Home » Paris hidden gems – 75 secret tips
Secret Paris - hidden Gems

Paris hidden gems – 75 secret tips

Updated: July 2018

Paris is the city of monumental architecture and imposing buildings. But also a city with hidden gems and secret attractions just as numerous as it’s narrow alleys and secret corners.

If you are traveling to Paris for the first time, it’s rather easy to go for a straight forward been-there-done-that city escape. Please do take time to do so; visit the Eiffel Tower (don’t miss our guide!) and climb up the the stairs to Sacré Coeur. Even have a stroll on the Champs Elysées! It’s lovely and despite all the hype, you haven’t been to Paris if you didn’t see this part of the city.

If you don’t have much time, I recommend taking a classic Hop on Hop off tour. It is clearly not the cheapest way to get around town, but you can be sure not to have missed a major sight while wasting time figuring out Metro plans. Click here for 10% Off Paris Hop on Hop off Day Pass

And then, once you’ve seen all the obvious, go and look for the secret Paris attractions. Search for the hidden gems of Paris. To make it a bit easier, I assembled a wide list of unusual things to do in Paris for you.

Paris hidden gems – discover the secret Paris

unusual things to do in Paris – tips from a local

  • Parks and Gardens
  • Shows and Concerts
  • Food and Drinks
  • Shops and Markets
  • Museums and Exhibitions
  • Walks and Itineraries
  • joie de vivre

Hidden gems in Paris – Parks and Gardens

 

1. visit the Gardens of Albert Kahn

The 4 hectares of garden are especially nice in spring – it’s a patchwork of different garden and architecture styles and you find Japanese, French and English gardens, but also roseries, orchards and forests.

2. visit the Parc de Bercy

The Parc de Bercy is a rather small park just next to the Cours Saint Emillion. It has different areas and combines a variety of concepts, if you want to see a tourist free part of Paris, that’s your place to be.

3. Have a walk in the Jardins du Luxembourg

The garden in the very centre of Paris is one of the biggest gardens in Paris. It’s a classical french park with water basins, statues and plenty of free to use chairs to relax, have lunch or watch people.

hidden treasures Paris: luxembourg garden paris in the center of Paris - secret tip: get your lunch in a nearby bakery. Read more about Paris hidden gems and Paris secret tips on our Blog
The Jardin Luxembourg in the center of Paris – grab your lunch in a bakery and take a seat – or just come around to read a book, you’ll always find a free chair

4. see the Rodin sculptures in the Tuileries 

The Tuileries is another big park in Paris but apart from it’s convenient location between the Champs Elysées and the Louvre, the Rodin sculptures should not been missed.

5. visit the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

The 5th biggest park in Paris with some interesting features: a waterfall, an extension bridge, a temple and due to the immense difference in levels a fantastic view over parts of Paris.

..and if you are already there, head a bit south and visit also the Parc de Belleville! Read our complete review and guide to the the wonderful Belleville area here and make sure not to miss the amazing street art that is covering the quartier.

 

6. have a picnic at Champ de Mars

Probably not the most secret place but a priceless view: the Champ de Mars is just in front of the Eiffel Tower

7. have a picnic at Parc Montsouris and look out for the wild parrots living there

Montsouris is just next to the Cité Universitaire, the big student residence. Hence, the easy going ambiance. Also, there are parrots. (and nice private alleys nearby to take great pics for Instagram (check out the area around Rue Nansouty)

Hidden Gems – Shows and Concerts

 

8. see the Rocky Horror Picture Show a Studio Galande

No advance sale! Be there 45 minutes early and queue to get admission tickets

9. see a movie at Cinema Harlequin

The cinema plays mainly classic movies but also foreign pieces in original version.

10. attend an open air concert in Parc Floral

Throughout summer plenty of concerts are happening in Parc Floral, mainly Jazz and Classic. Many of them are free, however, the park charges a small admission fee.

