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Travel Guide: Sacré Bleu! 5 Hidden Surprises in The French Capital

2nd Aug 2016 3:12pm | By Lucy Slater

Even if you’ve not been to Paris, most people feel they know its star attractions. Discuss holidaying there with friends, family, or perhaps even the check-out lady in the local supermarket and you’ll hear the same landmarks.

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

credit: iStock

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

credit: Wikimedia

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.