25 Unusual & secret things to do in paris off the beaten path

Forget the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and L’Eglise Notre Dame. Dark tourism is real. Check out these weird, wonderful and unusual things to do in Paris off the beaten path.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  

Paris is a beautiful city full of hidden gems with much more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower and croissants! If you’re looking for quirky, unusual, and even macabre spots, this list of off the beaten path Paris spots is for you.
Note: Always call ahead to ask for hours of operation, especially during the month of May in France and during  French holidays

Off The Beaten path in Paris spots & things to see

Of the 89+ million tourists who visit France, a whopping 40 million head straight to Paris, the French capital, also known as the city of light.

Most of them visit touristy attractions such as Parc Disneyland Paris, the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.

But, for those that want to see a different side of Paris or do unusual things or non-touristy things, I’ve put together some great off-the-beaten-track parts of Paris; and unique things to visit in the city.

Let’s start with the macabre Paris off the beaten path spots

Paris might stir up images of quaint cafes, romance and croissants, but it has a dark side too. 

The Catacombs of Paris

Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris

Catacombs paris is an unusual off the beaten place to visit if you like the macabre

The Paris catacombs make it to everyone’s list of unusual places to visit in Paris, so here it is.

For less than 10 euros, you can tour an utterly morbid yet strangely fascinating Paris off-the-beaten-path tourist attraction where six million Parisian bones are piled high in what seems to be endlessly winding tunnels.

The bones were put in the Paris catacombs to solve a problem.

By the 17th century, Paris cemeteries were overflowing with corpses literally buried on top of each other, sometimes becoming unearth. The stench of rotting flesh would fill the air near cemeteries. And so began the process of moving the bones of the buried into the old quarry tunnels that existed beneath the streets of Paris since the 13th century.

When visiting the Catacombs, be prepared for confined spaces, lots of steps, low-hanging ceilings dripping with water and no bathrooms. Don’t let that description detour you. It’s definitely worth a visit if you want to get a different perspective on Paris’s history. Something you will never forget. 

Père Lachaise Graveyard

6 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France (20th arrondissement)

Pere-Lachaise-Graveyard- an unusual off the beaten path to visit in Paris
Père Lachaise Graveyard

If you’re not opposed to graveyards, take a stroll through Père Lachaise, Paris’s largest cemetery, where more than 3.5 million annual visitors tour the most visited necropolis in the world.

A necropolis is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. The name stems from the Ancient Greek (νεκρόπολις) nekropolis, literally meaning “city of the dead”.

Over one million people are buried here, including fascinating historical figures and celebrities, including Jim Morrison (the most famous inhabitant) and singer Édith Piaf.

Oscar Wilde is one of the most interesting historical figures buried in Lachaise. This playwright and poet was the founder of the Aesthetic movement, which found a home among the artists and poets of Paris.

It’s free to enter. Just make sure you get a map which you can get from the front entrance near the metro stops Phillip-Auguste or Pere-Lachaise, and be prepared to spend hours just walking around with the occasional cemetery cat who might cross your path. 

The Live Thriller (Murder mystery)

Address: Rue de Trétaigne, 75018 Paris (18th arrondissement)

Live thriller theatre escape game: really scary off the beaten path activity in Paris
The Live thriller:

Unlike conventional movies and plays, there are no chairs or popcorn at The Live Thriller experience.

The best way to describe this is to think escape room meets murder mystery meets haunted house with people jumping out and scaring the bejesus out of you. 

But unlike an escape room experience, where you’re basically locked in a room searching for keys or objects, this interactive, immersive criminal investigation experience will take you through the streets and buildings of Paris with live actors who react to your reactions. 

There is over 2 hours worth of experiences, complete with creepy sounds and music. Try to solve the mystery of the Mannequins Case, which follows a serial killer in Paris who swaps his victims with mannequins. You and your teams’ mission is to gather clues and solve the mystery as you navigate from room to room. 90 percent of your interactions will be indoors, but about 10 percent will be outdoors around the Jules Joffring station (line 12).  

Can you solve it? Either way, you´ll have a great time with your friends or family, but it’s not for the easily scareable person, especially young children. 

49 euros per person, in French or English, this live thriller is not for the faint of heart. 

Paris off the beaten path hotels & accommodations

OFF Paris Seine, Paris 13e

OFF Paris Seine boat hotel (boatel) an off the beaten path paris hotel

If you’re looking to relax, and unwind after a day of site seeing, consider booking a scenic room at OFF Paris Seine, the only floating hotel in Paris.

