We absolutely recommend getting off the beaten path in Paris.
As popular as the city is, many tourists miss truly understanding Paris. So, next time you visit the City of Lights venture off the beaten path and explore some of the more unusual things to do in Paris!
As the fifth most visited city in the world, Paris is undeniably a major tourist destination. This means that any prospective visitors will find countless guides on the City of Lights, mostly about the usual top Paris attractions.
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Getting Off the Beaten Path in Paris
This is why we have decided to offer our own version. It’s a less touristy and more alternative off the beaten path in Paris experience so you can visit the French capital without your experience being dampened by crowds.
Here are some of the best unusual things to do and see in Paris! Enjoy getting beyond the boundaries of your tourist map!
And, while you are at it, consider one of these awesome day trips from Paris!
Visit an Urban Farm in Paris
Yes, you read it right. There is an urban farm in the French capital. La REcyclerie is a unique project housed in the former Ornano train station, located near the Porte de Clignancourt metro station and one of the more unusual things to do in Paris. Established in 2014, la REcyclerie focuses on, you guessed it, recycling and eco-responsibility. As such, this oasis boasts an on-site restaurant that rivals many of the top popular restaurants and bistros in town.
Here, the food served is made from produce grown within the farm, which also includes a hen park and a vegetable garden and even several beehives.
Furthermore, this eco-friendly paradise organizes useful workshops open to all in an attempt to raise awareness about sustainability, recycling and reusing and eco-friendly practices. For example, local residents are invited to bring their organic waste for the compost bin in exchange for free coffee.
Other fun initiatives you will find at the REcyclerie includes René’s Workshop, where locals can bring their broken appliances and learn how to fix them instead of throwing them away in an attempt to reduce planned obsolescence.
A perfect spot to enjoy delicious and fresh food, learn a few things or two about sustainability and do something good for the planet at the same time. What’s not to like?
Skip the Seine Cruise and Visit Paris’ Other Rivers
Cruising the Seine aboard the typical bateaux mouches is a great way to visit Paris. You get to see the city’s iconic landmarks from a different perspective and enjoy a boat ride along one of the most popular rivers in the country. However, the amount of formulas available, including dinner or brunch cruises, proves that these trips are usually catering to tourists.
But this doesn’t mean you have to scratch the idea of a boat ride altogether. We simply recommend you explore the other waterways of the city. Indeed, the Canal de l’Ourcq, in northeastern Paris, or the Canal Saint Martin, in the 19th arrondissement, are both less popular, yet offer a picturesque and definitely less crowded alternative for you to discover Paris from the water.
Furthermore, both canals are lined with small boutiques, cafés and bistros and during the summer months, many events are held there, making them a cool and more relaxed Paris attraction.
Mint Tea for Two at the Mosquée de Paris
It is no secret that Paris is filled with traditional and even historic cafés where you can take a break from sightseeing. But why not spice things up a bit with a visit at the Grande Mosquée de Paris. Located in the 5th arrondissement, next to the Jardin des Plantes, this impressive building hides a variety of activities within its walls.
Built in 1922 on the site of the former Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (Charity Hospital) in the Moorish style, the Grande Mosquée includes several facilities, including a library, prayer rooms, as well as a restaurant, a tea room, a hammam and a magnificent outdoor garden. A treat for the eyes, with beautiful tiles and exquisite mosaics.
Head to the lush outdoor patio where you feel like you’ve been transported in an old Moorish palace and have a go at the traditional mint tea (Bean lovers can try the Turkish coffee) for 2 euros and simply enjoy the vibes. If hunger strikes, we highly recommend you pop by the restaurant to sample delicious tagines and decadent desserts too! You won’t regret it! You can even complete your immersion with a visit to the spa where traditional Oriental practices are applied.
Pay your Respect at Cimetière Montparnasse
Though somewhat an unusual landmark to visit, Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery, located in the 20th arrondissement, has been attracting numerous visitors, thanks to the many famous people buried within. A mix between an English garden and a shrine extending over 44 hectares, it features a wide variety of funerary art styles, including ancient mausoleums, neo-Byzantine crypts and Gothic chambers.
But you can enjoy the same fascinating features by opting for the less popular burial ground of the Cimetière Montparnasse. This landscaped funeral park housed in the 14th arrondissement is the city’s second largest cemetery and though it is less notable, this resting place still includes the tombs of celebrities and legends, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, and even Serge Gainsbourg.
Here also, you will have the opportunity to stroll among some of the finest funeral art monuments, including Classical, Egyptian, Renaissance and Art Nouveau…
Explore Unusual Museums in Paris
As the French capital, Paris boasts a wide range of interesting museums to cater to all tastes. We are not implying that the Louvre is not a must, but if you want to escape the crowds, there are several valuable alternatives to the more talked-about museums.
