Paris Off The Beaten Path: 28 Non-Touristy Things To Do In 2024

cobbled street in Paris off the beaten path

In such a popular city, it can be tempting to seek out some some lesser-known, non-touristy things to do in Paris. Maybe you’ve done all the major things on your first visit to Paris and now you want to discover some of Paris off the beaten path… or maybe you’re simply someone who likes to explore… Well, either way, that’s why this post exists!

I love Paris and have been exploring it a lot since the pandemic (it’s so close to where I live in London, I pop over on the train regularly). I have been discovering more and more of these more offbeat, unique places and things to do.  However, in order to cast the net wide and give a more rounded-out perspective, I also asked some other travel bloggers who know Paris well to share their ideas. So, this article is our combined view of Paris off the beaten path.

Now, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to do a post on ‘off the beaten path’ or ‘lesser-known things’, because it’s so subjective, and relative to what you consider the ‘beaten path’ to be. There’s bound to be someone who disagrees with the inclusion of something on the list!

So, let me be clear: this is a subjective list and it is based on my own personal definition of ‘Paris off the beaten path’.  I’ve been to Paris more than a dozen times. I feel like know it pretty well by now. Therefore, my criteria for inclusion were: the thing or place had to be somewhere I had only discovered recently or I had not even heard of it before it was suggested by another blogger.

If that sounds fair, carry on reading – and feel free to skip around using the table of contents below.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.

28 Things To Do In Paris Off The Beaten Path

Here’s our combined list of 28 non-touristy things to do in Paris, if you want to get off the beaten path, divided up into sections.

By definition, these are not stunning crowd-pleasers. After all, if they were, they would probably be ON the beaten path, wouldn’t they?  But there’s a variety of things on this list, so I hope you find something unusual that appeals to you.

Landmarks & Architecture Off The Beaten Path In Paris

1. Collège Des Bernardins

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

There is some spectacular Gothic architecture in Paris, most famously Notre Dame, but also the spectacular Sainte-Chappelle and La Conciergerie, which was a revolutionary prison. However, if you want to find more Gothic goodies off the beaten path in Paris, check out the Collège des Bernardins.

It’s not a touristy thing to do in Paris – it’s not even a museum as such, although the building is a French historical monument. The Collège des Bernardins is a former Cistercian college of the University of Paris and was built in 1248. It is now a training and research centre, offering a range of intellectual, spiritual and cultural activities, including training, debates and research seminars.

gothic style vaulted stone ceiling
Collège des Bernardins

But the reason I’m recommending it is its wonderful architecture. The refectory, which is the main hall you can enter, has a stunning vaulted ceiling with stone arches, which glow gorgeously in sunlight. A visit here doesn’t take long: you can wander the hall, sit in one of the seating areas and there is also a café.

It might not suit everyone’s taste, but if you love Gothic architecture, it could be a good thing to do if you’re travelling Paris solo.

It’s a short walk from Notre Dame into the heart of the Latin Quarter and it’s free to have a look around the entrance hall.

2. The City Of Fashion And Design

Contributed by Kenny of Knycx Journeying 

Located on the left bank of the Seine, the City of Fashion and Design is a striking coloured modern architecture among some of the best modern architecture in Europe. It is a building dedicated to Fashion and Design in Paris. The building is a revitalization of old storage houses, and it is a lesser-known landmark in Paris 13 that first-timers may not be aware of. 

modern green building on the banks of a river
The City Of Fashion And Design

The site was designed by the Parisian architects Jakob & MacFarlane and completed in 2008 after winning an architecture contest. The purpose of the project is to convert the former shopping centre into a “City” for fashion and design.

The main feature of The City of Fashion and Design is the long, lime green steel-and-glass panels that are installed on top of the original concrete building. The organic shapes and movement are an eye-catching view from the other side of the Seine. The concept of the shape came from the inspiration from the movement and reflections of the river itself. The building lit up at night while multiple colours can be seen reflecting on the water, dominated by its original lime green. 

The site is a multi-purpose building today with offices, and also public spaces that are used for temporary exhibitions. Head up to the rooftop and vegetal terrace to have a drink and enjoy a panoramic view of the neighbourhood. 

