Paris is the second most visited city in the world, making the historical sites some of the most famous in the world. The Tour Eiffel and the Sacré Coeur are just some diamonds that Paris has to offer. While visiting the iconic sites can make you feel like a bumbling tourist, Paris has way more to offer than just grand buildings. Swap the Moulin rouge for the Musée de la Vie Romantique or the Louvre for the lesser-known Cognacq-Jay Museum. Trust me, returning from Paris having visited hidden delights that each come with their own interesting history makes for a better story. Paris may be all gold and Gladrags, but there is far more waiting to be uncovered in these cobbled streets.
Where to Stay in Paris
Hotel Luna Park - just a 10-minute walk away from the famous Place de la République, making it the perfect spot for short stay.
The People - a hostel located just a stone’s throw away from Gare du Lyon. The hotel is equipped with terrace, lounge and beautifully clean rooms.
Hotel Sturdia - Located in Saint Germain, this hotel is the ideal location for wandering around Paris!
Hôtel Albe Saint Michel - A contemporary boutique hotel which has everything you might need for a quick trip.
Hotel Le Compostelle - A bonus being in the heart of Le Marais, this minimally chic hotel is the perfect place to take refuge after a busy day.
Hotel France Albion - Choose this intimate hotel located at the base of Montmartre to avoid the crowds.
Hotel Edgar & Achille - If you are looking to splurge on a bespoke hotel, then this is your Hotel! Each room is individually designed, and there is even a terrace to enjoy a drink!
Hôtel du Vieux Marais - This eclectically decorated guest house is located just next to Centre Pompidou.
Hotel Parc Saint-Servérin - This sleek hotel is just 550 metres away from the Notre-Dame - an easy walking distance to a true icon.
Eau de Toilette and Parfum are synonymous with glamorous Paris. Why not treat yourself to a personalised fragrance at an innovative perfume workshop? Invigorate your senses by crafting your own personalised fragrance at a Parisian parfumerie. Not only will you learn about the interesting history of perfume intrinsically related to Paris, but you’ll also be able to personalise your own bottle, making sure you won’t forget this magical moment. Book tickets here to secure your space in advance!
2. Un Regard Moderne Bookstore
Located in the student district of the 6th arrondissement is Un Regard Moderne, an independent bookshop. Founded by book dealer Henri-Jean Coudy in 1988, this bookshop has a wide array of exclusive art books and collectibles. The wide range of English language books make it a popular location amongst trendy anglophones visiting Paris! The shop itself is located in a 17th century villa in the heart of Paris, making it a beautiful destination for a quick shop. Pick up a limited edition art book in the rediest ship in Paris!
Michelin-star restaurants are not something that Paris is lacking. However, enriching dishes with small portions may start to anger you after a few days in Paris. Embrace the local cuisine by taking part in a Market and Cooking class organised by local cooks. First, you will source your ingredients from the local market, shooting from the finest fresh vegetables and local meat. Then, transform your ingredients into a 3-course delight with the help of a professional chef. Book tickets to this local experience here! You’ll leave Paris feeling like a true Parisian.
4. Passage des Panoramas
Swap the Champs Elysée or Rue de Layfayette for the quainter Passage des Panoramas. This passage was built at the beginning of the 18th century and was the former marketplace for Parisian merchants. The architecture displayed, whether that be through the beautifully crafted glass ceilings or the carefully posed tiles. The walkway today is now home to various boutiques, shops and restaurants, which you can enjoy. Walk back into the past by strolling through this delightful passage.
5. Arènes de Lutèce
Hidden in the left bank is an ancient roman amphitheatre known as Arènes de Lutèce. Built-in the 1st century, this arena was the spot for over 15,000 visitors to indulge in gladiator contests or other spectacles. Following the fall of the Roman emperor, the arena was forgotten about and rediscovered in the 19th century. Step back in time to Roman civilization by visiting this open-air amphitheatre l; located right in the heart of Paris.
Built-in a former 19th-century mansion is the exquisite Musée Jacquemart-André. The building was the former home to art dealers Édouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, hence the name. Here you will find the art world ranging from the 15th to 19th Century, all curated by the former owners themselves. As the collection is personal, there is an element of intimacy that other museums can simply not recreate. Once you wandered around the thoughtfully decorated rooms, order a café crème from the decadent salon in the museum. Book tickets here to secure your space!
7. Les Drapeaux de France
Located just across from the Palais Royal is Les Drapeaux de France, an odd little shop selling miniature figurines. The shop was established in 1949 and is one of the largest collections of toy figures in the world. Wander around the shop, admiring the various scenes from the French revolution to summer Parisian Fanfare. Leave the shops with an ionic souvenir or simply wander around this shop of curiosities.
8. Petite Ceinture
Petite Ceinture, meaning the little belt, is a railway line that used to encircle Paris. In the 19th century, the railway line used to run to various central stations in Paris, bringing people and goods with them. After Paris’s infrastructure expanded, the Petut ceinture served little purpose. Now, the railway line is a walking and cycle path where cultural hot spots and graffiti artists have gathered. Escape central Paris and stroll along the wrought iron tracks, admiring this overgrown urban space.
Paris is the birthplace of Haute couture and luxury fashion. The French Fashion tour will lead you around Rue Saint Honoré, the luxury shopping district of Paris. Stroll past the luxurious Louis Vuitton and the exclusive Hermès storefront, window shopping as you go. A guide will tell you about the history of the famous brands that are synonymous with Paris and the history of Haute Couture. Perhaps after your tour, you’ll even be in the mood for a shop. Book tickets here and start learning about the fashion capital of Europe!
