Are you looking for the best hidden gems in Paris? Here’s your ultimate guide to the most underrated places in Paris. Prepare to explore Paris away from the well-trodden paths.
The City of Lights has long captivated travelers with its iconic landmarks, divine cuisine, and unparalleled charm. Yet, beyond the illustrious Eiffel Tower and the enchanting Champs-Élysées lies a world teeming with secrets just waiting to be uncovered. Welcome to the hidden side of Paris, where every cobblestone and quaint café tells a story far removed from the well-trodden tourist trails.
Imagine strolling through secret gardens nestled amidst the urban sprawl, discovering clandestine art tucked away in unsuspecting nooks, and indulging in culinary delights in the most unassuming bistros. These hidden gems in Paris offer a sanctuary for the soul. It’s truly a place where the heart of Paris beats in hushed tones, away from the bustling crowds.
Embark on a journey off the beaten path in Paris, where the allure of secret spots beckons. Whether it’s the allure of secluded parks, the allure of underground art scenes, or the aromatic whisper of an unknown patisserie, the secret treasures of Paris are the essence of its true, undiluted charm.
In this guide, we’ll unveil a Paris that dances gracefully in the shadows of its more famed attractions. Ready to uncover the most unique places to visit in Paris? Let’s delve into a world where every hidden corner whispers tales of Parisian secrets and untold adventures!
Hidden Gems in Paris
Eager to unearth the best hidden gems in Paris? This beautiful city in France has a wide range of of-the-beaten-track destinations that cater to all types of travelers. Dive deeper to reveal some of the most underrated places in Paris.
Are you in search of quaint, cobblestone streets to wander? Or perhaps you’re drawn to secret gardens and hidden courtyards that offer a tranquil escape from the bustling city? Whatever your heart desires, Paris has a hidden corner just waiting to be discovered by you. Embark on this journey with us to uncover the most enchanting hidden gems in Paris.
1. La Campagne à Paris
Embark on a whimsical journey to La Campagne à Paris, a dreamy enclave that blurs the lines between the vibrant city life and the serene, idyllic charm of the countryside. Picture this: tiny, cobblestone streets, houses adorned with blooming flowers and ivy.
Tucked away in the bustling 20th arrondissement, this secret spot in Paris is a breath of fresh air. It’s a place where the city’s constant hum fades into a distant echo, replaced by the melodious chirping of birds and the soft rustling of leaves dancing in the breeze.
La Campagne à Paris isn’t merely a location. It’s an experience, a charming retreat where every step tells a story of timeless tranquility amidst the city chaos. While the area is residential, the locals, with their warm smiles, welcome explorers who wish to bask in the quaint charm of their hidden paradise. It’s easy to see why this is one of the top hidden spots in France!
- When to Visit: Spring unveils a spectacular display of blossoms, enhancing the area’s enchantment
- Getting There: A short walk from the Porte de Bagnolet metro station unveils this hidden world
- Time Spent: Dedicate 1-2 hours to fully immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings
- Cost: Exploring is free, allowing you to soak in the charm without spending a penny
2. The Arenes de Lutece
Step back in time with a visit to The Arenes de Lutece, a clandestine Roman amphitheater tucked away in the Latin Quarter. This ancient arena, once the stage for gladiatorial combats, now stands as a silent, yet powerful, testament to Paris’s rich tapestry of history.
Hidden behind unassuming residential buildings, this historical marvel is often bypassed by the regular tourist. Yet, those who seek the underrated destinations in Paris will find themselves enveloped in an atmosphere that echoes with tales of fierce battles and ancient spectacles.
Today, The Arenes de Lutece invites visitors to wander through its ancient arches, explore the sandy arena, and perch on the very stone seats once occupied by spirited spectators from a distant past. It’s a place where history and present collide, offering a tranquil escape amidst the verdant surroundings.
- When to Visit: Enjoy a peaceful visit during weekdays, or join locals for a lively game of pétanque during weekends
- Getting There: Accessible via the Place Monge metro station, followed by a short walk
- Time Spent: Allocate about an hour to explore and perhaps enjoy a leisurely picnic
- Cost: Free, making it a budget-friendly historical exploration
3. The Petite Ceinture
Whisk yourself away to The Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway that encircles Paris, offering a secret garden of sorts for those looking to explore the beautiful places in Paris away from the typical tourist trails. This hidden gem, once a vibrant vein of the city’s transport system, now stands as a wild, natural sanctuary, intertwining the remnants of industrial Paris with a burst of urban nature.
