Unusual things to do in Paris, away from the beaten path

Paris stands as one of Europe’s most enchanting, romantically renowned, and widely frequented urban destinations. Abundant with captivating tourist landmarks, countless travelers aspire to embark on a journey through the Louvre or ascend the Eiffel Tower.

However, have you considered exploring some of the lesser-known and offbeat pursuits Paris has to offer? Even in a city that ranks among the most frequently visited in the world, evading the crowds and uncovering Paris’s hidden gems remains entirely achievable.

Explore Père Lachaise Cemetery

Exploring a cemetery in the romantic city of Paris might not be the most conventional choice, but this city renowned for its exquisite architecture is also home to some exceptionally beautiful graveyards. The largest among them is Père Lachaise Cemetery, which holds the distinction of being the world’s most frequented cemetery, featuring ornate and sometimes extravagant tombs and gravestones.

Discover Les Catacombes

Even more peculiar than a cemetery is the city’s other essential destination, Les Catacombes. These refurbished tunnels and caverns have been accessible to the public since 1874 and undoubtedly rank among the more unconventional activities to experience in Paris.

The catacombs house approximately six million skeletons, with many of the bones and skulls arranged into patterns and structures that offer truly captivating sights.

Exploring vintage shops and flea markets

Paris is renowned as one of the world’s premier shopping destinations, brimming with designer boutiques and charming stores. However, for a more unique experience, consider exploring the city’s abundant markets for vintage shopping and antiques hunting!

Belleville’s open-air market offers a trendy shopping experience, while enthusiasts of antiques and vintage fashion should explore Les Puces. These sprawling vintage street markets, spanning seven hectares, are a shopper’s paradise. Be sure to check the flea market’s opening hours before heading to the area.

Embark on a Street Art Tour

Paris, known as the residence of the “French Banksy” C215, is an amazing location to encounter street art. While Belleville is widely recognized as an excellent spot for it, remarkable pieces can be discovered throughout the city. Christian Guémy, also known as C215, suggests exploring the Vitry-sur-Seine neighborhood for an international street art experience.

Explore the Paris Sewers

If your underground exploration wasn’t satisfied by the catacombs, you can venture into Les égouts de Paris, also known as the sewers of Paris.

Yes, that’s correct; you can indeed tour the Parisian sewer system! It’s an architectural masterpiece that mirrors the city’s street layout precisely. This tour provides a fascinating and informative glimpse into the city’s history, opening your eyes (and nostrils) to a unique perspective.

Stroll along La Petite Ceinture

La Petite Ceinture is a must-visit for those intrigued by the city’s vibrant history. Beyond that, it also offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk. The former railway tracks that once encircled Paris have been repurposed, forming a scenic promenade.

Certain sections of La Petite Ceinture, such as the 15th arrondissement, have transformed into gentrified green spaces, favored for jogging and leisurely walks. Meanwhile, other parts remain untamed, harboring urban biodiversity that ranges from wildflowers to foxes.

Share a Meal or Cooking Experience with a Local

Paris is synonymous with exquisite cuisine! One of my top activities in any city is to indulge in a food tour or attend a cooking class. It’s an ideal way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Paris offers an abundance of incredible food-related experiences, and I’ve compiled a few recommendations below:

  • Explore the Market and Cook with a Parisian Chef.
  • Embark on a 2-Hour Behind-the-Scenes Bakery Tour.
  • Discover the Marché d’Aligre with a 2-Hour Market Tour.
  • Indulge in a Pure Chocolate Walking Tour.
  • Learn the Art of French Pastry in a Parisian Cooking Class.
  • Master the Art of Making Macarons in a Cooking Class.

Savor the panoramic rooftop views from Galeries Lafayette

If you’re exploring Paris and taking in the city’s delightful attractions, be sure to set aside some time for a visit to the renowned Galeries Lafayette. This department store ranks among the most splendid in the city, featuring stunning window displays and a breathtaking interior adorned with exquisite stained glass. Don’t miss the opportunity to venture to the rooftop deck for an essential experience.

The vistas from the rooftop, overlooking the opera house and the surrounding area, are truly breathtaking, and simply relishing the cityscape below is a delightful experience. It’s a wonderful way to appreciate the city from an elevated perspective.

