Are you looking for things to do in Paris beyond what is mentioned in all the Paris guidebooks? Then check out this list of the non-touristy things to do in Paris!
Paris has so much to offer but unfortunately, many people just visit the famous attractions and stop there! Trust me, as someone who lives in Paris and has roamed its streets more times than I can count, there’s so much more to see!
Nevertheless, beyond all the popular things to do, there are so many non-touristy things to do in Paris! But being non-touristy doesn’t mean that they’re not worthy of your time!
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From small gardens to hidden art galleries, my extensive strolls around the city have uncovered some true gems.
Of course, if you’re in Paris for a weekend or just a few days, you can stick to the famous landmarks but if you have more time or have visited the city countless times and you’ve exhausted all the popular places, I recommend taking the off the beaten path in Paris to see what the city offers past the usual attractions.
So if you’re ready to see what Paris has to offer beyond the charms of the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, or even the Louvre Museum, here are the non-touristy things to do in Paris you shouldn’t miss out on!
Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips
WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook.
- Don’t forget a universal travel adapter, a travel neck pouch, and comfortable walking shoes.
- Consider getting either the museum pass or the Paris city pass if you plan to visit a lot of attractions. The city pass comes with free transportation and access to the hop-on-hop-off bus. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
- Book this private transfer from CDG airport to Paris to avoid the hustle of figuring out how to get to Paris.
Psst… Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
Non-touristy things to do in Paris
Whether you prefer taking a walk in a forest, seeing the most bizarre attractions, or even just exploring the city in the most unique way possible, here are the most unusual things to do in Paris that are guaranteed to give you a rare glimpse of Paris.
1. Admire Various Fish Species at The Aquarium de Paris
Though it’s located in the Trocadero Gardens opposite the Eiffel Tower, not so many people know that Paris even has an aquarium!
This is partly because there is no real sign that talks about it and it’s underground! Add the fact that there is a restaurant in front of it, many people pass it without even realizing that there is something!
Despite being hidden, it’s actually interesting and cool! The place has lots of beautiful fish species of various colors and forms and if you’ve never seen a shark, you’re in luck because there is plenty (50 to be exact)!
Plus, the aquarium has over 15 tanks dedicated to the exhibition of jellyfish which are a true wonder to look at!
It isn’t quite big but try to take your time and you’ll enjoy every tank display while watching thousands of fish swim away! And if you’re traveling to Paris with kids, this is one of the unique things to add to your Parisian bucket list.
>>> You can book your ticket to Aquarium de Paris from here to avoid waiting in queues <<<
2. Take a walk in Bois de Boulogne
Did you know that there is a forest in Paris? Probably not! Though not right in the middle of the city, Bois de Boulogne is located on the outskirts of Paris on the western edge of the 16th arrondissement but can be easily accessed!
For those days you feel like connecting with nature, it’s the perfect place to go! It’s even perfect if you’re visiting Paris in the fall as the trees put on a beautiful display of fall colors!
The forest has well-marked pathways to walk in and some small rivers that create a sense of wilderness and calmness as you listen to the sound of water falling!
But note that this place is for some reason associated with nudists! I hear there is a group of nudists who go there to express themselves freely!
Of course, they will not bother you and you can just ignore them as well if you find them! I didn’t see anyone the few times I’ve been to the forest but I heard it’s not uncommon to see some!
3. Admire the architectural beauty of the Fondation Louis Vuitton Building
If you walk through the forest and come out on the opposite end (depending on where you started your walk), you’ll be able to find the Fondation Louis Vuitton building right next to Jardin d’Acclimatation.
Owned by the famous Louis Vuitton group, the beauty of this building speaks for itself!
Constructed in a unique and impressive way, this building takes on a complex shape that came to life after over 400 designers submitted design and architectural plans.
Besides the impressive architectural design, the building houses over 11 galleries where various exhibitions are held, multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations, and a large auditorium.
You can take as many pictures as you can and after that, you can even visit its art galleries if there is an exhibition at the time of your visit.
You can buy the Fondation Louis Vuitton ticket here to get access to both permanent and temporary exhibitions and also get an up-close look at the design of the building.
This ticket will also give you free access to the shuttle bus service from Paris to the Foundation and back.
However, if you end up not visiting the galleries, just admiring the building from the outside is equally impressive!
