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Top 15 Lesser-Known Places for Tourists in Paris

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Paris… the enduring, timeless City of Lights is filled with some of the world’s most iconic treasures: the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile,  swoon-worthy croissants, and the intoxicating scent of fresh coffee. Yet, there’s more to this enchanting city than meets the eye. Beyond the usual tourist trails lies a world of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. If you crave a Parisian adventure that feels authentic,  allow us to guide you through some extraordinary lesser-known spots.

1. La Petite Ceinture

Trade bustling boulevards for a stroll along La Petite Ceinture (“The Little Belt”), an abandoned 19th-century railway line encircling Paris. Now a haven of overgrown greenery and street art, it exudes a unique, almost post-apocalyptic charm.

2. Uncover the Hidden Beauty of Street Art

Paris is a playground for world-renowned street artists. Venture into the quirky 13th arrondissement (Boulevard Paris 13) to see massive murals adorning residential buildings.  Stroll along Canal de l’Ourcq, where vibrantly-coloured works dance along the waterway. And be sure to check out Rue Dénoyez in Belleville, a haven of ever-changing graffiti.

3.  Église Saint-Sulpice

This imposing church played a starring role in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” but its real-life mysteries and beauty are even more captivating. Seek out the embedded brass line – the Rose Line –  marking a former astronomical meridian. Gaze in wonder at its unfinished towers, each a contrasting architectural style, a testament to turbulent times.

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    4. Immerse Yourself in Parisian Markets

    For a true slice of Parisian life, shun the touristy spots and head to neighbourhood markets. Marché d’Aligre is a delightful feast of colourful stalls, bustling energy, and enticing aromas.  If you love all things vintage, rummage for treasures at the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, one of the world’s largest flea markets.

    5. Jardin du Luxembourg

    This sprawling, formal garden is popular but conceals a surprisingly uncrowded corner. Venture to its southern end and discover the mesmerising Fontaine de l’Observatoire. Surrounded by statues representing four continents,  its central monument boasts intricate sculptures of horses and celestial spheres.

    6. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

    Tucked away in the Marais district, this unusual museum is a fascinating blend of taxidermy, hunting artefacts, and contemporary art. Housed in a 17th-century mansion, it invites you to ponder the complex relationship between humankind and nature.

    7. Deyrolle

    This quirky institution is part natural history museum, part eclectic curiosity shop. It’s been a Parisian fixture since 1831. Marvel at the vast collection of insects, taxidermy animals, and scientific specimens. You just might walk out with a giant butterfly or a framed beetle as a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

    8. Explore the Catacombs

    Descend into the shadows of Paris and explore the sprawling subterranean network of the Catacombs. This eerie labyrinth holds the skeletal remains of millions of Parisians, transferred here centuries ago. Be prepared for a haunting and fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.

    9. Discover the Beauty of Passages Couverts

    These charming covered arcades, built in the 19th century, offer a delightful escape from the bustling streets. They’re filled with quirky boutiques, antique shops, and cosy cafes. Some of the most picturesque include Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Vivienne, and Passage Jouffroy.

    10.  A Taste of Parisian Chocolate

    Indulge in an artisanal chocolate experience unlike any other. Master chocolatiers like Patrick Roger and Jacques Genin elevate chocolate to an art form, offering a symphony of flavours and textures that’ll send your taste buds soaring.

    11. Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

    This sprawling, hillside cemetery is a treasure trove of history and art. It’s the final resting place of renowned figures such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf. Stroll its tree-lined paths and admire the elaborate tombs – it’s a unique mix of serene and spectacular.

    12. La Coulée Verte René-Dumont

    Escape the concrete jungle and wander along this elevated linear park, built atop an old railway line. Filled with lush greenery and offering unique city views, it’s a favourite escape for locals.

    13. The Arènes de Lutèce

    Immerse yourself in history at this hidden Gallo-Roman amphitheatre. Nestled in the Latin Quarter, it’s one of the oldest surviving structures in Paris. Its weathered stones echo with the voices of gladiators and spectators from a bygone era.

    14. Wander Through Chinatown

    Explore a little corner of Asia in the 13th arrondissement, Paris’s vibrant Chinatown.  Here, the streets are lined with Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, markets brimming with exotic ingredients, and colourful temples offering peaceful respite.

    15. Find Peace at the Grand Mosque of Paris

    Step into a world of serenity and intricate details at Paris’s Grand Mosque. Its beautiful courtyard, adorned with mosaics and arches, offers a tranquil escape from the city’s energy. Sip sweet mint tea in the tearoom, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Islamic architecture.

    Getting Around Your Parisian Adventure

    Navigating Paris is a breeze! Here’s a breakdown of your options:

    • The Metro: Efficient and affordable, the metro will zip you around the city.
    • Buses: A great way to take in scenic routes while you travel.
    • Bikes: Embrace Parisian life! Rental bikes (like Velib’) are everywhere.
    • Taxis and Ride-Hailing: Convenient, especially if you have luggage.
    • Paris airport transfer: Pre-book your transfer for a hassle-free arrival or departure, many companies offer child seats and other amenities.
    Transportation MethodIdeal ForNotes
    MetroBudget Travelers, Quick City TravelCan get crowded during peak hours
    BusScenic Routes, Less CrowdedLook out for express services!
    BikeEco-conscious, Active TravellersWatch out for Parisian drivers
    Taxi & Ride-HailingComfort, LuggageSurge pricing during peak times
    Airport TransfersStress-free arrivals/departuresOptions with child seats available

    Conclusion

    Paris has countless wonders to offer, whether you’re drawn to the iconic or the unusual. Don’t be afraid to break from the usual tourist trail – you might just discover the most charming, authentic version of this beloved city.  Remember, the journey itself is half the adventure, so embrace exploring new neighbourhoods, chance encounters, and hidden gems. After all, the heart of Paris lies not just in the grand monuments, but also in the unexpected moments waiting around every corner.

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