1. Experience the quietness of the catacombs
The skeletal remains of more than six million people are crammed into an underground network of tunnels in Paris. This extraordinary burial place, known as The Catacombs of Paris, has become a must-see for travellers. You’ll notice that silence is the master as you head deeper and deeper underground. The peacefulness is a stark contrast to the noise of the city above. Beautiful quotes about life and death will make you think deeply about your own life and its fragility. This is a hugely popular tourist spot which means you could be lining up for a long time to go inside. Skip the queues by booking a guided tour with a Parisian local.
Photo credit: Joseph O. Holmes
2. Hunt for unique souvenirs at the Saint-Ouen Flea Market
The Saint-Ouen Flea Market is definitely worth a visit if you’re a fan of shopping ‘outside the box’. You can easily spend hours hunting for treasures at this market. From vintage posters and retro furniture, to headless dollies and animal taxidermy…you’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful things at Saint-Ouen!
Photo credit: ParisSharing
3. Enjoy a drink in a Parisian palace
Paris is known for its many luxury hotels and palaces. Their refinement exceeds expectations. Having a drink in one is quite a unique experience. Famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway were regular patrons of hotels like Ritz Paris. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a glass of bubbles in one of these exquisite buildings. You could also treat yourself to a full-day Champagne Tasting Tour where you’ll get to visit a vineyard, enjoy a scrumptious lunch paired with local sparkling wines and go behind the scenes of a world famous Champagne House.
Photo credit: Ritz Paris
4. Paint your own street mural
As the birthplace of many famous artists and musicians – there’s an atmosphere of creativity that can be felt on the streets of Paris. Why not let yourself get carried away by the city’s artistic vibes by joining a Graffiti Workshop and painting your own street mural? Run by a local artist, this workshop gives you the chance to design your very own mural – and then paint it on a wall in a designated, safe space. Pretty cool!
5. Visit Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise cemetery
It might seem weird to visit a cemetery while on vacation, however Père Lachaise isn’t a typical burial place. You’ll find the gravestones of numerous artists, musicians, writers and actors at this cemetery – including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Édith Piaf. To learn more about the famous figures who now rest in peace at Père Lachaise, why not book a guided tour with a local?
Photo credit: Alex
6. Get your groceries at local markets
French people LOVE going to the market to buy fresh, high-quality products. There are plenty of markets in the city, for example the all-organic Marché biologique des Batignolles, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges and the Belleville Market. They are truly representative of French gastronomy, and they’re where you’ll find locals meeting and socialising.
Photo credit: Sam Nabi
7. Immerse yourself in the romance of Palais Garnier
Very few visitors think of entering the Palais Garnier. They usually stand outside taking selfies on their way to nearby shops such as Galeries Lafayette. However, the Palais Garnier totally deserves a stop. Majestic staircases, golden pillars, sparkling chandeliers and a ceiling painted by the artist Chagall – this building is utterly romantic and magnificent. It also happens to be the setting of the famous novel The Phantom of the Opera. And, if you’re looking for the perfect thing to do with your partner after exploring Palais Garnier, why not surprise them with a Romantic Picnic for Lovers on the banks of the Seine.
8. Explore the Paris Sewers
In his famous novel, Les Misérables, Victor Hugo writes: “Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers; which has its streets, its crossings, its squares, its blind alleys, its arteries, and its circulation, which is slime, minus the human form”. It might sound strange, but the sewers of Paris are definitely worth a visit – and they are not as stinky as you’d imagine. Built back in 1370, these underground tunnels are now home to a unique exhibition that features information about the history of the sewers as well as the huge machinery that was once used inside.
Photo credit: Scott Dexter
9. Be blown away at the Natural History Museum
Imagine a hall full of thousands of animal skeletons – from huge whales, to tiny parrots – that’s what you’ll find at the Natural History Museum in Paris. Don’t miss the Gallery of Evolution with over 7000 incredibly lifelike specimens. This is a truly fascinating place and well worth spending a few hours exploring.
Photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE
10. Feel inspired by the artists at 59 Rivolo
Once littered with used syringes and dead pigeons, 59 Rivoli was an artist squat for many years before the city of Paris cleared it out, cleaned it up, and turned it into one of the most popular art spaces in France. The building is home to a rotating roster of artists in residence and you won’t be able to miss it when you walk passed as it’s the one covered from pavement to roof in graffiti. It’s interior walls are the same! Entry is free.
11. Walk along an abandoned railway line
A different way to discover Paris is to walk the length of Promenade Plantée. It’s a linear park spanning 4.7 kilometres, built on top of a disused railway line in the east of the city. Access the western part from Bastille by walking down rue de Lyon to Avenue Daumesnil. Once you reach the viaduct on the left, take the staircase.
Photo credit: Paolo Rosa
12. Think about the French Revolution at La Conciergerie
Prisoners of the French Revolution were kept at La Conciergerie before being sent to their death. The guillotine was used to kill hundreds of nobles, intellectuals, politicians and commoners during this period in history. There’s a reconstruction of the cell where Queen Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being beheaded. There’s also an impressive weapons room. If you want to dig deeper into the darker side of Parisian history, sign up for a Crimes and Legends of Old Paris tour!
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis
13. Shop for clothes with a Parisian Stylist
Fancy a style makeover while you’re in Paris? This is your chance to be given a guided tour of some of the city’s hidden fashion boutiques by a Stylist who’ll offer tips on the best ‘looks’ for you! She’ll take into account your body type, lifestyle and personality – and then offer up a range of stylish outfits for you to try on in a private showroom. Get ready to feel glamorous.
14. Indulge your sweet tooth
Croissants, Éclairs, Kouign Amanns, Macarons, Mille-Feuilles – there’s no shortage of decadent sweeties in Paris thanks to the thousands of patisseries, chocolatiers and bakeries that can be found all over the city. If you have a sweet tooth, why not set out on your very own patisserie crawl across the city. Not to be missed stops: Pierre Hermé, Chocolaterie Jacques Génin and Ladurée.
Photo credit: Julian Dik
15. Soak up the views at Sacré-Cœur
Most people head to the top of the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe for views over Paris but if you’re keen to avoid an entrance fee and loads of tourists – head instead to Sacré-Cœur– also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Perched on the highest hill in the city, the Basilica is the perfect place to take photos of Paris on a clear sky day.
16. See Paris from a rooftop bar
Packed with historic landmarks and buildings – Paris is one of the most photographed cities in the world. Save up your cash and treat yourself to a meal at one of the city’s rooftop restaurants, like Les Ombres, where you’ll get a side order of Eiffel Tower with your soufflé.
Photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse
17. Relax in Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil
If you want to take a break from sightseeing and just lie in the grass and look up at the clouds, head to Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil – a botanical garden in the 16tharrondissement. You’ll also get to admire palm trees, succulents and a range of tropical plants in the many greenhouses dotted amongst the garden.