Ah Paris! The city of love and magic all around. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, all major tourists attractions for millions of people a year. There is so much to do in Paris, and many great things that are often missed. I will be the first to say that the Louvre is definitely worth spending the entire day exploring, while other travel bloggers may disagree. So what I’m saying is, don’t skimp on the big stuff, but do experience Paris’ underrated ‘To Do’ list as well! To kick this mini series off (London and New York to follow), I am going to give you 8 lesser known things to do in Paris.
1. Musée Rodin
A litter lesser known, this museum attracts approximately 700,000 visitors per year to the Louvre’s 8.8 million visitors. As such, Musée Rodin is often missed by tourists but it is bloody magnificent and very worth a visit. It consists of three areas: The Hôtel Biron, The Chapel, and the Sculpture Garden. The museum was officially opened in 1919 after Auguste Rodin donated all his works to the hotel. Walking through the old hotel that was converted in to the museum is a beautiful architectural journey. The grounds are stunning as well.
2. Clignancourt Flea Market
This is, without argument, probably the best and largest flea market in Paris. Clingnancourt flea market covers several blocks and sprawls in to many alleyways. One of my favorite things about this flea market is that Clingnancourt has many options for shipping on the premises, should you decide to buy furniture or get something quite large. Easy peasy! Tourists tend to wonder on over to the area by the Latin Quarter and the Ile De Cite for trinket shopping. I highly suggest skipping this area and instead doing some antique hunting at the flea market. Plus, that place is notorious for pick pockets.
3. Point Zero
Point Zero is so often missed. In fact, I missed this myself on my first trip to Paris. Alas, I am not perfect. Point Zero is the place in Paris where all distances are measured from. So it’s quite literally, ‘point zero’. It can be found just behind the Notre Dame, and it’s a little round stone set in to the ground with a copper sun in the middle. Many people believe that if you stand on Point Zero and make a wish it will come true. That is probably a little touristy, but still really neat to do nonetheless! After all, every great city has their place where wishes come true.
4. Buttes Chaumont
Located in the lesser visited 19th arrondissement, the Buttes Chaumont is a breath taking urban park located in the middle of the city. It has several bridges and a grotto with multiple waterfalls. Probably the most famous site is the Temple Sybille. This temple sits on top of a cliff on an island (yes, a cliff and an island in a park) and overlooks an artificial lake. I really can’t think of a cooler park! Perfect to enjoy a late afternoon picnic with some French wine and cheese. Don’t forget your camera, because the temple and the Ile are really fabulous for photos.
5. Parc Monceau
Another fabulous park that isn’t visited enough in Paris. Located in the 8th arrondissement, Parc Monceau is a step away from the traditional French style parks and gardens. This park boasts English features with its curved pathways and quite random layout. If you’re a fellow blogger or just a workaholic, this park also offers wifi and is great for getting some fresh air while working. There is also a shop and cafe located in the park. Tourists often claim this is one of the places in Paris that is full of locals where they feel like they can ‘fit in’.
6. Sacré-Coeur Views
I bet you didn’t think the Sacré-Coeur would be on this list, did you? This is a well known visit for many tourists, but too many people don’t take the chance to climb to the top. Also, maybe parks aren’t your thing and you’re looking for a more common missed occurrence. It’s a long way to the top, but just do a few mile runs before you leave for Paris and you should be good to go! It can get quite claustrophobic as the stairway is very very tiny (only one person can fit in one direction at a time). Once you make it to the top though, it is well worth it. The view is the best in Paris in my opinion, outside of the Eiffel Tower. My favorite photos are always taken from the top of the Sacré-Coeur.
7. Climbing the Eiffel Tower
This is another one that tourists just don’t seem in to, but it’s a small sacrifice for you time. If you’ve been to the Eiffel Tower, I’m sure you will have noticed the longest queue you have ever seen in your life. That queue is to a non-sweating, walking-free ride up to the top. Instead, climb the first two levels which consists of about 600 steps. Most people don’t know that after the first two levels there is an elevator where you can continue to the very top anyway. Climbing the first two levels is great exercise, nearly queue-free, and almost void of any other tourists. Take the time and enjoy the sights of Paris along the way!
8. Eating Vietnamese
This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but Paris has some amazing Vietnamese food. This includes pho and Bánh mì. Paris has always had a significant Vietnamese population, and in the 13th quarter you can find some of the best pho of your life. Restaurants like Saigon Pantheon and Pho 14 are ‘lines out the door’ worthy. Check out Aname for a more fancier bistro take on Parisian Vietnamese.
Whether you’re planning your first trip to Paris (I can give you a hand with that too), or your third, these are some of my favorite things to do that people often miss. Hopefully you add these to your list on your next trip!
What’s your favorite thing to do in Paris? Or, what would you love to see in Paris that you haven’t seen yet?
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