11. enjoy live music at fête de la musique

every year on the 21 of June Paris becomes one big stage. You basically have concerts everywhere: in Parks, bars, venues or simply on the streets. Most of them are free.

12. see the parade for Chinese new year at Place d’Italie

The asian community in Paris is quite big and so are the festivities for the Chinese New Year. The most significant is the parade that leads through China Town and starts around Place d’Italie. Get there a bit early to get a good place.

Unusual things to do in Paris - visit Chinatown and see the new years parades! great idea if you're up for some offbeat things to do in Paris. If you are searching for hidden gems in Paris, you shouldn't miss this Parade
The Parisian Chinatown lays in the 13th arrondissement and if you’re there around new year, don’t miss the parades for the Chinese new year – meeting point: place d’italie!

13. see free concerts at the Fnac Summer festival

14. enjoy a free open air cinema session at Parc la Villette

Grab a picnic cover and a bottle of wine and enjoy a warm summer night at Park la Villette. The cinema sessions are usually taking place around august.

15. see a concert at the Batofar, a boat on the Seine that is actually a concert hall

16. attend a free reading session at Shakespeare and Company

the most iconic and famous bookstore in Paris is hosting free reading sessions on most mondays. Be there early to get a seat inside and stay a bit late to share a glass of wine with the author.

Related events 2018 

  • Download Festival – 15.- 18 June get tickets
  • Lollapalooza – 21 and 22 July get tickets
  • Rock en Seine – 24.25. and 26. August
  • Paris summer Jam 24. August get tickets

Food and Drinks – secret tips

 

17. eat a Falafel at L’As du Falafel

This restaurant in the heart of the Marais is the favourite Falafel place of Lenny Kravitz. You can either try to get a seat inside or you simply get a Falafel Sandwich as take away. Don’t get put off by the queue though, they are pretty fast.

18. have a drink or join an event at La REcyclerie

La REcyclerie in the north of Paris is a Bar, Restaurant, Shop and eco project that uses parts of the old railway ring around Paris for their projects. It’s a pretty cool and inspiring place.

 

19. have some yummy treat at Lafayette Gourmet

20. eat some melon bread or matcha brioche from Aki

A Japanese bakery at Rue St.Anne, the Japanese Quarter in Paris

21. have wine on the Seine river banks

A very popular – and low budget – activity for basically everyone. Beer works as well 🙂 The Jardin Tino Rossi is a good place for it.

22. get some chocolates at Patrick Roger

Our Recommendation

For the chocolate and pastry lovers: don’t miss the 3-Hour Chocolate and Pastry Tasting Tour through the beautiful 1st arrondissement and  enjoy 8 free tastings in some of the most exclusive chocolate and pastry boutiques of Paris

If you want more than just chocolate, check out A Taste of Paris: Le Marais Food Experience During this 3 hour tour you’ll sample yummy wines, cheeses, meats, bread, jam, chocolate, and macarons in a small group – a great way to have lunch!

23. eat a Currywurst at Café Titon

This is probably one of the least parisian things to do (and eat) in Paris but if you are fond of Germany (or soccer matches or Jägermeister or said Currywurst), you should check out this charming little Bar

24. buy some cheese at Fromagerie Quatrehommes

our secret Paris tip: get some cheese in Paris from Fromagerie Quatrehomme Eatin cheese in Paris is not one of the hidden things to do in Paris - but finding a good fromagerie is like finding the secret of Paris
There can’t be too much cheese, right? Paris is cheese paradise!

25. have a drink at the Petit bain

A rather unique place in Paris; the petit bain is a barge on the Seine that got converted to a bar and little concert venue.