4. Hang with the locals at Saint Canal Martin
While the banks of the Seine are some of the famous places for tourists and locals to chill, there is another place that not many tourists know about yet it’s a local’s favorite!
Located in the 10th arrondissement, Saint Canal Martin is where the fun is at! The vibe is always lively and chic with various coffee shops, bars, and restaurants surrounding it!
Of course, you can pack your own picnic and hang with your friends, or people-watch during the day but when night comes don’t be afraid to bring some drinks with you to take in the full fun air-filled ambiance.
Besides picnicking, there are other things to do at Saint Canal Martin including but not limited to cruising along the canal, (this boat cruise will take you through the Canal while seeing various Parisian attractions), appreciating the street art on various walls, and going on a dinner cruise!
5. Take a Trip to Parc Astérix
I love Disneyland Paris! I mean it’s the most magical place in the city and I can’t tell you how happy and excited I was the first time I visited it! Surprisingly, the same excitement comes through even at Parc Astérix.
If you’ve been to Paris a number of times and have been to Disneyland already, there is another equally beautiful theme park that not so many tourists know about!
Based on the comic book series Asterix, Parc Astérix is the second-largest theme park in France. Though it’s fun and exciting, Disney overshadows it that so many people don’t get to visit it hence missing out on a great deal of fun.
It may be hard to believe but most locals frequent it more than Disney because it’s not only exciting but it’s also cheaper compared to its counterpart!
The park is located 35 km (22 mi) north of Paris and offers so much that you’ll be surprised that you haven’t visited it yet!
It has a variety of roller coasters that go into detail when it comes to telling visual stories while incorporating historical cultures like ancient Egypt, Ancient Greek, Vikings, and so many others.
Some of the famous must-try rides in Astérix include Goudurix which is not for the faint-hearted, Oziris, La Galère, Le Grand Splatch, and so many others. The park also offers other types of fun shows and activities that you ought not to miss.
On top of that, the park has more thrilling rides compared to Disney so if you’re an adult or have kids who want to take their thrill experience to the next level, Parc Astérix is the place to go!
And while you’re there, be sure to sleep in one of its cool wooden hotels, Les Quais de Lutèce located onsite that overlooks the water! But these hotel rooms book out fast, so you’ll want to book it here in advance so as not to miss out on that experience!
6. Try Out bowling
If you’re traveling with your loved one and looking for alternative romantic things to do in Paris beyond the usual date nights, then I recommend trying out bowling!
Paris has a number of bowling alleys from the somewhat high-end ones for a romantic date night to other fun-filled alleys for people looking for an energetic night out with friends.
Some of the bowling places to check out include Bowling Mouffetard if you’re looking for wild parties, Bowling Champerret if you prefer a chill environment, La Gamelle for a mix of bowling and quick bites, Bowling de Paris Front de Seine for another date night and so many others!
So if you’re looking for less touristy things to do in Paris at night, this is one of them!
7. picnic At parc monceau
You can’t come to Paris and not go for a picnic! And while many tourists stick to the famous Parisian parks like Tuileries Gardens or even Luxembourg Gardens, there is another park that I think doesn’t get the recognition it deserves!
Of course, locals know about it so you’ll find plenty of them but it still bothers me that many tourists miss out on this hidden beauty!
Besides the obvious green grass, the park has stunning features that can’t be found in any other park!
From a beautiful pond where you can see birds quenching their thirst, the Egyptian pyramids replica, the nice little bridge that adds to the beauty of any photo to the statues dotted around that make it look like an open-air museum, Parc Monceau is one of the beautiful parks perfect for a picnic in Paris!
Regardless of the time of the year you visit, picnicking at Parc Monceau is one of the fun non-touristy things to do in Paris!
8. Test Your Rock Climbing Abilities at Climb Up
Indoor rock climbing is taking the world by storm and it’s the newest activity that everyone wants to participate in on either a Sunday or after work when they want to have a light workout while still having fun!
And it didn’t take Paris long to jump on the bandwagon! Of course, this is not for everyone but if you’re looking for unique things to do in Paris, this is one of them!
There are quite a number of rock climbing studios that have popped up in recent years but the largest and currently the most famous is Climb Up.
Located in the 13th arrondissement, Climb Up is France’s biggest climbing gym. The gym is large enough to offer space for many climbers at a time including kids.
