Paris. One of the most visited cities in the world and a place packed to the brim with elegance, Parisian charm and some of the most beautiful landmarks in the world. Any trip to the capital of France will, of course, feature a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and a stroll down Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
But what should you do if you’re planning to spend some time in Paris like a local and discover different sides of the city? In this guide, we’re bringing you an alternative viewpoint of Paris, so you can see the city from a different perspective.
Discover 19th-century science 🏺
The Louvre is the place that most people think of when it comes to a Paris museum, but you can also find options off the traditional tourist trail. The Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Palaeontology is part of the French National Museum of Natural History and has you covered for 19th-century science. There’s also a botanical garden and a zoo where you can wander and enjoy the sights on offer.
Montparnasse Tower 🗼
Sure, the Eiffel Tower is iconic and a must-see landmark in Paris, but it’s not the only tower in town. Montparnasse Tower is one of Paris’ tallest buildings and offers sweeping panoramic views of the city. Tickets are half the price of the Eiffel Tower, and the queues are nowhere near as long. So enjoy the beautiful Paris skyline – including views of the Eiffel Tower – without the crowds and take a pic or two for the Gram.
Cruise the canals 🚣♀️
Enjoy a low-key waterside experience at one of the canals in Paris. Head to Canal St Martin, a 4.5 km waterway with nine locks and links to the Seine, for a blissful experience in a city that’s usually full of buzz. There are quintessential Paris cafes to discover along the route, bistros to grab a bite, and areas along the bank that are ideal for a picnic during the warmer months of the year.
Squats and Associative Art Spaces 🎨
Paris has a long social history with rebellion brought on through creativity, much of which is still reflected today around the city. So if you’re looking for some inspiration, head to abandoned government-owned buildings that have been occupied and re-appropriated by groups of artists, performers, activists and musicians. They are situated all over Paris and showcase some of the most creative talents in the city.
Shop at Merci 🛍️
Galeries Lafayette might be one of the most famous departmental stores in Europe, but there are hundreds of shops to discover across Paris. One of those is Merci, which is a modern department store and multi-level destination offering the best of local designers. So while everyone else visits the touristy shopping destinations, you can find a gem at Merci.
Get trendy in local neighbourhoods 🌆
Most people go for a walk around Montmartre when they visit Paris, but you can discover some hidden gems in places like Belleville and Rue des Martyrs. The former offers produce stands and flea markets filled with merchants, local products and friendly shoppers, while the latter has some of the best up-and-coming restaurants in Paris, plus a whole host of cafes and markets.
Green is serene at La Promenade Plantée 🌳🌳🌳
La Promenade Plantée means “the green walkway” and provides you with a chance to get back to nature in the heart of the city. The three-mile-long space was built on top of an abandoned railway line and features an elevated green area that is ideal for a summer stroll. You can also visit Jardin De Reuilly, a hidden garden in the middle of Paris.
Cimetière des Chiens 🪦
Cemeteries in Paris are like no other with their ornate tombs and statues and perfectly designed lawns. The most famous cemetery is Pere-Lachaise, the resting place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. However, there are other cemeteries that aren’t filled with tourists visiting famous dead people, such as Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-Sur-Seine. Here, there are graves for a number of animals laid to rest by rich Parisians, as well as the tomb of TV star dog Rin Tin Tin.
Off-the-beaten-track restaurants 🍴
There are lots of famous restaurants in Paris offering five-star courses. But it’s the lesser-known eateries where you will find some of the best food in the city. Try La Fontaine de Belleville, a traditional brasserie serving quick bites. Or head to Au Passage for a choice of small or large plates. And Holy Belly, which is known as one of the best brunch spots in Le Marais, is also worth a visit.
The alternative place to visit in Paris
There’s so much to see and do in Paris that it’s hard to keep up. If you’re looking for adventures away from the crowds, the spots on our list give you the opportunity to live like a local for a few days and discover another side to one of the world’s most popular cities.