Famed for its enchanting vibe, Paris is everyone’s mistress. The city seduces tourists with its historic buildings, alluring venues, and the poetic nostalgia that permeates the air. 

While it’s rich in history, Paris also happens to be one of the swankiest capitals in the world. Let’s not forget that the city plays host to the iconic Paris Fashion Week each year – so tangible, so glamorous.

But forget the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, or even the Eiffel Tower. Today, we’re ditching these overly touristy areas in favor of the REAL Paris. This isn’t another traditional guide stuffed with Moulin Rouges and shopping on the Champs Elysee. 

Instead, we’re going to tap right into those secret haunts, flea markets, and the kind of boho neighborhoods radiating with that classic Parisian je ne sais quoi!

So, let’s get on! Here’s Paris beyond the postcards, unlocking those amazing hidden gems in Paris.

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    What is Paris Like?

    With that helpful PSA out of the way, you can approach exploring Paris as you should. Travelers should look to balance the epic sightseeing (yes, the list can be endless) with days lovingly mocking the French. By that, I mean, sitting and enjoy la belle vie.

    The crowds flock to the world-class sites from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow.

    La Maison Rose in Monmarte, Paris
    Keep your rose-tinted glasses on.
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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    But once you’re done, you can start to experience what makes Paris magical. It’s the days wandering the back streets and Dalida Square. The ability to go from A to B on foot without spending a dime. It’s the evenings along the Seine, still strolling.

    And with the city slowly lighting up, some dangle in the trees, illuminating streetfront patios with that famously romantic Paris downlight. It’s a place where the whole city takes a deep breath and leaves the day’s trials behind.

    For you, fellow traveler, experiencing a balance of the headline acts and the regular, everyday experiences will have you feeling the magic of the city of love.

    1. Bike your Way Through those Parisian Treasures

    Nooks and Crannies Bike Tour

    It’s no secret that the French love their bikes. After all, the Tour de France is easily the most prestigious and the oldest bike race in Europe!

    So really, there’s no better way to find hidden gems in Paris than to bike your way across the city. Plenty of treasures beckon in this guided activity that’ll take you through the kinds of spots tourists don’t generally know about.

    One of the best things about exploring Paris by bike is that you’ll get to avoid the notorious traffic – perfect for a relaxing day out! Kickstart this 3-hour tour with a visit to the 17th-century St. Louis Island which remained relatively unchanged.

    You’ll also get to explore the River Seine’s left bank before visiting the world’s oldest company which is 1154 years old! Your guide will also explain the history of each place as you explore every nook and cranny of this magnificent city.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Off the Beaten Path
    • Cost: $45
    • Personal Opinion: Don’t forget the camera – Kodak moments guaranteed!

    2. Learn the Secrets of a Perfect French Baguette

    Bakery Tour with Breakfast paris

    It won’t take you long to realize that the iconic Parisian baguette is practically an institution in the city. So much so, that a French Bread Law was even passed in 1993: bakeries must follow a set of rules for making a classic baguette!

    Now, while the French penchant for a good ol’ crusty baguette isn’t exactly a secret, very few tourists actually get a glimpse of how this delicacy is crafted. With this activity, you’ll get to mosey around a hidden gem café while uncovering kitchen secrets from a proper French baker.

    During the workshop, you’ll learn more about the various steps that go into making the crunchy, yet perfectly fluffy-centred stick. But before all of that, you’ll be treated to a scrumptious French breakfast, complete with croissants and pain au chocolat.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: $100
    • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about

    3. Amble Through the Palais Royal Courtyard

    Palais Royal Courtyard Paris

    As far as magical places in Paris are concerned, this one is a real doozy! If you’d like to stroll through palatial grounds without pushing through the notorious crowds at Versailles, then I totally recommend this hidden gem in Paris. Located in Central Paris (close to the Louvre) the Palais Royal’s Garden is actually the only green space in Paris recognized by the Ministry of Culture as a ‘Remarkable Garden.’

