If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ve no doubt been to the major sights: the Champs Elysees, The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, to name but a select few. And if you haven’t been to the major sights, I’m not discouraging you from going. But there is SO much more to Paris.
It is a complex city, with a messy and often dark history. For a truly unique experience, get down to the nitty gritty. Experience the Paris you will not recognize from the films, magazine glossies or other travel blogs that all say the same thing. Here are five ways to discover what is beyond the obvious.
Visit Les Catacombes de Paris
A labyrinth of paths underground, this is where the bones of millions of deceased Parisians are entombed forever. All at once beautiful and creepy, the bones are not just haphazardly strewn around, rather they are installed in underground tunnels of former quarries, and gathered in areas that resemble separate cemeteries. Follow the circuit for about 1.5 km; it only takes about an hour, but worth it.
Visit the Marche Bastille
One of the biggest markets in all of Paris, make it your own and really savor it for full day. The best way to do this is to stroll the entire market without necessarily stopping to investigate anything (although if you really can’t help yourself, please do!) The idea is to get a lay of the land. Make a note of things you’d like to come back to. Then do another sweep and really take your time. Explore everything. Sample food to your heart’s content. Buy that forbidden item you know you want to, but shouldn’t.
See Paris through a Clockface
Head to the Musee d’Orsay, which used to be a train station. Go behind the clock face for a truly unique view of the city through the classic Roman-numerated clock face. It makes for an Instagrammable moment. The silhouette of the Sacre Coeur and other major landmarks can be viewed from behind the clockface.
Stroll La Promenade Plantee
Much like the High Line in New York City, the walkway is a beautiful greenspace situated atop an old viaduct. It has been around since 1993, and is a great way to get your exercise in, or relax under one of the canopies with a good book.
Explore the villages of Paris of which most tourists remain unaware
The art deco, cobblestoned charm of Butte aux Cailles; the offbeat allure of Charonne, Rue St. Blaise in the northeast part of the city. Or the Passy, located in the 16th arrondissement, its chic but cute, and not far from the posh side of Paris. Also in the northwest is Batignolles, this neighborhood is not far from the red-light district. Then immerse yourself in old-world French life by strolling Rue Montorgueil, with it’s bustling markets, bakeries and cafes.
Make Paris a city you will love by going off the beaten path, not the Paris everyone expects you to see.