Let us take you on an adventure around the lesser-known parts of Paris, so you can experience a unique side of the city that only a few are lucky enough to see…
The ‘City of Love’ has a naturally chic persona. Its famous architectural icons draw visitors like magpies to silver, and its artistic gems, trendy boutique shops and superb cuisine perfectly cater to the throngs of tourists.
Its timeless beauty is evident in everything, from its historic buildings to the countless museums and art galleries; all jam-packed with fascinating collections. But while everyone has heard of the legendary attractions such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, there are scores of not-so-famous sights to explore.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” - Thomas Jefferson
Attraction: The Dodo Manége
What is it? An unusual carousel, where children can ride on endangered and extinct animals
Where: In the Jardin des Plantes on Rue Buffon, close to the River Seine
Perfect alternative to: The neighbouring National History Museum
When it comes to weird things to do in Paris, the Dodo Manége is top of the list!
It has everything from dodos and pandas to gorillas and even a triceratops. If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Paris, then the Dodo Manége is certainly one of the wackiest!
Manége is the French word for ‘carousel’ and despite its somewhat peculiar appearance, it’s a wonderful education tool for raising awareness for endangered species.
While some may find the fairground ride rather bizarre, where else in the world can you claim to have ridden a dodo?
“The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay, I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café.” - Oscar Hammerstein II
Attraction: The 59 Rivoli
What is it? A studio and art gallery
Where: Opposite McDonald’s, off Rue de Rivoli
Perfect alternative to: The Louvre
Paris is one of the world’s most illustrious art repositories and while many culture vultures will undoubtedly flock to the Louvre, the 59 Rivoli is a hidden gem in the city’s artistic arsenal that harbours its own treasures.
Often described as a ‘beacon of Paris counter-culture’, this colourful art gallery and studio is a space where you can let your creative freedom go wild.
Each room is completely different to the last. The exterior adds an unique spark of artistic imagination to an otherwise commercially overrun Parisian street, where the rules of the city’s generic hustle and bustle apply. The stark contrast adds to its artsy appeal and you can even take a workshop if you are looking for one of the more unique things to do in Paris.
“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.” - Honoré de Balzac
Attraction: The Montmartre Vineyard
What is it? The oldest vineyard in Paris
Where: Rue Cortot, just a few streets away from the bustling Sacre Coeur area
Perfect alternative to: The Jardin du Luxenbourg
If you want to steer clear of the crowds in the more popular gardens such as the Jardin de Luxembourg, then pack up your walking shoes and take an empty wine glass and wander around the beautiful Montmartre Vineyard.
This secret Parisian pleasure is a must-see for wine lovers visiting the city. Many of the vineyards in the area are distasteful tourist magnets but these vineyards have retained their local charm, making them thoroughly beguiling for any wine enthusiast.
“London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” – Ernest Hemingway
Attraction: Bois de Boulogne
What is it? A public park
Where: To the west of the city centre, on the edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris
Perfect alternative to: The River Seine
If you love nothing more than messing about on boats but you’ve already jostled for a space on a jam-packed boat on the famous River Seine, then go to the Bois de Boulogne where you can enjoy all kinds of fun on – or in - the water.
This fertile park is home to wonderfully landscaped gardens, several lakes, a waterfall, a zoo and even a small amusement park.
You can jump in a row boat and take your loved one for a gentle row on one of the picturesque lakes. In the southern end of the park, the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil is well worth exploring with its complex of greenhouses filled with luxuriant plants.
“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise.” - Henry Miller
Attraction: Ballon Air de Paris or Ballon Generali
What is it? A giant static hot air balloon offering panoramic views over the city
Where: Rue de la Montagne de la Fage, in the Parc André Citroën
Perfect alternative to: The Eiffel Tower
If you’ve already climbed your way up the Eiffel Tower and you want to marvel at the cityscape from a more unique viewpoint, then enjoy a bird’s eye view of Paris from the lofty attraction often known as the Balloon Generali.
Famous for being the world’s largest air balloon, you can hop on board and take in the beauty of Paris from a unique perspective, while floating high above the capital’s streets. Children are welcome on board the giant tethered helium-filled balloon that takes you 150 metres up in the air and this is definitely one of the best unique things to do in Paris.
Don’t forget your camera when you visit this one!
“What an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!” - Charles Dickens
Attraction: Belleville, also known as ‘Little Asia’
What is it? A bustling area in the city that is home to Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese eateries, that boasts an eclectic artsy vibe
Where: North-east of Paris, close to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Perfect alternative to: High-end restaurants
Paris is home to three vibrant Chinatown areas, one of which is Belleville.
Belleville gives visitors a genuine insight into the way of life for many Asians living in the city and it has long been a place for immigrant communities to shelter. Authentic dim sum can be enjoyed in the bustling Nioulaville restaurant, while Vietnamese treats can be sampled at Cyclo in a slightly less chaotic atmosphere.
If it’s a more kitsch experience you’re looking for, try the towering Le President eatery where lions stand guard at the entranceway and a grandiose red dining room awaits.
Attraction: Le Louxor Palais Du Cinema
What is it? The oldest cinema in Paris
Where: Head north-west from the Gare du Nord
Perfect alternative to: Modern cinemas and theatres
Originally opened in 1921, this newly-restored cinema is a wonderful example of how Paris continues to preserve its rich history and culture.
The pillars are decorated with an Egyptian art deco style, featuring motifs of papyrus and giant pharaoh heads. Approximately 340 people can be seated in the main theatre, where the Egyptian theme continues and the walls are tinted with gold painted hieroglyphs and floral friezes.
Regenerating this old cinema in a bid to keep the city’s theatrical history alive has been hugely successful. You can take in an authentic Parisian experience, whether you are an avid film-buff or just a curious wanderlust.
If you want to catch a French film in a unique setting, grab your popcorn and head to Le Louxor Palais Du Cinema.
“A final reminder. Whenever you are in Paris at twilight in the early summer, return to the Seine and watch the evening sky close slowly on a last strand of daylight fading quietly, like a sigh.” - Kate Simon
Attraction: The Paris Sewers Museum
What is it? A fascinating museum dedicated to the Paris sewer system that runs beneath the city streets, plus underground tours
Where: On the banks of the River Seine, close to Pont de l’Alma
Perfect alternative to: The Paris Catacombs
If you’ve already delved beneath the surface of the city on a tour around the Paris Catacombs but you’re now looking for a new challenge, then a tour of the Paris Sewers Museum and a guided trip below ground are a must.
With more than 2,100 km of sewer systems under the city streets, this is one of the top weird things to do in Paris. During the trip, you will walk around on raised walkways and if you are looking for an activity that is off-the-beaten-tourist trail then this is a must-do.
Here at Accor, we have a wide variety of hotels for you to stay in when visiting Paris. Whatever your budget, your style and your desired location, we have a Paris hotel that is perfect for you. Check out all our hotels in Paris to find the best one for you.