Paris off the beaten track – unusual places and walks!

september 2023

Want to ramble through secret destinations on your Parisian getaway? Have a drink in a little-known spot with a breathtaking view? Or take part in some out-of-the -ordinary activities right in the heart of the capital? Here are some ideas for discovering Paris’s alternative side!

The RATP’s unusual false façades

Did you know that a lot of Parisian building façades are fake? This is because hen the metro lines were being built, the architects had the unusuaidea of camouflaging the ventilation shafts with trompe-l’œil façades. For something fun to do, see if you or your family and friends can spot them while you’re visiting the capital.

To help you spot them, see whether the entrance doors have a handle or a keypad. If not, the building is fake.

The most impressive of all the fake façades is the one at 145 Rue La Fayette (75010).

The best spots for street art in Paris

Take an alternative tour of the streets of Paris and discover the masterpieces of the capital’s street art scene. Wander through the streets of the 13th Arrondissement and you’ll discover some magnificent frescoes, tags and graffiti – each one more outrageous than the last. Lose yourself wandering around in this one-of-a-kind district, which boasts a public display of artworks. This incredible open-air museum is well worth the detour!

Butte aux Cailles (75013) is a favourite with street artists.

© Frederic Reglain

The catacombs – a downright disconcerting venue

Are you looking for an original way to visit Paris? For a truly atypical experience, dive into the depths of the capital and discover the city’s catacombs. These ancient underground stone quarries conceal thousands of bones sourced from several Parisian cemeteries. This unique tour of France’s largest ossuary is a fascinating and mysterious experience.

1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris.

catacombes paris
© Mikhail Gnatkovskiy

The funfair and merry-go-rounds in the Tuileries Garden

Every summer, the Tuileries Garden is home to a funfair right in the heart of Paris. Featuring some of the most popular rides, the funfair also includes the iconic Ferris wheel. And once you’re at the top, enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole of Paris and the magnificent Place du Carrousel.
Enjoy an offbeat family day out in Paris filled with fun and festivities!

Place de la Concorde (75001)

© PJR Travel

The Moulin Rouge Rooftop

Head to 90 boulevard de Clichy, for a drink in the understated, picturesque Bar à Bulles. Take advantage of its magnificent terrace, tucked away in a leafy setting. You can also take in the view from the rooftop of the bar, which is one of the most popular of its kind in Paris. This exclusive venue is ideal if you’re heading out for a great night with friends.

4 Cité Véron (75018)

© Le Bar à Bulles®

A Chinese pagoda in the heart of Paris

Maison Loo is one of the unusual buildings in Paris’s 8th Arrondissement. This eccentric construction is the work of a wealthy Asian art dealer. He transformed a former hotel into a Chinese pagoda to house his private museum collection.

48 rue Courcelles (75008)

© Yann Vernerie

The Joséphine-Baker pool – a one-of-a-kind swimming pool on the Seine

For something unorthodox to do in Paris, head to the Quai François-Mauriac and go for a swim in an open-air pool! The aquatic complex Joséphine-Baker is built on a barge moored to the quays of the Seine. Its roof can be fully opened to transform the space into an open-air swimming pool, giving bathers the impression that they are actually swimming in the Seine. There’s a large solarium on site and plenty of activities and leisure activities for visitors young and old to enjoy.

Quai François Mauriac (75013)

© Mark O'Flaherty

Behind the scenes at a Parisian cabaret

For an unusual evening in the heart of Paris, push open the doors of the Moulin Rouge and enter a magical universe awash with sequins and rhinestones. Book your Parisian cabaret show for an exhilarating experience! Choose the dinner and show offer and enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by champagne. Afterwards you can dance the night away on the Central or Chaufferie dancefloors, right in the heart of La Machine du Moulin Rouge.

82 Boulevard de Clichy (75018)

© D. Duguet

Père-Lachaise – an unusual walk in France’s most famous cemetery

Take a stroll through Père-Lachaise cemetery if you’re looking for something unusual to do. This site is home to the graves of many famous figures and offers the perfect juxtaposition of nature and the funerary arts. You can stroll through the magnificent grounds and admire the spectacular tombs in a moving, timeless journey through France’s largest cemetery.

16 Rue du Repos (75020)

© Panoramic Images

The Great Mosque of Paris

The Great Mosque of Paris is another one of the city’s most unique landmarks. This Hispano-Moorish-style monument is a cultural site steeped in history. The large patio, adorned with sumptuous sculpted arcades, and the prayer room are well worth a visit thanks to their atypical architecture. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious cup of tea on site.

2 bis place du Puits-de-l’Ermite (75005)

© Tuul & Bruno Morandi

Marin d’Eau Douce – take a boat trip

Among all the unusual activities to do in Paris, how about a boat trip? Marin d’Eau Douce offers you the chance to rent an electric boat. You can sail on the Canal de l’Ourcq from the Bassin de la Villette without a licence. This original activity will allow you to discover many emblematic places of the capital from another angle. A fun experience to do with family or friends.

 37 Quai de la Seine (75019)

© Eric Laudonien

The Palais Garnier

A symbol of the City of Lights, the Palais Garnier is the only working theatre in the world to be both a place of art and design and a monument with a rich history.
A stroll around the Palais highlights a number of different elements: the majestic staircase, a true architectural masterpiece; the ceiling by Chagall, which pays homage to 14 major composers of opera and lyrical music; and the Grand Foyer with its shimmering colours evoking the style of the Belle Époque.

Take advantage of a guided tour to discover rooms that are little-known to the general public for an unforgettable experience.

Place de l’Opéra (75009)

© Patrick Isogood

The Coulée Verte – a stunning destination for a walk in the heart of Paris

The Coulée Verte is the ideal spot for an off-the-beaten-track stroll in Paris. This former railway line has been entirely pedestrianised and landscaped, making it a green lung right in the heart of the city. Running from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes, this little-known five-kilometre walk is a great way to get some fresh air with family or friends. It is also accessible via Rue de Lyon, from the Bastille opera house while another entrance can be found at the Viaduc des Arts.

48 Rue de Lyon (75012)

© Steve Tulley

59 Rivoli – an alternative artists’ venue

If you’re looking for an alternative art gallery, head to 59 Rivoli. This amazing and unusual venue is a squat occupied by a number of artists. Easily recognisable by its colourful façade, 59 Rivoli is home to an eclectic art gallery: an astonishing six-storey residence where exhibitions and workshops by artists of all kinds (street art, painting, sculpture, etc.) are held back-to-back. Take advantage of your visit to meet the many emerging artists and young talents. You can take a tour of their workshops – admission is free.

59 Rue de Rivoli (75001)

© Frederic Reglain

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