Looking for some unusual things to do in Paris?
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 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.***
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 gob 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 and mildly crotchety.
But it Actually Gets Cooler!
This museum closes at midnight so you can totallrockck 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 everyday 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 everyday 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
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 reducaed rates (€7 for temporary exhibits), and free for teenagers, any EU citizens under 26,, and eveyone 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 mosre unusual things to do in Paris. Other, super cool, totally unique Paris musuems 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 amazning 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 everday 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 expeirences 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 paiir of elastic waist pants to THIS tour!
Wine AND tea are also included with the price of your tour.
You might even see the smallest paved street in Paris and visit a full on, wiine 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 passage ways, 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 endleslly 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 one of the more unsual things to do in Paris? A place where you can un-apologetically get your hispter 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 artistcally inclined squattors who wanted a place to stay but who atso 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 squattors 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 contemorary 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 unceremonously welcomes you inside with an uber-creepy, cemetery-like garden that is brimming over with plastic bats and human reamins dangling from trees.
Don’t panic though because you’re not in some episode of Hannical 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 cryotic history of Parisian cemetaries 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 marval at a rather unique colleciton 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 run 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.
Beliieve it or not, this laberynth 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 cess pool 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 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 line 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 includng the time I had to wait in line) and make a good half day trip in Paris.***
A FREE, Interactive Map of all the 15 Unusual Things to do 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!
But what I really want to know is, have you had tried of these unique experiences in Paris?
And if so, what did you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!