8 Unique things to do in Paris

The moulin Rouge in Paris at night time

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Ahh, Paris! The city of love, the city of lights. No matter how you refer to Paris, it is a place that you must visit at least once in your life. Known for the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Moulin Rouge and beautiful neighbourhoods such as Montmartre and Les Maris.

Paris is one of the most well known cities in Europe and for good reason. It is a city you can relax with a coffee in a café with a coffee watching the world go by or pack your days with the top things to do in Paris.

If you are anything like me, you will want to stray from the beaten path and seek out some of the more unique things to do in Paris. Whilst eating macaroons, visiting romantic cafes and seeing the Mona Lisa is a must, you want to make sure you get to see the heart of Paris.

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Getting to Paris

Flying to Paris

If you fly into Paris you will land at either Charles De Gaulle or Orly Airport. Both of these airports are located roughly 45 minutes from the center of Paris via taxi. Obviously, this does depend on traffic.

Taxis are readily available from both airports, however, they are quite expensive (it is Paris after all!). Taxis from Orly will cost roughly 25 euros and from Charles De Gaulle will be around 50 euro. There is a 30% surcharge between 7 pm and 6 am and a charge of 1.50 euro per suit case.

A much cheaper option, although a more time consuming option, is to take public transport.

From Charles De Gaulle, trains run from 5:30 am until midnight every 15 minutes from the airport and go to Gare du Nord, Chatelet Les Halles and Luxembourg train stations.

From Orly airport there is a shuttle bus which will take you from the airport to the train station. The train then runs from 5:30 am until 11 pm and leaves every 15 minutes. The train goes from the airport to Gare d’Austrelits, St Michel/Notre Dame and Invalides stations.

If you are flying with Air France they do provide a bus service to and from both airports.

A metro sign outside of Galeries Lafayette in Paris

Getting the train to Paris

If you are travelling by train, Paris is very accessible from most European countries. The French capital is only a couple of hours from Brussels, London, Amsterdam just to name a few.

If you are arriving by train, you will most likely arrive in to Gare d’Nord. The Euro star from London arrives to Gare d’Nord and the train station is pretty central.

Driving to Paris

The roads in Paris are relatively easy to navigate, especially if you have Google Maps. If you do not have your own car, you can hire a car from most European cities and towns.

London is a four and a half hour drive to Paris via the Eurotunnel, Amsterdam is located 5 hours from Paris and Brussels is located 3 hours from Paris.

Getting around Paris

Walking

Paris is a very large city but is walkable if you have the time. Walking is the perfect way to see the city and some of the hidden gems. Just be aware that the Eiffel Tower is not right next to the Moulin Rouge, most the things to do in Paris are a decent walk.

However, with the exception of the walk to Montmartre, Paris is a flat city and is beautiful to walk around.

Top Tip: Join a walking tour, you get to see the highlights of Paris and hear some of the best places to eat, drink and see from a local.

A metropol sign at the top of an old Parisian street

Metro

The metro is very easy to navigate and one of the best ways to get around Paris. If you are planning on using the metro several times, I recommend checking out the Paris Viste Metro Pass. With this pass you will be able to ride the Metro (and buses, trams, RER) with no limits, and also visit museums for free.

There are around 300 metro stations in Paris, and each station is no more than a 10 minute walk from were you want to visit in Paris.

Buses

If you would rather remain above ground when travelling around Paris, buses are a great option. There are plenty of bus stops around the city, so you are guaranteed to have one not too far from your accommodation.

At each bus stop, the route with all of the stops will be shown and a timetable. However, if you are unsure if you are in the right place, show the bus drive the name of the place you are going and they will be able to tell you if you are on the right bus.

During the day, buses usually leave every 5 – 7 minutes, times will vary at night time so check the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens website.

On the RAPT website you will also find an interactive map to help you plan your trip on the buses and the Metro.

The Eiffel Tower at dusk

Bike

Biking around Paris is a must do activity in itself. Many Parisians will ride bikes around the city (and yes, they often have baguettes in their baskets or backpacks). If you are travelling and do not have your own bike, hiring a bike through Velib is a popular and cheaper way to go.

The are more than 1,800 stations around the city for you to collect or drop off a bike. When hiring a bike, the first half is free. If you can pick up and drop off your bike within half an hour you will not pay anything, once you have returned your bike you can take out another bike.

Taxis

There are thousands of taxis around Paris and they are very to easy to hail if you cannot find a taxi rank. They are also one of the most expensive ways to get around the city. However, they are probably the most convenient way to get from the airports to the city.

Top tip: Uber operates in a similar way to Taxis, except you need to have access to the website or the app. Uber is often cheaper than a taxi.

8 Unique things to do in Paris

Before you head to Paris for your next trip (or maybe your first trip) make sure to add these unusual things to do in Paris to your list.

Catacombs

Debbie, World Adventurists

Skulls and bones lining a wall at the Catacombs in Paris

Even Paris has a dark history. One of the most unique and eerie attractions to visit is the Catacombs of Paris. Back in the 17th century, Paris cemeteries were beginning to overflow as graves were becoming uncovered from being jam-packed. There was nowhere to bury any more corpses, and the solution was to use part of the 200 miles of tunnels below Paris to store the remains.

