The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre Dame. DISNEYLAND will be yelled by the younger members. They say Paris is the city of love, and love is a universal language – so on that basis everyone knows Paris!
But beyond the Mona Lisa and thousands of Renaults circling the famous stone arch there’s a hidden Paris just waiting to be explored.
Over 30 million people visit the French capital every year, but few manage to drag themselves away from the tourist traps to experience the wild, wonderful, and a-little-more-hidden gems of Paris…
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Walk through the Paris and you’ll be filled with the sights and sounds of one of the biggest cities on the planet. Car horns will be blowing and tourists will be screaming and shouting as they get their first selfie with the Eiffel Tower. But tucked away inside the hustle and bustle is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont to the north east of the city.
The park offers a tranquil alternative and is filled with lakes, monuments, and beautiful lawns and flowerbeds to enjoy. It was opened by Napoleon III in 1867 and is the perfect spot for a picnic and exploring one of the city’s unspoilt romantic sides.
Porte de Vanves
If you’re lucky enough to spend a weekend in Paris and you also happen to like a bargain when you see one then a trip to Porte de Vanves is most certainly for you.
The country is famous for its markets and Port de Vanves is certainly one of the best flea markets in France with hundreds of people piling of the Metro every weekend to unearth some hidden gems. Over 300 stalls line the street selling ceramics, paintings, clothing, and numerous other collectables where you can pick up something for yourself or perhaps a souvenir for a friend back home. After all, it’d certainly beat a fridge magnet!
Le Comptoir General
Continuing the bric-a-brac theme is Le Comptoir General, just a short walk from Gare du Nord. It guises itself as a ‘ghetto museum’, but don’t let that confuse you. It’s home to exhibition spaces, a bookshop, a thrift shop, and a bar where they serve a number of fantastic cocktails, coffees, and dishes.
Filled with African curiosities, stuffed animals, and a general ‘shabby chic’ vibe, it’s a place like no other in the city, and well worth a trip over from Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, only 20 minutes away.
Au Lapin Agile
When it comes to Paris and cabaret, it’ll be Moulin Rouge where most tourists make a pit stop. But walk 15 minutes up the road onto Rue Saint Vincent and you’ll stumble across Au Lapin Agile, another famous cabaret bar which was once frequented by the likes of Picasso and Matisse.
It’s been open since the 1800s and still hosts some of the best – and funniest – shows in the city. It’s an institution and even saw Charlie Chaplin fiddle his violin many moons ago.
Just a few doors down from Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie has a checkered past having started life as a palace before being transformed into a prison which once housed Marie Antoinette, Madame du Barry, and poet Andre Chenier.
Today it’s one of the most underrated tourist spots in town. Many people visit Sainte-Chapelle but miss out on its neighbour; with its gothic corridors and refurbished cells which tell more than a tale or two.