First, let me clarify by the “big” things one must see during their first visit or two to Paris:
La Tour Eiffel, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur on Montmartre, Notre Dame de Paris, The Latin Quarter, Pont Alexandre III, etc. I’ll never say to not bother with these places, they are all spectacular in their own way, and all still very much of Paris. If you are looking for things on the path slightly less taken, or very much local and authentic, here are 8 other places you could add to your list.
No 1: Walk through le Jardin Atlantique
|Photo Credit: Travel Advisor|
Above the Montparnasse train station there is a roof top garden that is lovely and offers a very interesting view. I went in the winter, and surprisingly there were flowers! I can imagine it is even more lush in the summer! It has a play structure as well, so if you have children, they an run around and play while you enjoy the busy urban sector that is Montparnasse, or you can play tennis in the courts that are located here, as well! This garden definitely has a different feel than the typical gardens of Paris as it is a more modern concept.
Closest Metro stops: Montparnasse – Bievenue (Line 12)
No 2: See Paris from a Hot Air Balloon
If you want an amazing view of the city for a low price of 12 euros, check on the hot air balloon service from Parc André-Citroen, and get taken up to the height of 150 feet in the air!
Closest Metro stops: Lourmel (Line 8) Javel Andre Citroen (Line 10)
No 3: People Watch in Jardin de Louxembourg
This garden is already quite popular, but some people forget to visit gardens when they are in Paris, and the one that usually gets seen is Les Tullieries, because it leads from Place de La Concorde all the way to the Louvre. Any park is Paris is wonderful for people-watching, especially since the locals love to go there too! Be sure to bring a blanket and a book.
Closest Metro stops: Odéon (line 10) Notre-Dame des Champs (line 12) Luxembourg (RER B)
No 4: Enjoy a meal at Cafe du Marche or Chez Gladines
This is a nice little resto, not far from the Eiffel Tower, down rue Clair, called Cafe du Marche. It is not a fancy restaurant, but the food is good and you can sit outside and enjoy the small cobble streets and see the people walking by. I highly recommend their duck meal!
Closest Metro stop: École Militaire (line 8)
If you really want to see an incredible restaurant that is very much out of the way, and with foods that are more typical in the south, then you head on over to Chez Gladines. We only found out about this place through a friend who has been living in France for some years now, and we shall likely return on our next visit!
Closest Metro stops: Ledru-Rollin (line 8) Charonne (line 9)
No 5: Go to bakeries throughout your stay, and try a new pastry or bread every time.
Bakeries and Patisseries are on every corner for a reason. French people love their baking, and there are dozens of different kinds of buns, pastries, pies, quiches, breads and cakes to try! One of my personal favourites is the Croissant amande (almost paste stuffed croissant). And remember, the calories you gain on holiday or while travelling don’t count…
No 6: See a friendly soccer match at the Stadium
If you happen to be in town when a friendly match is happening at Le Stad de Paris, between the French team and someone else, please go! It will only cost 10 euros, and even if you don’t like watching soccer, it is quite an experience to watch it live with thousands of supporters in the stands. I was very lucky to be in Paris one weekend and there was a USA vs. France match! It was nothing short of electrifying.
Closest Metro stop: La Plaine Stade de France (RER B)
No 7: Walk along the Seine and watch an artist at work
The Seine is like a major blood vessel of the city. There is so much life along its shores, with amazing sights to see. Never hesitate to sit and watch an artist at work, as he fuels his inspiration from the historic river, and captures his vision of the surrounding scenery.
No 8: Shop at a flea or farmer’s market
Open air markets pop up on a weekly basis in many neighbourhoods and quarters. It will be on a different day for different locations, so try to find out where one will come up if your time in Paris is limited. If you have several days, chances are there will be one coming around your apartment or hotel neighbourhood. They can be farmer’s markets full of delicious fruits, veggies, cheeses and meats, or flea markets with interesting nicknacks and beautiful decor items. It’s always pleasant stroll.
There you have it! 8 things to do and see in Paris that are not the typical top tourist destinations. If you know of other great recommendations, please share them in the comments for others to see!