Paris hidden gems – 75 secret tips
Updated: June 2019
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 cobbled stone alleys and narrow 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.
Do you want to know what others love about Paris? We asked popular travel bloggers, check out what they’ve said and follow their Paris travel advise!
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. Don’t miss the best unique places in Paris!
PS: This list comes free of charge and I hope it helps you to have the best Paris trip possible. It contains some affiliate links though. This means, if you book something over a link I shared (a hotel, a flight, a tour…), I might earn – at no extra cost for you – a little commission. It’s not much but it helps to keep this page up and running.
Paris hidden gems – discover the secret places in Paris
Best hidden gems in Paris – Parks and Gardens
Ξ 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.
Ξ 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.
Ξ 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. The Albert Kahn Gardens are truly a hidden spot in Paris. (note: the gardens are currently closed for renovation and will reopen in September 2019)
Ξ Visit the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The Buttes-Chaumont is the 5th biggest park in Paris and comes with some interesting features: a waterfall, an extension bridge, a temple and due to the immense difference in levels a fantastic view parts of Paris.
Ξ 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
Ξ 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.
Ξ Have a picnic at Parc Montsouris and look out for the wild parrots
Montsouris is just next to the Cité Universitaire, the big student residence in the south of Paris. 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
Ξ See the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Studio Galande
Just next to St. Michel you can see Brad and Janet! Know that there is no advance sale at the Studio Galande ! Be there 45 minutes early and queue to get admission tickets
Ξ See a movie at Cinema Harlequin
The cinema plays mainly classic movies but also foreign pieces in original version. Check here to see their recent schedule
Ξ 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.
Ξ 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.
Ξ 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.
Ξ See free concerts at the Fnac Summer festival
Ξ 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 Parc la Villette. The cinema sessions are usually taking place around august.
Ξ Attend a free reading session at Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company is one of the most iconic and famous bookstore in Paris and they are 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.
Food and Drinks – secret tips
Ξ 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.
Ξ 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.
Ξ Eat some melon bread or matcha brioche from Aki
Aki is a Japanese bakery at Rue St.Anne, the Japanese Quarter in Paris.. it’s also the place in Paris to have the best Ramen
Ξ 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.
Ξ Get some chocolates at Patrick Roger
Ξ Have some yummy treats at Lafayette Gourmet
The food court of the Galeries Lafayette is great to have lunch or just to stroll around and enjoy some free samples. Click here to know more!
Ξ 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
Ξ Buy some cheese at Fromagerie Quatrehommes
Ξ 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.
Ξ Enjoy an outdoor apéro at Le Pont des Arts
Ξ 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 restaurant Lao Lane Xang – it’s our favourite!
Ξ Eat a real Crèpe bretonne or Galette at Rue du Montparnasse
Montparnasse is the train station that serves trains arriving from the west of France. Hence, folks from Bretagne arrived here back in the days and settled down within the area. That’s why it’s the best place in Paris to eat authentic breton Crèpe and Galette!
Ξ Drink some really good coffee at Hexagone Café
This coffee house is a truly hidden Paris gem 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.
Ξ 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!
Ξ 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.
Ξ Have a drink at Rue Mouffetard
A cobbled stone street with about a trillion bars and restaurants.
Ξ Have some rhum at La Rhumerie
Apart from a huuuuge selection of rhums of all origins and kinds, they serve very good food as well – don’t miss the Acras!
Ξ Attend the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants
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.
Hidden Gems – Shops and Markets
Ξ Stroll over the covered book market at Parc Georges Brassens
This is one of the best hidden treasures of Paris. 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.
Ξ 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, wines and sweets (to buy and to sample for free), but also a big exhibition of animals, machines and merchandise.
Ξ 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
Ξ 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.
Ξ Shop some vintage fashion in one of the kilo shops near the Mairie de Paris
The kilo shop is probably the most known vintage store, but there are plenty! Check out the Marais!
Ξ Buy your lunch on one of Paris many markets
Check this link to get a list of opening times of all markets in Paris
Ξ 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.
Ξ Enjoy some village shopping flair at Rue de Commerce
Ξ 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.