26. enjoy an outdoor apéro at Le Pont des Arts

27. eat asian food in chinatown in the 13th arrondissement

Paris Chinatown is rather an asian town as it has a very high vietnamese and laotienne populatien. And also excellent Pho. Our Recommendation: try the vietnamese sandwiches from Tang Frère, they are the best you can get in Paris! If you are more up for a seated lunch or dinner,  try the Thai restuarant “Basilic & Spice” – click here to see their menu and book your table online

28. eat a real Crèpe bretonne or Galette in Rue du Montparnasse

For example at Crêperie L’Authentique Bretonne – click here to book your table online and get up to 30% off

29. drink some really good coffee at Hexagone Café

This coffee house is a truly hidden gems in Paris if you like coffee. Besides the excellent brew, it’s a nice work café with a good internet connection, a real offbeat tip if you are in for coffee.

 

29. have some Ramen at Rue Sainte Anne

The Rue Sainte Anne is famous for the best Japanese restaurants in Paris! You can easily find the best restaurant by just checking the lengths of the queue!

30. have some Macaron at Pierre Hermé

Besides Ladurée probably the best Macaron in Paris. They are insanely popular and you most likely have to queue a bit to get some … however, they are as expensive as delicious.

31. have a drink at Rue Mouffetard

A cobbled stone street with about a trillion bars and restaurants. Check Restaurants at Rue Mouffetard at La Fourchette and get reductions up to 50%

Secret Paris attraction: Have an apero along the Seine - like many Parisians do in nice summer nights - great secret gems paris
There are trillion of places to have an Apéro in Paris – either in a bar, on a terrasse or picnic style along the Seine or in one of the many parks

32. Have some rhum at La Rhumerie

Apart from a huuuuge selection of rhums of all origins and all kinds, they serve very good food as well

33. attend the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants at Porte de Versailles and try the best wines

Each year in November winegrowers from all over France are gathering in the Paris Exposition Centre at Porte de Versailles to present and sell their grape juice. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, you can taste A. LOT.

Related events 2018 

  • Mer et Vigne 9. February – 12. February
  • Taste of Paris 17.-20 Mai – get tickets
  • Salon d’agriculture 24. Feburary – 2. March
  • Rhumfest 7. and 8. Arpil
  • Salon de Chocolat 31. October – 4. November
  • Fête de Vendange de Montmartre – to be announced

 

Hidden Gems – Shops and Markets

 

34. stroll over the  covered book market at Parc Georges Brassens

If you are searching for old books, that’s your place! The little covered book market is next to Parc Georges Brassens, a nice place to have a walk or relax in the sun. Stop for lunch or dinner at “Gabia”, a french gastronomic restaurant just next to the market  – click here to see their carte and book your table online

Also, if you want to discover the 15th and 14th arrondissement more in-depths, check our post about the Vanves Flea Market and the Petite Ceinture 

hidden gems Paris - visit the covered book market at Parc Georges Brasses
Paris hidden gems: Visit the covered book market at Parc Georges Brassens

35.  get to know France’s agriculture at Salon de Agriculture

A big trade fair where producers from all over France are presenting their goods. It’s mainly a big feast of cold cuts, wine and sweets, but also a big exhibition of animals, machines and merchandise.

36.visit the Vanves flea market at Porte de Vanves

This lesser know flea market is an excellent off beat location to explore the lesser known south of Paris – especially if you use this occasion for a walk around the area – check our recommendations and get more info about the Puces de Vanves here

37. stroll over the flower market at l’Ile de la Cité

This every day and all day market is famous for flowers – and birds! The latter are only sold Sundays though.

38. shop some vintage fashion in one of the kilo shops near the Mairie de Paris

For more vintage shops – check out the Marais!

hidden treasures in paris: visit one of the pedestrian cobbled stoned street and discover hidden places in Paris and food paradise
visit a pedestrian streets in Paris with fresh product stores left and right – usually those streets have nice Bars and Restaurants as well

39. buy your lunch on one of Paris many markets

Check this link to get a list of opening times of all markets in Paris

40. explore the covered passage

Probably one of the nicest walk you can have in  Paris – especially if you want to see a Paris with the flair of past times. The covered passages are all in about the same area and it makes as well a great destination for rainy days.