3. Église Saint-Sulpice

Contributed by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones

One of the (relatively) hidden gems of Paris is the Église Saint-Sulpice.  It is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, just a few minutes walk north from the popular Luxembourg Gardens

The Église Saint-Sulpice remains below the radar for most tourists even though it is one of Paris’ largest churches and was one of the filming locations for the immensely popular movie, ‘The Da Vinci Code’. 

church with two uneven towers
Église Saint-Sulpice

The first thing you’ll notice about the Église Saint-Sulpice is its asymmetrical appearance.  The two bell towers were designed to be the same height, but the south tower was never finished, so it is several meters shorter than the north tower.

It’s best to visit the church on a sunny day, so you can fully appreciate the beauty of the nave with the natural light flooding in through the windows.  And don’t miss the spectacular works of art decorating the church, including paintings by Eugène Delacroix. 

The Église Saint-Sulpice is open daily from 8 am-8 pm.  Admission is free, but donations to the church are appreciated.

There is a square in front of the church featuring the gorgeous Fontaine Saint-Sulpice.  This square sometimes holds special events and is always a popular place for locals to meet up with friends.   Why not relax in the square and enjoy a coffee with stunning views of the church?

4. Île Saint-Louis

Contributed by Renee of Dream Plan Experience 

The smaller of the two major islands in the Seine, Île Saint-Louis is often-overlooked in favour of it’s neighbour Île de la Cité – and yet it is one of the city’s most charming and picturesque neighbourhoods. This small island is a great destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and soak up some authentic Parisian charm.

One of the best things about Île Saint-Louis is its gorgeous architecture. The narrow streets are lined with elegant 17th-century buildings. As you wander through the streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.    

tall haussmann style houses in paris
Île Saint-Louis

One of the most iconic spots is Berthillon, a famous ice cream parlour that has been serving delicious, artisanal ice cream since 1954. With your ice cream in hand slowly stroll down the main street, rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, for some window shopping. Wonderful speciality shops like chocolatiers, cheese, children’s toys, and boutique food shops line the street. 

Find your way to Place Louis Aragon, a quiet square at the tip of the island and admire the view of the Seine and Hôtel de Ville.

Every return trip to Paris beckons me to visit here. It’s one of my favourite areas in Paris. Its quintessentially Parisian charm and elegance is unlike anywhere else in the city.  

5. Eglise de la Madeleine

Contributed by Bea from Pack Your Bags

The Eglise de la Madeleine is one of the most unusual churches in Paris.

Originally intended as a temple for Napoleon’s imperial guard, its construction took over 70 years to complete. The outside of the church resembles an ancient Greek temple. And its interior is adorned with grandiose sculptures, paintings, and frescoes.

But the best thing about this church is a gem hiding beneath it. It is an unusual restaurant called Le Foyer de la Madeleine which is a well-kept Paris secret. 

restaurant with arched ceiling and cloud decorations
Le Foyer de la Madeleine

In order to eat here, you need to purchase an annual membership for just a few euros, which go toward helping people in need. And for a very reasonable price, you get a very hearty and delicious French meal served by volunteers. 

I only found out about this place through a Parisian friend who touted it as a Paris institution that was started by Empress Eugenie in the 19th century. And I was surprised by the eclectic mix of people who eat there: professionals, students and pensioners, and only an occasional tourist.

Le Foyer de la Madeleine is only open during lunch Monday through Fridays. No reservations are needed.

6. Grande Mosquée de Paris

Contributed by Emma from Bonjoursunset

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path attraction in Paris, make sure to visit the Grand Mosque.

This beautiful piece of history in the heart of Paris is not your typical tourist destination. The first and largest mosque in mainland France, the Grand Mosque was built in 1926 as a tribute to Muslim soldiers coming from French colonies, who died fighting for France during the Second World War. 

Its design was inspired by the el-Qaraouiyyîn mosque in Fez (Morocco) and boasts an impressive 33-meter-high minaret, colourful gardens with fountains, patios lined with intricately carved arcades, impressive palm trees, and walls covered in wisteria. 

ornately carved arched entrance into the grand mosque in paris
The Grand Mosque

Visit the prayer room with its impressive carpets, and the library, or just sit in the peaceful gardens. The Grand Mosque also offers a ladies-only hammam, a souvenir shop, the traditional restaurant Aux Portes de l’Orient, and a tearoom, serving freshly brewed Moroccan mint tea and delicious oriental sweets. 

The Grand Mosque is such a peaceful place to visit in Paris and a must-visit if you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Paris.