As you wander along the forgotten tracks, you’ll be greeted by a symphony of chirping birds, the gentle rustle of leaves, and the distant, muffled sounds of city life. The juxtaposition of nature reclaiming industrial decay provides a unique, somewhat melancholic, yet beautiful exploration of a Paris frozen in time.
The Petite Ceinture is not merely a walk but a journey through time, where every rusted rail and overgrown pathway tells a story of a bygone era, inviting explorers to lose themselves in its quiet, unassuming beauty.
- When to Visit: Experience the lush greenery during spring and summer, or enjoy the rustic hues of autumn
- Getting There: Various access points are available, with some sections being more accessible than others
- Time Spent: Plan a leisurely 2-3 hour walk to truly soak in the serene ambiance
- Cost: Free exploration for your secret adventure
In the heart of the city, Sainte-Chapelle stands as an architectural masterpiece, often overshadowed by the famed Notre Dame. This royal chapel, nestled within the medieval Palais de la Cité, is a kaleidoscope of color, with its stunning stained-glass windows painting the interior in a vibrant array of hues as the sunlight delicately filters through.
While it’s no secret to the locals, many travelers overlook this gem, making it one of the underrated places in Paris for those seeking a tranquil, awe-inspiring escape from the bustling city streets. The upper chapel, in particular, is a visual symphony, with 15 magnificent windows illustrating biblical stories, casting a celestial glow across the ornate sanctuary.
Sainte-Chapelle is not merely a chapel; it’s a journey through a radiant world where art, history, and spirituality entwine, offering a serene, contemplative retreat amidst the vibrant energy of Paris.
- When to Visit: Mid-morning or late afternoon offers a mesmerizing light show through the stained glass
- Getting There: Located on the Île de la Cité, it’s a short walk from the Cité metro station
- Time Spent: Spend around 1-2 hours to fully appreciate the intricate details
- Cost: There is an entrance fee, and purchasing a ticket online can help avoid long queues
5. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
Venture into the intriguing world of Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. This is a museum that beautifully marries art, nature, and hunting in an elegant, yet often overlooked, space within the Marais district. This hidden gem invites visitors to explore the complex relationship between humans and the natural world through a rich tapestry of art, artifacts, and taxidermy.
Unlike any other museum in Paris, this spot invites contemplation and exploration through its eclectic collection. This ranges from antique firearms to contemporary art, all centered around themes of hunting and nature. Each room is a new adventure, where the beautiful destinations in Paris are reimagined through the lens of the wild, the untamed, and the mystical.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is a sanctuary where the wild meets the refined. It offers a unique, thought-provoking journey through the realms of nature, art, and humanity.
- When to Visit: Weekday afternoons tend to be quieter, offering a more intimate experience
- Getting There: A short stroll from the Rambuteau or Hôtel de Ville metro stations
- Time Spent: Allow 1-2 hours to wander through the various rooms and exhibits
- Cost: A modest entrance fee is required, with reduced rates for certain visitors
6. Le Musée des Arts Forains
Step into a world where whimsy and nostalgia reign supreme at Le Musée des Arts Forains. This is a museum that is a vibrant celebration of fairground arts, theatre, and music-hall traditions. Tucked away in the Bercy neighborhood, this enchanting museum is often missed by travelers, making it one of the true hidden gems in Paris.
Unlike conventional museums, Le Musée des Arts Forains invites you to touch, play, and immerse yourself in the exhibits. From antique carousels to magical music machines, every piece is a portal to the playful spirit of yesteryears. The museum is a sensory feast, where the gentle melodies of mechanical music and the soft, glowing lights of vintage rides create an atmosphere that’s both dreamy and delightful.
This is a place where the joys of the past are not just observed but lived. Every visit becomes a personal journey through the charming world of fairground arts, where every object has a story to tell, waiting to be discovered by those who seek the unique places to visit in Paris.