This unusual 54 room off the beaten path Paris “boatel” (boat + hotel) is anchored on the Seine at the foot of the Paris-Austerlitz train station on the left bank in the 13th arrondissement, about 25 minutes by foot from the Notre Dame Cathedral. 

For around 150 to 200 euros per night, you can have a spectacular view of the city in one of the Seine river-facing rooms. After a gruelling day of walking, enjoy a cocktail and some tapas on the terrace at the bar and or take a dip in the small plunge pool.  

Good to know:

  • Brunch, offered every Sunday from 12:30–16:30 pm, is a must! 
  • Hotel check-in is 4 pm, which I find unusually late, but you can stash your bags at the hotel before check-in until your room is ready at the hotel or one of the many luggage storage locations around Paris. 

OFF Paris Seine 
86 Quai d’Austerlitz, 75013 Paris

 Hôtel Odyssey by Elegancia, Paris 1st arrondissement

Hotel Odyssey Paris: an unusual 29 capsule room hotel located near the Louvre museum

Hôtel Odyssey by Elegancia is an elegant but quirky 3-star boutique hotel conveniently located in the 1st arrondissement near the Louvre museum, Opera Garnier and rue Rivoli, a street well known in Paris for its shops, museums, cafes and restaurants. 

For around 100 to 200 euros per night, you can sleep in one of the 29 capsule rooms spread out over five floors and designed according to the colour therapy philosophy, giving each room a calming, contemporary and futuristic vibe. Prices are often cheaper on sites such as booking.com. 

Good to know:

  • Breakfast is served in the green room between 7 and 11, but the last seating is at 10:30 am
  • Hotel check-in is at 15:00, and checkout time is at 12:00 noon. The hotel offers luggage storage before and after checkout. 

Hôtel Odyssey
19 Rue Hérold, 75001 Paris, France

Experience Paris From the Sky Or In A Pool

Most people explore Paris on foot or by bus and gaze up at the beautiful buildings and towers surrounding them. Why not do something a little different and fly, allowing for a new perspective? Here are two options to consider:

Hotair Balloon: Romantic activities for couples around Paris

Aerun Ballons

Aerfun Balloons takes you on a hot air balloon ride above the Parisian countryside. They pick you up and return you to a train station, 50 minutes from the city centre. The once-in-a-lifetime ride lasts for 60 minutes, while the whole experience takes 2-3 hours. During your flight, you´ll see magnificent views, sip on champagne and get some unique perspectives of France.  

Helicopter Paris

Helicopter Paris takes you on a breath-taking 25-minute flight over some of Paris´ most popular attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, along the Seine river and many more places. 

Piscine des Amiraux pool

Address: 6 Rue Hermann-Lachapelle, 75018 Paris, France


You may recognize piscine des amiraux (the admiral’s pool), immortalized in the cult French film “Amélie.”

This public swimming pool was designed by Henry Sauvage and dates back to the 1920s.

The pool recently had a restorative 9.7 million dollar facelift. The restoration maintained the original art deco design’s integrity, including the double mezzanine levels surrounding the pool with individual changing cabins – a design feature in many of the older art deco pools. There are actually a bunch of public pools you can visit in Paris. 

Museums: That Aren’t The Louvre

Internationally known museums are great, but they are the norm. If you want something less visited, consider a lesser-known museum. They can provide you with a different take on Paris and teach you something about the city´s past that many have forgotten or never even knew.

Musée Des Arts Forains (Fairground Arts Museum)

Address: 53 Avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012 Paris,
Duration: 1hr30: To book a reservation: +33 (0) 1 43 40 16 15 or diane@pavillons-de-bercy.com

Musée des arts Forains Paris
Musée des arts Forains Paris

It doesn’t get any more eclectic and off the beaten path than the «Fairground arts museum» (Musée Des Arts Forains), aka Pavillions de Bercy.

This fairground arts museum is located in an old 19th century wine warehouse designed by one of Gustave Eiffel‘s students.

The building is home to an extensive collection fairground heritage objects from the belle époque: think cabinet of curiosities for antique carousels, & rides, shows and equipment used in carnivals and fairgrounds of yesteryear.

This is Strictly available by reservation only: In this living show museum, a period actor will guide you through the living museum, operate certain rides for you, play mechanical musical instruments, and explain the various exhibits. 

