13 Off-the-Beaten-Path What to See and Do in Paris (Updated 2020)

Paris is filled up with famous attractions: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles, the catacombs, the Pantheon, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre-Coeur. The list continues on. There are so many amazing sites here you could spend days (heck, even weeks) just seeing the primary, most well-known ones.

But there’s more to Paris compared to the sites that attract thousands upon a large number of visitors every day.

While I was living Paris recent months, I managed to get my mission to see a few of the more unusual, lesser-known (but equally awesome) attractions (that didn’t include the aggravating crowds that produce so a lot of Paris’ attractions unbearable).

And, although some of the items on the list below is probably not “super secret” attractions or activities, they do fall in to the group of “overlooked attractions” therefore i included them.

Here are a few of the greatest off-the-beaten-path what to see and do in Paris:

1. Le Manoir de Paris

That’s where macabre museum meets haunted house. Numerous rooms highlight a few of the more unsettling areas of Paris’s long and frequently dark past, like the Phantom of the Opera, vampires, or the crocodiles in the sewers. Using real actors and also animatronics, the city’s gruesome and unsettling history is taken to life within an interesting way. Furthermore to their museum, there is also escape rooms and also different degrees of intensity based on how scared you get!

18 Rue de Paradis, +33 6 70 89 35 87, lemanoirdeparis.com. Open Fridays 6pm-9:30pm and weekends 3pm-6:30pm. Admission is 29 EUR for adults and 20 EUR for children 10-15.

2. Musée Édith Piaf

Édith Piaf could very well be the most well-known French singer from the 1930s to the 1960s, and know all over the world on her behalf songs La vie en rose and Non, je ne regrette rien (which appeared in the movie Inception). She lived in just a little apartment in the Ménilmontant district in the beginning of her career, which includes been turned into a little museum focused on her. You get yourself a glimpse at her life through her gold and platinum records, photographs, clothing, letters from fans, posters, recordings, and sheet music.

5 Rue Crespin du Gast, +33 1 43 55 52 72. Open Monday-Wednesday 1pm-6pm and Thursdays 10am-12pm. Admission is free, but you’ll have to make a scheduled appointment. You’ll also want to either speak decent French or go with a person who does.

3. Musée Curie

Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize (and the only woman to win it twice) on her behalf research into radioactivity (a word that she invented). She was the first female professor at the University of Paris along with the first woman to be entombed in the Panthéon on her behalf own merits. Situated in the 5th arrondissement, this museum, in her old laboratory, highlights her radiological research. It’s insightful and eye-opening for anybody not really acquainted with her historic discoveries.

1 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, +33 1 56 24 55 33, musee.curie.fr. Open Wednesday-Saturday 1pm-5pm. Admission is free.

4. Archives Nationales

Opened in 1867, the National Archives houses a large number of historical documents dating back again to 625 CE. Among six national archives in the united states, the museum sheds light on France’s turbulent past, providing nuanced historical details and context through permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Built by the order of Napoleon I, the building itself (referred to as the Hôtel de Soubise) is completely stunning. It really is in the late Baroque style, embracing long columns and a lot of statues and sculptures. It features immaculate grounds and gardens aswell. They always hold a whole lot of good exhibitions too.

59 Rue Guynemer, +33 1 75 47 20 02, archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm. Admission is 8 EUR per person.

5. The Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy

Opened in 1898, this museum houses over 1,000 animal skeletons from all over the world, including complete skeletons of elephants, large cats, and even dinosaurs. It’s as interesting since it is unsettling: all of the animals are facing the same manner, making it appear to be you’re amid some undead stampede!

2 Rue Buffon, +33 1 40 79 56 01, www.mnhn.fr/en/visit/lieux/galerie-paleontologie-anatomie-comparee-paleontology-and-comparative-anatomy-gallery. Open daily 10am-6pm (closed Tuesdays). Admission is free.

6. The Vampire Museum

Paris includes a long history with the esoteric, one which is taken to life in this fascinating (if not macabre) museum founded by an eccentric scholar to showcase his understanding of the undead and esoteric. Here you’ll find vampire-killing kits, rare texts on demonology, and mysterious ancient relics. It’s a busy, eclectic, creepy museum that’s a feast for the eyes and one worth a visit if you’re at all thinking about more obscure (and fanciful) tales. It’s a great, kitschy museum.

14 Rue Jules David, +33 1 43 62 80 76, artclips.free.fr/musee_des_vampires/MuseeVampires1.html. You’ll have to make an appointment beforehand by phone. (Don’t worry if the voicemail greeting is in French – the curator speakers perfect English).

7. Petite Ceinture

Used from 1862 through 1964, the railway circling Paris was abandoned when the town expanded beyond its limits. It’s mostly hidden behind buildings and covered in wild plants and grass now, while some sections are actually officially open to the general public. You’ll find a variety of flowers and street art along the tracks.

Although some sections are illegal to go to, near Parc Georges Brassens you’ll look for a portion of the tracks referred to as the ‘Passage de la Petite Ceinture’ that’s both free and legal to go to. It’s situated in the 15e arrondissement.

8. The Salvador Dalí Sundial

This surrealist sundial was made by world-renowned artist Salvador Dalí. Situated on Rue Saint-Jacques, it’s is a variety of a human face and a scallop shell (the symbol of the Camino to Santiago, because the street is named following the saint). As the sundial doesn’t really work, it’s nevertheless a good way to see a little bit of artwork by the most famous artists on earth.