Besides the colorful climbing blocks of various designs and layouts, Climb Up also has space for other activities like yoga, a coworking space, a massage area, and a relaxing area to grab some quick bites!
Think of this as your one-stop shop for fun, sweat, and relaxation while in Paris!
But it’s not just Climb Up that offers rock climbing, other indoor rock climbing gyms in Paris include; Arkose Nation, Block’Out Paris, Escalad’Indoor, Climbing District, and many others.
9. Take in the views of Paris From Buttes Chaumont Park
While there are many places to go to enjoy Paris views, one that is usually not frequented by most tourists is Buttes Chaumont Park.
Situated on a hill in the 19th arrondissement, this park offers equally beautiful views if you climb to the top of Temple de la Sibylle which is the most famous feature in the park.
Besides the views, the park also offers more features and a unique setting compared to other parks in Paris.
From caves, an artificial lake, and waterfalls, to a suspended bridge, Buttes Chaumont Park is a true beauty that shouldn’t be missed.
Be sure to pack a picnic to fully enjoy what this park has to offer!
10. Search for street art in Paris
Another equally fun but lesser-done activity in Paris is searching for street art!
It’s no secret that Paris is the capital of art and you’re bound to find many art exhibitions, museums, and galleries!
But this doesn’t stop in fancy buildings, it also extends to the streets where talented artists show off their artwork in style!
Some of the popular districts to find street art include the 13th Arrondissement and the 11th Arrondissement. Every once in a while, I go out and search for street art and one of the interesting things is that street art changes with time!
For example, the art I initially saw at Rue Beaurepaire near Place de la République was removed and now there is something else!
At first, I wondered why they remove cool art but I came to know that it’s a way of giving other artists a chance to also showcase their work!
If you’re up for this, you can find street art in Belleville, Rue Oberkampf in the 11th arrondissement, Boulevard de la Villette in the 3rd and so many others!
Alternatively, you can book this street art walking tour if you don’t like the hustle of planning the trip yourself!
This tour won’t only take you to the exact spots but the guide will also give you background history of the murals or paintings. But if you want to visit in style, you can opt for this segway street art tour instead.
11. Visit Banksy Museum
If you love street art, you won’t want to miss Banksy Museum to immerse yourself in “The World of Banksy”.
Besides just wandering the streets of Paris and looking for street art, you can find a collection of some of the best works of Bansksy, an England-based street artist who has become one of the most famous street artists in this museum.
The gallery has over 100 pieces of artwork on display ranging from fun, quirky, memorable, to utter bizarre.
The gallery is located in the 9th arrondissement not far from Montmartre.
12. Pick up an antique at the Paul Bert Serpette Flea market
If you’re looking for unusual Paris attractions and are an antique lover who enjoys collecting valuable vintage pieces, then you should pass by Paul Bert Serpette flea market.
Though technically not in Paris but rather in Saint-Ouen (less than 20 minutes from Paris), this place has plenty of shops that sell high-value and rare antiques ranging from interior decor pieces, antique kitchenware, furniture, and life-size antique sculptures that will make your house or backyard look like a museum!
Now I have to warn you that these are high-value items; so be ready to dig deep in your pockets if you choose to buy anything!
To give you an idea, I got curious seeing all these pieces that I asked for the price of one stunning vintage chandelier; I was blown away when they told me it was 8k Euros — yes, you read it right, Eight thousand Euros!
There are others that could be lower than that but that was enough to turn me into just a window shopper!
But even if you don’t intend to buy anything, I still recommend going there and doing some window shopping!
However, if you still want to pick up an antique while in Paris without robbing a bank, then head to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, or the covered passage, Passage du Grand Cerf which has a number of antique and textile shops.
13. Explore the covered passages of Paris
Speaking of covered passages, Paris is blessed with a number of covered passages that are perfect to explore especially on a rainy day!
These are not just passages that are covered but rather places worth visiting! First, they have impressive glass roofs that look like pieces of art and they also house many shops perfect for shopping; from clothes, and textiles to furniture.
Some of my favorite covered passages in Paris include; Passage du Grand Cerf in the 2nd arrondissement which is great for picking up antiques and textiles — it has many shops with affordable antiques you’d want to take home with you, Galerie Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement which is known for its upscale shops, Passage Jouffroy in the 9th arrondissement, Galerie de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement and many others.