If your interested in the history of fun fairs and fairgrounds, you should read Before Disneyland: France’s Forgotten Pleasure Gardens, Antique Amusement Parks & Fairs

Maison Deyrolle (Taxidermy museum)

Address: 46, Rue du Bac – 75007 Paris (7th arrondissement between the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Maillol)

Deyrolle a kind of taxidermy museum
Maison Deyrolle

Taxidermy shop meets museum. The Maison Deyrolle museum, which dates back to 1888, combines science and art with taxidermy and entomology specialism. A kind of cabinet of curiosities. You’ll see a vast collection of perfectly preserved insects, including colourful butterflies, shells, and stuffed animals from across the globe. Make sure to visit the gift shop. 

As you stroll through the museum learning about different animals, with peace of mind that no animal was killed to be collected, as they either died due to old age or illness.


Address: 93 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris,

Les égouts de paris sewers
Les égouts de paris sewers

The Paris sewer system is the pride of Paris, and you can learn all about it at the Musée des égouts de Paris, which is located relatively close to the Eiffel Tower. Did you know that people in Paris used to drink water from the Seine until the middle ages? Before the sewers were built, wastewater was poured onto the streets or open fields and filtered back into the Seine. Yuck. 

Keep in mind that this is a self-guided tour of an actual sewer which is just as much as a museum. You’re walking tour is around a third of a mile and will take you through several galleries, over metal catwalks, and active sewer lines with historical exhibits along the way. 

Musée Grévin Paris (Wax museum)

Address: 10 boulevard Montmartre – 75009 Paris

Grévin wax museum in paris
Grévin wax museum in Paris

Located in the 9th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine is Musée Grévin (Grévin museum) is like the Madame Tussauds of France. It houses hundreds of celebrities as life-sized wax models: the similarities are uncanny. While they do display popular worldwide celebrities like Katy Perry and Ryan Gosling, they also have some famous French people who can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. You can meet:

  • France´s youngest-ever President, Emmanuel Macron
  • French Actor and Comedian Omar Sy, who you may know from Inferno (2016) and Jurassic World (2015)
  • Famous French chefs Pierre Hermé the “Picasso of Pastry,” and Anne-Sophie Pic, the first female chef to receive a Michelin star.

Musée du Vin (wine museum)

Address: 5 Square Charles Dickens – 75016 Paris

wine museum in Paris: Musée de vin
wine museum in Paris: Musée de vin

Be sure to take a wine course at the Wine Museum before exploring the museum, which includes an epic cellar full of history, culture and wine. Their courses include wine tasting, making wine and learning the differences between wines and what food goes best with which wines.

Unusual restaurants that are NOT quaint brasseries like “Les Deux Magots.”

Another unusual Paris off the beaten path thing to do is to dine in a non-typical establishment. Either try something “weird” to eat or sit in a peculiar environment. Here are some restaurants and bar suggestions:

Dans Le Noir (Eat in the dark)

Address: 51 Rue Quincampoix, 75004 Paris,

dans le noir restaurant

An eye-opening experience. Eat a fantastic meal in complete darkness at Dans le Noir (In The Dark)

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by someone who’ll explain what you’re about to experience. You place all your belongings in a cupboard, telephone, purse etc. Then your server will lead you to your table, which is completely blacked out. Servers are visually impaired, and some of the staff are too. 

Don’t worry; the staff is accommodating, very kind and speak English. They’ll also ask you in advance if you have any food aversions or allergies. The meals are all gourmet quality. No eyeballs or chicken beaks are served here. And there is a vegan option. 

Go with friends; it’s so much fun.

Café des chats (cat café)

Address: 9, rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris

Le café des chat in Paris
Le café des chat in Paris

Cat lovers rejoice; cats are EVERYWHERE at the Café des Chats. The 14 adopted cats that “work” there roam freely. It’s the perfect rest stop as you explore Paris.  *Children under 12 years old are not allowed to roam the restaurant unless accompanied by a parent.

Le Kube (Ice bar)

Address: 1 Passage Ruelle, 75018 Paris

Le kube ice bar in Paris
Le kube ice bar in Paris

Have you ever visited an ice bar? This is your chance because Le Kube, located within the Kube Hotel, offers a vast list of cocktails surrounded by ice sculptures. Be warned; this place gets cold. They keep the temperature at -20 ° C, so it´s not for the faint-hearted.

Mystery Cuisine

Address: 37 B Rue de Montpensier en Face du Jardin du Palais Royal, 75001 Paris

Give your tastebuds a surprise at Mystery Cuisine, an intimate restaurant with three tables and no menu. Self-trained Chefs Thu Ha and Édouard Desrousseaux serve up an extensive dining experience for €179, including starters, two main dishes, dessert and a final gourmet infusion.

Le Wagon Bleu (eat on a train)

Address: 7 Rue Boursault – 75017 Paris

Le wagon bleu restaurant Paris
Le wagon bleu restaurant Paris

If you’ve ever eaten at one of The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurants in the US, you’ll love Le Wagon Bleu.

