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Offbeat Paris: Alternative Things To Do In Paris

Offbeat Paris: Alternative Things To Do In Paris
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If you’re a regular reader of Bruised Passports, then you would know that the two of us can often be found hunting for hidden, offbeat gems with the resolve of Generals. But there is one city that seems to cloud our minds and melt our hearts, a city where mainstream suddenly becomes appealing – it’s gay ol’ Paree.

Paris is where clichés converge to make magic happen. Call us jaded romantics but Paris is made for walks by the Seine, devouring a crumbly baguette out of a brown paper bag,  running ones fingertips along the walls of the Sacré-Cœur – it oozes poetry and it makes us poetic *le sigh*

Unsurprisingly our list of things to do in Paris is a mix of the clichés and hidden gems. What can we say,  that’s how we like our Paris :-). Here’s presenting what we feel are the top things do in Paris :-


#1 Paris Panorama from the Montparnasse Tower

What’s better than a panorama of Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower? A panorama of Paris WITH the Eiffel Tower in it. It’s something of a ritual to go atop the Eiffel on visiting Paris, but it’s the view from the Montparnasse Tower, one of Europe’s tallest buildings, that is a stunner.

What’s more, there are no queues and tickets cost half as much. We suggest visiting the Montparnasse Tower at night- the sight of Paris skyline, with lights twinkling all over the place, is unforgettable.

Closest Metro Station: Bienvenüe Montparnasse (Line 4)

More information here

Paris Must Dos - Paris from Montparnasse

Paris from Montparnasse



#2 The Louvre at Night

Viewing the Mona Lisa after queueing up at the Louvre for hours might leave you a tad disgruntled. We don’t blame you, the crowds are a bit of a mood-killer.

If you want to fall in love with the Louvre, re-visit the museums’ facade at night, when the crowds have dissipated. There’s never more than a dozen people around, especially in winter. Squash your noses against the Louvre’s famous pyramid to peer inside or take a romantic walk to the distant sounds of cellists and violists playing in the compound of the Louvre.

Closest Metro Station: Louvre Rivoli (Line 1)

Paris Must Dos Louvre

Louvre at night



#3 La Promenade Plantée 

Roughly translated as The Green Walkway, La Promenade Plantée is a three mile long elevated green space, built atop an abandoned railway-line. The path is enveloped by trees and shrubs and is perfect for a run on a hot summer’s day. If you’re in the mood for a picnic, go for an amble along the Promenade Plantée till you reach Jardin De Reuilly – a ‘hidden’ garden in the middle of Paris.

Closest Metro Station: Bastille (Lines 1, 5, and 8)


#4 Defunct railway tracks of La Petite Ceinture

Whilst on the subject of abandoned railway tracks, you must visit the tracks of La Petite Ceinture (The small belt) if you like your cities with a generous dose of quirk. They’re located in the 11th arrondissement, a bit of a trek from Central Paris, but they’re well worth it – – this was definitely one of the quirkiest things we did in Paris. The tracks of the orbital railway, abandoned since 1934, are now covered with overgrown weeds and bright flowers while its walls are masked with graffiti.

Closest Metro Station: Alexandre Dumas (Line 2)

For directions and details refer to our article on La Petite Ceinture.


Paris Must Dos Abandoned Railway

Paris’s secret abandoned railway



#5 Pere Lachaise Cemetery

A cemetery might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a Top 10 ‘things to do’ list, but Pere Lachaise is special. It is one of the most intriguing cemeteries in the world. We first went there to pay homage to Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, both of whom are buried there. We went expecting macabre graves but fell in love with its cobbled paths guarded by dozens of trees. Pere Lachaise is hauntingly beautiful, especially during fall. Take a look:

Closest Metro Station: Philippe Auguste (Line 2)

Paris Must Dos Pere Lachaise

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Paris Must Dos Cemetery

The cemetery in Fall



#6 Sacré-Cœur at night

Sacré-Cœur, Paris’ most famous Church is an amazing sight to behold any time of day, but it is truly special late at night. The basilica is lit, and the steps leading to it are choc-a-bloc with revellers, especially in the summer. Unlike the Louvre, this isn’t the place for a romantic walk – instead get a few beers, find yourself a spot on the steps, and sing along with street musicians well into the night.

Closest Metro Station: Abbessess (Line 12)

Paris Must Dos Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur at night



#7 Le Marais

Bohemian Le Marais is one of Paris’ most fashionable areas and an LGBT hotspot. Spend an afternoon absorbing the exciting mish-mash of Parisian boulangeries, Jewish restaurants, independent boutiques, cutting-edge art galleries, and crooked lanes full of surprises in Le Marais. Rue St. Antoine and Rue des Rosiers are two of our favourite streets in the area.