- When to Visit: Pre-book a guided tour to fully experience the magic of the museum
- Getting There: Cour Saint-Émilion is the nearest metro station, followed by a short walk
- Time Spent: Tours typically last 1.5 to 2 hours
- Cost: Admission is through guided tours, which have a fee and should be booked in advance
7. La Pagode
In the 7th arrondissement, you’ll find La Pagode. This is an exquisite cinema that transports you to the Far East without leaving the heart of Paris. The architectural jewel, built in 1896, showcases the opulence and exotic allure of the Belle Époque era. It offers a cinematic experience that is truly one of a kind.
La Pagode is not merely a cinema but a voyage through time and space, where every screening is enveloped by the rich, ornate décor, reminiscent of ancient Eastern palaces. The lush Japanese garden, the intricate carvings, and the luxurious silk wall hangings create an ambiance that is both intimate and impossibly romantic, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Paris.
Whether you’re a cinephile or simply a lover of beautiful spaces, La Pagode offers a respite from the typical tourist paths, inviting you to indulge in the magic of film within a setting that is a masterpiece in itself.
- When to Visit: Check the cinema’s schedule for screenings and special events
- Getting There: École Militaire is the nearest metro station
- Time Spent: Allocate time for both a film and a leisurely exploration of the venue
- Cost: Ticket prices for screenings vary
8. La Cité Florale
Nestled in the 13th arrondissement, La Cité Florale is a picturesque neighborhood that feels like a countryside village in Paris. With its narrow lanes, charming houses, and gardens bursting with vibrant blooms, this hidden enclave offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city.
La Cité Florale is a secret garden where nature and urban life coexist harmoniously. Each street, named after a flower, is a stroll through a living, breathing bouquet, where the fragrances of various blooms gently perfume the air, and the soft hum of bees and birdsong provide a serene soundtrack to your wanderings.
This hidden gem in Paris is a delightful paradox, where the city’s characteristic stone and steel give way to petals and leaves. This offers a unique, enchanting experience for those who seek the beautiful places in Paris that lie off the beaten path.
- When to Visit: Spring and summer bring the gardens to life in a riot of colors and scents
- Getting There: The nearest metro station is Place d’Italie
- Time Spent: A leisurely 1-2 hours should suffice to explore and soak in the charm
- Cost: Free to wander and explore
9. The Museum of Counterfeiting
Dive into the intriguing world of forgery at The Museum of Counterfeiting, a place that unveils the secrets behind some of the most notorious fake products and artworks. Hidden away in the 16th arrondissement, this museum, housed in a stunning 19th-century townhouse, is a treasure trove for those curious about the clandestine world of counterfeit goods.
From fake luxury handbags to imitated pharmaceuticals, The Museum of Counterfeiting showcases a wide array of items. It reveals the astonishing lengths forgers will go to in replicating products. Each exhibit tells a story of the ongoing battle between counterfeiters and those trying to halt their endeavors, providing a fascinating, lesser-known perspective on the world of luxury goods and intellectual property.
Visitors are invited to explore the various rooms, each dedicated to different industries affected by counterfeiting, making it one of the unique places to visit in Paris for those interested in a different kind of museum experience.
- When to Visit: Weekday afternoons tend to be less crowded
- Getting There: The nearest metro station is Porte de Saint-Cloud
- Time Spent: Allow 1-2 hours to explore the exhibits
- Cost: There is a small entrance fee
10. Le Musée des Égouts de Paris
Descend beneath the city streets to explore Le Musée des Égouts de Paris (The Paris Sewer Museum). This is a subterranean world that reveals the marvel of Parisian engineering and the city’s historical underground network. The museum provides a unique perspective on the City of Light. It showcases the intricate, expansive sewer system that has silently operated beneath the bustling streets for centuries.
Le Musée des Égouts de Paris is not merely a museum but a subterranean adventure. It’s where visitors traverse the underbelly of the city, learning about the evolution of waste management and the crucial role the sewers have played in city planning and public health. The dimly lit tunnels, the distant echoes, and the informational displays create an atmosphere that is both eerie and enlightening.
This hidden gem in Paris offers a rare glimpse into a side of the city most never consider. This makes it a truly unique place to visit in Paris for those seeking something a little different from the usual tourist fare.
