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Share your "off the beaten path" experiences in Paris

Having just returned from my trip to Paris (the 5th in the past decade), I truly think there are many less touristy points of interest that also offer fantastic travel experiences. After all, I only was able to visit more of those recently (having fully enjoyed the more "touristy" spots). It's not to undermine the top attractions, but also to offer new ideas to enjoy the city.

My choices are:

  • Pere Lachaise cemetery: I was fortunate enough to already include this in my itineary during my earlier trips. Couldn't rave more about this place... always had a great time... tip: go on a sunny day!

  • Saint Martin Canal: finally made it there this time and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon watching the boat passed through the canal.. quite interesting to watch. The area seems to be one of the up and coming neighborhoods that have the potential of being a cool place to stay/be in the near future.

  • Mouffetard Market: more of a local market experience v. the Rick Steve made famous Rue Cler. There are a lot more selections at better prices. I enjoyed it a lot.

  • Le Marais: probably still considered "touristy" but I highly recommend experiencing the neighborhood by foot and spend a morning or afternoon with no maps/tour books, etc. I wouldn't mind getting lost a bit in the Marais. Chances are, I'd come across interesting stores and cafes not mentioned anywhere in the tour books.

Posted by
10344 posts

We just did Pere Lachaise, I would definitely call it off the beaten path--different. Tip on Pere Lachaise: don't get off the metro at Pere Lachaise metro station, because you'll be walking uphill the whole time. Ride one more stop to the Gametta metro station, then walk 2 blocks to the cemetery--and your entire itinerary (if you follow Rick's Pere Lachaise tour) will be down hill. It's hilly in the cemetery.

It's even better than New Orleans cemeteries, which we toured (well, one) a few months ago.

But Marais (above post) I would say is not off the beaten path, worthwhile, but not off the beaten path.

Posted by
7078 posts

Parc Monceau was a wonderfully unexpected pleasure.

Montmartre cemetery, almost as interesting as Pere Lachaise but quite a bit smaller.

I also liked walking along the Canal St Martin and the Basin de la Villette area.

Posted by
359 posts

Promenade Plantee

Swimming in one of Paris' many wonderful municipal swimming pools. Some have very cool art deco/art nouveau decor.

Posted by
1540 posts

I took the #69 bus and the entrance to Pere Lachaise was right as I got off the bus.
I enjoyed wandering around looking at the old monuments and looking up all the famous folks who are buried there.
I usually go to cemeteries where ever I go in Europe.
I also really enjoyed the bus ride across Paris - just relaxing and looking at the City.
(I was there in late Feb. of this year)
You can read about the #60 bus in the RS Paris book or the France book. It runs from the Eiffel Tower to Pere Lachaise.

Posted by
703 posts

We did several this year...Musee Marmatton Monet, Nissan de Camondo, Parc Monseau, Pere LaChaise Cemetery. We also stumbled across a flea market after exiting the Catacombs & bought some lovely little apertif glasses & a book on Musee de Orsay. It was such fun browsing. Also went to Galleries Vivienne which was totally uncrowded & fun. The gardens at Palais Royal too. Enjoy Paris!

Posted by
1108 posts

@worlinbetween - we wanted to go to Frenchie as well and will be in Paris in two weeks. We weren't surprised though that we weren't able to get a reservation. The restaurant was featured in an Anthony Bourdain episode so it is a must visit for many Americans. :-)

Posted by
8230 posts

I think the best overlooked tourist site in Paris (well it is just over the border but it is on the metro) is St. Denis It is the first gothic church in Europe and holds the tombs of the Kings of France. The kings were pretty much trashed during the revolution but the tombs remain. You can see one of our trips here:
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/confronting-mortality-at-st-denis/

Another overlooked spot although nowhere as fabulous is Musee Albert Kahn gardens at the #10 metro stop St. Cloud/Bologne. Promenade Plantee is off the beaten track and enjoyable, but not as beautiful as the Luxembourg Gardens or Tuilleries or as impressive as Butte Chaumont.