Closest Metro Station: St. Paul (Line 1)

Paris Must Dos

Chez Hanna in Le Marais



#8 Belleville

The coolest neighbourhoods of Paris, including Le Marais and Montmartre, are becoming more popular and pricier by the day.

Enter Belleville – Paris’ working-class cosmopolitan neighbourhood. The array of cultures here is dizzying to say the least – chinese supermarkets and african stores hob nob with Tunisian restaurants and French cafés. Belleville is somewhat of a local secret and you will find few tourists here. It lacks the finesse of Montmartre or La Marais. Belleville is gritty-cool, increasingly populated by bobos (as Parisians like to call their bourgeois-bohèmes) and artists. We owe this find to one of our closest friends who happens to be Parisian (Hey Etienne if you’re reading :-) )

Spend an afternoon exploring the quirky Rue Denoyez, a lane crammed with graffiti, street-art, and murals, followed by a drink at the legendary Café Aux Folies (an Edith Piaf favourite) and you’ll understand why we love this whimsical neighbourhood so much.

Closest Metro Station: Belleville (Lines 2 and 11)

Paris Must Dos Belleville

Interesting graffiti in Bellevile – it reads ‘one must be wary of words’


Paris Must Dos - Beleville Cafe

Cafe in Rue Denoyez in Beleville



#9 Place Du Tertre

Montmartre is the mecca of twentieth-century Modernism, so it is very special to Savi because she is a Picasso and Gertrude Stein obsessive. At the Place Du Tertre, a little square in Montmartre, artists fawn over their easels to this date. Wander around as you observe them painting scenes from Parisian life and portraits under  the shade of leafy trees.

A word of warning. Avoid Place Du Tertre like the plague during summer months. It is crowded and crammed with make-shift restaurants. Instead, head to the neighbouring Emile Goudeau Square, which houses La Bateau Lavoir, famed in art history as Picasso’s studio from 1904-1909 and the birthplace of Cubism.

Closest Metro Station: Abbessess (Line 12)

Paris Must Dos Montmartre

Artists in Place Du Tertre

Montmartre Paris Must Dos

Interesting portraits



#10 Picnic by the Seine

This one is for all the jaded romantics out there – a picnic by the Seine, overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Of all the things to do in Paris, this is one which is by far the most touristy, but a must – after all, it’s amazing for a reason :)

Judge all you want, but there really isn’t anything better than the sight of Paris at sunset, bathed in luminescent peach light.  Wait for it to get dark.  The Eiffel comes alive with a light show as the clock strikes the hour. We like to think of the tiny lights twinkling all over the Eiffel Tower as elves hell-bent on drizzling romance all around :-)

Closest Metro Station: Trocadero (Lines 6 and 9)

Paris Must Dos Picnic

Picnic by the river

Paris Must Dos

Whilst enjoying the gorgeous Eiffel Tower

That’s it. Our Top 10 things to do in Paris. The city is just across the channel from UK and we might visit it frequently, but the romance never wavers. It unravels its magic, note by note, just like a glass of full-bodied wine.





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  1. Paris is one of my favourite cities! I wish I could live in France for a few years to soak everything in :)
    Divya recently posted…Why You Must Try Nigerian FoodMy Profile

    • Aye we would love to stay in France too – love it to bits :-)

  2. love ..loved and loved this post…every pic was just awesome..they way u write made the pics come alive and felt like i am there…u won’t belive the beauty of the pics brought tears in my eyes…i don’t know will i ever be able to see them in this life of mine…but this would remain a wish of mine….this post transformed me to a different world
    sakhi recently posted…Cruelty towards Animals in the name of TestingMy Profile

    • Thanks for leaving such a warm comment Sakhi. I’m sure you’ll get to travel to Paris super-soon :-)

  3. Absolutely love this post!!! so informative and helpful-makes me want to go to Paris-right now :) :)

    • Bookmark it for your getaway next summer? :-)

  4. ah that was a fun trip, almost like I was there, love some of the new places your mentioned that I haven’t been to, will have to check them out when I visit again!

