A visit to Paris, whether it’s for the first, second or fifteenth time will most likely include sites like The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and a great restaurant or two but what about those places that you might not have heard of? The kind of places that portrays Paris in a totally different light and gives you a new perspective on “The City of Light”. In addition to these free things to see and do when you visit Paris, here are 14 secret spots you definitely need to see when you’re in Paris. 🙂
The Dodo Manège is a beautiful and unique carousel comprising of extinct and endangered animals. This attraction is relatively new to Paris. Only erected in 1992, Dodo Manège is situated relatively close to the Natural History Museum. Jump on board this tradition carousel with a difference and ride a dodo, an aepyornis (imagine Big Bird from Sesame Street… just not yellow) and even a panda.
2.) Rub the rather cheeky Victor Noir
Almost 150 years after his death, Victor Noir has become a legend of sorts after a bronze statue was erected over his tomb. I literally did a double-take when looking at this tomb! Take a look at his trouser line… you will see why!!! 🙂
Urban legend suggests that if you place one single flower in his top hat, kiss his lips and (if you dare) a little rub of his excited trouser hump – you will be forever granted the perfect husband and amazing ‘in the bedroom’ activities for the rest of eternity! 😉 A very cheeky tradition, wouldn’t you say! 🙂
3.) Catacombs of Paris
These Catacombs of Paris house the remains of up to six million people. This curious site is located right beneath the Parisian streets in which you’ll walk and set up by city officials to solve the growing problem of full cemeteries. Take an eerie journey into the infamous catacombs, something that is becoming increasingly well know.
I would definitely recommend visiting on a weekday morning, when queues are less and footfall is lower. It’s not uncommon to be waiting for at least two hours if you visit on a weekend.
4.) The Montmartre Vineyards
The Montmartre Vineyard has been in this area of Paris for over 800 years and is now the last active vineyard in the whole city! How could I have not known? Wine and Paris are two of my favourite things. 😉 Take a trip to visit around October when grape picking seasons kicks off at the annual, Fête des Vendanges.
5.) Sewers of Paris
Fancy seeing some underground sites of Paris? Quite literally, I might add. Then take a unique tour through the vaulted labyrinthine ceiling sewer system – complete with sewer boat and even a sewer wagon… intrigued?
6.) Dome of Sacré Coeur Basilica
The famous Sacré Coeur Basilica is one of the city’s most iconic sights but few people realise that once you’ve climbed the terraces for a beautiful view across Paris you can continue your journey to the very top of the Dome! If you’re feeling fit and raring for more step climbing, then for around €6 – €8, you can climb the narrow 300 stairs to see a breathtaking panoramic view across the whole city.
7.) Flame of Liberty
Fancy seeing an iconic piece of New York City while in Paris? As you may know, France offered the Statue of Liberty as a gift to the United States, with the Flame of Liberty showcasing this friendship on French soil. If you’re planning a visit, get off at Subway stop, ‘Alma-Marceau’ – with the Flame of Liberty being close by.
8.) 59 Rivoli
If you’re an art fantastic, chances are that you’ve been to the Louvre to see Mona Lisa amongst other famed pieces of art on offer in the city. When next you’re in Paris, take a step away from the path well trodden and see a more ‘fringe’ art scene in Paris – 59 Rivoli! For so many years 59 Rivoli was an artists’ squat dating back to the 1800’s. Nowadays, 59 Rivoli has been fully renovated and returned back to its original artistic ethos. 59 Rivoli is now a welcoming space to freely see and exhibit art.
9.) Witness the French revolution via the cannonball in a wall
For a bit of a reflective reminder of the French Revolution, head over to Hotel De Sens. 😉 At the hotel, there’s a rather unassuming Cannonball still lodged in the hotel walls. Fired during the revolution, it can easily be seen by passers by with a date of ‘impact’ etched in the side of the wall.
10.) Visit the oldest cinema in Paris
As a film fiend, I’m always looking out for new or old picture houses to explore, with this beauty being a perfect example. Until relatively recently, Le Louxor Palais Du Cinema was in a state of disrepair. Thankfully, the beautiful building was restored in 2013, welcoming visitors to a piece of Parisian history that most visitors overlook. Take a trip here on a rainy day and watch either contemporary or, on special occasions, historic French films.
11.) Visit Point Zero
Point Zero is the traditional epicentre of Paris and this point marks the point of distance to anywhere else around the country. Nowadays, it has become a sort of legendary spot to ‘wish’ or request certain things. Although centrally located, most visitors miss the plate as its sunken right into the ground. If you do decide to go looking for this in Paris, its located right next to Notre Dame, visit here to drop a coin, kiss a loved one, perform a dance and hopefully be granted a wish! 😉
12.) Let Salvador Dali tell you the time
Based above Rue Saint-Jacques, this curious sundial was designed by famed artist, Salvador Dali. There’s lots of interpretation around what this piece means, which I’m still yet to fully understand… then again that’s surely the point of Dali’s work. 😉
13.) Find one of Paris’s elusive medallions
Peppered across the city are 135 unassuming bronze Arago medallions that most visitors fail to notice. Although they look totally random and seem to follow no order, they actually denote the traditional Paris Meridian Time (just like the Greenwich mean time in London). Try on your next trip to Paris to see how many you can spot.
14.) Visit the man stuck in the wall
“The passer through the wall” is a statue that is seemingly half in and half out of the wall’ Although, popular in French literature most people may not have heard the story of “Le Passe-Muraille” by Marcel Aymé which is all about a man named M. Dutilleul who discovers that he can walk through walls. The story goes that he became far too cocky and headstrong, getting himself stuck in between walls which has people till this day still trying to ‘pull him out’ of the wall (which you can probably tell by his polished hand) to no avail as alas he is truly stuck.