Unique Things to Do in Paris

Paris, the city of light, romance, and history, offers endless opportunities for exploration. Beyond iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, Paris has so many hidden gems and unique experiences waiting to be discovered. Here’s your guide to getting off the beaten path and finding unique things to do in Paris.

medival house in the Marais Paris

Table of Contents

Unique Neighborhoods to Explore

Canal Saint-Martin

This might be the best neighborhood to get a glimpse of actual local life in Paris. Take a leisurely stroll along the water or pack a light after-dinner picnic. Swigging from a bottle of wine over serene canals, lined with trendy boutiques and vibrant street art, will make you feel like you’re in a real-life version of Emily in Paris.

The Marais

A historical heart with a modern beat, The Marais is a labyrinth of medieval streets. Chic shops and galleries, plus the famous Place des Vosges, fill out what was once Paris’ Jewish quarter. (Don’t miss a treat from L’Eclair de Genie.)

Belleville

Dive into the eclectic and artistic vibe of Belleville, where Paris’s best street art and panoramic city views await. This neighborhood’s rich cultural diversity is reflected in its food, art, and community. In the adjacent Menilmontant, you can find a couple really cool live music and arts venues: La Maroquinerie and La Bellevilloise.

Unique Museums in Paris

Paris Sewer Museum

Venture beneath the city streets to explore the fascinating world of Paris’s sewer system, a testament to the city’s engineering feats.

59 Rivoli

Once an artist’s squat, now a legitimate gallery, 59 Rivoli houses studios where contemporary artists create and display their work, making art accessible to all.

Musee Curie

Delve into the world of radiology and the legacy of Marie Curie in the institute she founded, a tribute to scientific discovery and innovation.

pistachio and chocolate macarons at a macaron making class in Paris

Best Foodie Experiences in Paris

Learn to Make Macarons

The Galerie Lafayette with its stunning stained glass dome and high end shops on Boulevard Haussman is hardly off Paris’ beaten path. But did you know that tucked behind a customer service booth on the third floor is a special workshop where you can learn all the secrets of perfect macarons? A 90-minute class here includes a demonstration of proper technique, a chance to practice your piping skills, and time to assemble a few pre-baked cookies into take-home treats.

Taste Wine in the King’s Cellars

Once storage for King Louis XV’s wine supply, these underground cellars have been transformed into a strikingly modern museum offering some of the most informative and educational wine tastings I’ve ever attended. You’ll sample three wines as you move through the cellars, chatting about everything from soil types to the intricacies of French wine labels. This is truly one of the coolest and most unique things to do in Paris.

Cafe de Flore in Paris France

Unique Tours in Paris

Literary Walking Tour

Follow the footsteps of literary giants who called Paris home. Explore the favorite haunts of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, or learn about Victor Hugo’s life in his historic home, now a museum on the Place des Vosges. Paris also has an important history as a haven for Black artists. While singer and dancer Josephine Baker gets the most attention, the Cafe Tournon was a gathering place in the 1950s and 60s for Black authors like Richard Wright, Ollie Harrington, and Gordon Heath.

Covered Passages Tour

It’s easy to feel like you’ve suddenly disappeared into another city when you find your way into one of Paris’ historic covered passages. These glass-roofed arcades became popular in the 19th century and are sprinkled all over the city, but most are in either the 2nd arrondisement or the 9th. One of the best is the Galerie Vivienne.

a perfume organ in the Fragonard museum in Paris

Other Unique Things to Do in Paris

Make Your Own Perfume

Fragonard is one of the most esteemed perfumeries in France and now has a free museum about the history and making of perfume right across the street from the Opera Garnier. They also offer paid workshops where you can craft your own scent — a perfect unique Parisian souvenir.

Attend the Oldest Cabaret in Paris

Moulin Rouge gets all the attention but hardly all the fun. If you want a more local take on cabaret (with better food), head to Paradis Latin, the oldest cabaret in Paris. (Seriously, this was Napoleon’s idea!) It’s everything you expect from a Paris cabaret, just more and better.

These ideas will help you discover a different side of Paris, where different experiences don’t just help you steer clear of the city’s most crowded areas — they create lasting memories.

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