    • Noel the list is just our way to tempting you into booking a flight to our side of the world 😉

  5. All great picks, I also love the views of Paris from the Centre Georges Pompidou!

    • Thanks Jarret. I agree, the view of Paris from Centre Georges Pompidou is great :-)

  6. Love the post! No matter how much one reads on Paris or watches it on TV, it never fails to tug at one’s heart! I am really keeping my fingers crossed that i can successfully plan a Parisian honeymoon! Even if I have to wrap myself in 10 wollens in chill of December 😉 Afterall, didnt Audrey Hepburn famously said, “Paris is always a good idea” 😉
    Surely gonna keep your top picks in mind whenever my life takes me to Paris!
    The Wedding Pitara recently posted…The Blogs I LoveMy Profile

    • Paris is gorgeous in December – Christmas lights, Christmas markets, ginger-bread men, warm crepes, long nights aaah!! You will love it :-)

  7. Wow, there are some truly beautiful spots in Paris. Thanks for highlighting your top ten list!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted…5 of the Best Spots to View Prague at NightMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed reading the list Henry :-)

  8. Amazing tips, a lot of them not featured elsewhere, as far as I’ve seen anyway. Bookmarking this and definitely trying some of these things when I go to Paris soon! Thanks :)
    J. recently posted…Today I’m loving…My Profile

    • Glad we could be of help J :-) We wanted to mention some offbeat gems, which aren’t usually on tourist trails of Paris

  9. Thanks for the tips! I’m from Mossoro, Brazil and i’m going on vacation with my family to Italy in october and maybe i’m going to a little sighseeing in Paris, i’ll enjoy to know your top ten spots.

    • Hope you enjoy our Top 10 experiences as much as we did Narly. Do send us photos if you make it to La Promenade Plantee, Belleville, or the train tracks

  10. Ahh… one of the few “Top 10” Paris lists which features the Montparnasse Tower! How refreshing. I used to live in Paris and whenever my friends go there I tell them to go up the Montparnasse Tower and they always come back saying “We decided to go up the Eiffel Tower instead…”

    Great list. I’ll be sure to check out the ones I haven’t done the next time I go to Paris.

    • Katie the exact same thing has happened to us many times, so we decided to hammer home the point by putting Montparnasse Tower right at the top of our list of things to do in Paris 😉 But they have now barricaded the terrace of the Montparnasse Tower with a second layer of transparent fencing, so it’s not as much fun as it used to be – still better than the Eiffel

  11. I really wanted to get to Paris this year, and hoping to make it over at least by Christmas. It’s so beautiful – especially at night-time. Ihaven’t been since I was a child so it’d be lovely to go and experience the city as an adult – although Disneyland is still a must haha! :) xx
    Elle Williams recently posted…Local Alternatives to London Tourist AttractionsMy Profile

    • I hope you do Elle- Paris is gorgeous. Have fun in Disneyland but make sure you cross some stuff off our list too 😉

  12. I would LOVE to go to Paris again to follow your list! The photos are soooo inviting!

    • Thanks Sara- it’s always such a pleasure to read your comments. Make sure you visit Belleville when you’re in Paris next :-)

  13. I feel like I am travelling with Bruised Passports.. Ur blogs are space travel for me :) thank u savi and vid.

    • Aww thanks Prajakta – we would love for our li’l blog to transport readers to far-away lands :-)

  14. I live in Paris. I think i really need to go around the city once more to finish that list :P,Thanks Maybe this weekend i’ll do that :)

    • Always good to hear locals appreciate our list Maitri :-) Did you tick any more stuff off the list? Would love to hear your thoughts :-)

  15. I dream of visiting all these beautiful places, been to Paris as a kid but this looks so different and beautiful now. love all the pics. would love to go again

    • You should totally plan a trip to Paris soon :-) It’s ever-changing and gorgeous

  16. Thank you so much for these tips. We are in France at the moment, after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays we’ll be spending a bit of time traveling around the country and a visit to Paris is on the schedule too, we’ll make a good use of your suggestions :)

    • That’s awesome Franca. Do tell us how many things you checked off our Top 10 list – would love to hear from you :-) Happy Holidays

  17. Thanks for this awesome post! I’m taking this list avec moi. 😉 It’ll be my husband’s first time there, and I feel a slight desperation to make sure he loves ole Paris. Also, I rented an apartment in Belleville for our stay, so your comments on that got me super pumped!