10. The Recumbent Effigy of Victor Noir
Lying in the ground of Le Père Lachaise is the memorial of Victor Noir, a french political journalist who tragically died in a duel at the ripe age of 22. Despite not being a particularly prolific figure in French history, his memorial has become something of a spectacle for strange reasons. The crotch of the bronze statue has visibly been worn over time after visitors claim rubbing this region is good luck. Except over time, this fact has been misconstrued, and instead, the statue has become a symbol of fertility and youth.
11. Remnants of the Paris Guillotine
On Place de La Roquette, you will find the former location of the guillotine, used during the French Revolution. Here you will find a plaque that commemorates 27 people who were sentenced to death by guillotine. This gruesome method of murder was a popular choice in France and was the manner in which Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI were killed. At this spot, you’ll find indents in the street where the guillotine used to stand proudly, serving as a haunting reminiscent of France’s brutal history.
12. Musée de la Vie Romantique
In the 9th arrondissement, you’ll find the unusual Musée de la Vie Romantique. As the name suggests, the exhibition is dedicated to everything associated with the romanticism movement. Inside you’ll find beautiful paintings, decadent sculptures and even furniture all of which display the emotional and naturalistic characteristics of the romantic period.
13. Le Chat Noir Collection
Hidden in the quaint streets of Montmartre, you will find the Le Chat Noir collection. As you wander around Paris, you will notice the various emblems dedicated to the chat noir. The cat was a symbol of the cabaret club and has since become synonymous with Parisian nightlife. The symbol is a reflection of Paris’s buzzing nightlife from the 19th century until now. Visit the museum to discover vintage posters dedicated to the famous cub and learn about the history of the cabaret itself.
14. Gustave Eiffel's Secret Apartment
There’s nothing new about the Eiffel Tower, however, many tourists are unaware of the secret apartment that hides in the building. Gustave Eifell himself designed the apartment for the purpose of entertaining guests and having his own personal space. Located on the third floor, the apartment is kitted out with a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, everything you might need for a stay in the Eiffel Tower. Gain an insight into the personal life of Gusave Eifell himself b touring his own private quarters in the famous Eiffel Tower.
15. Musee de Cognacq Jay
In the heart of the Marais, you will find the luxurious Musée de Cognacq Jay. The Museum exhibits the private collection of Ernest Cognacq, a successful businessman known for founding the famous French store; Le Samaritaine. The 17th-century blonde sandstone building was a former hotel that was transformed to house the collection. Amongst the pieces, you find paintings, sculptures and furniture, all from the 18th century. Immerse yourself in French aristocracy by taking a wander in this private exhibition.
16. La Mère de la Famille
Founded in 1761, La Mère de la Famille owns the title as the oldest confectionery shop in Paris. The shop itself is a time capsule, with wooden panels and antique green and gold signage outside, luring customers in. Marble counters and large sweetie jars are equally as enticing to customers. When stopping by, try a variety of different goods. Be sure to try the shop's very own Berlingot, a traditional candy that La Mère has been selling for centuries.
17. Féau & Company
In 1987, Charles Fournier, a painter and gilder, established his studio near the famous Arc De Triomphe. Fournier was the mastermind behind such buildings as the Rose Palace of Boni de Castellane avenue Foch and other famous french palaces. Fournier’s work epitomises french decadence, providing aristocarcts with the finest gold digging and design during the Third Republic. HOwever, it is his famous workshop which is the most spectacular. Inside, you will find panelling from former French Palaces!
18. Musée de l'Éventail
Musée de l'Éventail, also known as the fan museum, provides visitors with an in-depth history of Fans and the craft behind them. Located in the heart of the Marais, the museum displays over 2,500 different fans made from a variety of luxurious materials such as pearls and silk. Not only were fans a display of beauty and decadence, but they were also used as a marker of wealth. If you are looking for hidden gems located right in the heart of Paris, this quirky museum is definitely the one to visit!
19. Paris Plages
Every Summer, Paris provides visitors and locals with a brief escape from the heat and stress of city life by setting up mini swimming pools and beaches. Located on the Banks of the Seine and Bassin de la Villette, you will find these little havens equipped with sun chairs and umbrellas. If you are looking for a quick escape from city life, Paris Plage is the perfect place. Top up on your tan and chill by the seine just like a local.
20. Le Carmen
If you are looking to spend an evening dancing in a Rococo-inspired club, Le Carmen is your best option. With intricately carved ceilings and beautifully painted frescoes, this club is nothing as you’ve ever experienced before. Velvet fabric adorns the room, and gold cages dangle from the ceiling. As you look around the bar, it is easy to tell that this is where the coolest Parisians frequent.
Located just a short walk away from Montparnasse, you will find this hidden gem. The theatre is the only Italian theatre in Paris and has a petite capacity of 100 people. From the exterior, the theatre lures you in with the powder blue panelling and gold decoration. The was a great success from its creation in the 16th century, it was even said to have inspired the plays of Molière. However, the theatre has changed hands many times, resulting in its inevitable downfall. Be sure to pass by this cultural icon and admire the famous exterior, imaging the various events that took place in this magnificent little place.
22. Spy Museum
If you’re a history fanatic or film buff, The Cinema and Espionage Museum at the Cinémathèque Française is the place to go. Just a short walk from Gare du Lyon, you will find this unusual museum exhibiting everything related to espionage cinema, from James Bond to Jason Bourne. The exhibit aims to excite audiences with the unusual subject of espionage cinema. Channel your inner french spy and film star by stopping by this quirky museum.