Hidden places Paris and unusual things to do in Paris -visit the covered passages and discover a secret Paris on your way from one to the other - Paris secret tips: they are all worth a visit!
The covered passages are a great tip if the weather isn’t great and are a nice secret Paris attraction

41. check the market and stores around Rue Montorgueil

another cobblestone street with a lot of delis, bars and restaurant. A good place to either have lunch or to buy lunch for take a way and have a picnic somewhere.

42. Enjoy some village shopping flair in rue de commerce

Related events 2018 

 

Hidden Gems – Museums and Exhibitions

 

43. visit the Museum of Modern Art 

With more than 11000 œuvres the MAM is one of the biggest museums in Paris and: it’s free! However, you are kindly ask to donate 5€.

44. see a photography exhibition at Galerie de l’Instant

A tiny gallery with impressive photographies. The admission is free.

45. visit a  museum for free on the first sunday of the month (not all museums offer this)

46. visit the Vampire Museum

The Parisian Vampire Museum is run privately by a vampire enthusiast. You need to book ahead to get access.

47. visit the museum atelier of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine

48. admire street art at la Butte aux Cailles

The elevated area just next to Place d’Italie is covered with street art. It’s also a great place to have drinks or dinner – I recommend the Tandem, a classic casual french restaurant.  click here to see their menu and their availabilities.

Don’t miss this walking tour if you want to  know more about Parisian Street Art.

49. get your cultural input at nuit blanche

50. dive into the arts of theatre and circus at the Musée des arts forains

Related events 2018 

  • Christian Dior Exhibition 7. March – 7. July
  • Japan Expo 5. July get tickets here

 

Hidden Gems – Walks an Itineraries

51. have a walk at the Berge de Seine

The riverside promenade is a relatively newly opened park between the Musée d’Orsay and the Ponte d’Alma near the Eiffel Tower. It’s also great for skating and biking.

52. walk along the Coulée Verte, Paris’ highline on top of the Viaduc des Arts or the Petite Ceinture in the 15th

If you want a see the 12th arrondissement from a unusual perspective, get up the Coulée Verte and walk from Bastille 4.7km until the parisian city limits on the elevated promenade. Alternatively check out the Petite Ceinture in the 15th – the old railway around Paris got newly reopened for public and a must visit for everyone who wants to see a different side of Paris. Read more here


Don’t miss our itinerary for a walking tour through the completely non-touristic areas of Monceau and Batignolles – click here to know more!


53. have a walk on Ile Saint Louis

It’s an Island on the Seine, just next to the Ile de la Cité with the famous Cathedral de Notre Dame.

54. rent a Vélib and have a ride along the Seine

One of the nicest things you can do on a sunny day – you can either rent a Vélib and cycle on your own or you take a guided bike tour as a sightseeing trip – check out our post to get the exact itinerary and see the video to get an idea of how beautiful it is!

55. have a walk at Canal St.Martin and if it’s summer, enjoy a nice outdoor apéro

Paris hidden treasure: The Canal St. Martin in the North east of Paris belongs to the rather hidden things to do in Paris
Canal St. Martin in the North East of Paris – definitive a hidden gem in Paris – especially in summer

 

Hidden Gems – more unusual things to do in Paris

 

56. enjoy the view over Paris from the roofs Galerie LaFayette

Not only for folks on a budget – get up to the roof top on the 7th floor and enjoy the view – for free!

57. see the Statue of Liberty at Allées des Cygnes

But it’s not the only one! There is one hidden in the Jardin de Luxembourg … can you find it?

58. take a picture of l’Arc de Triomphe from La Défense

La Défense is a nice spot to take pictures from the Arc de Triomphe, but also has a great Mall and it’s own arch!