    • It’s hard not to love Paris Caroline. I’m sure he will love every bit of the experience. Just drop us an email if you need any information or suggestions :-)

  18. Was in Paris for this new year eve, amazing it was. I am in luv with Paris specially with the holiday spirit. I wish I would have read this list before visiting… :-(

    • Hey Rubina, Paris is amazing. You can explore things off the beaten path the next time you’re there :-)

  19. #10 is my favourite! :-)

    • Ours too – the highlight of any itinerary of Paris :-)

  20. Thanks for these great tips Savi and Vid. Since I might be heading to France soon, this comes in quite handy, especially because it’s always great to hear someone else’s recommendation for a place. It’s actually quite amazing to see how great Paris looks at night. But to me the simple things are the best and so the picnic by the river and the abandoned rail line would already be enough for me to make it a great visit… :)
    Dennis Kopp recently posted…Museumsinsel, the Museum Island of BerlinMy Profile

    • Dennis you picked 2 of our favourite things – simple things are always the best ones :-)

  21. View from Montparnasse Tower is one the best one’s in Paris! And your photo’s amazing. And La Promenade Plantée is on of my fav spots in Paris. Pity that it closes early around 6-7 p.m. and you can’t take long evening strolls there :(
    Elena recently posted…25 French Song That You Should KnowMy Profile

    • Elena glad you agree- everyone seems to scramble to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower these days where there are so many other things to do in Paris :-)

  22. HEy! love your blog. Makes me soo jealous of u ! haha
    ok looking for a cheap place to stay in Paris any suggestions? or which area do i stay in cheap but close/wellconnected to the main areas?
    Going in the second week of September.


    • Hey Siddhi – we’ve written a whole article on the kind of accommodation (affordable and centrally located) we suggest in Paris – here’s the link

      • Super!!! thanks 😀

        • Thanks soo much~ will check it out.

          • Anytime :-) You can choose any of those apartments and even avail a sizeable discount if you use the link in our article. Happy Travels

  23. Great list! I love visiting Pere Lachaise cemetery. It’s so romantic, especially in the fall. Another must do place is the Catacombs – a very unique experience.
    Milena Yordanova recently posted…The best parks and gardens in CologneMy Profile

    • Thanks Milena. We love the Catacombs too. The Pere Lachaise cemetery is stunning during fall – we never get bored of it :-)

  24. Cemeteries are sexy. As are your other tips. When we finally get around to visiting Paris, we know it’s weird we haven’t been yet, we’ll look forward to checking out your recommendations.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted…Gran Canaria ArenaMy Profile

    • Don’t miss The Louvre at night Matthew – that’s definitely my favourite thing to do in Paris :-)

  25. Love your list. The Louvre at night is amazing. Walking around there at about midnight once is one of our favorite Paris memories.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted…Mariner King Inn: Impressions and a Tasty SurpriseMy Profile

    • Cathy there’s nothing quite like walking around The Louvre at night – glad we’re not the only ones who think it’s magical :-)

  26. this was by far the best-sounding list i’ve found so far. i’m gonna do most of these things when i get there in december

  27. What a great post! I used to live in Paris and am now in Hong Kong, planning my trip in Paris for next May. Thanks to do I’ve got some new ideas of “what to…” :)

  28. great post! In a city like Paris, you can only survive if you do these type of offbeat things in my opinion. I have heard a ton about Belleville recently and I know it isn’t too far from the canal either, so it seems like a perfect place to visit or stay at and save a few bucks. Good call on the tower too, this way, you can actually get the Eiffel tower in your pictures!

    • Hey Wesley – yep I agree. Mainstream Parisian attractions are a bit overrated. Belleville is a great area :-)

  29. I love this place too much that i have opened a blog about paris. I try to add everything like hotels,beautiful places,restaurants,thinds to do and disneyland paris etc.But when i came to your website, it is so beautiful that i want to share it on facebook,

    eparis recently posted…France’s plan to fight intolerable racismMy Profile

    • Hey Jessica – go ahead 😀

  30. This is quite a informative post… Would be helpful in planning my trip to Paris
    Nisha@ThePinkTrends recently posted…L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Star Red Lipstick Collection: Pure Fire Review and Kangana’s Ghani Bawri LookMy Profile

    • Thanks Nisha – those are some of our favourite things to do in Paris. Do send us photos if you make it to any of the offbeat spots :-)

  31. This was such a helpful post! I’m obsessed with finding little places on my trips that no one I know has gone to see! Montparnasse Tower looks incredible, thanks for the recommendation! Will certainly be heading there instead of climbing Eiffel Tower!
    Any thoughts on if its worth visiting the Catacombs or the Moulin Rouge! Touristy, I know, but wanted to know if they were worth the money/queuing! (The pictures are also beautiful!)

    • Hi Belle,

      You should definitely go to Montparnasse Tower at dusk. As for the Catacombs, we did want to go but the queue just put us off. We weren’t interested in Moulin Rouge so didn’t even bother going there :)

  32. Hey Gary,

    Well these are the ones we are familiar with 😉 If you find more, please let us know :d


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