Small And/Or Niche Paris Museums

7. Musée Gustave Moreau

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

A niche Paris museum I visited recently is the Musée Gustave Moreau, which exhibits the home and art collection of Gustave Moreau, who was a 19th-century painter and a professor of art. Among his students at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was Henri Matisse.

The museum is in his house on rue de La Rochefoucauld and has four levels, including the 1st floor preservation of what was his apartment and his large, well-lit studios on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

It showcases hundreds and hundreds of his own artworks, mainly paintings. These contain a lot of mythical figures and intricately detailed scenes. His style has been described as eclectic, with influence from Neo-classicism, the Italian Renaissance and Symbolism.

The paintings themselves feel opulent and at times ostentatious and mysterious – and might well be an acquired taste (which it’s why this place feels off the beaten path in Paris).  Even if you don’t love the art, you might like the feeling of stepping back in time as you wander this well-preserved historic house. And there’s a show-stopper spiral staircase between the second and third floors.

iron spiral staircase in a room with many paintings on the wall
Musée Gustave Moreau

The Musée Gustave Moreau doesn’t have mass appeal but could be good if you’re in Paris solo or as a Paris date idea (if you both like art).

8. Musee Bordelle

Contributed by Hannah from Art Distance

The Musee Bourdelle in Paris is a hidden gem among the many museums in the city. It is dedicated to sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, and is housed in his former studio in the Montparnasse district. The museum is definitely worth going off the beaten path for, as it offers visitors a unique opportunity to see an artist’s studio preserved as it was during his lifetime.

stone doorway with angel statues on either side
Musee Bourdelle

The collection is housed in indoor spaces as well as outdoors in small sculpture gardens, showing the versatility of the sculptor as he worked with various materials including bronze and plaster. There is a double-height hall displaying his monumental sculptures which are particularly impressive, as well as rooms kept as if he inhabited them, filled with objects he collected and with a homely feel.

Bourdelle is a relatively unknown figure in modern art, but his studio illustrates his popularity and contribution during the early 20th century. I especially love his pensive and elegant figure of Penelope from antiquity. I highly recommend a visit to the Musee Bourdelle for anyone interested in sculpture, Art Deco, or Parisian history. 

The museum is free to enter as part of the City of Paris museums group so is an excellent destination for budget travellers.

9. Maison De Victor Hugo

Contributed by Jenoa from The Travel Folk

The Maison de Victor Hugo is one of the most beautiful small museums in Paris. Located in the heart of the Marais, this is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of Victor Hugo’s work and an interior design enthusiast. 

Victor Hugo is one of the most well-known French writers from the 19th century. You may recognize a couple of his books titled “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, both beloved pieces of French literature.

Inside the Maison de Victor Hugo, you’ll discover the writer’s eclectic home with furnishings, objects, and personal details from his time there. You’ll also find many of his letters and copies of his manuscripts scattered throughout the museum. 

interior with ornate chinese panels and plates
Maison De Victor Hugo

The most unique and detailed room in the house is the Chinese room. This room was designed with custom panelling envisioned by Victor Hugo himself and is adorned with gorgeous plates and pottery from around the world. 

Make sure to take a look at the view of the Place des Vosges from this room (the oldest square in Paris) – it is fantastic. And if you have time, stop at the cafe on the main floor of the house that overlooks the outdoor garden. It’s a beautiful and quiet spot to relax for a bit. 

The museum is free for all visitors. 

10. Musée De La Préfecture De Police

Contributed by Audra from The Nerd Traveler

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Museum of the Department of Police does not make many lists of top things to see in Paris.  However, it does contain a very important, if not somewhat macabre, relic of French History: a guillotine blade.  

a guillotine blade housed in a glass display cabinet
Musée De La Préfecture De Police

The museum is located in a functioning police station, so it can be easily missed.  Visitors are first granted access to the station and then take an elevator to the museum.  There is no cost for entry and reservations are required – you can do this on their official website.

The museum highlights the history of policing in Paris, with uniforms worn and weapons used over the centuries and details of the more notorious crimes as well as the evolving techniques and forensics used in police investigations.  Please note many of the museum labels are in French, which may prove challenging.

The museum is located in the 5th arrondissement, just outside of the Latin Quarter and between Notre Dame and the Pantheon. The address is 4 Rue de la Montagne Ste Geneviève, 75005. On a personal note, one of the best places for croissants is around the corner – La Maison d’ Isabelle. 

