Paris if you will. A street that is nestled smack dab in between Rue de Lyon and Rue de Bercy.
What most visitors to Rue Cremieux don’t know is that this street, with its charming window boxes and quaint terracotta pots full of flowers, is actually named after lawyer, Adolphe Crémieux.
A man who spent much of his life, throughout the 1800s, defending the rights of Jewish people living in France.
Because of all the tourists inundating the area, there has been a movement, led by local residents in 2019, to erect a gate that would close off the street to tourists throughout the weekends and evenings.
So, moral of the story?
Please be quiet and respectful of everyone living here when you visit. This also means that you should NOT be draping yourself all over private when taking photos.
I get the whole “do it for the gram thing”. But, in this situation, the needs of local residents supersede your need for wicked awesome photos.
Address: Rue Cremeieux, 75012, Paris, France
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day. But, this is a private, residential street so please be quiet and respectful of the people who live here. And for the best photo ops, arrive early in the morning, when everyone else is sleeping.
How to Get There: Take Metro line 1 or 4 to Paris Gare de Lyon station and walk to the street from there.
17. Take a Stroll through Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of my favorite not-so-hidden, hidden gems in Paris since is a fantastic place to take a walk and marvel at the ornate gravestones of the various celebrities buried here.
I don’t know about anyone else out there (since I have a weird obsession with the macabre) but I just love the quaint feel of this picturesque place, with its series of quiet, cobblestone lanes that are lined with some of the most intricately carved gravestones that I’ve ever seen.
The cemetery is also quite large, at 110 acres and is actually known for being THE biggest cemetery in all of Paris.
And while there are many entrances into the cemetery:
I suggest using the main entrance on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant since this is where the cemetery office is. Here, you’ll be able to find uber-important things like bathrooms, maps, and even guided tours.
Now I cannot emphasize this enough:
Grab a map and use the restrooms BEFORE you enter the cemetery.
Trust me on this.
Because this cemetery really does put the ass back in massive. There is also literally nowhere else to go to the bathroom so make sure you use this amenity while you can.
Make sure you grab a free map from the administration building since this cemetery is easy to get lost in.
All the most famous graves in the cemetery will be labeled on this map, mking it 10,000 times easier for you to find the final resting place of celebrities like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, etc.
Because some of the graves are difficult to find:
I would plan to spend between two and three hours here, which seems like an eternity (pun intended) but I swear, you won’t be bored to death (Pun intended again because I too like to live dangerously).
Address: 6, rue du Repos, Paris, 75020, France
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 11:30 am, Saturday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:45 pm, and on public holidays from 9:00 am to 5:45 pm.
How to Get There: Take the Metro to Pere Lachaise station or Philippe Auguste station and walk to the cemetery from there.
18. Stroll Along the Petite Ceinture
In use between 1862 and 1934:
This railway track has long since been abandoned, due in large part to the massive success of the Metro, and is now one of the many amazing hidden gems in Paris.
Winding around the perimeter of the city:
Certain sections of the Petite Ceinture railway track have become home to more than 200 different species of animals and plants.
If you can, try to visit during the spring when much of the street art here is surrounded by a sea of vibrant wildflowers that seem to inundate the area.
That being said though:
Not all of the Petite Ceinture is open to the public.
I’d definitely try to stick with portions of the railway that are actually open.
You know, like the section between Porte d’Auteuil and Gare de la Muette that has become a public nature trail and the abandoned sections in the 16th, 15th, and 12th arrondissements.
If you’d like to explore some of the old train stations that line the track, you can always enter at Villa du Bel Air and exit at Gare de Charonne, right before the tunnel.
***FYI, I do not recommend exploring sections of the track that are not open to the public. That’s because many of these areas feature long, completely dark, rat-infested tunnels, with rough ground underneath. Areas that require sturdy walking shoes and extremely powerful flashlights to navigate. Which is just not my thing since yeah, I hate rats. Blech.***
Address: 36 boulevard de Beauséjour – 75016 Paris
Hours: Opening times vary depending on the section of the track you’re on but usually the Pettie Ceinture opens daily between 8:00 am and 9:00 am and closes daily between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 9 to Ranelagh station and walk to the Petite Ceinture from there.
19. Check out Some fo the Books at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (AKA The National Library of France)
Once home to the largest collection of books in the entire world:
The National Library of France was originally founded way back in ye old 1366, by’ Charles V.
You go Charles V (just like Glen Cocoa, only better).
Since then though, this library’s vast collection of books has swelled to well over 10 million copies, making it necessary for the building to be rebuilt many times over.
