This guide of unusual things to do in Paris will surely take you off the beaten path to discover some of the best-hidden spots the city offers!

 

Beautiful Paris features enough landmarks to keep even the most curious travellers entertained for days, perhaps even months! However, most people visiting the City of Lights only have time to stick to the most iconic sites. If you are done visiting all the top attractions and are looking for unusual things to do in Paris, or even if you simply want to escape the crowds, the following options will surely show you Paris off the beaten path!

Unusual Things to Do in Paris

1. Take a Break at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Perhaps one of Paris’ best kept secrets, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is located in the 19th arrondissement and is one of the biggest green areas in the city. This peaceful haven is ideal to escape the crowds and it’s a big favourite with locals.

The most famous feature in the park is the Temple de la Sybille, a small circular kiosk perched at the top of a hill. Other attractions include a suspended bridge, grottos and even waterfalls. And from the higher points in the park, you can enjoy some stunning views of Paris.

Good to Know

Entrance to the park is free and the opening times change throughout the year. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is also one of the best picnic spots in Paris, so don’t forget to bring something to sit on and a small bite to eat!

 

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2. Admire the Grande Mosque de Paris

Built in the mudéjar style, the Great Mosque of Paris is an oasis of calm in the bustling French capital. Located in the 5th arrondissement, it is one of France’s largest mosques. The beautiful building is decorated with mosaics and carved wood. The Mosque also houses a restaurant, a tea room and a hammam (Turkish bath).

Good to Know

The Mosque is open every day, except Fridays; from 9 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 7 pm in summer, and from 9 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm in winter. The entrance fee is €3 and guided tours (in French only) are available at no extra cost.

 

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3. Check Out the Art at 59 Rivoli

Back in 1999, three artists known as KGB took over the building at 59 Rue de Rivoli after it had remained abandoned for years. Along with some friends, the group of artists cleaned up the place and turned it into a squart (a contraction of squat and art). Their goal was to create a space where artists could live in, create and exhibit their works.

Today the building houses 30 artist studios that are open to the public six days a week. With time, the project became so popular that the squat was legalized and it is now one of the most visited sites of contemporary art in Paris.

Good to Know

Entrance to the building is free of charge and opening hour are from 1 pm to 8 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. On the ground floor of 59 Rivoli, you can find a gallery space that hosts temporary exhibitions. Also, musical events take place on Saturday and Sunday at 6 pm from September to June.

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4. Explore the Catacombs

Housing the remains of some 6 million Parisians, the Catacombs are known as the world’s largest grave. This underground network of tunnels and caves stretches for miles and is one of the most unusual places to visit in Paris. In the beginning, the tunnels were used as stone quarries to extract limestone, which was used to build the city. Later, when many of the cemeteries in Paris became overcrowded and the situation was causing sanitary problems the tunnels were used as an underground cemetery.

For years, people have been fascinated by this odd place in Paris so sections became open to the public. Still, the network of tunnels is so vast that it is virtually impossible to keep all sorts of secret societies, thieves, and urban explorers from entering.

Good to Know

Nowadays only a small section of this weird underground world is open to visitors. The Paris Catacombs have become an increasingly popular attraction so you can expect long lines to go in. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance or take part in a private guided tour.

 

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5. Enjoy a Drink With a View

Paris is a city that offers many splendid viewpoints and, without question, the secret garden (ups…) on the terrace of Galeries Lafayette is one of the best in town. From up here, you can enjoy a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and the imposing Garnier Opera House.

Featuring over 18,000 plants, this lovely garden is a true oasis in the heart of Paris. During your visit to this impressive kitchen garden, you can learn about growing veggies, sample some freshly picked fruit and even take some treats home.

Also, at the same location, you will find La Terrasse, one of the best places in Paris to enjoy a glass of champagne while admiring the sunset! Plus you can even get a glimpse at Paris in 1912, thanks to the virtual reality telescopes on site.

Good to Know

Visits to the secret garden are with a guided tour only, which you must reserve in advance, and they are in English only. Also, in case of bad weather, the whole area will be closed.

 

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6. See the Statue of Liberty

Did you know that there are at least five replicas of the Statue of Liberty in Paris? The most well-known replica sits on the Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island on the Seine. This quarter-sized replica was a gift from the local American community to the city of Paris in celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution

Good to Know

In case you’d like to see the other replicas of the Statue of Liberty as well, there is one in the Musée des Arts et Métiers, another is also at the entrance of the same museum, and there is another one at the Musée du Quai d’Orsay. Additionally, there is a life-size replica of the Statue of Liberty’s flame near the Pont de l’Alma.

 

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7. Take a Walk on the Coulée Verte René-Dumont

Set on what used to be part of the Vincennes railway line, the Coulée Verte is a reclaimed industrial space that has been transformed into a nice green area. Located in the 12th arrondissement this lovely parkway is 4.7 km long and was inaugurated in 1993.

Some people call it the original High Line, in reference to a similar project in New York City. One thing is certain, if you feel like escaping the crowds and the hectic pace of Paris, this is the ideal place for a relaxing and quiet walk. Plus, it is particularly beautiful in bright autumn days.

Good to Know

Entrance is free and you can get there easily on the metro.

 

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8. Ride a Hot Air Balloon at Parc André-Citroen

Located in the Parc André-Citroen, in the 15th arrondissement, the Ballon de Paris Generali is oficially the largest hot air balloon in the world. It was first set up in 1999 and since 2008 is also used as an indicator of air quality in Paris.