59. play some board games at “le dernier bar avant la fin de monde

Clearly one of the geekiest place of Paris. Apart from playing boardgames, you can take a seat on the Iron Throne or take a selfie with R2D2. It’s a place to be the geek that you are. If you’re into E-Sports and gaming in general, pass by the Meltdown Bar

60. sit on the stairs at Sacré Coeur and watch street performer and artists

Just grab some beers (or buy some from the guys walking around selling them), have a seat, enjoy the view over Paris and life itself. Check out our complete Montmartre guide for more off-beat tips!

61. see the oldest houses of Paris in Rue de Montmorency

62. read a Manga in Fnac

This bookstore has quite a good Manga section and even though it’s probably not intended, but you always have plenty of people just sitting on the floor and reading their favourite books.

63. visit Paris’ famous university La Sorbonne

well.. you can’t just walk in unless you are a student, but you can try to get into on of their tours that are held almost daily. However, even if you just walk around it’s walls, it’s a nice promenade thought he Latin Quarter, a quirky area with typical student vibes. Fun Fact: La Sorbonne is one of the oldest universities of the world, founded in 1253!

64. see the painted houses at rue Crémieux

Paris secret tips - little cobbled stoned alleys and colorful houses are some of the many hidden gems of Paris. Check them out if you want to discover offbeat PAris
Colourful houses in Rue Crémieux – perfect for your instagram profile 🙂

65. visit the vineyards in Montmartre

Did you know that there are vineyards in Paris? The most famous one lays just beyond the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. If you are in town in September, make sure to visit the annual vine harvest festival. It’s basically a big street food festival with loads of wine. Sounds great, right? Click here to get more information on Montmartre – we wrote a massive guide!

66. Paris hidden places: arènes de Lutèce

Who would have thought that you can find a real roman arena in the middle of Paris?! Well, you can! check this guide to get more offbeat tips for the Quartier Latin


If you are searching for a restaurant in the area, La Table de Geneviève is a good choice. French cuisine at a moderate price and excellent rating. book here and get 20% off 


67. enjoy a summer in the city at Paris Plage 

Summer in Paris means: Paris Plage! During July an August the Seine transforms into a beach scene … with changing cultural and sportive offers, pop up bars, music, and all sorts of animation. Click here to know more about it! 

68. search Simone de Beauvoir‘s grave at the cemetery du Montparnasse

And while you’re at it, Jean-Paul Sartre rests just next to her!

Everyone is searching for grave of Jim Morrison, but the unusual thing to do in Paris is to search for Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir tomb
Everyone is searching for grave of Jim Morrison, but the unusual thing to do in Paris is to search for Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir tomb

69. visit la place de la Sorbonne 

check also our posts about the best locations to stay in Paris to find out why the Quartier Latin is in!

70. see the modern Paris around Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and avenue de France

The new 13th arrondissement is nothing like Paris as you know it. It’s rather a business and student district with modern glass facades, hip coffee and Bagel stores. If you visit Paris and would like to get it as a total; you shouldn’t miss this are

71. visit the l’hotel de Sens


Click here to get to our selection of the 10 best hotels under 100€ for you and your family


72. have a swim on the Seine at the swimming pool Piscine Josephine Baker 

73. take idyllic pictures for your instagram account at Rue des Thermopiles #parismaville

74. take metro line 6 from Trocadero and Bir Hakeim

and have a special Paris-Metro-moment while crossing the Seine just next to the Eiffel Tower. It’s probably the nicest Metro track section of Paris, with a stunning view especially at night. It’s the best way to approach the Eiffel Tower – read more about it here

75. enjoying the sun in the Tuileries

Discover Paris off the beaten path. See the secret Paris and experience Paris like a local
Enjoying the last rays of sun in autumn in the Tuileries

Pin it now – find it back later!

Paris off beat ideas, Paris hidden gems, unusual things to to in Paris

Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost for you – I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I am independent and the opinions expressed here are my own.