Hidden Gems – Museums and Exhibitions
Ξ 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€.
Ξ See a photography exhibition at Galerie de l’Instant
A tiny gallery with impressive photographies. The admission is free.
Ξ Visit a museum for free on the first sunday of the month
Wanna see art for free? Check out our post about free museums in Paris!
Ξ Visit the Vampire Museum
The Parisian Vampire Museum is run privately by a vampire enthusiast. You need to book ahead to get access.
Ξ Admire street art at la Butte aux Cailles
The elevated area just next to Place d’Italie is covered with street art. The Butte aux Cailles is also great for having lunch, dinner or drinks and is not as expensive than many other areas in Paris.
Ξ Get your cultural input at the Nuit Blanche
La Nuit Blanche is a cultural event in Paris with installations and events all over town. Most of it is free – as is public transportation on that evening!
Ξ Dive into the arts of theatre and circus at the Musée des arts forains
The museum can only be visited with a reservation, so better plan ahead!
Ξ Visit the museum atelier of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine
Ξ Visit the heart of Parisian street art at Belleville
One of the nicest and most authentic village in Paris – a bit rough around the edges but with a lot of charm. Also with lots of bars, restaurant and street art wherever you look. Check our guide to Belleville to know more about this gem!
Hidden Gems – Walks an Itineraries
Ξ 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.
Ξ Walk along the Coulée Verte
If you want a see the 12th arrondissement from an unusual perspective, get up the Coulée Verte and walk from Bastille 4.7km until the Parisian city limits on the elevated promenade on top of the Viaduct des Arts
Ξ Take a walk along the Petite Ceinture
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!
Ξ Have a walk on Île Saint Louis
The Island on the Seine lays just next to the Île de la Cité, location of the famous Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris.
Ξ Walk up Belleville and enjoy the fabulous view
Read our complete review and guide to the wonderful Belleville area here and make sure not to miss the amazing street art that is covering the quartier. Are you rather have a local show you around and get valuable insider views? Click here to see all available Street Art Tours in Paris!
Ξ Rent a Vélib and have a ride along the Seine
That’s one of the nicest things you can do on a sunny day – you can either rent a Vélib (or another bike sharing service) 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!
Ξ Have a walk at Canal St.Martin
The canal in the north east of Paris is a perfect place so enjoy an outside Apéro or just to have a walk in a less touristic area.
Hidden Gems – more unusual things to do in Paris
Ξ Enjoy the view over Paris from the roofs Galerie LaFayette
Get up to the roof top on the 7th floor and enjoy the view – for free!
Ξ See the Statue of Liberty at Allées des Cygnes
But it’s not the only Statue of Liberty in Paris! There is at least one hidden in the Jardin de Luxembourg … can you find it?
Ξ 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!
Ξ 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. If you’re into E-Sports and gaming in general, pass by the Meltdown Bar
Ξ 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!
Ξ See the oldest houses of Paris in Rue de Montmorency
Ξ Read a Manga in Fnac
Their book department has a quite good Manga section and even though it’s probably not intended, you always have plenty of people just sitting around on the floor and reading their favourite books.
Ξ 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!
Paris secret spot near la Sorbonne: find the Banksy Graffiti in Rue Victor Cousin
Ξ See the painted houses at rue Crémieux
Ξ 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!
Ξ Paris hidden places: arènes de Lutèce
Ξ Enjoy a summer in the city at Paris Plage
Summer in Paris means: Paris Plage! During July an August the Seine river transforms into a laid back urban beach scene … with changing cultural and sportive offers, pop up bars, music, and all sorts of animation. Click here to know more about it!
Ξ 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!
Ξ 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!
Ξ 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
Ξ Visit the l’hotel de Sens
Ξ Go for a swim on the Seine at the swimming pool Piscine Josephine Baker
Don’t worry, you’re not swimming IN the Seine, but in a pool that is installed on it!
Ξ Visit Rue des Thermopiles
This half hidden street and very green alley in the 14th arrondissement makes a perfect motive for an instagram post!
Ξ 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
Ξ Enjoy the sun in the Tuileries
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