11. Musee Du Parfum

Contributed by Hannah from Hannah on Horizon

Looking for a unique experience for your Paris 3-day itinerary? Look no further than Musée du Parfum, located in the 9th arrondissement. This is a museum completely dedicated to perfume, with the tour guide walking you through the history of perfume using imagery, storytelling, and collections of perfume vases dated as far as Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece. The tour also showcases distillation equipment used to make the fragrances.

Musée du Parfum host free guided tours all day. The tours are approximately 30 minutes long and are available in English and French. 

shelves of bottle of perfume
Musee Du Parfum

After walking through the archives of photos, videos, ancient perfume bottles, and equipment, the tour guide will lead you to the store and have you play a game where they spritz fragrances on a testing strip and you have to guess what kind of notes are in it. The museum sells exclusively perfumes from Fragonard, a perfumery from Grasse, France.

If the heavenly scents leave you yearning for more, you can also attend a perfume workshop where you can make your own eau de toilette using notes and extracts from Fragonard.

12. Musée de Montmartre

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

Montmartre is not off the beaten path at all, but I feel like this great little museum is. I’d been to and wandered around Montmartre many times before I went to the Musée de Montmartre – and I wish I’d gone sooner because it paints a great picture of the history of this popular area of Paris. In fact, I liked it so much that I suggest it as a stop on my self-guided walking tour of Montmartre.

It’s a cute little museum, in a house that resembles a country cottage, tucked away off Rue Cortot.  The house, La Maison du Bel Air, is one of the oldest in Montmartre and on the grounds is a studio once occupied by artists Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo and André Utter.

cottage with garden and an archway of plants
Musée de Montmartre

Inside the main house, you’ll find three floors of exhibitions, covering the history of the area as it evolved from a rural milling area covered in windmills and vineyards to the beating heart of bohemian Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And in another building, there is further space for exhibitions, which vary over time, plus the original, preserved studio of Suzanne Valadon.

There’s a café called The Renoir and from the gardens, you’ll get one of the best views of Vigne du Clos Montmartre, a small urban vineyard in Montmartre.  And in Spring, it’s near some of the places you can see cherry blossoms in Paris.

Parks & Squares Off The Beaten Path In Paris

13. Jardin Catherine-Labouré

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

I was completely unaware of Jardin Catherine-Labouré before I stumbled upon it when I spent one day in Paris with my husband.

It’s not some spectacular garden – if it was, it would be more of a destination for visitors to Paris (and of course, it wouldn’t be on this list of Paris off the beaten path). But it is a lovely little corner of green if you’re in the 7th arrondissement. It was originally the kitchen garden for the convent of the Daughters of Charity in the 17th century and it has been open to the public since 1977.

vine draped arbor in a park in paris
Jardin Catherine-Labouré

When I went, it was a hot May day, and we’d already walked from the Arc De Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, on to Les Invalides and we were heading eastwards towards Saint-Germain. I was pretty hot and weary by this point, so when I spotted the entrance to what looked like a park, I was delighted to find a quiet, shady place to sit for a while.

There are lawns, and on the day I visited, these were pretty full of families with kids playing. I chose to sit on a bench under a pretty arbour covered in pretty vines, which I thought was a great find!

14. Coulée Verte René-Dumont

Contributed by Melanie Ferguson of Postcards & Places

The Coulée Verte René-Dumont in Paris, a tree-lined trail along an abandoned railway, offers a quiet stroll through the 12th arrondissement. This elevated trail provided inspiration for the more-famous High Line in New York City, which was created almost two decades later. 

The path starts near the Place de la Bastille along Avenue Daumesnil. Over 4.5 kilometres, the path alternates underground through tunnels and above ground on raised walkways, passing by public parks and over busy streets. Finally, it ends with a spiral staircase at the ring road near Bois des Vincennes.

pedestrian pathway between green trees and plants
Coulée Verte René-Dumont

In contrast to the city’s busy tourist sites and popular museums, the Coulée Verte offers a few moments of peace. I enjoyed walking it in the summer when the full green foliage provided some much-needed shade and relief from the hot sun. But it’s lovely any season. Give yourself a couple of hours to complete the trail to allow for a relaxed pace and time for breaks.

The trail is free and open daily, from 8 am on weekdays (9 am weekends and holidays) to sunset (exact hours vary by season). There are a few alternate access points along the path, such as at Rue Montgallet, and dogs are allowed on a leash.

15. La Petite Ceinture

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

If you want an old railway garden that’s even more off the beaten path than Coulée Verte, Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, or La Petite Ceinture, as its more commonly known, might be a good one for you.