Today, visitors can wander an ossuary where the remains of approximately six million Parisian have been laid to rest. You’ll see walls of femurs arranged like a puzzle from floor to almost the ceiling, with some arrangements having rows of skulls between the femurs. You’ll also see the bones and skulls arranged in patterns to form shapes, like a cross.

Over the years, the Catacombs have been of great interest to many. Early visitors included Napoleon III, and the Catacombs have been featured in literature such as “Les Miserables”. The French Resistance used sections of the tunnel system during the occupation of France by Nazi Germany in WWII.

You will want to put aside an hour to an hour and a half to wander. You can buy tickets in advance for 29 EUR, while last-minute tickets at the door cost 14 EUR. If you choose to buy tickets at the door, arrive early, as the line can get ridiculously long. Children 4-17 cost 5 EUR for a reserved ticket. During pandemic times, you must reserve your tickets in advance.

You can also add on an audio guide for 5 EUR.  The guides are available in English, French, German, and Spanish. The guide gives a great recorded spoken commentary of the details surrounding the Catacombs.

You are going underground, so it will get a little chilly. You will want to have a light sweater with you.

Due to the site’s underground constraints, it is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

The Catacombs are located beside the Denfert-Rochereau Metro (lines 4 & 6) and RER (Line B) train station.

Passage des Panoramas

Dymphe, Dymabroad

A covered passage way in Paris filled with old lamps, coloured signs and shop fronts

One of the most unique things to do in Paris, the capital of France, is going to the Passage des Panoramas. This is a covered passage in the city that is very beautiful and that has a large history.

There are lots of covered passages in Paris, but what makes this one unique is that it is the oldest one in Paris. It was opened in the year 1800. Besides that, it is also more beautiful than the other covered passages.

So if you want to see a covered passage in Paris, you should definitely go to this one! Even if you didn’t plan on visiting a covered passage, you still should, as it is one of the reasons why you should visit Paris 

Inside the passage, you find many boutique shops and great places to eat. Also, from the beginning, it has been well-known for the shops for stamps and postcards. Everywhere you look at this place, for example, the walls and the ceiling, you can see decorations. Also, most of the shops have sign boards that look very beautiful.

Overall, the atmosphere at Passage des Panoramas is good. The passage is open daily from 6AM to 12AM, so you can visit whenever you like! When you want to take a photo here, you can stand on one side of the passage and capture all shops and sign boards in the photo

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Elisa, World in Paris

An old rotunda on top of a cliff with a river running below

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is one of the most unique places to visit in Paris. It is located in Northern Paris, in the 19th district, and it is the fifth-largest park in the French capital.

Sure, Park des Buttes-Chaumont is lesser-known than the most central Tuileries Garden or Luxembourg Gardens, but it is a lovely park for a stroll and one of the locals’ favorite spots for a picnic in Paris. From the highest areas in the park, it is possible to see the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont was commissioned by Napoleon III, and it was inaugurated in 1867. It was built on the site of a former gypsum quarry, and it has the particularity to be the only hilly park in Paris.  This English-style garden imitates a mountain landscape with rocks, cliffs, torrents, rolling hills, and even a cave with a secret waterfall.

The park is developed around a central pond with an artificial rock topped by a classic temple. Some people say this temple is haunted! There are also two restaurants, a guinguette that sells food and drinks, and one of the most beautiful cherry trees in Paris.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont also has spaces for kids, like a playground with swings and a puppet theater, and it is the ideal place for a sunny Sunday with family or friends.

Fashion stylist experience 

Jyoti, Story at Every Corner

Louis Vuitton store front in Paris

Paris is the fashion capital of the world so if you’re one who likes to experience local culture and traditions, this is a local experience for you. Your Paris itinerary for winter or summer must include an appointment with a fashion consultant. 

There are multiple fashion consultants that advertise their private class on Airbnb experience. Each one is slightly different, so you can decide to pick one that resonates with your needs. 

A typical fashion consultant session includes an evaluation at a place like a coffee shop over a drink or the designer’s studio. Based on body shape, color and other factors, the consultant creates a plan and recommendations for kinds of outfits, colors, prints etc that would be most flattering for an individual. 

Once you know the basics, consultant takes you shopping to a variety of stores, ranging from pop-ups, high end boutiques, hidden gems, department stores, and even thrift shops. You’ll get to try things that you’d have never tried. You might fall in love with a new style. Being a Paris local, they have a great sense of where to go for what clothing and price range. You’ll get an opportunity to find stores that match your style in a sea of amazing fashion stores of Paris. 

Fashion consultation is Paris will definitely be one experience that you’ll remember forever. You may learn something new that changes your wardrobe and your style forever. 

Grand Mosque

Maartje & Sebastiaan, Tidy Minds

The Grand Mosque in Paris behind the trees at sunrise

Paris is home to many famous architectural gems, most of them in a lavish art nouveau style. But if you’re looking for quite a different architectural experience, head to the south bank of the Seine and visit the oriental Grand Mosque.