The Musée Grevin for example, is an excellent option to marvel at realistic wax figures of celebrities and personalities. Situated on the Grands Boulevards, in the 9th arrondissement, the museum ranks high among the unmissable spots in town and counts shorter waiting queues to get in (some days, there is even none).
Traveling with the children? Then, don’t miss a chance to pop by the Musée des arts forains (Fairground Museum), in the Pavillons de Bercy. This entertaining museum started off from the private collection of Jean-Paul Favand, a Parisian fascinated with all things fun-fair. Here, you will enter a world of marvel and enchantment and will even get to ride on old amusement rides. The guided tour lasts 90 min and admission ranks between €16.00 for an adult, €8.00 for a child (age 4 until 11) and remember that there is no admission without booking.
Visit the Parisian Bollywood at Passage Brady
Paris is filled with neighborhoods worth a visit. One of them is located right on the Grands Boulevards area, in the 10th arrondissement, within the Passage Brady.
Built in 1828, this covered arcade will transport the visitor kilometers away into a vibrant and sensory world where the local Indian and Pakistani communities of Paris thrive. Commonly known as Little India, the Passage Brady is lined with several exotic restaurants and shops where you can buy the prettiest saris and the most fragrant spices. Drop by to taste delicious tandoori dishes and even immerse yourself in the fascinating culture of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Passage Brady is definitely a fun attraction for the wanderlust-fed traveler visiting the French capital.
Dancing Under the Stars at the Jardin Tino Rossi
You can certainly dance the night away in the many clubs and bars of Paris. Whether you are into electronica, hip hop or even have exotic tastes and crave zouk or reggaeton music, Paris has it all.
Why not make things more interesting with an open-air dancing session on the banks of the Seine? Then head to the 5th arrondissement straight to Jardin Tino Rossi, a quayside green space hidden behind the Institut du Monde Arabe, where during the summer months, Parisians of all ages and backgrounds come together on the river banks for one reason: Dancing under the stars.
Some days, it may be tango, other days salsa, swing, or even the waltz. Whatever the music genre, you can be sure you will have loads of fun and why not, even make new friends with your killer moves. The dancing sessions are held every weekend (from 3 p.m. to midnight) and from Wednesday to Friday (7 p.m.- midnight), provided the weather is good.
Unearth Unique Souvenirs at Parisian Flea Markets
Paris has countless shopping streets and malls where you can shop until you drop. From the Champs-Elysées to the Galeries Lafayette and the little boutiques in Le Marais, there are plenty of places to break the bank. But in case you didn’t know, Paris is also a paradise for flea market lovers. The main one is probably the Puces de Saint Ouen, a huge antique and second-hand market located in the 18th arrondissement. But we suggest stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring the lesser-known side flea markets, which specialize in more unique items.
One of them is Marché Vernaison, 99 Rue des Rosiers, where visitors can find anything from antique toys, furniture and even missing parts for antique furniture as well as textiles and paintings.
A little bit further along, at 85 Rue des Rosiers, you will find Marché Biron. This is where you will be able to find country-style furniture, though they can be on the somewhat more expensive side. Finally, pop by Marché Dauphine, at number 140 still on the same street. This one is certainly the most eclectic market of them all, where you will find everything from rugs, vintage clothing, books, furniture and rare antiques.
Walk the Promenade Plantée
You may have a blast sightseeing the wonders of Paris, but if you feel claustrophobic after visiting the 5th museum, we have a great activity for you.
Have you heard of the Promenade Plantée? If you have been to New York and loved the High Line, then you will love it. This green oasis in the heart of the city is a green space built along the way of an abandoned rail track in the 1990s.
Along this 4-kilometer green belt, you will find shaded paths and resting areas where you can enjoy reading a book, picnicking and even napping. Furthermore, as the promenade features an elevated section that passes between modern buildings, you will get an unprecedented perspective and extensive views of the city.
The Promenade Plantée, also known as the Coulée Verte, starts in the 12th arrondissement all the way to the Bois de Vincennes. Do yourself a favor and rent a bike and cycle along the trees and small bushes to enjoy an alternative way of discovering the city.
Hop on a Ballon
Want to enjoy 360-views of the city without having to queue long hours at the foot of the Eiffel tower? Why not try the Ballon de Paris? The hot-air balloon is probably one of Paris’s most underrated attractions but it allows for expansive views over the French capital. Permanently anchored in the Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement, the Ballon is a unique alternative activity that everyone in the family will definitely enjoy.
Furthermore, you can combine a visit to the park, which welcomes locals on sunny days for endless hours of picnicking, sunbathing and simply people watching. When the days get really hot, children (and even adults) enjoy the fountain jets to refresh themselves and stay cool.
Remember that the flights on the Ballon depend on the weather conditions so make sure to check the weather and contact the company to verify availability.
And there you have it folks, just some of the cool and unusual things you can do in Paris. As always, happy travels, and we’ll see YOU on the road!
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