27 Rue Saint-Jacques. Open 24/7 without admission.

9. Montmartre Cemetery

As the Père Lachaise Cemetery may be the largest & most popular in Paris, for a far more secluded stroll, browse the Montmartre Cemetery. A lot of people go to the top of Montmartre for Sacré-Coeur and the view, but few take time to wander this cemetery sitting at the base of the district. It opened in 1825 and houses many cobwebbed mausoleums, in addition to a couple of stray cats. You won’t see many people here, so that you can explore in peace.

20 Avenue Rachel, +33 1 53 42 36 30, paris.fr/equipements/cimetiere-de-montmartre-5061. Open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturdays 8:30am-6pm, and Sundays 9am-6pm.

10. The Museum of Counterfeiting

Opened in 1972, this museum houses counterfeit items which have already been collected by France’s customs agents and police (and also donated items from brands and consumers alike). There are over 500 items in the museum, which range from counterfeit art and luxury goods to more mundane items, like cleaning supplies. Although some knockoffs are impressive within their duplicity, it’s also funny to see precisely how bad some counterfeiters were!

16 Rue de la Faisanderie, +33 1 56 26 14 03, musee-contrefacon.com. Open Monday-Saturday 2pm-5:30pm. Admission is 6 EUR per person for adults and 5 EUR for students and seniors.

11. Promenade Planteé (Coulée verte René-Dumont)

This tree-lined walkway is a greenbelt that extends almost 5km along the old Vincennes railway line. The railway line ceased functioning in 1969, with the park being inaugurated a few decades afterward. Until NY built their High Line, it had been the only elevated park in the whole planet. (And, honestly, that is way nicer then your NYC High Line).

You’ll find plenty of trees, flowers, ponds, and places to sit along this long path that stretches from Bastille to the edge of Paris. It’s an extended, easy, and beautiful walk. You won’t find many people here. Even on a good day, it’s rather empty. It quickly became among my favorite things you can do in Paris and I can’t recommend coming here enough!

1 Coulée verte René-Dumont (12th arrondissement). Open daily from 8am-9:30pm. Admission is free.

12. Canal Saint-Martin

Stretching 4.5km, the Canal Saint-Martin is a man-made waterway commissioned by Napoleon. Construction finished in 1825, connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine via both above ground locks and underground tunnels. Without any secret spot (on a good day, you’ll find the canal lined with people), it’s mostly an area for locals who would like to have a picnic and relax. So, say no to the Seine, and come have your outdoor picnic along the canal. It’s more relaxing and you will have fewer people!

The canal starts at Place de Stalingrad and ends at Quai de la Râpée. Canal cruises last 2.5 hours and cost around 16 EUR per person.

13. Museé de Montmartre

Founded in 1960, this museum is situated throughout two building that goes back to the 17th century. Through the years, the buildings were home to numerous famous writers and painters. The gardens of the museum were actually renovated to look similar to the gardens in Renoir’s paintings (gleam vineyard nearby that goes back to the center Ages nonetheless it makes horrible wine). The museum’s permanent collection carries a wide selection of paintings, posters, and drawings.

12 Rue Cortot, +33 1 49 25 89 39, museedemontmartre.fr/en/le-musee. Open daily from 10am-6pm (7pm in the summertime). Admission is 12 EUR for adults, which include an audio guide. Discounts are for sale to students, children, and persons with disabilities.

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As the main sights in Paris are always worth looking into, if you wish to be more when compared to a tourist and create a greater appreciation for the town of Light’s unique and complex history, visit these unconventional and unusual attractions in Paris.

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Paris!

For more in-depth information, have a look at my guidebook to Paris written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff within other guides and gets right to the practical information you will need to travel and cut costs in one of the most amazing and romantic cities on the planet. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, methods to cut costs, on- and off-the-beaten-path what to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, plus much more! Click here to find out more and begin!

Book Your Visit to Paris: Logistical Guidelines

Book Your Flight Look for a cheap flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite se’s because they search websites and airlines around the world and that means you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld because they have the largest inventory out there. If you would like to stay somewhere apart from a hostel, use Booking.com because they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and hotels. A few of my favorite places in which to stay Paris are:

  • St. Christopher’s Canal
  • 3 Ducks Hostel
  • Les Piaules

If you’re looking for more places to remain, here for the best hostels in Paris. And if you’re wondering what part of town in which to stay, here’s my neighborhood break down of the town!

Looking to discover the best companies to save lots of money with? Have a look at my resource page to find the best companies to use when you travel! I list all of the ones I use to save lots of money when I travel – and I believe can help you too!

Need helpful information? Paris has some really interesting tours. The best company is Take Walks. They have expert guides and will get you behind the scenes at the city’s best attractions. They’re my go-to walking tour company!

If you prefer a bike tour, use Fat Tire Tours. They have the very best & most affordable bike tours in the town.

Looking to find out more on visiting Paris? Have a look at my in-depth destination guide to Paris with an increase of tips on what things to see, do, costs, methods to save, and much, a lot more!

Photo credit : 4 – Adrian Grycuk, 5, 8 – Guilhem Vellut, 6 – Jim Linwood, 9 – Joanna Penn, 10 – Son of Grou

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