Paris is the most touristic city in the world, and it certainly worth coming back again and again. In a few days it is just impossible to get acquainted with all the sights, and to feel its atmosphere you will need even more time. Even if you’ve been to Paris several times already, you’ll find something new on this list: unhacked activities and hidden sights for the most Parisian pastime.
Reading Balzac at his own house
Ticket price is €9
Children under 18 years old — free of charge
Just recently, after reconstruction, the house-museum of the writer Honore de Balzac was opened in the 16th arrondissement. Now it can be entered from the Rue Raynouard, although we also liked the old entrance from the alley. The route of getting familiar with the museum has been updated as well, now the kitchen is included in it.
The backyard garden has been completely renewed. However, no one knows what it looked like when the writer lived here, so they just made it even more beautiful so that the garden matches a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower. A small cafe has been opened on the first floor of the museum, where you can get three pleasures in one: coffee, a view and a Balzac book.
Flying in a hot air balloon
From Montmartre, from the Eiffel Tower, from the Montparnasse skyscraper… Have you seen Paris from a bird’s eye view? No viewing platform will give you such an experience. To get your chance to fly in a hot air balloon, head to the 15th arrondissement, to André Citroen Park.
This is the largest hot air balloon in the world. Don’t be afraid, up to 30 passengers can fit in its basket, and it’s not so scary in a big company. While rising up in the air, the balloon remains tied to the ground with a steel safety cable, so you will definitely not be blown into the Bois de Boulogne.
Also in the Andre Citroen Park you can visit a small botanical garden and greenhouses, enjoy the fountains, play games on the sports ground or relax on the grass.
The Bois de Vincennes is one of the largest parks in Paris. Everyone will find some entertainment here: you can play games, watch a theatrical performance, visit the flower park and the zoo, you can rent a bike and even a boat. There are four lakes in the park, and boat rental is very popular among tourists.
You can rent a boat on the Daumesnil and Minimes lakes. Rent price: €12 / hour.
Admiring the Japanese garden
Avenue Le Nôtre, Sceaux
The best month to visit the gardens is April. All of Paris is in bloom at this time, and sakura blossoms bloom in the Japanese garden in Sceaux. On the Japanese holiday of Hanami, a large picnic and various performances are held in the park.
You can get to the southern suburbs of Co on RER B, Parc de Sceaux station.
Listening to music at the Radio France Hall
116 avenue du Président Kennedy
Official website: radiofrance.fr
From Beethoven to Stravinsky, from Bach to Dusapin, Mahler or Piazzolla… If you are inspired by symphonic and choral music, then visit a concert at the Radio France Hall. Here you can listen to the masterpieces of classical composers performed by the National Orchestra of France, the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio France Choir. And you can get on the international tour of world-famous performers.
Visiting jazz club
Did you know that Paris is the second jazz capital of the world after New York? Now it’s no surprise that there are over 130 places in Paris where you can enjoy it. Connoisseurs say that this style of music sounds best live. Why not have dinner or drink a glass of wine with jazz rhythms?
Here are some verified addresses:
Drinking Corsican wine
The wines of Corsica (Vin de Corse) are strong, rich and sometimes spicy. When they say that the wine is «corse», they mean that it is strong. The experience will be special.
Everything else is as usual. Red wines go well with fowl, red meat or sheep cheese. White wines go well with langoustines and fish. Rosé is very tasty, it is better to combine it with deli meats or shrimps. Muscat du Cap Corse goes well with endive salad and Corsican blue cheese, brocciu, apple or fig pie.
The two most famous namings are Patrimonio and Ajaccio; five «country style» namings are Corse Calvi, Sartène, Figari, Porto-Vecchio and Coteaux du Cap Corse.
» READ MORE – Beaujolais Nouveau: the feast of young wine
Of course, it is unlikely that you have never tried French cheese if you had already been to Paris several times. But most likely you have done it in a restaurant or a supermarket. We strongly recommend at least once to go to a specialized store — fromagerie.
There they will tell you about the properties of cheese, and offer to taste the varieties that you will not find outside of France. In many fromageries you can buy a ready-made cheese plate and a bottle of a suitable wine. Perfectly matched flavors are real French craftsmanship.
» READ MORE – 10 French dishes worth trying in Paris
Climbing the Saint-Jacques tower
39 Rue de Rivoli
If you walked along Rivoli Street, you probably saw a detached Gothic tower in the very center of Paris. This is the former bell tower of the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, built in the 16th century and destroyed during the revolution.
Not everyone knows that you can actually climb the tower. At the beginning of every hour, an excursion group gathers, the guide accompanies curious people to the observation deck, along the way talking about the fate of the tower, about St. James and Pascal’s experiments.
