Unusual & Off The Beaten Path Paris Spots (That Aren’t The Eiffel Tower)

Unusual & Off The Beaten Path Paris Spots (That Aren’t The Eiffel Tower)
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Paris is full of hidden gems and has so much more to offer than the Eiffel Tower and croissants! If you like quirky, unusual, or even macabre things, this list of unusual off-the-beaten-path Paris spots is for you. There is literally something for everyone from unusual museums with no artwork, and a four-course meal in a blue train restaurant, to an underground catacomb.

Update: Always call ahead, especially if you are reading this when covid 19 rules are in effect. Rules change when certain places can be open, change often. 

Off The Beat And Track Places In Paris

Of the 89+ million tourists who visit France, a whopping 40 million head straight to Paris, the French capital. Most of them visit touristy attractions such as Disneyland Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

But, for those that want to visit somewhere less typical or do non-touristy things, you need to find something to do or visit somewhere off the beaten path; that’s a little quirky or unusual.  I’ve found some great “things to do”.

Let’s start with the macabre

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 take a tour of an utterly morbid yet strangely fascinating tourist attraction where six million Parisian bones are piled high in what seems to be endlessly winding tunnels.

They were put there to solve a problem. By the 17th century, Paris cemeteries were overflowing with corpses literally buried on top of each other, sometimes becoming unearth. Apparently, 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’s (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 is an interactive, immersive criminal investigation experience that 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. 

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, Palace of Versailles, the Seine and much much more.  

Piscine des Amiraux pool

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

https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/w_695+q_lossless+ex_1+ret_img+to_webp/https://www.annieandre.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Piscine-des-admiraux-Paris

You may recognize piscine des amiraux (the admiral’s pool)which was 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 are looking for something less visited, then 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 [email protected]

Musée des arts Forains Paris
Musée des arts Forains Paris

It doesn’t get any more eclectic and off the beaten path than this.

The Musée Des Arts Forains, aka Pavillions de Bercy, was built at the end of the 19th century by one of Gustave Eiffel‘s students. The building is home to a large collection of belle époque fairgrounds heritage objects: think 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. 

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 lots of 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.

Paris Sewer Museum (MUSÉE DES ÉGOUTS DE PARIS)

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 fairly close to the Eiffel Tower. Did you know that people in Paris used to drink water from the river 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 a museum. You’re walking tour is around a third of a mile and will take you through several galleries, over metal catwalks, 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’s Aren’t quaint brasseries like “Les Deux Magots.”

Another great way to do something unusual 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 an amazing 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 much of the staff. 

Don’t worry; the staff is accommodating, 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 really 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, 2 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 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. On Friday and Saturday nights, bring your dancing shoes 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)

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

Originally 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 of the lush dining rooms 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

Up for some interesting visual entertainment and eye candy? 

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, named after the date it was founded (1928). It’s the perfect place to go if you’re a cinema aficionado. This tiny but atmospheric movie theatre seats 170 and has about ten screenings a week. 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, 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

Enjoys diner and the best drag show in Paris. Artishow Cabaret is open for lunch and diner. Upon arrival, enjoy a cocktail, then a 4-course meal, wine and coffee, all included in the price and served by the performers. Watch male impersonators lip-syncing and perform some 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
PictoursParis.com:

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

More Off the beaten path Paris Ideas:

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 really romantic things to do in Paris.

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  1. Ummm… Paris sewer system? No thanks! But I guess you did say, “Weird things to do in Paris”.

    My favorite area of Paris is Montmartre. We love it there! But I did have a guy try and sell me a friendship bracelet (yes I said friendship bracelet) and he wouldn’t get out of my face. Slightly annoying part of an otherwise awesome day in Montmartre.

  2. I had a feeling that the catacombs would be on here. When I was in Paris a year ago, I put the catacombs as one of the things I had to see. So after I hit the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and some of the other big attractions, my wife and I made our way there. You’re definitely right about getting there early. The line was so long when I went that I wasn’t sure if I’d actually get in. Luckily I got in before closing time. I have to say that it’s a fun, quirky experience to go through the catacombs. Well worth it.

    I also went the Pere Lachaise graveyard. Found Jim Morrison, Chopin, Modigliani and others. Oscar Wilde’s grave was weird because it was behind plexiglass. I’m not sure exactly why it was, but that was interesting to see.

    You’re right that Paris is more than baguettes, cheese and romance. I think if you want to get to know more about the city, you should hit some of these sights. When I go back next, I’ll have to check out the other three things on this list I didn’t get a chance to see.

  3. I can check one off my list. We did check out the catacombs…. very cool. A good way to escape the heat if you are their in the summer. The list looks like a perfect way to spend a Halloween in the states! :)

  4. Hi Annie

    Happy New Year, finally!

    I really like the idea of eating in the dark; I’d be a bit afraid of what they might serve though! I know it’s 4 star stuff but it’s just the not knowing would freak me a bit. My wife’s vegetarian though so that’s probably not going to happen!

    I’ve not been to Paris for many years. The last time I went it was in February and it was absolutely freezing. I went with a group of school kids as my wife asked me to go along on a school trip to help out. Now that was certainly an interesting experience!

  5. I’d do all of these things!!! The creepiest thing I did in Paris was visit the La Conciergerie – the prison where Marie Antoinette was kept. It was quite creepy down there in a good, atmospheric kinda way.

  6. I love you to death Annie but you’re weird girl!!!

    Okay, it takes a lot to scare me but I’m not going to go out of my way in order to try. The catacombs don’t sound like something I’d be interested in or a sewer for that matter. But having learned that you and Blake are into scary and gross stuff, I can see how you’d like that.

    There is no way I’m eating in the dark and I don’t know what I’m eating. Now I’m not a control freak but that doesn’t sound like a dining experience I’m eager to try. You’ll have to tell us how that went. What did you end up eating, did they ever tell you?

    Now a long time ago I went to the Bahamas and to make a long story short I got in a cab that pulled up in front of the hotel but I didn’t learn until I got in that he was off duty and picking up his wife. But he was kind enough to take me into town away fro the tourists and I had the best meal ever for about a quarter of the price. It helps to get to know some locals, it was a fun experience.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Adrienne,
      You know my secret. I have a dark side. I have no idea why this side exists. Maybe we’re born with it. In the restaurant yes at the end they tell you and show you what you eat. It’s totally crazy weird because nothing tastes the same as you exect. I can’t explain it

      They don’t serve crazy brains or eye balls, it’s all four star thignsyou would order anyways, it’s just the not knowing..

  7. Annie, that might be why I just love you! I don’t like normal or goody toody type of people. I must try eating in the dark experience! I may pass on the sewer tour and wait for a video tour ;)
    xoxo

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