La Petite Ceinture (meaning Little Belt) was once a railway line that circled Paris in the 19th century. It’s usage dropped considerably once the Paris Metro opened and passenger services stopped in 1934.

old railway line turned into a park
La Petite Ceinture

These days, most of the line remains abandoned and derelict, but there are several sections which have been re-opened as urban parks. One is in the 20th arondissement, where you can stroll the old railway line just off rue de Ménilmontant. Here you’ll find some trees, a boardwalk, some seating and also graffiti. It’s not as beautiful as the Coulée Verte, in my opinion, but it is definitely an interesting and non-touristy thing to do in Paris.

For more info about which parts are accessible, including opening hours, check out the Petite Ceinture website.

16. Parc Monceau

Contributed by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Parc Monceau is a relatively off-the-beaten-path park in Paris and is truly one of my favourite parks in the entire city. This lovely park is located in the upscale 8th arrondissement, near the Arc de Triomphe (about 15 minutes away). However, it doesn’t seem to be as well-known as other parks in Paris.

Parc Monceau is a perfect combination of fancy and laidback. The entire park is surrounded by wrought iron, gold-tipped fences, and the gates are ornate and impressive. The Arc de Triomphe is actually perfectly framed at the West Gate of the park!

There are many beautiful points of interest, the most famous of which is the pond that is draped in willows and has a stone colonnade lining one side of it. There are also multiple sculptures throughout the park, as well as a stone bridge, waterfall, and a rotunda. 

park with a pond, a stone colonade and trees turning from green to yellow
Parc Monceau

However, despite these fancy and more formal features, the park also has tons of park benches, and lots of green space where families and friends can enjoy a picnic or play frisbee on the grounds (this is somewhat rare in Paris – sitting on the grass is often forbidden), plus features like a carousel and a playground for children. The vibe in Parc Monceau is very laid back, a place where you can just relax and spend a leisurely afternoon. 

The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and the main entrance is off Boulevard de Courcelles. The metro stop “Monceau” (on line 2) stops right in front of this entrance. Public bathrooms and free public wifi are available in the park, and the park is very popular with joggers at all times of the day.

17. Albert Kahn Garden

Contributed by Lena from Salut from Paris

For visiting this little gem of a Jardin, you’ll need to venture a bit outside the city gates of Paris. The Albert Kahn Garden lies in Boulogne-Billancourt, but no need to worry about it: it’s well connected to the Metro and worth it a thousand times. Just hop on Line 10 and discover a hidden gem, that most people don’t know about.

Albert Kahn, born in 1860, was a philanthrope, and an early days world traveller. He created his garden to reflect his belief in universal peace and his travel experiences. While this sounds abstract, it translates into a stunningly beautiful oasis of French orchards, English rose gardens, Japanese gardens and a forest representing different French regions. All this tucked away in-midst the buzz of a metropolis. 

garden with grass and trees and a red bridge over a pond
Albert Kahn Garden

Each element on its own is a masterpiece of landscaping, and especially the Japanese garden is a jewel. If you don’t have enough time to visit the Gardens of Monet in Giverny, the Albert Kahn Garden is a valid alternative. And it is a wonderful location to see cherry blossoms

It’s worth making a little detour through the newly opened museum of Albert Kahn though. Mostly through his photography, his adventures are on display and provide you with rare insights into cultures around the world of the late 19th century. A great backstory to take in before enjoying his garden. 

18. Parc Bagatelle – La Roseraie

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

Parc Bagatelle is so far off the beaten path in Paris, it’s way over on the western border of the city – on the far side of Bois de Boulogne.

This park is a bit annoying to get to, because it’s that near any Metro stations, but would be worth making the trek out there if you love plants, peaceful gardens and/or peacocks.

park with a cherry blossom tree, Japanese pagoda and peacocks
Parc Bagatelle – La Roseraie

There is a Chateau here, but it’s not one you can go inside. The draw here are the gorgeous and extensive botanical gardens, including a famous rose garden, ponds and water features and attractive pagoda. There are lots of birds to see here, and I was amazed by the number of stunning peacocks that roam the gardens!

Shops & Establishments Off The Beaten Path In Paris

19. The Abbey Bookshop

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

If you love Paris, you probably know the picturesque anglophone bookshop, Shakespeare & Company. It’s a popular spot opposite Notre Dame, with a pretty fountain outside and a cafe next to the bookshop.