    An absolute lung in the midst of bustling Paris, this space was originally created back in 1633 and redesigned in 1674. It was redesigned a third time when Duchess Henrietta decided to turn it into the most stunning ornamental gardens in the city.

    Offering an amazing setting in the afternoon, this space is home to over 500 trees, including red horse chestnuts and lime trees planted in the 1900s. Following your exploration, retreat to the comfort of Hôtel Molière, a boutique gem conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from the garden.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Off the tourist trail but on my personal A-list.
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    4. Learn About the Darker Side of the City

    Paris Dark City Secrets Walking Tour

    Paris may be known as the city of love, but not a lot of tourists know that it’s got a pretty gruesome history. It actually a bigger dark tourism hotspot than you’d first think.

    For something different (and spine-chilling!), sign up for a guided tour of all those secret spots in Paris that contributed to mystical legends. Your guide will provide plenty of info about the historical murders and various tales surrounding each site, including an insider’s knowledge about France’s ‘Evil Queen’.

    Cursed locations and public execution sites await – but that’s not all! With this two-hour tour, you’ll also discover The Templars which is a contemporary secret society that’s deeply rooted in French history.   

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
    • Cost: $33
    • Personal Opinion: Grab the popcorn for this one.

    5. Relax at Dalida Square

    Dalida Square Paris

    Most tourists go to Montmartre to marvel at the Sacre Coeur or those legendary steps – two iconic areas that overshadow a less-popular spot known as Dalida Square.

    This underrated place to stay in Paris is named after Dalida, a super-successful Egyptian-born singer with top record success. In 1962, the singer purchased a 4-storey townhouse in Montmartre, just a short distance from the Radet Windmill. The house still stands today, complete with a commemorative plaque with an inscription dedicated to the singer.

    One of the highlights of the Place Dalida is the bronze, life-size bust of the singer. When exploring this Paris hideaway, you may wish to touch the statue – a tradition that’s believed to bring good luck.

    There’s no denying that the Place Dalida is one of the most charming nooks in Paris. The allure of the place is only punctuated by sweeping views of the Sacre Coeur and proximity to the popular Rue de l’Abreuvoir.

    • Rating: 7/10 – A unique little trip
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.
    Hidden Gems in Paris
    Best HotelBest HostelBest Private Stay
    Hôtel Particulier MontmartrePlug Inn HostelOdalys City Paris Montmartre

    6. Marvel at the UNESCO Headquarters

    Paris UNESCO Headquarters Tour

    You’re probably wondering, why should you visit UNESCO Headquarters, of all the places? Well, wait until you see this place for yourself…

    A great venue for families looking for unique things to do in Paris, the UNESCO Headquarters is an absolute treasure that seamlessly combines modern architecture with classic artwork. Through the guided tour, view a unique collection of over 600 pieces from Calder to Giacometti or even Miro and Picasso.

    In addition, you’ll learn more about UNESCO’s missions and their impact on the world while visiting some of the headquarters’ most iconic spaces including the only Japanese Garden in Paris!

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a deeper look
    • Cost: $20
    • Personal Opinion: There’s substance under the surface.

    7. Be Awed by the Musee Rodin’s Hidden Gems

    Musee Rodin Paris

    Here’s another hidden gem in Paris for art lovers that very few tourists seem to know about! If you want to go off the beaten track and swap The Louvre for smaller-scale museums, the Musee Rodin definitely is the place for you!

    This museum is housed in an 18th-century mansion. Featuring works by August Rodin, a famous French sculptor, this museum has quite a peaceful atmosphere – mainly because it’s usually devoid of the massive crowds of people that flock to more popular places.

    Be sure to set aside some time to explore the museum’s exterior which holds quite a few treasures of its own, including a sculpture garden. I would suggest that you visit in spring so you can see the plants in full bloom.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Eclectic Finds
    • Cost: $15
    • Personal Opinion: Quirky and eccentric in all the right ways – right up my alley!