Rides on board the Paris hot air balloon last about 15 minutes and can reach an altitude of up to 300 meters, so you’ll get an amazing view of Paris!

Good to Know

The balloon only operates in good weather, so call first on the day you wish to fly to confirm. Tickets are 12€ for adults, 6€ for children (3 – 11 years old), and free for children under 3 and for children under 11 who live in Paris (proof of residence required). Opening hours are every day from 9 am until 30 minutes before the park’s closing time.

 

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9. Enjoy the Vibes of Le Comptoir Generale

One of Paris’ best-kept secrets, Le Comptoir General is a multidisciplinary space that celebrates francophone African and Caribbean cultures. Located in the 10th arrondissement, this eclectic place attracts a very diverse following who come to enjoy the laid-back vibe, the tropical courtyard, and the African-inspired cocktails and dishes.

Besides eating and drinking, you can also enjoy some great music, have a tasty brunch, or just pop in to have a coffee in the afternoon. And soon, they will be launching a co-working space, so stay tuned!

Good to Know

The place can get crowded during weekends and there might be a line to get in, so it’s best to arrive early. Check their website to see the opening hours.

10. Take a Stroll Around the Pet Cemetery

Located in a suburb in the north part of Paris, the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques is the world’s oldest pet cemetery. It was created in the 19th century and it is the final of dogs, cats, horses and other animals. In fact, one of Hollywood’s most famous dogs, Rin Tin Tin, is buried here.

Good to Know

The cemetery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 4:30 pm. To get there, you can easily take the metro; it’s only a 25-minute ride from downtown Paris.

 

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11. Visit the Fascinating World of Deyrolle

One of the most unusual places you can visit in Paris — and probably the most surreal — is this impressive taxidermy shop. Deyrolle has been around since 1831 and it feels more like a museum than a shop. This cabinet of curiosities survived a fire 2008, but it still managed to maintain to this day its nostalgic 19th-century atmosphere.

As soon as you enter the shop, you are faced with a plethora of stuffed specimens of some of the most exotic animals in the world. Most of the animals on display have died of natural causes in zoos and parks.

Good to Know

Deyrolle is open on Mondays from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 7 pm, and from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 7 pm.

 

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12. Go for a Drink at Lavomatic

Hidden behind the facade of a laundromat, this speakeasy bar is a great quirky place to visit in Paris. First, you need to find the door that leads you into the bar on your own, there are no signs for it.

Once inside, you can order one of their famous laundry-themed cocktails, have a glass of wine, or even a nice bite to eat. Plus, if you are lucky you might even get to sit on the swingset!

Good to Know

Lavomatic is open on Tuesday and Wednesday from to and from Thursday to Saturday from to. It is not possible to make reservations so try to get there early in order to avoid waiting. Also, since the place is small, they don’t accept big groups (about six people max.).

13. Explore an Abandoned Railway

A forgotten railway that is now one of the best hidden gems in Paris, the Petite Ceinture (Little Belt) used to connect the most important trains stations around Paris back in the day. However, once the city expanded pass this circling railroad and the metro system was put in place, it became obsolete.

Today, even though this abandoned railroad is teeming with overgrown vegetation and street art, its basic infrastructure still remains. In fact, some sections have been incorporated into the current train system, while another has been converted into a nature trail.

Good to Know

Since the Petite Ceinture goes all around Paris you can access it from different points in the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements.

 

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14. Admire the Street Art of the Lasco Project

In 2012, the Palais de Tokyo decided to dedicate part of its program to street art and the Lasco Project was born. The goal of this initiative is to showcase urban art in the underground passages of the museum’s building. To this day, over 60 well-known international urban artists have taken part in this project.

Every year, new artists are invited to participate, so the exhibition keeps evolving with time. Unfortunately, however, not every section of this unusual urban art gallery is accessible to the public.

Good to Know

The only way to see the street art of the Lasco Project is with a guided visit. Tours (free upon presentation of entry ticket to the Palais de Tokyo) take place every day, except Tuesdays, at 12:30 pm and 10 pm; and last 30 minutes.

 

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15. Have Dinner “Au Naturel”

To finish our list of unusual things to do in Paris, may we suggest going for dinner to Paris’ first nudist restaurant? Located on the 12th arrondissement,O’Naturel serves bistro cuisine and meals go for about €30 – €40. They also offer vegan options.

From outside, the view of the inside of the restaurant is blocked. Once guests come in, they take off all their clothes and leave them in the wardrobe before entering the dining room. Only guests are au naturel, the staff is all fully dressed.

Good to Know

The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7:30 pm to 11 pm and you need to reserve in advance.

 

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Finally, if you are planning to visit Paris in February, try to catch one of the events of Paris Face Cachée, a festival that aims to show the hidden side of the city.

Map of Unusual Things to Do in Paris

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Unusual Things to Do in Paris

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I think the only thing on here I have heard of is the Catacombs. I’ve only been to Paris once, and my trip was really brief, so it would be great to go back and check out some of these unusual sites.

    • Hello Alouise, I hope you go to Paris again and can check out some of these things :) If yu find any other interesting tips, feel free to share them with us! Happy travels!

  2. Hi,

    I have been in August and I truly agree with your list…Unfortunatley I was not able to make to catacombs because I was not aware that on Monday it is closed..But may be ll make sometime again..But nice post..

    VR
    Sumti

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