However, if you’re interested in going off the beaten path in Paris, there’s a less popular but just as intriguing bookshop just around the corner in the Latin Quarter on Rue de la Parcheminerie.

arched doorway to a bookshop with books on tables outside
The Abbey Bookshop

The Abbey Bookshop is a Canadian and American bookstore that’s been open since 1989 and claims to have over 40,000 English language titles, including new, used and rare books. And you’ll believe it if you go inside – not because it’s big, but because there are books crammed into every nook and cranny! You might also see tables of books outside the store if the weather’s good.

It’s a tight fit inside, but if you love a good book, you could while away some time finding something special in the Abbey Bookshop.

20. La Grande Épicerie De Paris

Contributed by Sarah Vanheel from CosmopoliClan

When roaming the pretty streets of Paris, grocery shopping may be the last thing on your mind. Yet, that’s exactly what La Grande Épicerie de Paris is all about.

This is ground zero for French gastronomy. It’s where you’ll find thousands of the finest French gourmet products under one roof. The assortment of olive oils, honey, butter, cheeses, wines, marmalades, teas, foie gras, herbs, cognacs and more is dazzling. Whether you look forward to assembling a Parisian picnic, or shopping for souvenirs or presents for your loved ones, this French food epicentre is the answer.

shelves of food at a food shop
La Grande Épicerie De Paris

La Grande Épicerie de Paris is located in one of the buildings of the Le Bon Marché department store.

At this central location between the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Louvre, and the Montparnasse tower, you’ll find plenty of accommodations, including some of the best hotels for families in Paris, making it convenient to drop off your groceries in the room before continuing your sightseeing itinerary.

This gigantic speciality store also houses a bakery and several restaurants. And trust me, after seeing all these mouth-watering delicacies on display, you’ll feel the urge to sink your teeth into one of these delicious treats. 

La Grande Épicerie de Paris is open every day until 9 pm (on Sundays until 8 pm).

21. Marché Pyrénées (Pyrénées Food Market)

Contributed by Simeon from Tozome

If you’re looking for a traditional Parisian market that offers a wide variety of fresh produce and speciality goods, then the Pyrénées food market won’t disappoint. Nestled behind the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, one of the best landmarks of Paris in the 20th arrondissement, this market takes place twice a week and features around thirty stalls, each selling its own unique selection of high-quality products.

First-time shoppers and curious visitors will be delighted by the diverse range of products available, with many vendors specialising in fruit and vegetables. One standout stall offers only organic produce from the northern and western regions of France.

individual cheeses for sale at a french food market
Marché Pyrénées

Seafood lovers will find plenty to explore at the market, with an array of fresh fish and seafood available for purchase including Oysters, mussels, and scallops.

And if you’re a cheese aficionado, you will be spoilt for choice as well, with the Pyrénées boasting an impressive selection of locally made cheeses, ranging from creamy bries to pungent Roqueforts. 

Accessing the Pyrénées market is easy, with the Jourdain subway station and the 26 and 96 bus lines located nearby. The market is open on Thursdays from 7 am to 2.30 pm and on Sundays from 7 am to 3 pm.

22. Go To The Cinema

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

The first instance of moving images on a screen played for a paying audience was by the Lumiere Brothers in 1895 in Paris. So, going to the cinema in Paris is a actually pretty bang-on Parisian thing to do. And thankfully, you don’t need to speak French to be able to do so. It’s also a good thing to do in Paris in winter, when the nights are cold and dark.

In France, non-French films are widely distributed, often with subtitles in French rather than dubbed into French. has listings of all the movies you can see in English in Paris. 

And, if you want a cinema experience with some charm and personality (of course, why not?), go to one of the old independent art-house cinemas in Paris. 

retro cinema lit up with neon lights saying Le Champo
Le Champo

Le Champo is an attractive arthouse cinema with a retro style and neon signs. It shows a mix of movies, including some in English.

Studio 28 in Montmartre was the first avant-garde cinema on the right bank and the building retains its old Art Deco style. You can find their listings here – just look out for English or American movies, as these are most likely to be in English.

Unique Streets Off The Beaten Path In Paris

23. Mail De Bièvre

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

If you’re in Paris in Spring, you might be on the hunt for cherry blossoms – and one of the best places to see them in Paris is somewhat off the beaten path.