14. Check out temporary exhibitions at La Défense
Though located in the esplanade of La Défense which is a popular spot, not so many tourists slope down to see the temporary open-air exhibitions that happen annually since a few years ago — usually between June to October.
Starting from the Takis Basin to the Agam Fountain, a number of artists fill this place with lots of interesting modern art pieces that are worth checking out.
Some of the exhibitions are fun, colorful, and interactive while others are downright quirky.
A few of the art installations that I found quite interesting include the inverted house that shows everything you’d see in a home from the interior to the exterior but in an inverted way, a huge whip, a cute Cube Sphere Gold and so many others. You can check the official website before you go to know exactly what to expect.
With all those cool art installations, seeing them is definitely one of the non-touristy things to do in Paris despite being right in the center of a popular place like La Defense!
15. Fly Over Paris in a Hot Air Balloon
Paris doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of a hot air balloon since such titles are reserved for places like Cappadocia in Turkey or even on a safari in Kenya but there are some in Paris you can take and have a bird’s eye view over the city.
Expensive? Yes! One-of-a-kind activity? Also yes! Several companies organize these rides, but the most affordable and the largest hot air balloon in the world is the Ballon de Paris Generali which flies over Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement.
However, if budget is not an issue, you can opt for this Viator Balloons in Paris tour that flies over Fontainebleau Chateau.
With a spectacular view over the beautiful chateau, flying over Fontainebleau in a hot air balloon is truly one of the fun but unusual things to do in Paris, France.
16. Create Your Own Perfume
Paris is known for having some of the fanciest perfume brands in the world, and a trip to the French capital is not complete without getting yourself one!
But how about this time around you make your own perfume instead of shopping for an already-made one? There is no better place to become a perfumer than in Paris.
Specifically, in this workshop at Maison Molinard, one of the most famous French perfume factories, you’ll be able to bring out your creative side and create a perfume with the scent you like.
You won’t only make the perfume and take it home, but you’ll also learn more history and traditions of the perfume-making process.
17. Make Your Own Jewelry in Le Marais
Prefer making your own jewelry to perfume? Don’t worry; there is still something for you in Paris in the chic neighborhood of Le Marais.
With this jewelry-making workshop, you’ll learn all the specifics about making luxury jewelry while bringing out your artsy side of putting together jewelry pieces.
And instead of just grabbing a souvenir from a souvenir shop, the piece you’ll make will be the perfect souvenir coupled with beautiful memories.
Whether you’re looking for something to do on a girl’s trip or test out your crafting abilities, making jewelry is one of the unique things to do in Paris
18. Visit Some Lesser-Known Museums in Paris
Since the Louvre Museum is the biggest museum in Paris and the world in general, this is where most tourists head to and forego other equally interesting museums.
If you want to embark on an off-the-beaten path, I recommend checking out some of the lesser-known museums and you’ll be surprised by how much there is to see!
On top of visiting the Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, Centre Pompidou, and others, you should also visit smaller museums like Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of romantic life), Museum of Vampires, Musée Zadkine, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Jacquemart-André, Musée Bourdelle, and many others.
You can also check out these free museums in Paris. They may be classified as unusual sights in Paris but they’re definitely worth a visit.
Final Thoughts on the Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in Paris
While there are so many things to do in Paris, if you’ve been to the city more than once or your trip is extended, you’ll get the most out of your visit if you embark on some off-the-beaten paths!
And with these suggestions above, I hope that you’ll have plenty to do when you’re in the city.
Don’t be afraid to wander around; after all, Paris is best explored on foot! Yes, these places may not even be in the popular books about Paris but they’ll give you a better understanding of the city while connecting more with the locals.
So get your walking shoes on and wait to be mesmerized by these hidden gems of Paris!
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You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!
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Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to Paris
- What to do in Paris at night
- Best things to do in Paris in January
- How to spend Christmas in Paris
- Fun facts about Paris
- Best things to do in Paris in Spring
- Where to find the best views of Paris
- Big mistakes to avoid in Paris
- What to Pack for Paris
- Skip the line tickets for Paris’ popular attractions
- Interesting jokes about Paris
- Paris captions for Instagram
- Famous quotes on Paris
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