- When to Visit: Weekdays tend to be less crowded
- Getting There: Alma – Marceau is the nearest metro station
- Time Spent: Spend approximately 1-1.5 hours exploring the tunnels
- Cost: There is an entrance fee, with discounts available for certain groups
11. Le Musée de la Magie
Step into a world of wonder and illusion at Le Musée de la Magie (The Museum of Magic), a hidden gem that transports visitors into the enchanting realm of magic and conjuring. Nestled in the heart of the Marais, beneath the ancient stone arches, this museum is a secret haven where the mysteries of magic come to life.
Le Musée de la Magie offers a mesmerizing journey through the history of magic, showcasing a fascinating collection of magical artifacts, optical illusions, and automata. From the moment you enter through the secret door, you are whisked away into a world where nothing is quite as it seems. The museum, with its dimly lit rooms and antique displays, creates an atmosphere that is both mystical and mysterious.
Visitors are not only observers but participants in this magical world, with interactive exhibits and live magic shows that dazzle and delight. It’s a place where the boundaries between reality and illusion blur, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Paris for those in search of wonder and whimsy.
- When to Visit: Mid-week visits tend to offer a more intimate experience
- Getting There: The nearest metro station is Saint-Paul
- Time Spent: Allocate 1-2 hours to explore and enjoy a magic show
- Cost: There is an entrance fee, which includes access to the magic show
Frequently asked questions about hidden gems in Paris
Are you searching for more content about where to go in Paris? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the most underrated places in Paris.
How do I find more hidden gems in Paris?
Exploring hidden gems in Paris often involves a mix of research and spontaneous exploration. Engage with locals, explore different neighborhoods on foot, and don’t be afraid to wander off the main streets. Various blogs, forums, and travel books also offer insights into lesser-known spots in the city.
Are these hidden spots in Paris easily accessible via public transport?
Yes, most of the hidden gems mentioned are accessible via Paris’s extensive public transport network. Utilizing the metro, buses, and sometimes RER trains will get you close to these secret spots in Paris, with a bit of walking to reach some.
What are the operating hours for Le Musée de la Magie?
Le Musée de la Magie has specific opening days and hours, typically open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM. However, it’s always a good idea to check their official website or contact them directly for any changes or special events.
Is La Campagne à Paris suitable for children?
Absolutely! La Campagne à Paris is a charming and peaceful area that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Children might especially enjoy the picturesque houses and the relaxed atmosphere, although it’s more of a scenic spot than a recreational area.
Can I visit La Pagode even if I don’t speak French?
Yes, La Pagode is a visual treat that can be enjoyed without understanding French. However, for movie screenings, it’s advisable to check the language and whether English subtitles are available, which can sometimes be the case for select films.
Are there guided tours available for Le Musée des Égouts de Paris?
Yes, Le Musée des Égouts de Paris offers guided tours, providing deeper insights into the history and functioning of Paris’s sewer system. It’s recommended to check their official website for tour schedules and any additional costs involved.
What are some hidden gems in Paris?
Paris is brimming with iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. However, beyond these world-famous spots, Paris has hidden gems that offer a more intimate experience of the city. Here are some lesser-known treasures to explore:
- La Campagne à Paris: A picturesque neighborhood perched on a hilltop in the 20th arrondissement. It’s like a small village with charming houses and narrow streets, offering a break from the city’s hustle and bustle.
- Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature: This museum, located in the Marais, is dedicated to hunting and nature, showcasing an eclectic mix of art, antiques, and taxidermy.
- La Pagode Cinema: An exquisite Japanese pagoda in the 7th arrondissement that’s been transformed into a cinema, showcasing art films in a unique setting.
- Passage des Panoramas: One of the oldest covered passages in Paris, it’s filled with vintage stamp dealers, quirky boutiques, and cozy eateries.
- Square du Vert-Galant: A quiet park located at the western tip of Île de la Cité, offering a serene spot to relax by the Seine.
- Musée Gustave Moreau: This museum was once the home and studio of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. It houses a vast collection of his works in a beautifully preserved 19th-century mansion.
- Rue Crémieux: A colorful, pedestrian-only street in the 12th arrondissement, lined with pastel-painted houses.
- Le Musée des Arts Forains: Located in Bercy, this museum showcases antique fairground attractions, old carousels, and music hall pieces.
- La Coulée Verte René-Dumont: Also known as the “Promenade Plantée,” this elevated linear park was built on a former railway line, predating New York’s High Line by several years.
- Le Petit Ceinture: An abandoned railway line that circles Paris, offering a unique urban exploration opportunity.
