The city of Paris is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, however there are plenty of lesser known sights to explore. From secret gardens to magnificent museums, it’s easy to get off the beaten track in Paris. Here are some of the most unmissable hidden gems in Paris, together with nearby restaurants that Parisian locals love.
Hidden Gems in Paris
If you’re looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience in the City of Lights, then be sure to check out some of the city’s hidden gems. From quirky art galleries to secret gardens, there’s something for everyone to explore. So grab your map and get ready to discover some of Paris’ best-kept secrets!
Head away from the main tourist sights like the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum and you’ll find some amazing secret Paris spots. These are a few of our favorites.
1. Palais Royal Gardens
The Palais Royal is a 17th century palace located in central Paris near the Louvre. It was the former home of Cardinal Richelieu, followed by King Louis XIV up to the French revolution.
These are actually the only gardens in Paris that are classified as a “
On one side there’s a courtyard filled with black and white columns, designed by Daniel Buren in 1986. Flanked by contemporary and vintage fashion boutiques and cafes, it’s a lovely place for a stroll and one of the best Paris hidden gems.
If you’re lucky you might come across a mysterious birdman, as we did. This gentleman who attracted all the birds to him.
He let us in on his secret, give them bread soaked in milk and they will eat out of your hand. We certainly had fun once we’d got used to them landing on us!
Address: Jardin du Palais Royal, 2 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
2. Le Marais Gardens and Mansion Houses
The Marais is one of the most unspoiled areas in Paris and Place des Vosges is a magnificent square, built by Henry IV in 1605. Although the square itself is quite well-known, if you venture into the side streets you’ll come across some lesser-known museums and parks that are really worth a visit.
Under the vaulted arcades of the Place des Vosges, there are some interesting art galleries and restaurants. L’Ambroisie and Restaurant Anne are two of the most well known Place des Vosges restaurants.
Le Marais has some amazing museums including the Carnavalet Museum, which is all about the history of Paris, and the Picasso Museum. The Hotel de Soubise is one of the most charming Paris hidden gems, housing the Museum of French History and the National Archives Museum.
We’d also recommend the Musée Cognacq-Jay which has a superb collection of decorative items and art from the 18th century.
Robert et Louise is an unpretentious little steak house at rue Vielle du Temple in the Marais. You can sit at the communal table and tuck into delicious potatoes, wood-fire cooked meat and a tasty creme brulee to finish.
Address: Robert et Louise, 64 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France
3. The Passages of Paris
If you’re looking for untouristy and more hidden things to do in Paris, then head to the passages. The city has numerous covered malls dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, known as passages.
These days they house interesting shops and restaurants. One of our favourites is Galerie Vivienne, built in 1823 with mosaic floors and some great shops including Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Nearby you can find the Passage du Grand Cerf in rue Saint Denis near the Chatelet les Halles shopping area. It was built in 1825 and is almost 12 metres tall, with an impressive glass roof. The Passage des Panoramas is the oldest covered passage in Paris and can be found in the 2nd arrondissement at 11 Bd Montmartre.
The Galerie Vero-Dodat dates from 1826 and was one of the first passages to get gas lighting, in 1830. This shopping arcade houses two Christian Louboutin stores and the “By Terry” renowned make-up range.
A very cool option for a drink before or after dinner is Andy Wahloo on rue des Gravilliers. There’s a hidden Paris courtyard with Moroccan inspired decor.
It comes as no surprise that it’s owned by the Mazouz brothers who are behind Sketch and Momo in London.
A great place for dinner is Le Grand Colbert, which film buffs will recognize from the film “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. It’s a classic Parisian bistro serving up simple dishes like the roast chicken that Diane Keaton had in the film.
The building itself dates from 1825 and became a restaurant in 1900. It’s listed as a historical monument and has an impressive dining room with a mosaic floor as well as sculpted pillars in a Pompeian style.
Address: Le Grand Colbert, 2 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
4. Promenade Plantee
One of our favourite secret things to do in Paris, this raised park was built on a disused viaduct and soars above the streets. The walk starts behind Bastille opera house, passes above avenue Daumesnil to the Jardin de Reuilly and finishes at Porte Dorée near the Bois de Vincennes.
Also known as the Coulée Verte René-Dumont, quite a few Parisians don’t know of its existence. It’s a pleasant 4.7 kilometer scenic walk, which was completed in 1993. This Parisian walkway was the inspiration behind the Highline in New York.
The park is planted with many rosebushes, trees and climbing plants. You get a great view over the surrounding buildings like this Postmodernist masterpiece.
Although this looks like an Art Deco era building, it was completed in 1991. Designed by Spanish architect Manolo Nuñez-Yanowsky, it houses a police station.
Below the viaduct, there’s a good selection of design shops and some good brunch spots like Brasserie L’Arrosoir on Avenue Daumesnil.
