A visit to Paris, whether it’s for the first, second or fifteenth time will most likely include sites like The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and a great restaurant or two but what about those places that you might not have heard of? No one likes to fall into a tourist trap, end up seeing the same sights and overspending on their trips. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 14 things to see & do in Paris that will make it a truly unique experience.
1. Ride the Curious Dodo Manège
The Dodo Manège is a beautiful and unique carousel comprising of extinct and endangered animals. This attraction is relatively new to Paris. Only erected in 1992, Dodo Manège is situated relatively close to the Natural History Museum.
2. Explore the Catacombs of Paris
These Catacombs of Paris house the remains of up to six million people. This curious site is located right beneath the Parisian streets in which you’ll walk and set up by city officials to solve the growing problem of full cemeteries. Take an eerie journey into the infamous catacombs, something that is becoming increasingly well known.
3. Stroll Through the Montmartre Vineyards
The Montmartre Vineyard has been in this area of Paris for over 800 years and is now the last active vineyard in the whole city! How could I have not known? Wine and Paris are two of my favorite things.
4. Sewers of Paris
Take a unique tour through the vaulted labyrinthine ceiling sewer system – complete with sewer boat and even a sewer wagon… intrigued?
5. Go for a balloon ride in Parc André-Citroen
You’d do well to find something more unusual in Paris than going up into the skies for a hot air balloon ride. Situated in the André-Citroën Park, the hot air balloon is officially the biggest in the world! What better way to get a feel for the city than seeing it from above?
6. Pick up an ice cream at Berthillon and wander around the Île de la Cité
While Italy may have gelato as its claim to fame, Paris is home to Berthillon ice-cream; some of the world’s best ice cream! With dozens of flavors from strawberry (this literally tastes like eating real strawberries) to salted caramel to plain old chocolate, you’re sure to find a flavor you fancy.
7. Pick up a souvenir or two at the Port St Ouen flea market
The largest flea market in the World is held each and every weekend on the outskirts of Paris at Port St Ouen. Peruse the varied wares and antiques, marvel at some of the more eccentric vintage clothing pieces and pick up a souvenir postcard for as little as 1 euro.
8. Visit the top of the Panthéon
Instead of heading up the Eiffel Tower (the queues are hours long, anyway), why not head up to the Panthéon and view Paris from above? Unparalleled views from the top leave you speechless; Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and plenty of other iconic landmarks are all visible from the top of this monument in the 5e arrondissement.
9. Shop around Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Saint Germain comprises of the 6th district of the city and focuses on a church of the same name, the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Highlights of this district include oodles of quaint coffee shops, many luxury hotels, countless antique stores and the church of Saint Sulpice (which was featured in the Da Vinci Code).
10. Grab a bite at Café de Flore
First opened in the 1880s during the Third Republic, Café de Flore is easily one of the oldest coffeehouses in the French capital. As such, over the years it has gained such a reputation that it has been frequented by many a famous person, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus.
11. Picnic on the Seine
If you happen to find yourself in Paris while the weather is nice, grab yourself some fresh bread, meat, cheese, wine, etc. and catch the sunset from the Seine. During summer the river will be almost fully lined with people doing this, with their feet dangling off the ledge, and for good reason!
12. Take a walk through Rue Cler
Located in the 7th arrondissement is Rue Cler, one of the most beautiful streets in the whole city! It is a market street with a specialty store for just about everything – cheese, meat, flowers, etc. If you do plan on visiting the Eiffel Tower for the light show, stop by Rue Cler first to pick up some picnic items to enjoy while sitting on the lawn. Rue Cler is also home to a bar called L’Eclair. They make a mean cocktail and will even whip you up something custom if you tell them a little bit about what you like. There is outdoor seating, making it the perfect spot to relax and people watch while downing a few delicious, unique cocktails. If you’re around during a non-cocktail appropriate time, stop in for breakfast.
13. Visit Jardin Du Palais Royale
Located in the 1st arrondissement just north of the Louvre and inside the Royal Palace, if you weren’t specifically hunting for this I doubt you’d ever just stumble upon it. If a bike ride tour beforehand sounds up your alley, click here for a very highly recommended tour that ends close to here.
14. Grab a new book at the Shakespear + Company bookstore
This is a quaint bookstore that is renowned for its classical design. Get lost in the rows of books and take in the ancient bookstore aesthetics here.