If you’re a card-carrying member of the nerd herd like me, then you will not be disappointed by one of the most exquisite hidden gems in Paris.
Because after taking in the dynamic array of books housed here:
You can marvel at the intricate architecture of the building and explore a beautiful collection of ancient artifacts that include Greek manuscripts (5,000 of them to be exact), historic coins, and a series of globes that were owned by no less than Louis XIV himself.
He kept these baller level awesome globes hidden away inside of Versailles until the French Revolution, after which they were moved around until they finally made their way here.
If you have time, take a peek inside this magnificent building and soak up some of the literary greatness within.
Address: Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris, France
Hours: The public library is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and on Sunday from 1″00 pm to 7:00 pm. Library exhibitions have the same hours except that they close at &:00 pm on weekdays.
How to Get There: Take the RER C to Bibliothèque François Mitterrand station and walk to the library from there.
Price: A one day reader’s card is €3.90 while admission between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm is free.
20 Visit the House of Nicolas Flamel
Harry Potter fans of the world rejoice!
Because this is one of the many hidden gems in Paris for you.
Even if you’re a Harry Potter fan of the smallest measure, you’ll instantly know that Nicholas Flamel was a famous French wizard and alchemist who was repeatedly mentioned throughout the first book since he was the only known maker of the Sorcerer’s Stone (aka Philosopher’s Stone) – a legendary substance that was known for its incredible powers, like the ability to make the drinker immortal or turn everyday metals into gold.
He was also good friends with Albus Dumbledore so yeah, he had that going for him too.
What some people might not know is that Nicolas Flamel was actually a famous French alchemist who lived in this very house.
A former residence (now a restaurant by the name of Auberge Nicolas Flamel) that was built in 1407 and that is currently the oldest stone house in all of Paris.
Back in the day, good old Nicolas Flamel was the cat’s pajamas since everyone believed he had stumbled across an ancient text that showed him exactly how to turn ordinary metals into gold.
Do I think he could actually do this? Yeah, probably not,
Nicolas’ former home remains and has become a mecca of sorts for Harry Potter fans from all across the globe.
And if you’re really into all things Flamel:
Then be sure to stop by the Musee de Cluny, where his unique, self-designed tombstone is kept on display for all to see.
Complete with its very own, super unique set of symbology.
Address: 51 Rue de Montmorency, Paris, 75003, France
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day since you’re just visiting the outside and not the inside, which is now a restaurant.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 11 to Rambuteau station and walk to the house from there.
20. Stroll Through Montmartre Cemetery
Oh look, another cemetery made it on this list of hidden gems in Paris.
Something that is none too surprising given my morbid fascination with all things macabre.
The majority of this cemetery in the 18th Arrondissement is actually built beneath Rue Caulaincourt.
This place has become a quiet little oasis of solitude that is largely devoid of the enormous crowds that invade some of the more famous cemeteries in the area,
This place was also first opened in 1825 and now contains a series of cobweb laden, grand mausoleums that sit tucked beneath a beautiful blue, wrought iron bridge.
Graves that actually denote the final resting place of some of the area’s most famous artists.
Super cool masters of the art world like Degas, Heinrich Heine, Berlioz, Alexander Dumas, Francois Truffaut, Emile Zola, and Adolphe Sax (inventor of the aptly named saxophone).
Definitely swing by while you’re in the area and prepare to bow in the presence of this type of artistic greatness.
Also, be on the lookout for a large herd of cats.
Like, literally, dozens of cats who have decided to make their home among the mausoleums and stand watch over the people buried here.
Or lazily bathe in the sun. Either one.
Address: 20 Avenue Rachel, 75018, Paris, France
Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 13 to La Fourche station and walk to the cemetery from there.
21. Visit the Museum of the History of Medicine
Hidden away on the second floor of the beautiful, Université Paris Descartes is the Museum of the History of Medicine (AKA Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine).
It is home to more than 1,500 medical artifacts that date all the way back to the 18th century.
You know, when bloodletting with leeches was an actual thing,
Nowadays though, you can just sit back, totally leech free, and marvel at the organic evolution of medical equipment since all of the surgical and physiological instruments here are displayed in chronological order.
And just in case you’re not already duly impressed:
This museum also has surgical bags from the battle of Waterloo, as well as autopsy tools that were used on none other than Napolean himself.
Something that I for one think is super cool.
Stop by today and stand in awe of slightly menacing instruments that make me super glad that I”m alive and well in good oid 2020.
Address: 12 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France
Hours: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 4 or 10 to Odeon station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: The nominal entrance fee of €3.50 is only payable in cash.
