Paris is bursting with famous landmarks, fascinating museums, top-notch dining and exciting, off-the-beaten-track activities. After seeing all the iconic attractions, you can spend time exploring the obscure parts of Paris that few tourists see, such as the labyrinthian catacombs, a spooky vampire museum and a tranquil garden dedicated to a famous Holocaust victim.

    Whether you want trendy nightlife, antique shopping or sightseeing in some of the city’s lesser-known places, check out the top 10 things to do off the beaten track in Paris.

    1

    Belleville

    Search for street art in a creative neighbourhood

    Belleville is a charming neighbourhood that’s known for its creative spaces, renovated art studios and street art. Located about 1 minute from the city centre in the 19th and 20th arrondissements, the historic neighbourhood was once a commune and retains its old-world charm.

    One of the best features of Belleville is seeing the street art that’s constantly changing in the neighbourhood’s streets. Rue Denoyez and Place Frehel are among the best spots, but you’ll find beautiful street art throughout the area. Belleville is also known for its renovated factories that have been transformed into art collectives.

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    Location: Quartier de Belleville, 75020 Paris, France

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    2

    Jardin Anne-Frank

    Relax in a tranquil city garden

    Jardin Anne-Frank is a city garden with vegetables, flowers, seating areas and a children’s playground. Located east of the city centre in the 3rd arrondissement, the garden is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, a Jewish Holocaust victim.

    The peaceful garden has seating areas where you can relax and take in the quiet seclusion of the space. Another highlight of the garden is the chestnut tree, a graft of the 150-year-old tree that Frank admired from her window. The tree is one of several that have been planted from the seeds of the original in major cities to honour the young girl.

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    Location: 14P Impasse Berthaud, 75003 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 53 01 75 03

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    3

    Paris Sewer Museum

    Venture below the city to learn about its sewer system

    The Paris Sewer Museum is a fascinating historic site and museum that illustrates the inner workings of sewer systems throughout the centuries. Located about 10 minutes from the city centre in the 7th arrondissement, the Paris Sewer Museum offers a truly unique experience in the city.

    When you visit, you’ll be taken on a tour of the sewer system on boats and wagons. The tour begins with the early development of the sewer system by Hugues Aubriot in the 14th century and chronicles its development up to the modern day. You’ll also learn about sewer workers and water treatment methods.

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    Location: 93 Quai d'Orsay, 75007 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 53 68 27 81

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    4

    Montparnasse Cemetery

    See famous gravesites in a historic cemetery

    Montparnasse Cemetery is a historic cemetery that’s the final resting place of many writers, actors, artists, and political figures. Located about 4 minutes from the city centre in the 14th arrondissement, the cemetery is one of the largest in Paris and has over 35,000 graves.

    The cemetery is the resting place of many important French figures, including prominent authors and artists. Some of the notable people interred include Simone de Beauvoir, Paul Deschanel, Jacques Lisfranc and Charles Baudelaire. You’ll also find monuments to French police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

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    Location: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris, France

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 44 10 86 50

    Map
    5

    Butte-aux-Cailles

    Have a night on the town in a trendy neighbourhood

    Butte-aux-Cailles is a tranquil hilltop neighbourhood that’s known for its trendy and festive atmosphere and abundance of bars and restaurants. Located about 17 minutes from the city centre in the 13th arrondissement, the neighbourhood boasts cobblestone streets, quirky restaurants, quaint cafes and independent boutiques.

    Though the neighbourhood was once a riverfront trade area, it’s now a hub of artists and creatives. You’ll find gourmet shops, rooftop green spaces and street art throughout the neighbourhood. Some of the highlights include Place Paul Verlaine, a square with natural spring water, and the Alsacian Villa, a traditional worker’s villa with an intimate courtyard.

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    Location: 75013 Paris, France

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    photo by JLPC (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Petit Palais

    Browse masterpieces of artwork

    Petit Palais is a fascinating art museum with stunning beaux-arts-style architecture, a vast garden, and a collection of art spanning from medieval times to the present day. Located to the west of the city centre in the 8th arrondissement, the building boasts spectacular architecture, a serene central courtyard, and contemporary sculptures on the exterior.

    The museum’s collections are divided into sections for medieval and Renaissance works, 18th-century furniture, and the city collection. You’ll see masterpieces from prominent artists throughout, including pieces from Rubens, Rembrandt, Ingres, Monet, Pissarro, Carpeaux, Rodin, and Fragonard.

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    Location: Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

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    7

    Grande Mosquée de Paris

    Marvel at a historic mosque

    The Grande Mosquée de Paris is one of the largest mosques in France and boasts prayer rooms, a library, an outdoor garden, and a restaurant. Located about 14 minutes from the city centre in the 5th arrondissement, the mosque was an important feature in promoting Islamic populations in the country.

    People visit the mosque to pray and to see its spectacular architecture. You can visit outside of the instruction rooms, imam rooms, and prayer times. After touring the mosque, you can visit the restaurant to try traditional Maghreb cuisine, stop in the Turkish baths or shop for traditional Arab crafts at the gift shop.

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    Location: 2bis Place du Puits de l'Ermite, 75005 Paris, France

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)1 45 35 97 33

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    photo by Zairon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Paris Flea Market (Saint-Ouen)

    Shop for unique treasures

    The Paris Flea Market (Saint-Ouen) is a massive antiques market with vendors selling everything from vintage furniture to mirrors and garden decor. Located about 23 minutes from the city centre, the market is a popular spot for residents and visitors on the weekend.

    You can visit the market on your own or book a guided tour to see all the best vendors. The market spans 7 hectares, so it’s best to check the vendor directory in advance and plan your itinerary. You’ll find a bit of everything, including vintage clothing, authentic African art, art deco furniture, antique mirrors, decorative paintings, linens, silver, and archaeological artefacts.

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    Location: 99 Allée des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen, France

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed Tuesday–Friday)

    Phone: +33 (0)6 95 38 88 49

    Map

    photo by Schölla Schwarz (CC BY 3.0) modified

    9

    Catacombs of Paris

    Explore a subterranean mausoleum

    The Catacombs of Paris is a collection of subterranean ossuaries that hold the remains of over 6 million people below the city. Now a museum, the Catacombs of Paris is only 9 minutes from the city centre and was created to provide additional graves and reduce the city’s above-ground cemetery use.

    The catacombs attract visitors as a curiosity and began allowing the public as early as 1787. One of its unique features is the arrangement of human skulls and femurs into patterns on the walls to act as a visible mausoleum. You’ll also see exhibits on skeletal deformities discovered during the creation of the museum and minerals found in Paris.

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    Location: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)1 43 22 47 63

    Map
    10

    Le Musée des Vampires (Vampire Museum)

    Immerse yourself in vampire lore

    Le Musée des Vampires (the Vampire Museum) is a one-of-a-kind museum that’s dedicated to vampire lore and legend, complete with anti-vampire kits and other odd artefacts. Located on the outskirts of the city about 16 minutes from the city centre, the museum showcases the private collection of Jacques Sirgent, an English teacher, Bram Stoker translator, and self-proclaimed vampirologist.

    The unique treasures are on display in a single Gothic-style room that opens into an elaborate garden. Some of the highlights of the collection include a 19th-century ‘anti-vampire’ protection kit, a crossbow, mummified pets, antique books, and vampire-themed artwork.

    Location: 10 Avenue du Père Lachaise, 75020 Paris, France

    Phone: +33 (0)6 20 12 28 32

    Map

    photo by FluoritLaufer (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

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