10 Unique Paris Landmarks that You MUST Explore!
Looking for some unique Paris attractions?
I Totally Get it.
I’ve been to Paris a few times 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 truly unique experiences in Paris.
Read on and get mildly inspired by some of the amazing and rather unique things to do in Paris, 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 gobb smacked (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 ay night. Is that what the cool party kids say nowadays? I have no idea. I’m old an mildly crotchety.
But it Actually Gets Cooler!
This museum closes at midnight so you can totally riock 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.
*** Open every day from 12 pm to 12 am, except Tuesdays. Tickets are 12 € for adults, 9 € for concession, and free for anyone under 18. To visit, just take Metro Line 9 to either the Iéna or Alma Marceau metro stations.
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.
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.
***A huge fan of railroad tracks? Then check out La Petite Ceinture, a hauntingly beautiful set of abandoned railroad tracks in Paris.
4. Learn About Unicorns at the Musée Cluny
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 disappoint.
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!
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 this iconic places can be overrun with tourists, especially during the summer.
One of relatively tourist-free, unique Paris attractions are the city’s beautiful, covered passages.
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.
,***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.
***To get here, simply take metro line 14 to the Cour St Emilion station. And 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. Tickets cost €16 for adults, €8 for children 4 to 11, and are free for anyone under 4.
7. Visit a 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.
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.
***I really enjoyed eating at the cafe right next door so a great option either before or after your visit. Also, the Picasso Museum is within walking distance so you can definitely visit 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. 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.
*** This building still hosts ballet performances (The official Parisian opera company opera company relocated to the Opera Bastille) that you can purchase tickets for. If you want to tour the building, tickets cost €12 for adults and €8 for anyone between the age of 12 and 25. The opera is open to the public from 10 am – 4:30 pm (September 10th-July 15th); 10 am – 5:30 pm (July 15th-September 10th).
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,
***Open every day from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets are € 9 for adults and € 7 for reduced admission. While you’re here, get the combined ticket for Sainte-Chapelle! Trust me, Sainte-Chapelle is AMAZING! And if you purchase tickets there, you will have to wait in an insanely long line (boo to that).
We Out of Here Cool Kids!
So there you have it travel fans!
A list of some of my favorite unique places in Paris that you kind of sort of need to visit!
But what I really want to know is:
Have you had any of these unique experiences in Paris?
And if so:
What did you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!