22. Stop by the Room of Extinct/Endangered Species in the Gallery of Evolution
Located on the third floor of the Gallery of Evolution (AKA Grande Gallerie de L’Evolution) is a slightly depressing room.
A dark, wood-paneled area that is filled with 257 different specimens of animals and plants that have either gone extinct or that are currently endangered.
Specimens that include everything from entire, taxidermied individuals to a single branch from a long-extinct tree.
Meander through the various display cases here and marvel at creatures like the Aye-Aye, a nocturnal lemur from the forests of Madagascar, and a Coelacanth, a prehistoric fish that was rediscovered in South Africa in 1938.
Other collection highlights include a mounted Schomburgk’s Deer, a Quagga (it basically looks like a zebra but only has stripes in its head), a Rodrigues Giant Tortoise, a Santa Lucian Giant Rice Rat, a Seychelles Giant Tortoise, and a Martinique Muskrat. Many of which are the only known specimens of their kind in the world.
If natural history really isn’t your thing, then feel free to beeline it on over to the giant gold clock in the room, which was made for Marie-Antoinette (insert your stunned ohs and ahs here).
You can always just channel your inner science nerd and visit some of the other, 10,000 natural history specimens that are on display throughout the Gallery of Evolution.
**FYI, the Gallery of Evolution is just one of three different museums that make up Paris’s National Musem of Natural History (AKA Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle).***
Address: 36 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris, France (located in the Jarden des Plantes)
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, except Tuesdays when the museum is closed. Last tickets are also issued at 5:15 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 5 to Saint-Marcel station or Metro lines 7/10 to Jussieu station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: General admission tickets are €10.00 per person while concession tickets are €7.00 per person.
23. Shop for Books at Un Regard Moderne Bookstore
Book lovers of the world UNITE!
Because this is the Paris bookshop of your dreams!
This super-unique, counter-culture, book lovers paradise is nestled along a street that, when translated into English, quite literally means “The Street Where You Heart Lay Down”.
And if that’s still not enough reason for you to visit one of the many hidden gems in Paris:
Then consider the fact that this treasure trove of literary greatness is piled high with the must subversice books, magazines, art books, and comic books that you ever did see.
This two-room store, built to hold a maximum of five people at a time, also happens to be at the epicenter of social gatherings for independent publishers, artists, and musicians alike.
Which is why:
When you stop by, you never know what, or who, you’ll discover as you peruse through the endless stacks of literature centered around things like outsider art, surrealism, fetishism, graphic design, science fiction, and more.
Address: 10 rue git le coeur, Paris, 75006, France
Hours: Currently open Thursday through Saturday from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number four to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station and walk to the bookstore from there.
Price: FREE (unless you want to buy something)
24. Visit Canal St. Martin
Located in the Eastern part of the city:
Canal St. Martin is often overlooked in favor of infinitely more famous Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees.
Take some time to explore one of the many non-touristy things to do in Paris and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a wealth of tree-lined canals and cobblestone walkways as far as the eye can see.
Because in all seriousness:
Beginning at Port de l’Arsenal marina:
This canal snakes under Bastille and emerges from a long tunnel near République. So take a leisurely walk through this charming place and enjoy a fresh baguette slathered in brie.
If you can though:
Try to visit on a Sunday, when the roads are closed to cars and when many local cafés, bistros, and shops come alive with pedestrian traffic.
But if you’re feet are begging for mercy after all this walking:
You can always take a boat tour of the canal that starts at the Musée d’Orsay and ends at Canauxrama between Bastille and Bassin de la Villette.
Because no joke:
During this boat tour, you’ll experience some straight-up. Disney style magic.
Address: Starts at Place de Stalingrad and ends at Paris Quai de la Rapee.
Hours: It’s a neighborhood so you can visit any time. However, the best time to stop by is early on a Sunday.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number, 2, 5 or 7B to Jaures station and walk to the canal from there.
25. Stroll through the Parc Des Buttes-Chaumont
Tucked away in the Northeastern part of the city:
This 61-acre park (the fifth largest in Paris) was first opened in 1867 and is one of the all too rare, quiet hidden gems in Paris.
It’s also a place where all the locals go on a nice sunny day to escape the hustle and bustle of the sometimes overwhelmingly chaotic city.
The real highlight of any trip here is a picturesque rock that seamlessly rises out of a central lake. A scenic spot that you can easily explore using a nearby suspension bridge.
Be sure to grab a picnic lunch and take in some of the beautiful views while happily munching on a crispy piece of baguette in one of the best parks in Paris.