    8. Hike to the Secret Waterfalls

    Parc des Buttes Chaumont falls Paris

    Nature lovers looking for magical places in Paris should absolutely check out this amazing spot!

    While locals usually go to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont to hike and picnic, it’s a spot that not a lot of tourists know about since it’s nowhere as popular as other green spaces like, say, the Jardin des Tuileries. In fact, most tourists stumble upon this place by accident since it rarely features in travel guidebooks.

    With hidden waterfalls, grottos, and even a Roman monument, this park is an absolute oasis smack in the middle of the city! Located in the 19th arrondissement, the park was created way back during the rule of Napoleon III.

    After hiking, picnicking, and admiring those gorgeous waterfalls, you can check out nearby treasures like the vineyard of Butte Bergeyre, a forgotten vineyard right at the heart of the city!

    • Rating: 10/10 – Eclectic Finds
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.
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    9. Go Off the Beaten Track in a Vintage French Car

    Paris 2-Hour Vintage 2CV Tour

    Not only does this activity take you off the beaten track to uncover some of the best hidden gems in Paris – but you’ll also get to do it in style in a classic French car! You’ll get the chance to explore heaps of unusual sites on this 2-hour tour. It’ll take you through those lush hidden quarters, including the Port de l’Arsenal, the Passage Sully, the Butte aux Cailles, and the Place des Vosges.

    While the car is convertible, rest assured that it’s fitted with a transparent roof. So no issues with rain. You’re not going to miss out on those glorious sights!

    • Rating: 7/10 – Traveler Approved
    • Cost: $110
    • Personal Opinion: A cure-all for the travel blues – prepare to fall in love.

    10. See Versailles from a Unique Perspective

    Versailles Tour Paris

    I’m sure you must be surprised to see Versailles on a list of secret places in Paris. After all, this legendary place is everything but a secret – which is probably why it’s always swarming with endless crowds of people!

    Head to Versailles after the crowd has died down though and it’s a whole other story that awaits. With this skip-the-line, last-entry ticket, you’ll be able to explore the palace as it was meant to be experienced: away from the throngs of overly eager tourists.

    The atmosphere at Versailles is nothing short of regal, just like it used to be back in the golden days. Your guide will bring tales of France’s royal past to life as you flit from one room to the other, marveling at the sheer opulence of the place.

    Best of all, you’ll discover secret sites that most Versailles tours don’t normally include, such as the Queen’s Hamlet where Marie Antoinette used to play dress up.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Consider me smitten
    • Cost: $150
    • Personal Opinion: This locally loved hotspot’s hype is well deserved, especially after the crowds die down!

    11. Browse Through the Marché aux Puces de Paris Saint-Ouen

    Marché aux Puces de Paris Saint-Ouen

    Okay, after all this sightseeing, I bet you’re ready for some shopping! Now, you can always head to insanely popular boutiques like the Galeries Lafayette on the Champs Elysees. But if you’re looking for something different, you may wish to check out the Marché aux Puces de Paris Saint-Ouen.

    One of the most underrated places in Paris, this flea market dates all the way back to 1885. The sprawling shopping site combines 13 different markets so there are heaps of stalls to browse through. At least 2,000 shops and stands await, all spread over nearly 8 hectares. Get haggling for old tools to archaeological artefacts, sporting goods, jewelry, bronzes, period clothes, books, and even furniture.  

    • Rating: 9/10 – Classic French Experience
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: A quaint and quirky charmer guaranteed to delight.

    12. See Nicolas Flamel’s House

    Nicolas Flamel’s House Paris

    Potterheads, rejoice!

    If you’re a fan of the iconic series like me, then you really don’t want to miss a visit to Nicolas Flamel’s House. I know what you’re thinking: Was Nicolas Flamel a real person? Well, he actually was, and yes, he too was an alchemist!

