On a first trip to Paris you’ll for sure want to visit all the famous highlights. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Tromphe, the church in Montmartre and Notre Dame are probably high on your wishlist. But what to do when you are visiting Paris for the second time? Once you have already seen the major highlights? We have been to Paris many times. So we have visited the city off the beaten track quite a few times. Let’s give you some tips for the 14 best things to do beyond the famous highlights!
Paris off the beaten track: 14 unusual things to do in Paris
#1 The other museums in Paris
After the Louvre, Musée Picasso and Musée d’Orsay, you may want to visit a little less touristy museum. Lucky for you a city like Paris has a lot more museums to offer! How about the Atelier des Lumières, where art is turned into projections on the walls, ceilings and even the floor? A wonderful place to immerse yourself in art in such a different way. Another tip is Palais de Tokyo for modern and contemporary art. There are mainly changing exhibitions, so you can keep coming back here.
#2 The characteristic passages and galleries
On a rainy day in Paris, the galleries will be your go to spot. Did you know that you can visit around 20 covered passages and galleries in Paris? Back in the old days, shoppers could make their purchases here without being bothered by mud or rain. There were probably about 100 of them back then. So the passages are an amazing way to go back in time a bit! Our favourites are Galerie Viviene, Galeries Lafayette and Passage du Grand Cerf.
#3 Atelier 59 Rivoli
Artists have taken over this monumental building in the heart of Paris. Starting as a squat, but later with the permission of the municipality. On each floor, there are several studios where French and international artists are at work. They also decorated the building with their art. The stairwell in particular is such a colourful work of art! Admission is free. You can buy artwork from the artists.
#4 The Great Mosque of Paris
This place makes you feel like walking around in the Middle East! South of the Seine is the Grand Mosquée de Paris. For 3 euros you can buy an entrance ticket to explore the mosque. The courtyard is beautiful with exotic plants, a characteristic fountain and colourful mosaic.
#5 A free walking tour through Paris
Join a local in Paris on a free walking tour! There are many different tours in the French capital. They focus on a specific area – such as the island of the Notre Dame or the area around the Louvre – or a specific theme. Find a tour online that fits your interest and learn more about the real Paris!
#6 Picnic or relax in one of the parks
Paris is known for its parks. On summer days you can find all of Paris out here to enjoy the sun! We love that almost all parks have benches and even comfi lounge chairs. So they’re perfect places to relax, get your daily dose of greenery and have lunch with a picnic. The largest and best-known spot is probably Jardins de Luxembourgh. The beautiful palace in the backdrop gives the park a unique vibe! Our other favourites are the Jardins de Tuileries, Square du Vert-Galant under the Pont Neuf, Jardin Anne-Frank, Jardin du Palais Royal and Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques.
#7 Stroll around Le Marais
The best part of Paris is for sure Le Marais. This is the area where you can find the nicest restaurants, bars, coffee shops and concept stores. Pretty much everything is equally hip and trendy. Our favourites in Le Marais are endless. A small selection: coffee at Boot Café, plants at Les Succulents Cactus, street food at Marché des Enfants Rouges, snooping around at the (expensive) concept store Empreintes, vegan food at Le Potager du Marais, burgers at PNY Marais and Japanese bowls at Nanashi.
#8 Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
It may sound strange to stroll around a cemetery on a summer day, but Père-Lachaise in Paris is actually a wonderful place to explore. You will certainly not be alone there, as it is a popular place with tourists. The graves are not just graves: they are beautiful tombs in all shapes and sizes. Celebrities such as the writer Molière, singer Édith Piaf, the American singer Jim Morrison and opera star Maria Callas are buried here. At the entrance is a map on which the famous graves are marked.
#9 The sunrise and the morning light in Paris
As far as we are concerned, a city is most beautiful in the early morning light. The streets are still deserted and the rising sun colors Paris in beautiful colors. Therefore, explore the city of love during the sunrise for the most beautiful views! Montmartre for beautiful views of the city are beautiful places for the sunrise. Or what about the rising sun behind the Eiffel Tower from Pont de Bir-Hakeim or Trocadéro?
#10 Shakespeare & Company
You can visit one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world in Paris. The historic store is beautifully characteristic. The English-language bookstore has dark wood bookcases with those classic ladders. The green facades with historical letters complete the image. Upstairs you can sit down with a book and the shop cat. Enclosed by the bookstore is also a popular café with a nice terrace.
#11 Vintage shopping
Almost every woman in Paris is beautifully dressed. I rarely saw so many fashionable dresses and skirts as during our last trip to Paris. The French capital is also a great place for a day of shopping. Vintage shopping to be exact! Everywhere in the city you can find amazing vintage shops; just search for ‘vintage shops’ on an online map. I am a fan of the Kilo Shop chain, Mad Vintage and the upcycled vintage dresses at Kiliwatch.
#12 The Paris metro
The Paris metro is an attraction in itself. No, I don’t refer to the subway trains or the underground stations, but the entrances. Most of them are in the Art Nouveau style that’s so typical of Paris. They are all equally beautiful! Especially unique is the entrance at Palais Royal: it was decorated with a work of art of colourful beads not long ago.
#13 The Lavirotte building
It’s not just the Paris metro that is characterised by the famous Art Nouveau style. You can spot this architecture everywhere in Paris. The best example? The building designed by architect Lavirotte near the Eiffel Tower. The facade is so richly decorated that you can hardly stop looking at it. In 1901 it already won the prize for the most beautiful design of that year!
#14 A day trip outside of Paris
If you have enough time in Paris or come here a second time, you will probably also have time for a day trip! Popular is a trip to the lush palace of Versailles, whose gardens and outbuildings are just as beautiful as the palace. But what about the less visited Chateau de Chantilly or Chateau de Fontainebleau?