Enjoy Corsican meals prepared with fresh seasonal produce and dishes using regional products in the comfort of an old railway train car from the Orient Express that dates back to the 1920s. As you can imagine, the wagon isn’t that large, so book ahead. Bring your dancing shoes on Friday and Saturday nights because the wagon becomes a dance floor.

 Le Train Bleu (eat in a train station)

Address: Paris Gare de Lyon: Place Louis-Armand, 75012 Paris, France.

Le Train Bleu Restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon (Train station)
Le Train Bleu Restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon (Train station)

Le Train Bleu is a luxurious upscale restaurant located in the Paris train station that feels almost out of place. 

Initially built for the 1900 Paris Exposition as “Buffet de la Gare de Lyon,” but was renamed in 1963 after the train of the same name, a luxury Mediterranée Express train with blue seats.

Classified as a Historic French Monument of France in 2014, it was renovated to restore its former glory. Each lush dining room has its own theme based on cities, regions and places in France. It’s appeared in several movies, including “La Femme Nikita” and “Mr. Beans’s Holiday.”

Shows And Movie Theatres That Aren’t At The Moulin Rouge

Are you looking for some interesting off-the-beaten-path Paris entertainment? Try these out. 

Studio 28 (Oldest theatre in Paris)

Address: 10 Rue Tholozé – 75018 Paris

Studio 28 theatre in Paris for Cinema aficionados
Studio 28 theatre in Paris for Cinema aficionados

Studio 28, which is named after the date it was founded (1928), is the perfect place to go if you’re a cinema aficionado. This tiny atmospheric movie theatre seats 170 and has about ten weekly screenings. Located on a small street on the way to Sacre Coeur (Montmatre hills), you’ll watch cinematographic works of art in the oldest Parisian cinema, which dates back to 1928. A place where many artists, poets, painters, and filmmakers once came, including Jean Cocteau, Luis Buñuel, Abel Gance, Jean Marais and many others …

From time to time, there is a showing of the famous French cult film Amélie Poulain on Fridays. Keep in mind many of these movies are foreign films with French subtitles. So there’s that.

Artishow Cabaret (The best drag show in Paris)

Address: 3 Cité Souzy, 75011 Paris, France

Enjoy lunch or dinner and the best drag show in Paris at the Artishow Cabaret.

Upon arrival, sip on a cocktail, then a delicious 4-course meal, wine and coffee, all included in the price and served by the performers.

Watch male impersonators lip-syncing and perform comedy drag skits. 


Photoshoot With Paris As Your Backdrop

I have a love-hate relationship with taking photos. On the one hand, I love having photos as souvenirs of different places I visit. On the other hand, they don’t always come out the way I want them to or someone is always left out of the photo. 

If you want candid shots, the kind you see in travel magazines that mix photojournalism, fine art and editorial photography, book a photographer.

Pictours Paris Photography

PictoursParis.com: Hire a paris photographer to take romantic couples photos

Lindsey Kent is an American photographer over at Pictours Paris. She’s been living in Paris since 2011 and takes fantastic photos using Paris as her backdrop. She specializes in weddings, family sessions, and couples sessions. 

More things to do in Paris off the beaten path”.

Paris Point zero

1924 Inauguration of the bronze Paris point zero milestone marker, an off the beaten path Paris spot located in Front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Point Zero Paris is an often overlooked place to take selfies right in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. You need to look down to find it. 

Amélie Paris Movie locations

Visit all the off the beaten path Paris spots from the movie Amélie including the Cafe des 2 moulins in Paris where Amélie from the French cult movie worked as a waitress

If you loved the cult French film Amélie, why not follow in the footsteps of Amélie and visit these 17 off-the-beaten-path movie locations filmed around Paris? 

Hopefully, something here has caught your eye. If I missed something unusual that you’ve enjoyed in Paris, please let me know by filling out my contact form. In the meantime, here are some romantic things to do in Paris.

Paris statue of liberties

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi from Colmar in Alsace is the French sculptor who created the infamous Statue of Liberty in New York. But did you know that the one located in New York was not the first one he created? Before creating the giant 20-story Statue of Liberty in the US, Bartholdi created smaller versions using moulds. 

As a result, you can find many replicas created by Bartholdi himself and replicas using his moulds. There are also countless copycat statues of liberty located around France. I first stumbled across one by accident in Lunel, France by accident.

In total, there are over 35 replicas and copies of the Statue of liberty located in France. But a handful are located in Paris, which you can visit. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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