The Grand Mosque is one of the more unique places to visit in Paris. It’s located not far from other more well-known highlights in Paris like the Pantheon and Jardin du Luxembourg, but gets much fewer visitors than those places.

It is the third-largest mosque in Europe and the largest in Paris. The Grand Mosque is a unique piece of exotic Arab architectural elements, you might have seen when traveling in the Middle-East.

A lady standing inside the court yard at the grand mosque in Paris

It was modeled after mosques in northern Africa and to make sure the Parisian mosque would have the same effect on visitors, craftsmen from that area were even brought to Paris. The mosque had its grand opening in 1926.

One of the most distinctive features of the Grand Mosque is its 33-meters minaret, which you can clearly see when walking towards the mosque. The mosque is open to visitors, so you can also visit the beautiful public areas like the central garden. It is a beautiful green oasis in Paris with mosaics, arches, fountains and plants.

Arènes de Lutèce

Danik, Danik the Explorer

Trees lining the stone walls that lead into the Arènes de Lutèce

Tucked away in the Latin Quarter of Paris is the oldest historical monument in the city, the Arènes de Lutèce, a Roman Arena which has stood here since the 1AD. The third largest Roman Arena in France (after Nimes and Arles in the south of the country), used to seat 15,000 people who would come and watch regular combat fighting which took place here.

Now the arena is a hidden secret for visitors who come to the most visited city in the world and would only know it if they have done their research. The arena is surrounded by apartment blocks to one side and lots of trees on the other. Part of the seating area is used by the locals and some of the stones which used to be seats are now used as tables so the locals can play chess on them in the warmer months.

How did the arena get to this state & isn’t in great condition like other Roman arenas in Europe? Well, since the fall of the Roman Empire, the arena was partly demolished with the centre of it still there. The arena was then covered with weeds, grass, trees and turned into a beautiful park over the centuries before becoming hidden away from everyday life. Eventually homes (before the apartment blocks) were built and literally placed right up to the walls of the arena.

The remainder of the walls for the Arènes de Lutèce in Paris

The 19th century came along and when the city was getting rebuilt to accommodate new tram lines in the area, the arena was discovered. There was a plan to build a tram depot on the site where the arena stands but that was scrapped and was saved from demolition.

When visitors visit the arena, there will be a discovery of history, stepping back to the days the Roman Empire held Paris and at the same time, embrace with the locals and get a real sense of what it is like for locals to live in this amazing city. To get to the arena, the nearest metro station is Place Monge which is on line 7 and follow the signs for Arènes de Lutèce.

Fluctuart

Marsha, Do You Salut 

A building reading Fluctuart in Paris

When visiting Paris most people think about Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, or one of the many gardens. Although all of these places have earned their stripes you should consider visiting some of the lesser known gems that Paris has to offer. One of my favorite gems is, Fluctuart.

Fluctuart, is an art gallery located on the Seine River. This art gallery is dedicated to urban art and is the FIRST floating urban art center in the world! It is located at the center of Paris right next to the Pont des Invalides bridge. The art gallery is spread across the ground floor and the lower deck and has both temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The Fluctuart center has a relaxed environment for art lovers and anyone who is looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris. The rooftop deck offers a nice view of the Eiffel Tower that is home to a bar and a small cafe for quick bites.  They also offer board games and play music on the rooftop deck.

A perfect environment for enjoying the sun on the Seine.  The Fluctuart Urban Art Center is a unique treasure that Paris has to offer first timers and recurring visitors alike. 

Statue of Liberty

Alice, Adventures of Alice

The statue of liberty in front of the Eiffel Tower, Paris

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. The French capital welcomes millions of tourists each year and yet, they tend to just visit the most common attractions and sights the city has to offer. Everyone’s heard of Disneyland Paris and the Eiffel Tower, right?

It’s like New York and the Statue of Liberty – it instantly springs to mind. However, did you know that New York isn’t the only city with a Statue of Liberty? Paris actually has one too.

The story goes that, after France gifted the original Lady Liberty to the city of New York, the USA returned the favour, giving several smaller replicas to Paris. There are actually 5 in total scattered across the city. The most famous of these is just 38 feet tall and is located on an islet in the River Seine, just behind the Eiffel Tower. It’s been sitting proud on the capital’s river since 1889.

Whether you’re spending a week or just 3 days in Paris, it’s well worth a visit. Unlike the NYC version, the Statue of Liberty in Paris can’t actually be visited. You can find it in the 15th arrondissement of the city and only admire it from a distance. But be sure to take plenty of photographs of course

Storing your luggage in Paris

If you are in Paris just for the day and not staying the night you can find plenty of luggage storage options around Paris.

Stasher Luggage storage is a fantastic option, it costs 6€ per day per bag and each item is insured up to 1,000€. You can store your bags at quite a few train stations including Gare d’Nord, Gare Montparnasse, Gare d’Austerlitz, Gare de l’Est and Gare de Lyon.

Both airports also have Stasher Luggage storage facilities. So if you have a stop over, you don’t have to take your luggage into Paris with you.

What are the coolest things to do is Paris? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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