top of page

5 Parisian Gems

So you have a weekend in Paris but you have already visited the Eiffel Tower and you have seen the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, the Sacre-Coeur has been photographed and you know all about the Moulin Rouge. Are you looking for something smaller, something that most people will walk past and barely notice? It isn’t often that you can be in a city and feel as though you have space. Paris in particular can be so busy around the main tourist attractions that the concept of some tucked away charms right next to the hustle and bustle seems unlikely.

I have visited Paris a few times so when preparing for my latest visit, I was keen to find something different. Heading to the capital in the summer, I wanted to try and break away from the crowds and see what else this city holds. Here are five gems that are off the tourist trail:

1 – Jardin de la Nouvelle France

This is one of my favourite finds in a city. This enchanting little garden is just off the Champs-Elysees, arguably one of the busiest areas of Paris. The joy is that it feels like you are discovering a secret garden as, perfectly camouflaged from the street, you descend the stone steps and head through a cobbled arch. The garden is small but it is peaceful. A perfect destination to escape to for a picnic lunch or to take a book and just have half an hour to yourself. The beauty lies in the garden’s foliage, luscious greens all around you, and in the sculpture The Dream of the Poet by Alphonse de Moncel. This grand monument is perfectly hidden in this garden and makes for a wonderful back drop if you settle down on the little patch of grass in front and take five minutes out of the busy city world.

Click here to find this secret garden

2 – Lavomatic

I do love a speakeasy and whilst walking down Rue René Boulanger after a full day, I was particularly excited about this one as it was truly hidden. Sure enough, I arrive at number 30 and it is a laundrette. It is 9pm but upon entering, two of the machines on the right are in full motion. It is the dryer directly ahead though that I head toward and sure enough, as I pull the door of the ‘machine’ the wall panel comes with it. I love this part of discovering a speakeasy, to my mind if they have put this much effort in to making this initial experience exciting then they surely will have put full effort in to everything else. Lavomatic certainly have, the climb to the bar is a dark staircase with neon painted walls, the décor of the bar is kooky with Brillo block seats and even a swing in the corner and the cocktails are excellent. The atmosphere is friendly and the staff are very helpful so it is a lovely place to enjoy a delicious cocktail or two.

3 – Oscar Wilde’s Grave

Oscar Wilde passed away prematurely at the age of 42 in Paris and his final resting place is Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest in Paris. Now a cemetery may not be everyone’s idea of a ‘holiday activity’ but it isn’t out of morbid interest that I visit. The history of an area intrigues me and seeing the names, dates and epitaphs tells you a great deal about the village, town or city you are in. Père Lachaise Cemetery has a number of famous figures buried within its walls (Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Marcel Marceau to name a few). Sadly a large number of the graves have had to have plastic shields installed to protect them from damage. This is generally from fans who leave personalised messages, lipstick kisses or gifts stuck to the graves in loving memory. Actions mostly intended with love but it does mean that they have had to be shielded from the public. It is still a fascinating and peaceful place to stroll through to learn about all those who lived in Paris throughout history.

4 – Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

At 25 hectares, this Park is big enough for everyone. On my visit, it was so wonderfully relaxed and spacious that it was the perfect escape from the crowds. It is also a fantastically picturesque park with views over Montmart, a lake, suspension bridge and a hidden waterfall. I had spotted a random picture of the waterfall in my research and thought that it looked interesting but I was really pleased that one random photo lead me to this wonderful park. The cascade is concealed within the artificial cave in the hilly setting at the centre of the lake. From there you can climb to the viewpoint at the top and make your way along the suspension bridge for further views of Paris. It is approximately a 30 minute walk out from the centre of the city but on a sunny day with a picnic lunch it is definitely worth it.

Now this recommendation really goes against my opening statement that these Parisian gems are off the tourist trail. After all this is a tourist attraction, unlike the other four suggestions that are equally for locals and visitors, Tour Montparnasse opens its rooftop observatory to attract visitors. I justify its inclusion with the explanation that it is not as crowded. It is approximately a 45 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, so outside of the main tourist attractions. The view makes the walk or metro journey worth it. With up to 25 mile visibility on a clear day, you can see all of Paris’ attractions from a new perspective. My favourite part of observation decks is taking in the city as a whole, as someone who enjoys walking around cities you really do gain a perspective on how the city fits together. Definitely worth the entrance fee to see Paris from above.


Recent Posts:
Search By Tags:
bottom of page