- Hôtel de Sens: A medieval mansion in the Marais, which now houses the Forney art library.
What not to miss out on in Paris?
Paris is a treasure trove of history, culture, and art. While it’s impossible to see everything in one visit, here are some essential experiences and sights you shouldn’t miss:
- Eiffel Tower: Whether you’re viewing the city from its platforms or admiring the tower from below, this iconic landmark is a must-visit.
- Louvre Museum: Home to thousands of works of art, including the Mona Lisa and The Venus de Milo.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral: A masterpiece of Gothic architecture with stunning views from its towers.
- Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur: Wander the bohemian streets and enjoy panoramic views of Paris from the basilica’s steps.
- Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe: Famous for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world.
- Seine River Cruise: See many of Paris’s most famous landmarks from the water.
- Musée d’Orsay: Houses an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces.
- Luxembourg Gardens: A peaceful spot to relax and take in the surroundings.
- Palace of Versailles: A short trip from Paris, this opulent palace is known for its history, architecture, and the vast Gardens of Versailles.
- Latin Quarter: Explore its narrow streets, bookshops, and the Panthéon.
- Sainte-Chapelle: Known for its stunning Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass.
- Marais District: A historic district with charming streets, mansions, and vibrant nightlife.
- Opéra Garnier: An architectural masterpiece and the setting for the novel “The Phantom of the Opera.”
- Taste French Cuisine: From croissants and coffee in local cafés to gourmet meals in fine dining restaurants. Don’t forget to try delicacies like escargot, foie gras, and coq au vin.
- Shopping: Visit the historic department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché, or explore the boutiques in Le Marais.
What are some non touristy things to do in Paris?
Paris is a city with layers, and while its iconic landmarks are a must-see, there’s a whole world of lesser-known, non-touristy experiences. Here are some suggestions for a more authentic Parisian experience:
- Local Markets: Skip the supermarkets and head to local markets like Marché d’Aligre or Marché des Enfants Rouges. They offer fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and other delicacies.
- Canal St-Martin: A less frequented spot, this canal is perfect for a leisurely stroll. You can watch the canal’s locks in operation or enjoy a picnic by its banks.
- La Campagne à Paris: A hidden gem, this is a small neighborhood with picturesque houses that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a village in the French countryside.
- Rue Mouffetard: One of Paris’s oldest streets, it’s filled with local shops, bakeries, and cafés. It’s especially lively in the morning.
- Attend a Guinguette: Experience traditional French dance and music at a local guinguette, especially along the Marne River during summer.
- Visit Lesser-Known Museums: Consider visiting the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature or the Musée Jacquemart-André.
- Explore the Passages Couverts: These are historic covered walkways with unique boutiques and eateries. This includes Passage Jouffroy and Passage des Panoramas.
- Cimetière des Chiens: An unusual spot, this is a pet cemetery in the suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine.
- Le 104 (Centquatre-Paris): A public cultural center with shops, eateries, and art installations.
- Attend a Local Festival: Depending on when you visit, you might catch a local festival like Fête de la Musique or Bastille Day celebrations away from the main tourist areas.
- Bercy Village: Once a wine market, now a charming pedestrian area with shops and restaurants.
- Bookshops: Explore unique bookshops like Shakespeare and Company or Librairie des Puf where books are printed on demand.
Final thoughts on the best hidden gems in Paris
Ahh Paris! A city that never ceases to enchant with its timeless charm and endless secrets. From the serene lanes of La Campagne à Paris to the mystical allure of Le Musée de la Magie, the hidden gems we’ve explored together weave a tapestry that is as diverse and enchanting as the city itself. These secret spots in Paris invite you to step off the well-trodden path and discover the city through fresh eyes, where every hidden corner holds a new adventure, waiting to be discovered.
Whether it’s the tranquility of a secluded garden, the awe of architectural marvels, or the thrill of uncovering secret histories, Paris holds a treasure trove of secrets that beckon to be explored. So, the next time you find yourself wandering the streets of the City of Light, may you find joy in the unexpected, magic in the hidden, and wonder in the undiscovered. After all, the true beauty of travel lies in the surprises we find along the way, n’est-ce pas? And if you choose to fly to Paris, let the journey be as enchanting as the destination itself.