Address:1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris, France
Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line 7B to Buttes Chaumont station and walk to the park from there.
26. Admire the Stunning Views The Printemps Haussmann Rooftop Terrace
Truth be told:
Le Printemps department store isn’t exactly a well-kept secret.
This iconic, Parisian brand has been around since ye olde 1865.
You’re not really traveling all the way to their immortal outpost on Hussmann Boulevard for an impromptu shopping spree.
Nope, not a chance. Instead:
You’re here for sweeping, panoramic views of Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower.
Hop on the elevator and take it all the way to the top floor.
You’ll take a rather narrow escalator up to the tippity top, where you can enjoy some of the best views in the city.
And while there is a cafe here:
I’d take a hard pass on purchasing any food here since the menu is mediocre at best (and that’s being really nice about it).
The drinks menu here is pretty decent, making this the perfect place to stop, grab a drink, and admire the expansive views all around you.
***PSST…this store is just a hop, skip, and jump away from Palais Garnier. So, you could easily visit both hidden gems in Paris at the same time.***
Address: 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
Hours: The store is open daily from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 3 or Metro line number 9 to Havre-Caumartin station and walk to the terrace from here.
Price: Free! Unless, DUH, you order something.
27. Explore the Latin’s Quarter’s Rue Mouffetard
Known for being one of the best market streets in all of Paris:
Rue Mouffetard is a charming, almost Medevil feeling, cobblestone lane that snakes all the way up to Place de la Contrecarpe.
While you could just meander through this picturesque part of the Latin Quarter, do that and you’ll be missing out on a whole hell of a lot of foodie wonderfulness.
Because hidden at the bottom of this historic road are a wealth of delicious eateries, local produce stores, family-owned bakeries, wine shops, and artisan cheesemongers.
It is your duty, and you must accept it, to rock a pair of your stretchiest elastic waist pants and eat your way through one of the most delicious hidden gems in Paris (apparently the roast chicken is supposed to be awesome in this neck of the woods).
If you’re looking for a specifc place to eat delicious food at reasonable prices, then you can’t go wrong with either Bocamexa Mouffetard (for Mexican food), La Crete, or TournBride.
Address: Rue Mouffetard, Paris, France
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day.
How to Get there: Take Metro line number 7 to Place Monge and walk to Rue Mouffetard from there.
28. Admire one of the City’s Most Ornate, Art Noveau Style Buildings at 29 Avenue Rapp
Just a short, 10-minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower is the stunning, totally over the top building at 29 Avenue Rapp.
Built by Jules Lavirotte in 1901:
The ornate, Art Nouveau style facade is truly stunning to behold and is filled with a fantastical array of intricately carved statues that were designed by artists like Alexandre Bigot.
Take some time to admire the building’s exciting exterior and appreciate the artist’s literal and abstract, overtly erotic representations of Adam and Eve.
Because although this building may not offend our less than delicate modern sensitivities, it was quite the scandal when it first debuted in the early 1900s.
Just in case you didn’t notice it amidst all the asymmetry, organic forms, and unique color tones, the door of this structure is basically a giant reversed phallus.
Just in case the whole erotic thing wasn’t already overtly apparent.
Address: 29 Avenue Rapp, Paris, 75007, France
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day since you’re just visiting the outside of the building.
How to Get There: Take the RER C to Pont de l’Alma station and walk to the building from there.
Price: FREE! You’re just looking at the building’s marvelous exterior.
29. Enjoy The Green Minded Ambiance of La Recyclerie Cafe
If you’re looking for hidden gems in Paris, then you need to go where all the locals go.
Because while most tourists flock to famous bistros and fancy AF restaurants:
In the know, Parisians visit La Recyclerie Cafe for a beyond delicious, sustainable dining experience.
Located inside a former railway station along the abandoned Petite Ceinture:
This uber-cool, hipster chic cafe has an environmentally friendly ethos about it that is reflected in the cafe’s unique decor, which resues many building features that were already here, including high ceilings, wrought-iron beams, enormous glass windows with sweeping views of the old railway tracks,
A quirky, vintage feeling place that is outfitted with plenty of places, recycled furniture, colorful chairs, an open-air kitchen, and on-site vats that are filled to the top with local wine sourced from En Vrac.
Vibes that totally match this unique eatery’s emphasis on the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling, in an effort to reduce their own overall production of waste.
That’s also why:
This chill, relaxed, and totally friendly feeling cafe is part restaurant part bar and part farm. A truly wonderful place that offers environmentally conscious patrons the chance to participate in daily DIY workshops and creative skills workshops that cover a wide array of topics like gardening, theater, and cooking.
