Everyone knows the Louvre or Champs Elysees, but Paris has so much more to offer than the obvious tourist attractions. We selected a few Parisian highlights for you off the beaten track, from riding antique carousels to discovering China town’s Buddhist temples. Enjoy!
1. The Musée des Arts Forains: a treasure trove for fairground arts
This small, private museum is located in the city’s Bercy district, in old stone buildings that once served as wine cellars. You do have to book in advance for a visit, but it is definitely worth it: visitors get the chance to not only view the attractions up close, but can actually join in on the fun and ride the carousels, no matter what age.
2. The covered arcades of the Passage du Caire and Passage Brady
Paris’ many gorgeous covered arcades are always worth a stroll. They are symbols of the taste for exoticism that was fashionable at the end of the 18th century. A must-see is the Passage du Caire, the oldest covered arcade in all of Paris, which is inspired by Egypt and was built right after Napelon’s Egypt campaign. While it used to host a lot of printing companies, it is now a major hub for fashion houses. Another arcade to pay a visit to is Passage Brady, also known as Little India. Constructed at the beginning of the 19th century, it was meant to become the longest covered street in Paris. Today it’s home to a lot of Indian shops and restaurants, providing a colorful meeting point for Paris’ Indian community.
Psst! Want to know the best foodie spots in Paris? Check out our guide!
3. The gardens of Serres d’Auteuil
The beautiful in- and outdoor gardens of Serres d’Auteuil are owned by the city of Paris but open to the public. They’re designed in Art Nouveau style and host numerous exotic and very rare plants and animals. Here, you can get a glimpse at the Ginko biloba, native to China and found in fossils dating back 270 million years. In autumn you should stop by to see the Katsura trees: during that time their leaves release their very special scent, which gives the Katsura its nickname of the caramel tree.
4. China town’s Buddhist temples
Paris’ 13th arrondissement is also widely known as the Chinese district. Between Avenue de Choisy, Avenue d’Ivry and Boulevard Massena, several stunning Buddist temples are hidden in between huge apartment buildings, which were originally built for the Olympic Games. Discover their beautiful architecture, take a walk in the energetic and exotic neighbourhood, and enjoy some Chinese delicacies.
5. The estate of Albert Kahn
The estate of Albert Kahn, located in Boulogne Billancourt, is the former home of Parisian banker Albert Kahn. It was built between 1895 and 1910 with as design that is based on the idea of universal peace. Accordingly, the garden, which is four hectars big, takes visitors on a journey around the world, uniting a number of different cultures and atmospheres: an old Japanese village, a French and an English garden, a blue forest, and much more.
6. The home of Serge Gainsbourg
Serge Gainsbourg is one of France’s most prominent artists. The singer, songwriter, actor, and director spent a lot of time in Paris, especially in his apartment in 5 Rue de Verneuil, where he lived from 1969 until his death. While you cannot visit the premises, the house’s façade has turned into a bit of an artwork itself, featuring street art and graffiti dedicated to the anti-conformist French icon.
7. Place Dauphine
Located on Ile de la Cité, just in front of the Palais de Justice, Place Dauphine is a charming square surrounded by great restaurants. It’s a lovely place to have a meal, but also to just sit on a bench and read a book. Interesting fact: it used to be surrounded by 32 identical houses and was part of Henry IV’s project for public squares back in the 17th century.
8. Cabaret au Lapin Agile
The historic cabaret located in the heart of Montmartre used to be a meeting point for artists in the past and is still a popular place for performers today. Its name “Lapin Agile” (agile rabbit), is a wordplay commenting on the rabbit painted on its wall by an artist named Andre Gill. Pablo Picasso's 1905 oil painting, "At the Lapin Agile" helped to make the cabaret world-famous.