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Written by Savi, 92 Comments

 

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 Offbeat viewing points for Eiffel Tower 

The Eiffel Tower grounds are crowded with thousands of people but some of our favourite places to view the Eiffel Tower don’t have more than a handful of people at the best of times. The Bir Hakeim Bridge and the terrace of Saint Jacques Tower are two great places to view the Eiffel Tower in all its glory without being heckled by hundreds of people. But our favourite place is the Haussman Buildings close to Passy Village. You won’t find anyone here – just take a snack or drink along and stare as you watch the sun set over The Eiffel Tower. You’ll love every bit of it.

 

Eiffel Tower from The Haussman Buildings – there’s noone around except a sole guitarist 🙂

 

#8 Take a Secret Food Tour in Paris

We’ve taken a fair few food tours in Paris but the one we really enjoyed is the Secret Montmartre Food Tour. The food tour starts in Montmartre, one of my favourite areas in Paris. Think of the tour as a flash course in Parisian dining culture. It also gives guests an opportunity to sample a variety of baguettes, half a dozen delicious cheeses, French wine, and luscious meats. But that’s not all. You can also sample an array of French desserts – macarons, chocolates, crépes – you name it. We loved the way our guide – PJ – would dole out nuggets of information about French culinary history with a huge grin on his face – highly recommended.

 

offbeat paris food tour
The Secret Montmartre Food Tour is amazing and PJ, the guide, makes it even better 🙂

 

offbeat paris things to do food tour
Sampling cheese in Montmartre on the food tour

 

#9 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

 

 

#10 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

 

 

#11 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

 

#12 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

 

#13 Take a day trip

If you, like us, love road trips then just rent a car (we use Economy Bookings) and head out for a day trip. This will give you a taste of the French countryside. Pick and drop off your car at the Charles De Gaulle Airport so you can avoid the crazy traffic and expensive parking in downtown paris. There are lots of options for day trips in the area including the little town of Chartres, Chantilly, and Lille. But one of our favourites is the Reims area, the birthplace of Champagne. Just drop by a vineyard or choose a café overlooking the cathedral in the city centre and spend a languorous afternoon under the French sun.

Reims Cathedral a gorgeous day trip from Paris
The beautiful interiors of Reims Cathedral

 

That’s it. Our Top 13 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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FURTHER READING AND TIPS FOR PARIS

 

92 thoughts on “Offbeat Paris: Alternative Things To Do In Paris

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

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

  4. 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 🙂

    1. Glad we could be of help J 🙂 We wanted to mention some offbeat gems, which aren’t usually on tourist trails of Paris

  5. 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.

    1. 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

  6. 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.

    1. 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

  7. 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

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

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

  8. 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 🙂

    1. Always good to hear locals appreciate our list Maitri 🙂 Did you tick any more stuff off the list? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

  9. 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 🙂

    1. 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

  10. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  11. 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… 🙁

  12. 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… 🙂

  13. 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 🙁

    1. 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 🙂

  14. 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.

    Thanks!

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

    1. Thanks Milena. We love the Catacombs too. The Pere Lachaise cemetery is stunning during fall – we never get bored of it 🙂

    1. Cathy there’s nothing quite like walking around The Louvre at night – glad we’re not the only ones who think it’s magical 🙂

  15. 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!

    1. Hey Wesley – yep I agree. Mainstream Parisian attractions are a bit overrated. Belleville is a great area 🙂

  16. 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,

    Regards,
    Jessica
    http://www.eparis.com

    1. 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 🙂

  17. 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!)

    1. 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 🙂

    1. Hey Marion – Spring is the best time to visit Paris. The weather’s clearing up but tourist hordes are yet to descend on the city. I’m sure you’ll love it. It’s the perfect time to visit the Montmartre, Paris’ parks, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetary if that seems like something you’d enjoy. Timeout has some great suggestions on events and exhibits as well: http://www.timeout.com/paris/en

  18. Hey guys, we are headed to Paris for the first time and all the research on your blog is super helpful. We are only there for 4 days and traveling with a tiny baby, so want to minimize too much travel after we get to the city to honor nap-times. Do you think it is okay to pass up Versailles? Or is it a must-do-or-else kind of thing for first timers? Everyone makes it seem like it, but we are in such a mood to skip, stay in Paris and just hang out outdoors…

    1. Hey Amreena – absolutely ok to skip it. It’s better to relish Paris if you have just 4 days. Hurried sightseeing is never a good idea 🙂

  19. And what about touching the oldest stone pavement of the city composing the via roma (linking Paris to Rome since 52 BC) ? It’s in Square du Père Viviani by Saint Michel fountaine. Nice post by the way ! Didn’t know about La Petite Ceinture. Thank you.

  20. Just returned from Paris and she’s so many things I missed. I will do it all on your list when I go again.

    1. Aww that’s ok – at least you have an excuse to go back to Paris (and who doesn’t want that eh?!) 🙂

  21. Great post dear! Thanks for sharing with us! I really love your unique ideas about Paris. If you are planning a Paris trip then you should learn about it. And I must say, your article is a quick overview of Paris and me or other travellers can easily understand about Paris city.

  22. Great post! Belleville was definitely a highlight for me, such a quirky neighbourhood. I took a guided tour just for the street art with Paris Polaroid Tours. Would recommend going there for a drink in the evening also, good atmosphere going.

  23. This is a really cool post with lots of infos, thanks!

    For those you wander around Bastille, do not hesitate to go west, towards le Pavillon des canaux. On the way you can encounter a hidden place called 1944 Gallery Vegan Shop, a concept store in the same space an art gallery, a “boutique de créateurs” and a vegan corner… have a break for an alternative chill out time!

    1. Thanks for your appreciation Yves- we are really glad you liked our post on Paris. And also thanks for the information you have shared-we will keep this in mind fort he future 🙂 🙂

    1. That depends on your budget and personal preferences – I would suggest setting aside €50 per day at a bare minimum

  24. Heading to Paris tomorrow… What is the must see list now ? Love the after hours ideas and off the “path which has been beaten well”

    1. Hey Marshall,

      Sorry for the late reply. Hope you had a great trip to Pari – perhaps you could add to this list from your experience? 😉

  25. Hey, love the list. I’m living in Paris for a few months and i’ve already visited some of this places. I love the photo of rhe Eiffel Tower from the Haussman buildings but I can’t seem to find that spot. Could you help me out? I’d really love to go there.

    1. Hey Peter,

      This shot was from the end of Avenue De Camoens. If you’re walking on Boulevard Delessert you’ll see stairs leading up to a higher street. Climb up those stairs and shoot away 🙂

      Cheers

  26. Hi there, I’m trying my luck here, hoping that you’ll reply soon. I’m at passy village but can’t seem to find the area where you took the shot of Eiffel tower. Pls advise and provide more details or the directions. Thanks!!

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