7 not so obvious things to do in Paris

written by Uliana October 16, 2018
off beat things to do in Paris

Recently I went to Paris for the first time, and because it was my first time, I made sure to check all the must-visit spots. But I had 10 days in the city, much more time than people usually spend in Paris, that’s why I wanted to do some less known things as well. So I did Google research and made a short list of things that I enjoyed doing in Paris and that didn’t spring to my mind before I did my research.

7 not so obvious things to do in Paris

1. Montparnasse tower

Best Paris views Montparnasse tower

The view from Montparnasse tower

Best Paris views Montparnasse tower

Many people want to go up the Eiffel tower.  I believe that it is a unique experience, but to get there you either need to wait in line (and I hate lines) or plan well ahead and book tickets online. I didn’t do either because I found a place where you can have a great panoramic view of Paris, including Eiffel tower without a ridiculously long waiting. Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Desk offers spectacular views of Paris from a more than 200 m high terrace. You can see not only the Eifel tower but also other famous landmarks like Notre-Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, and Sacré-Cœur Basilica.  The adult ticket was 18 euro and I found it to be so worth the money. We came right before sunset and stayed until the lights went up, so we could enjoy Paris views at sunset and at night. There is also a special Day & Night ticket that allows you to visit Montparnasse tower 2 times during 48 hours period.

2. Promenade Plantee

Paris Promenade Plantee

Promenade Plantee

Paris Promenade Plantee unique things to do in Paris

Views from Promenade Plantee

Promenade Plantee is a park built on the abandoned elevated railway line. It immediately reminded me of a New York’s High Line, but much more quiet and less known. I went to explore the Promenade Plantee on one morning, and there were only a few people jogging. I must admit, High Line in New York impressed me much more than Promenade Plantee, maybe because it was the first time for me seeing something like this, or the contrast between high rise buildings and elevated park creates an interesting effect. Anyway, Promenade Plantee is also worth visiting if you have some extra time in Paris.

3. Cute hidden streets and passages

cute hidden streets in Paris

Rue Crémieux

cute hidden streets in Paris

Passage de l’Ancre

I have a thing for cute colorful hidden streets and there are lots of them in Paris. You can find many articles listing best Paris streets and passages on the Internet. I will only mention two of them that I really liked:

Rue Crémieux – a quiet charming street near Bastille. 

Passage de l’Ancre – a pretty hidden passageway that seems impossible to find unless you know where to look.

4. Try international cuisine

international cuisine in Paris

Ethiopian food in Habesha

international cuisine in Paris

Street, Bangkok local food

I know what you might say, in France, you have to eat French food. French food is amazing, but Paris is such an international city with lots of unique restaurants that I couldn’t resist trying something new. If you live in a small city like me, this is your chance to eat something that you can’t find at home. A few restaurants that I would like to recommend:

Street, Bangkok local food – this was my favorite restaurant in Paris. Food was so good (and so spicy) that I almost cried.

Chennai Dosa – there are lots of Indian restaurants in Paris, so I won’t claim that this is the best one. But they have a very big selection of good and very reasonably priced food. Definitely, try some Indo Chinese dishes!

Chez Ajia – a cute place with Taiwanese food. I ate Taiwanese for the first time, food looked quite simple but very delicious!

Habesha – great Ethiopian food, super tasty, but sadly the portions were too big to finish. If you have never tried Ethiopian food before, keep in mind that it can be very spicy and you have to eat with your hands.

Hank Burger – the best vegan burger that I’ve ever tried. I mean, I am not even vegan, but I liked it so much, I didn’t feel like the meat was missing at all. There is also Hank Pizza – vegan pizza, but we didn’t try that.
Pink Flamingo – this place was mentioned in every “where to eat in Paris” article, so of course, I couldn’t skip it. Pink Flamingo Pizza Canal St Martin is especially famous because when you order pizza there, they give you a pink balloon, then you can choose a spot to sit at the canal and they deliver pizza to you. Cool idea. But it was already a bit chilly at the beginning of October, so we went to another location. They have some really unique pizzas there and I tired Gandhi pizza inspired by Indian cuisine.

5. Visit Louvre in the evening

night visit to Louvre

Louvre in the evening

Louvre at night

Mona Lisa

I heard about crazy lines to get inside the Louvre, and even though I kinda wanted to go there, I thought I would skip it this time(yes, I hate lines so much). Luckily I decided to google how to skip the lines, and it turns out that Louvre is open until 9.45 pm every Wednesday and Friday night. When I went there around 6 pm on Wednesday, there was no line at all! The only crowded part inside was in front of Mona Lisa and the further I went, the fewer people I met.  I think this hack will be especially useful for people, who are not so much interested in art but can’t imagine visiting Paris without going to Louvre. In this case, you don’t need to waste your time waiting in line. Just go straight to Mona Lisa and you can tick Louvre off your list.

6. Shopping in Marais

What can be better than shopping in Paris? Galeries Lafayette is a classic. However, shopping there might be not that enjoyable with the crowds. And honestly, seeing Zara and Topshop there didn’t inspire me to shop either. I mean, these are the stores that you can find everywhere else. The Marais district is a much cooler place to shop! It’s full of small and independent boutiques, as well as some more well-known brand shops. I must admit that many of the stores are quite pricey, but they offer unique styles and high quality, so it is interesting to check out just to get inspired, even if you don’t buy anything.

7. 59 Rivoli

Rivoli 69 Paris squat

59 Rivoli

The building at 59 rue de Rivoli was once a squat that now houses different artist studios. I didn’t have time to go inside, but I definitely want to do it next time in Paris. The studios are free to visit and there are also free concerts every Saturday and Sunday.

Do you know some other fun things to do in Paris? Let me know in the comments, so I can check them out next time!

Paris off the beathen path

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Miguel May 10, 2019 at 11:41 pm

There is a lot of thing to do in Paris. Your tips are so great. So I´m no sure if to visit a Louvre museum or Effiel tower could be a non stop traveling by Paris, no matter how long time to must to spend on line to buy a ticket and climb to Effiel tower, if someone is Paris for the first time, I think is totally required to visit there. The Louvre is not just Mona Lisa, there are a lot of masterpice to admired there and of course Mona Lisa is a stop required visiting the Louvre. My suggestion is to visit a lot of garden in Paris, to take a sun or eat a ice cream, read the news, do a picnic, etc, a lot of things to do and feeling like a local parisien. I really enjoy your blog. I spend 40 days in Paris on easter and summer vacation. Greetings from Mexico.

Uliana May 29, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Great tips! Louvre needs time indeed, as well as other famous tourist sights in Paris. Just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere of the city can be sometimes a better investment of time 🙂


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