    London may be the epicenter of all things Harry Potter, but a little-known fact is that his house is the oldest in all of Paris. Built in 1407 on Montmorency Street, the house is apparently where Flamel used to conduct his alchemist experiences. After the death of his wife Pernelle, Nicolas had his house commissioned to provide shelter for the homeless.

    While this Paris hideaway has now been converted into a restaurant, the ancient façade still stands. It was actually recognized as a historic monument in 1911. The ground floor cornice still retains its original inscription written in Middle French.

    • Rating: 5/10 – Hole in the Wall Wonder
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: Worth a stop if you’re in the area.

    13. Amble Around 59 Rivoli

    59 Rivoli Paris

    Another underrated place in Paris, the 59 Rivoli is a far cry from Paris’ glamorous vibe but in my opinion, it’s well worth a visit!

    This artistic squat originally started out as an abandoned, 6-storey building. After the building was evicted, a bunch of squatters moved in and they all happened to be artists! The government eventually supported them by allowing them to squat in the place and that’s how this colorful, heavily graffitied place came to be.

    Located in the first arrondissement, 59 Rivoli is especially known for its brightly-hued spiral staircase and intricate murals. While this spot is steadily growing in popularity thanks to social media, plenty of travelers still don’t know about it yet – perfect for travelers who want to do some digging around without large gaggles of tourists!

    • Rating: 7/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

    14. Check Out Paris Point Zero

    Paris Point Zero
    Photo: patrick janicek (Flickr)

    Paris is full of quirky customs like drinking tea out of a bowl (only at breakfast) or greeting people by kissing them on each cheek. But did you know that another tradition is to place a foot right in the middle of Paris Point Zero?

    Visually speaking, Paris Point Zero is a pretty unremarkable secret in Paris: it’s basically a plaque embedded in the square located right in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. In fact, most tourists just ended up walking right over it when they used to visit Notre Dame prior to the devastating 2019 fires.

    When the square is packed with tourists (as it usually is!), the plaque can be hard to find, but keep your eyes peeled for a glint of bronze surrounded by an inscription that reads, Point Zéro Des Routes De France.

    Representing the exact center of Paris, this spot is shrouded in traditions. For example, placing one foot on the plaque is said to make your deepest wish come true. Others will tell you that kissing the love of your life on the marker is a sign of undying devotion.

    • Rating: 5/10 – Mildly Intriguing
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Don’t cancel your plans but pencil it in if time allows.

    15. Visit the Room of Endangered and Extinct Species

    Gallery of Evolution Paris
    Photo: Mustang Joe (Flickr)

    Let’s wrap up this list of magical places in Paris with a place that can best be described as… sobering.

    Home to over 200 specimens, the Room of Endangered and Extinct Species (found in the Gallery of Evolution) sheds some light on the different species that were pushed to extinction or endangerment.

    Located in a wood-paneled room, this section of the museum is deliberately kept dark and cold, with the main light sources emanating mostly from the display cases. You’ll see various extinct or endangered plants and animals like the Aye-Aye or the Sumatran Tiger.

    This is also a great opportunity for learning about lesser-known species like the Coelacanth fish or the Barbary lion which is now extinct in the wild.

    While this room is mostly devoted to natural history, you’ll also see some interesting bits and pieces like a gold clock that used to belong to Marie Antoinette. Believe it or not, the clock still works today and you’ll hear it chime through the room as you walk through the display cases!

    • Rating: 8/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: $15
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

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    Hidden Gems in Paris FAQs

    There’s still more to come. Here are more hidden treasures in Paris to put on your map.

    Final Thoughts on Paris’ Hidden Gems

    And there you have it – a tantalizing taste of the City of Light away from that well-trodden tourist track!

    I’m sure by now you’ve realized that the city overflows with treasures that are just waiting to be discovered. Delightful surprises and cheap French wine beckon you to explore.

    Take your time to amble around. Don’t hesitate to stray away from the usual tourist haunts. After all, you never know when you can stumble across yet another beautifully hidden gem in Paris!

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