You will have to climb the stairs, but a beautiful view from an unusual angle will pay off the effort.
» READ MORE – Where to go to see Paris from above
Sailing toy boats on the fountain
In hot summer when parents really want to relax in the shade of trees their biggest issue is how to entertain restless children? There are fountains in the Luxembourg Gardens, but most likely you haven’t taken a toy boat with you on vacation. No problem! You can rent it. Popular entertainment costs only €2.
Cruising on the Canal Saint-Martin
Canal Saint-Martin is a calm, beautiful and quiet place. It is very different from a noisy Seine. The canal is great for a romantic 2.5 hour boat trip. But not only couples in love will be interested. The route includes the passage of locks and the underground part of the canal under Place de la Bastille. The cruise underground takes 20 minutes.
The journey starts at the Port de l’Arsenal on Place de la Bastille and ends at La Villette Park, or vice versa.
Visiting a small cinema
Isn’t it romantic to walk into a cinema and see that it’s empty and all yours? You can take advantage of this opportunity by booking yourself a small cinema in Paris. Having a great and cozy time with a small company starts from €200.
Here are some affordable cinemas:
- Hôtel 123 Sébastopol, 123 Boulevard de Sébastopol
- Salle de location au Galerie de la Villette,211 Av. Jean Jaurès
- Le Bistrot des Cinéastes, 7 Avenue de Clichy
- Private Cinéma by Mk2, 1 Rue de Libourne
Visiting the oldest zoo
57 rue Cuvier, Jardin du Plantes
Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The zoo in the Botanical Gardens of Paris is not only the oldest in the city, but also one of the oldest in the world. Since 1794, it has housed animals from the royal menagerie of Versailles. Over time, the space in the zoo was rearranged, the animals are kept in excellent conditions, close to their habitat.
The territory is small and there are not many animals, but you can find parrots, flamingos, monkeys, orangutans, horses, kangaroos, pandas, camels, roe deer, wild cats and many more. In particular, it is worth noting the excellent terrarium with reptiles, amphibians and insects.
» READ MORE – 33 Tips for traveling to Paris with children
Walking all around la Defense
Book a tour
Book a private guided tour here
La Defense is the largest business district in Europe, the business center of Paris and a real city of the future. It stands in contrast with Paris itself a lot. While things are humming in the skyscrapers, vacationers relax on the steps in front of the Big Arch. But this is not a soulless jungle of glass and stone. There are 60 fiercely modern works of art scattered around the area.
Find the most significant ones:
- «Dance» by Shelomo Selinger, is a set of 35 sculptural pots on the lower square of the Charles de Gaulle esplanade
- The 15-meter sculpture «Red Spider» by Alexander Calder is located near the Total Tower
- «Monumental Fountain» by Yaacov Agam
- «Fantastic Characters» by Joan Miró seem to be molded from a giant plasticine
- The Takis Pool is full of mysterious signals
- Raymond Moretti’s «Chimney», 32 meters high, consists of hundreds of colored pipes;
- «Thumb» of Cesar Baldaccini is really big (12-meter sculpture)
» READ MORE – The Center Pompidou
Exploring the campus
17 Boulevard Jourdan
Official website: ciup.fr
Paris has always welcomed students striving for knowledge, no matter who they are by nationality. And now the campus is home for about 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world.
Foreign students are grouped by nationality in dormitories so that they can more comfortably adapt to France under the care of their older mates. And buildings for living are constructed using vernacular architectural styles. It turned out to be a very colorful and pretty area with a spacious park.
Trying shopping of 18th century
4 best passages in Paris:
- Galerie Vivienne, 4 rue des Petits Champs
- Passage des Panoramas, 11 boulevard Montmartre
- Passage Verdeau, 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière
- Passage Brady, 46 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
Book a tour
Paris is not only the fashion capital of the world, but also the birthplace of shopping centers! The first passage in Paris, Du Prado, was built in 1785. And in the first half of the 19th century there were already 150 of them!
Later, shops began to gather in multi-storey complexes. But the passages still remain a favorite place for Parisians and visitors to the city, especially in bad weather. They are very cozy to hide from rain and wind, make purchases, visit a restaurant or a tea salon, retail shops, a second-hand book store or a fashion boutique.
» READ MORE – All flea markets in Paris
Taking photos in a photomaton
A wonderful souvenir from Paris can be made in old photo booths. Like in the movie «Amelie» if you remember. For only 3 euros you will get a vintage bookmark of 4 black and white photographs. Just like 60 years ago, every photograph is produced by traditional film development. The quality of this print remains stable for at least 100 years.
