Off the Beaten Path: The Secret Paris

Off the Beaten Path: The Secret Paris

If you know me, you must know that I adore Paris. I’ve been drawn to its bohemian vibe ever since I first visited the city aged 19 (or perhaps even earlier than that, perhaps it was since I first watched Amelie). Thanks to the convenient train connection and budget-friendly accommodation options, we now try to visit the city at least once a year.

A while ago our friends asked us for our recommendations on the not-so-obvious things to do in the French capital. This is what we came up with.

Street art near Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin is our favourite place in the city. We always look at this area first when trying to find an Airbnb. Lots of bars, restaurants and boulangeries. Great atmosphere during the evenings with big crowds having picnic next to the canal.

Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont is the Paris version of the NY High Line (built in 1993). A great walk with lots of photo opportunities.

Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont

Parc de la Villette is an unorthodox park within a nice cycling trip from the city along the canal. It’s next to a huge science museum and contains interesting postmodernist follies. Very French.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a picturesque park with a big artificial cliff in the middle of it. It’s got nice views over the city and lots of smaller enclosures to sit in and enjoy sandwiches bought from some of the many boulangeries nearby.

– Speaking of boulangeries, du Pain et des Idees is one of the best ones in the town. Their croissants and pain au chocolats are small works of art.

The view from Ballon Generali

Ballon Generali must offer the best views of Paris. It’s an air balloon that’s anchored to the ground and rises to about 150 metres. Pro tip: Go during the morning when it’s not windy. They let the balloon rise higher when the conditions are not windy.

Quarter Asiatique is a place to find good asian food, and a nice area all round. The one qualification is that “vegetarian” options tend to be limited and can contain meat.

Palais de Tokyo / Musee d’Art Moderne is an architecturally fascinating complex on the opposite side of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Among other things, they have this huge piece from Matisse.

Admiring the Matisse room at Musee d’Art Moderne

Butte aux Cailles is a cosy neighbourhood with narrow streets and beautiful street art. Great place for a walk and photos on a sunny day.

Statue of Liberty. Yes, you read right, Paris has its own! It’s situated in a beautiful artificial island in the middle of the Seine. I recommend walking through this island to…

Pont de Bir-Hakeim, which has fantastic views towards the Eiffel Tower. Come here in the evening when the Eiffel Tower has its light show and it’s absolutely magical. There are at least five couples taking wedding photos on this bridge at any given time.

Eiffel Tower as seen from Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Bois de Boulogne must be one of the biggest parks in the city. I recommend renting a boat and rowing around the fairly big lake in the middle of the park. There’s an island in the middle of the lake and where you can enjoy picnic.

– If it’s raining, I recommend taking a walking tour through Paris’s many passages couverts. It’s extraordinary how different these galleries are. Some of them are super polished and contain expensive jewellers or art galleries; some of them are quite murky and contain discount shops and cheap food joints.

Have you been to any of the places we mention on the list? Or is there something that you’d like to add to it? If you’ve written a post on the less-known sights of Paris, please leave a link below!

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