In the late afternoon, a bar opens up, and it unquestionably becomes a “see and be seen” gathering for both locals and tourists who come to savor the views and the Parisian lifestyle.

Participate in Pari Roller

If you’re into sports and active pursuits, one of the most unique experiences in Paris is giving Pari Roller a try. It’s a nighttime inline skating event that takes you through the heart of Paris, and it’s truly an incredible experience!

The police close down major boulevards to allow people to skate there on inline skates. This event takes place every Friday from 9:30 PM to 1 AM, and it’s massive, with typically over 10,000 participants.

What sets this event apart is that you get to skate past all the iconic Paris monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, which are beautifully illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere.

Anyone can join in, and the entire route is usually around 22 km long, but if that’s too much for you, you can join for just part of it.

If you’re a speed skater, you’ll find that the front of the ride is quite fast! If you prefer a slower pace, you can enjoy it at the back of the ride. Don’t have inline skates? You can even participate on a bike or scooter.

Explore Belleville

Belleville is among the most underappreciated neighborhoods in Paris, yet it offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s essence. Visit Belvédère de Belleville for breathtaking views of Paris, including a surprising unobstructed perspective of the Eiffel Tower.

As you descend from the park, make sure to take a break at Rue Dénoyez. This narrow alley, spanning less than 200 meters, is brimming with street art. If you’re there in the morning, consider grabbing a coffee at the trendy Café Le Barbouquin, or in the evening, indulge in an aperitif at Aux Folies.

Take a stroll along the Coulee Verte

Paris boasts over 450 parks and gardens, but if you’re in search of unique activities in the city, the Coulée Verte is the place to visit.

The Coulée Verte in Paris 12 offers one of the most picturesque and distinctive walks in the city. It shares a short stretch with the Petite Ceinture (mentioned earlier) before winding its way from Paris 12 to Paris 11 in the city center.

What makes the Coulée Verte appealing is that each section presents a different and unique experience, making it quite entertaining. At times, the path descends below street level, meandering through trenches and old tunnels. At other points, it transforms into an elevated parkway, the world’s first of its kind! There’s even a spot where the path passes through a building!

Explore Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is a hidden gem in Paris, situated on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine. This Gothic-style church was consecrated in April 1248, designed to house precious relics associated with the Passion of Christ, including the crown of thorns believed to be worn by Jesus.

Some describe its design as resembling a jewelry box, particularly due to the stunning 15-meter-high stained-glass windows adorning its 15 windows.

What truly sets this attraction apart are the stained glass windows, with 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments depicted. It serves as a fantastic, more intimate alternative to Notre Dame Cathedral.

Take a seat alongside the locals at Square Barye

Paris can become exceptionally crowded with tourists at times. However, we’ve discovered the ideal spot for you to spend a tranquil evening, soaking in the relaxed, local ambiance. Square Barye is a charming park located on a small island in the River Seine, near the Pont de Sully.

It’s situated across from the Institut du Monde Arabe and serves as the perfect location for a sundown experience. Just bring along some cheese, wine, and music, and enjoy a relaxed and quintessentially French evening as you watch tourist boats pass by. It’s an exceptional experience!

Cruise the Parisian Canals on an Electric Boat

While boat cruises along the Seine River are well-known, if you’re seeking unique activities in Paris, consider heading to the Canal de l’Ourcq for an enjoyable day on the water.

Take control of your own boat and navigate the Canal de l’Ourcq and Canal de la Villette for a fun-filled experience. In certain areas, you can even dock the boat and explore the nearby surroundings on foot.

Take a seat at the Arènes de Lutèce

Situated close to Monge in the 5th arrondissement, the Arènes de Lutèce is a Gallo-Roman arena dating back to the first century AD. It was formerly an amphitheater capable of accommodating up to 17,000 spectators.

This ancient Gallo-Roman amphitheater is situated at the heart of a small public park adorned with grassy slopes, blooming flowers, and abundant trees. It’s a cherished spot among locals because it provides a chance to picnic in a historically significant and beautiful setting, as well as take leisurely strolls through the gardens.

Few tourists find their way to this site since it’s concealed from street view within the Latin Quarter. The Arènes de Lutèce is an excellent place to unwind, bask in the sun, and savor life like a true Parisian.

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