- 50 rue Caumartin, metro Havre Caumartin
- 5 Bd des Filles du Calvaire, metro Filles du Calvaire
- 10 Boulevard de la Bastille, metro Quai de la Rapée
- 53 rue des Trois Frères, metro Abbesses
- 23 rue Debelleyme, metro Filles du Calvaire
- 104 rue d’Aubervilliers, metro Riquet, Stalingrad, Crimée
- 5 rue Curial, metro Riquet, Stalingrad, Crimée
- 128 Rue la Fayette, metro Poissonière or Gare du Nord
- Avenue Darcel (park Buttes-Chaumont), metro Buttes-Chaumont
- 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, metro Iéna
- Port de la Gare, metro Quai de la gare
- 1 rue de Bruxelles, metro Blanche
- 114 rue Oberkampf, metro Ménilmontant
- 15 rue du Maine, metro Edgar Quinet
- 2 Rue Ronsard, metro Abbesses
- 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, metro Porte de Pantin
- 128 avenue de Saint-Ouen, metro Porte de Saint-Ouen
Walking along the railway
1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont
How to get there
Metro: 1, 5, 8 Bastille
What to do with the old railway? An elegant French solution is turning it into a park. From 1859 to 1969 there was a railway line that connected Place de la Bastille with the eastern suburbs of Paris. Part of it passed along the highline. But in the 12th arrondissement there is no place for useless rails. The space under the highline was turned into a gallery of shops and cafes, and trees and flowers were planted instead of railway ties. It turned out to be an excellent recreation area, elevated above the street.
The promenade La Coulée verte is 4.5 km long. Don’t forget to take everything for a picnic with you, you can only go down to the street at the crossroads.
But the La Coulée verte promenade is not the only outdated railway. During the time of Napoleon III, the main Parisian stations were connected by a 32 km long double-track ring road. It is called La petite ceinture or «small track».
The road has been closed since 1934. In those places where it has been preserved, nature has captured it: more than 200 species of plants and more than 70 species of animals have been recorded in the formed recreation areas.
The longest section is in the 12th arrondissement and connects to La Coulée verte in the Bel Air metro area. The picturesque tunnel, familiar to many from photos from the Internet, is located in Montsouris Park in the 14th arrondissement. Another 8 sections of the road can be found on the outskirts of Paris. All of them have been converted into parks and eco-markets with cafes and shops.
Enjoying the scent of flowers
Whichever of the green lungs of Paris you would choose, there are flowers in both. Parc floral de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes covers about 30 hectares. In a special garden, flowering plants that are very attractive to butterflies are grown, even special feeders are installed there. In good weather, the garden is filled with colorful moths. Many free events are held here every summer.
On the other side of the city in the Bois de Boulogne there is a botanical garden with sculptures by Rodin, greenhouses with a collection of rhododendrons and camellias, a luxurious rose garden at the Bagatelle estate, an amusement park with old attractions for children. Walking in the parks is a true Parisian style of relaxation.
Exploring the «African Triangle»
«Liberty, equality and fraternity» is the mission statement of France. And it is true. Paris in the past and Paris today is a multicultural capital where Europeans, Africans, Chinese, people of mixed races and nationalities live side by side. Not everyone is ready to accept at the first try, but it is definitely worth getting to know multinational Paris. It absorbs all the best from world culture.
Ten minutes from the tourist Montmartre there is the African triangle: Boulevard de la Chapelle, Boulevard Barbès and two railway stations (North and East). Although sometimes they call this area risky, it is worth taking a walk here and buying souvenirs or products.
Leaving the metro Barbès-Rochechouart, pay attention to the neo-Egyptian style of the Louxor cinema: mosaics with floral motifs, scarabs and papyri. This intersection is always crowded, on the parallel street Goutte-d’or during Ramadan, stalls offer pastries with honey and orange blossom.
Rue des Gardes has become a place of encouragement for young designers. There are a lot of fashionable and interesting clothes in African style. And in the boutiques on Myrha Street you can dress in the style of Beyonce and Leticia Casta.
You can take a break from the walk at the Institute of Islamic Cultures (19 Rue Léon). See free exhibitions and enjoy a riad-style shady terrace where you can dine, drink Moroccan tea or bissap (hibiscus juice).
At the entrance to the Château-Rouge metro you will notice the ceramic panel on the wall. This work of the artist Barthelemy Togo, who lived in the area, symbolizes the birth of a new world. Make sure to check out Dejean Market nearby. The best and freshest products of the African continent are sold here: pineapples, mangoes, papaya, avocados, plantains, cassava, bajanga (freshwater shrimp), spices, Atlantic fish, red palm oil and much, much more.
Paris is a fantastic city where you will find something new every time. It is simply impossible not to fall in love with it!
Have a nice trip!