Mail De Bièvre is a pathway in a small park between residential buildings in the 13th arrondissement. There’s nothing special about the buildings, but what makes it worth a trip out there, especially in springtime, is the tunnel of cherry trees that you’ll find here.

tunnel of pink cherry blossoms in paris

In peak bloom, the effect of all the pink blossoms in this tree tunnel is quite extraordinary!  There are benches along the pathway, so it’s a nice place to relax and enjoy the cherry blossoms in Paris.

24. Covered Passages Of Paris

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

Some of my favourite streets in Paris are covered passages. These date from the late 18th and 19th centuries, when covered passages were built all over Paris. These are pedestrian streets protected from the elements by attractive iron and glass vaulted ceilings.

These days, some of them are quite run-down and some are even unpleasant. However, there are several that are stunning and very well-maintained, retaining their original features and filled with independent boutiques and cafes.

covered passage in paris with tiled floor, frescos on the wall and a glass vaulted ceiling
Galeries Vivienne

I wrote a post covering all of the covered passages in Paris, but some of my favourites are:

  • Galeries Vivienne: this is arguably the most beautiful covered passage – it has neo-classical Pompeian mosaics, paintings and sculptures. It is very elegant and has several high-end clothing boutiques and a wine bar. There’s also Libraire Ancienne Moderne, which is a lovely old bookshop.    
  • Passage de Choiseul: a smart, pretty  passage with a mix of shops and places to eat and is long, so there’s plenty to discover here
  • Passage Verdeau: I found lots of art and print shops in this handsome passage, which also has some eateries.
  • Passage Jouffroy: is directly opposite Passage Verdeau, so you can easily go from one to the other. This one is also attractive and also has lots of vintage bookshops. There’s a corner in the middle and an entrance for the hotel Chopin inside the passage.
  • Passage des Panoramas is possibly my favourite covered passage. It is opposite Jouffroy, you can browse all three one after the other. Its mismatch of tiled flooring and fixtures gives it real personality and it has plenty of choice of places to eat, plus a number of old stamp shops.

If you like the idea of having a guided tour of covered passages, check out this ‘Secret Passages’ guided tour.

25. Rue des Martyrs

Contributed by Denise from Chef Denise

For anyone interested in the famous food of France, visiting Rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement is a must! Don’t let the fact that it’s off the typical tourist circuit deter you, that’s what makes it wonderful! Flanked by a carousel on one end and the Notre Dame de Lorette Church on the other, it’s also very picturesque.

Rue des Martyrs is lined with food markets, speciality shops, and cafés. It’s where the locals come to shop for their daily meal ingredients. Gorgeous displays of fresh produce spill on the sidewalks. Fromageries sell amazing selections of cheese and butter. From butcher shops to fishmongers to wine shops, you can spend hours gawking at the local specialities.

cakes and pastries on display
Rue des Martyrs

It’s also a great place to eat! Stop for a sit-down meal, or you can graze your way down the street. Grab a croissant at a bakery, some chocolates, gelato, or one of the decadent pastries at the renowned Sébastien Gaudard Pâtisserie.

You can also buy foodie souvenirs or gifts. Don’t miss Artisan de la Truffe. Their truffle honey is the best and much less expensive than in the US. Their lunch special is reliably delicious and affordable. Bon Appètit!

26. Rue Lamarck & The Sinking House

Contributed by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels

For a place to visit off the beaten path in Paris, go for a stroll down Rue Lamarck.

Rue Lamarck is a street in Montmartre that’s known for its architectural beauty. One of its photogenic locations is the Lamarck-Caulaincohet metro station. The double staircase, red metro sign and coloured cafes and signage in the area make for stunning photos that catch the eye.

red and white Parisian-style building seeming to have tiled to one side and sunk into grass
Rue Lamarck & The Sinking House

Another striking location on Rue Lamarck is the “sinking house.”  The sinking house is best seen from the steps leading up to the Sacré Coeur. Of the two main staircases choose the one on the right. About halfway up you’ll notice the hill slightly covers a red and white building on your right-hand side. With a little tilt of your camera, as you take a picture of it, you’ll see the sinking house effect.

The great thing about this beautiful little street is that you can visit it at any time of day and any time of year. But be sure to visit first thing in the morning if you’d like to take pictures with few to no people in them.

Enjoy your time on Rue Lamarck!

27. Villa Leandre

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a self-guided walking tour of Montmartre, which gives a route you can follow to see all the main sights in Montmartre. However, I am also a massive fan of wandering off the route and just exploring for the sake of exploring. Montmartre is a great place to do that, and on my most recent visit, I found Villa Leandre, a pretty cul de sac off Avenue Junot.