Address: 1 Coulée verte René-Dumont, 75012 Paris, France
5. Rue de l’Abreuvoir
Whilst Montmartre can be extremely busy, especially the area around Sacre Coeur Basilica, there are some lesser known streets that are well worth seeking out. Rue de l’Abreuvoir is one of our favorite Montmartre hidden gems, with its cobbled paving stones and pretty pink houses.
At the top of this picturesque Paris street, there’s La Maison Rose, one of the most Instagrammable places in Paris. The restaurant was painted pink by its original owners, Laure Germaine and her husband Ramon. Several famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Maurice Utrillo frequented this charming place.
Did you know that the only vineyard in Paris can also be found in Montmartre? Located on rue des Saules, Le Clos Montmartre vineyard holds an annual harvest festival, La Fete des Vendanges. You can only visit Montmartre Vineyard as part of a guided wine tasting tour, however you can buy their wine all year round at the Musée de Montmartre and at La Maison des Epicuriens, 46 rue Lamarck.
6. The Sinking House
Also in Montmartre, don’t miss the incredible sinking house which you may have spotted on Instagram! You can find this building just next to the steps in front of Sacre Coeur. It’s an optical illusion, but if you rotate your photos it certainly looks like it is disappearing into the grass!
7. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
One of the best hidden gems in Paris is the Buttes-Chaumont Park. Located in the 19th arrondissement in the North East of Paris, this is the fifth largest park in Paris.
It opened in 1867 and has several impressive features, including a 1.5 hectare lake around the Île de la Belvédère, a rocky island. At the top, you’ll spot the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature copy of the Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy.
There is also a grotto inspired by English landscape gardens, and an artificial waterfall. Above the lake is a 63-meter suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, famous for the Eiffel Tower.
8. Rue Cremieux
This Instagrammable Paris street has cobbled paving stones and many colorful houses. Situated in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, it is named after lawyer and politician Adolphe Crémieux.
Originally construction workers’ houses, the properties are now highly covetable. However, the residents do have to contend with this popular spot having an influx of visitors taking photographs!
9. Paris Catacombs
20 meters underground in the 14th arrondissement, lies a macabre secret – the bones of millions of Parisians. Their remains were transferred there in the late 18th century due to public health concerns.
From 1809 onwards, the Paris Catacombs were open to the public by appointment. These days, you can purchase an individual or group ticket to visit.
There are 243 steps and a 1.5 km circuit so allow an hour and wear comfortable shoes.
10. Bercy Village
The Bercy District is a vast leisure area in the 12th arrondissement, with a public park and The Pavillons of Bercy, aka the Museum of Fairground Arts. Bercy Village has many good restaurants and boutiques housed in former wine cellars.
Visitors can enjoy a drink at Café Oz Rooftop or head to the UGC Ciné Cité multiplex cinema.
11. Rue Mouffetard
Experience Paris like a local in Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. Originally a Roman road, this pedestrianized street in the 5th arrondissement has no airs and graces.
A true hidden gem, you’ll find many neighborhood cafes here as well as specialty food stores. Fromagerie Androet is a great cheese store, with a beautiful Rennaissance fresco above it.
12. Canal Saint-Martin
A great place to go for a stroll, the Canal Saint-Martin is popular with local Parisians who come here at the weekends. Located in the 10th arrondissement, it has appeared in movies such as Amélie and Mission Impossible: Fallout.
You can also take a canal boat ride here or simply enjoy a drink in one of the many bistros and bars lining the route. One of these is the Hôtel du Nord, built in 1885 and immortalized in the film by Marcel Carné in 1938.
13. Musée Jacquemart-André
One of the most beautiful museums in Paris, this hidden gem in the 8th arrondissement was formerly the home of Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. Avid collectors, they filled their home with treasures from their travels to Italy and the Orient.
The Sculpture Gallery has some fine examples of 15th and 16th century sculptures. There’s also a charming tea room with a terrace overlooking the courtyard.
14. Square du Vert-Galant
Created in 1884 when two islands were joined to the Ile de la Cité, the Square du Vert-Galant is a perfect place to enjoy a picnic in sunny weather. You get great views of the river Seine, the Hôtel de la Monnaie and the Musée du Louvre here.
Next to the famous Pont Neuf bridge, it’s quite a small park so get there early to nab the best spot!
15. Sainte Chapelle
Less well known than Notre Dame Cathedral, La Sainte Chapelle is an extraordinary royal chapel on the Île de la Cité. Work on this beautiful building started in 1238 and was completed in 1248.
Designed in the Gothic style to house King Louis IX’s relics of the passions collection, it has some of the best examples of 13th century stained glass windows in the world.
If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience in Paris, be sure to check out some of these secret places. After all that sightseeing, what about a bit of retail therapy in the 5 hottest Paris shopping districts?
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