Or you can just go to the end of a metro line and fine your own mysteries.

Posted by
43 posts

We took several Paris Walks with their guides. It costs 12 euros a person, but we had 2 hours of interesting tidbits, historical perspective, rambling in neighborhoods we wouldn't have found on our own, restaurant and shopping recommendations and more.

Posted by
13 posts

This is a wonderful thread! My husband and I will be in Paris at the end of July and want to do more then just see the tourist sites (we've already decided to skip a few and give us a reason to visit again :) )

worldinbetween: would you mind posting the link to that article again? I can't seem to open it :/ and would love to read it!

Posted by
73 posts

I also agree that St Dennis is one of the best less known/visited sites. I was glad that I visited before doing all the research on the city of St Dennis.

The area in comparison is quite seedy.. which could be felt right away after existing the metro station. When I told my Parisian friend that I visited and liked St Dennis, he looked shocked and warned me about the area. Well.. sometimes ignorance is a bliss.. I'm glad I went and it was a memorable experience. I highly recommend it.. with a caveat that it's better not to travel there alone.. :)

Posted by
767 posts

Another vote for the Marmottan musuem. If you like Monet, then this museum is for you! It's fabulous. It's in the 16th arr and wandering around this neighborhood is wonderful too. The Jardin des Plantes is also a nice park to explore.

Posted by
10356 posts

Here's the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/01/travel/Work-and-Play-Silicon-Sentier-in-Paris.html?_r=0
It's definitely a different area off the beaten path though it's in the center of town.

A couple blocks away is the heart of the Indian shop and restaurant community in Passage Brady.

Another one is the Marche St. Pierre, the traditional fabric district, at the foot of Montmartre, with fabrics and notions from around the world. Incredibly beautiful fabrics and trims.

Posted by
8293 posts

My late husband was an urban planner so he loved the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, which is the Paris centre for architecture and urbanism. It is free to enter, is interesting in a low-key fashion and never, never crowded. A nice way to spend an hour or so before you take a cruise on the Canal St Martin.

Posted by
10344 posts

The Marmottan Museum is a good one to go to before you go to Giverney (as well as the better known Orangerie, of course).

Posted by
2261 posts

We rented a rowboat in the bois de Boulogne and had a blast! I saw nobody there who did not strike me as French. Really a lot of fun.

There is an occasional brocante in a nearby parking lot and we found some treasures there.

Posted by
7175 posts

The Royal Tombs in the Basilica of St Denis are very moving, and without crowds.
Great stained glass too.

Posted by
228 posts

Batobus. http://www.batobus.com/en.html An inexpensive way to get up and down the Seine with a great view of the city slipping by. All of the expensive mass-tourist boats you see... same route! Nice to get 20-30 minutes off of your feet too, cause Paris is a walking city!

Posted by
6670 posts

Batobus, Marmottan, Promenade Plantee, St-Denis, Parc Monceau. Also the Chateau and Bois de Vincennes just east of the Peripherique, easily reached by Metro.

And for a bird's-eye view, including of the Eiffel Tower, the much-maligned but high-rising and uncrowded Tour Montparnasse. It's ugly but from the top it's invisible!

Posted by
196 posts

I only discovered rue Montorgueil in the 2nd last year (Mo: Sentier; Petits Carreaux exit) but this is a shopping street where you will see more French residents than tourists and is a nice walk with lots going on in the shops and cafes. One of the oldest patisseries in Paris, Stohrer (since 1730), is located here and the rue ends at St. Eustache and Les Halles. Highly recommended.

Posted by
408 posts

Just as we started this year's trip I began reading Cara Black's "Murder in/at ..." books (Aimée Leduc Series). Each takes place in a specific part of Paris. I'm reading these in "Kindle" format, which lets me select/highlight each street or place name as I come across it in the story, and then switch to Google (maps and/or Wiki) to learn more about each place. Of course, that slows down the story reading quite a bit but I found the Paris info. at least as interesting as the story itself!! At this point (only through book 6 of the series) I'll need more than a too-short week in Paris to check out the various things I've tagged.