It’s small and not mind-blowing or anything. It’s not as obviously instagrammable as some other pretty streets in Paris, like the colourful Rue Crémieux (which has had to put a sign up to ask for no photographs!) – but it’s very cute.

pretty cobbled residential street in Paris
Villa Leandre

It’s a cobbled residential street with charming houses from the 1920s, with echoes of art deco style. They don’t look typically Parisian to me at all. With their triangular gables, they are very reminiscent of the inter-war houses you see in towns and cities all over England. In fact, it feels for a second like you’ve tele-transported into an English close or crescent.

Then, if you look a little closer, you might notice some have wooden window shutters – then the illusion breaks and it feels feel like continental European again.

If you need some refreshment, while you’re visiting Villa Leandre, there’s a café/restaurant on the corner called Marcel.

28. Passage L’homme

Contributed by me, Martha, who May Cause Wanderlust

Another lovely street in Paris I stumbled on recently is Passage L’homme, in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district, not far from Place de la Bastille.  I was just wandering around on a recent solo trip to Paris and I saw an opening on Rue de Charonne, so I decided to have a look.

I say in my post on Paris Syndrome & how to avoid disappointment in Paris that you should not expect every Paris street to be a charming lane oozing with romance. And that’s true: I’ve had a look down many alleys that are not beautiful. But in this case, I really liked what I found.

cobbled passage way with an art shop and a motorbike parked outside
Passage L’homme

The cobbled street has what looks like commercial space on the ground floor, although not all of the units looked taken. It is lined with potted plants and ivy has crept across the buildings, so it has a pretty, villagey feel. Close to the entrance on Rue de Charonne is a quaint-looking art shop.

Passage L’homme turns into Passage Josset and connects Rue de Charonne to Avenue Ledru-Rollin. Close by are lots of foodie places on Rue de Charonne, including a great crepes place: Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie.

Map: Things To Do In Paris Off The Beaten Path

Here’s a map of our recommended things to do in Paris off the beaten path, so you know where to find them:

How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one.  If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.

Where To Stay In Paris

Now, even when I’m looking to explore off-the-beaten-path places, doesn’t mean I necessarily want to stay somewhere off-the-beaten-path in Paris!

Here are some of the hotels in Paris that I have stayed at myself recently – and I happily recommend them.

La Finca Hôtel & Spa (formerly the Hotel Auberge Flora) is a 3-star hotel in the vibrant Bastille area, which has lots of options for going out at night. The rooms are small but comfortable, plus the staff are friendly. They offer a simple, affordable breakfast in the morning.

In Montmartre, the Terrass” Hotel is an excellent 4-star hotel with with a rooftop terrace bar and long-range views from it’s top floor restaurant. Some rooms also have a view of the Eiffel Tower.

breakfast on a table next to a window overlooking Paris including the eiffel tower in the distance
Fueling up for a day of exploring at the Terrass” Hotel

Hôtel Diva Opéra is a boutique 4-star hotel in Fauberg-Montmartre, which is really central. It’s a good location for easy access to places like the Grands Magasins of Boulevard Haussmann and some of the best covered passages in Paris.

Hotel Regina Louvre is a grand 5-star hotel next to the Louvre. The food is good; the rooms are sumptuous and some have a view of the Eiffel Tower.

grand old hotel in Haussmann style of architecture with a gold statue in front of it
Hotel Regina Louvre

For more hotel options, check out my post on the best place to stay in Paris for first-timers.

To Conclude

I hope this post has given you some ideas of things to see and do in Paris beyond the big sights. Let me know if you visit any of them and what you think of them.

And if you need any more ideas, do check out my guide to experiencing the best of Spring in Paris, my 2-day Paris itinerary, my 4-day Paris itinerary and also romantic things to do in Paris for couples.

And if you’re in Paris for a while, you might be tempted to do a day trip from Paris by train.

Have fun exploring Paris!

If you like this article, I'd be delighted if you shared it!

4 thoughts on “Paris Off The Beaten Path: 28 Non-Touristy Things To Do In 2024”

  1. Martha, thank you for all the great information. Visiting Paris next week and you have given some great suggestions off the beaten path.

  2. Hi Martha
    This article is absolutely chock full of great ideas. Including the map is really helpful too. I am planning a visit to Paris next year and will definitely try to fit in some of your recommendations.

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