La Recyclerie even placed host to a variety of unusual, community-building events like seed swaps, poetry readings, and live concerts.
Stop by and enjoy a truly delicious, ever-changing brunch menu that is sure to fill you up mind, body, and soul.
***In an effort to become even more sustainable, this hidden gem in Paris serves nothing but vegan and vegetarian dishes every Thursday. The menu here also changes daily and includes delicious, €1.00 filtered coffee. Plus, they host a weekly farmer’s market upstairs, on Thursday evenings.***
Address: 83 Boulevard Ornano, 75018 Paris, France
Hours: Open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am t0 12:00 am, Friday from 8:00 am to 2:00 am, Saturday from 12:00 pm to 2:00 am, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 4 to Porte de Clignancourt station and walk to the cafe from there.
Price: A vegetarian brunch will cost €21.and a regular brunch will cost €23.
30. Explore Musee de La Magie (AKA the Museum of Magic)
First opened in 1993 by George Proust:
This unique Paris museum actually sits inside a vaulted cellar from the 16th century that was once owned by the notorious Marquis De Sade.
You won’t find any remnants from the Marquis’ now infamous, sexual, sadist past.
You’ll discover a seven-room museum that is full of more than one hundred optical illusions, fun-house mirrors, and vintage magic tricks from between the 19th and 20th centuries.
A dizzying array of magic wands, magicians’ hats, posters, and antique engravings that will appeal to even the most unenthusiastic, totally angsty, teenage magicians.
Channel your inner witch or wizard and discover one of the more nontouristy things to do Paris.
Because believe it or not:
Every tour of this fun and fascinating museum actually concludes with a free magic show.
So legit, what’s not to love?
Address: 11 Rue Saint-Paul, 75004 Paris, France
Hours: Open every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro line number 7 to Sully-Morland station and walk to the museum from there
Price: An adult ticket is €9.00
Other Hidden Gems in Paris
- Walk along Rue des Barres (preferably on a Sunday) – Located on the perimeter of the trendy Marais neighborhood, this charming little street near the Seine is an Instagrammer’s paradise and is probably one of the most photogenic roads in all of Paris. While you’re here though, don’t forget to see the incredibly beautiful stained glass windows in St-Gervais-St-Protais Church and stop for a yummy brunch at L’Ebouillante.
- Enjoy Some Japanese-style pastries from Aki – Honestly, this place is a carb-lovers dream and bakes some delicious Melon Bread and Matcha Brioche. It also serves probably the best ramen in all of Paris. So yeah, definitely stop by for no less than pure, food, divinity.
- Enjoy the views from the Balcony at Musee D’Orsay – After marveling at all of the Impressionist and Post Impressionist art here, head to the top floor and watch the sunset over Montmartre and the Seine, from the museum’s stellar, outdoor terrace.
- Parc de Bercy – Take a stroll through the Parc de Bercy, a small park that sits right next door to Cours Sant Emilion. It’s one of the many fantastic, non-touristy things to do in Paris.
- Marvel at the Gardens of Albert Kahn – This 4-hectare park is filled with a quirky collection of English, Japanese, and French-style gardens that few tourists know about. While you’re here experiencing one of the nontouristy things to do in Paris, also take some time to explore the onsite orchards and forests too.
- Stand in aw of the resident, wild parrots in Parc Montsouris – Located in the south of Paris, this amazing park sits right next door to the Cité Universitaire and is home to some wild parrots. There are also several charming alleys nearby that would make for some great Instagram shots.
- Grab a Falafel Sandwich to go from L’As du Falafel – Found at the heart of Marais, this place is a favorite of Lenny Kravitz himself so you know it HAS to be good, Don’t fret over the long line though because it moves pretty quickly.
- Sip on a Cocktail at Petite Bain – It’s basically this barge that sits on the Seine that was recently converted into a chic little bar and concert venue.
- Get some authentic Parisian cheese from Fromagerie Quatrehommes – Not sure what else to buy in Paris? Then check out my article all about some of the most amazing Paris souvenirs right now!
- Enjoy some authentic Creoe Bretonne and Galette along Rue du Montparnasse.
- Sip on some of the best coffee in Paris at Hexagonne Cafe – Seriously, the coffee here is no joke and really is, next-level good.
A FREE, Interactive Map of the 30 Hidden Gems in Paris Listed Here!
So there you have it travel fans! A list of some of my favorite, totally unusual things to do in Paris!
And if so, what did you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!