Every place has its own hidden gems which only the locals or the bravest and most inquisitive foreigners can find. However, in this short blog, I will show twelve hidden treasures of Paris, all which are truly worth a visit the next time you are in the City of Lights.
Ballon Air de Paris
In the heart of the city, there is a flying attraction for both young and old. Thanks to the genius of Archimedes, people who want a bird’s eye view of Paris can board Ballon Air de Paris and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the capital.
Ballon Air de Paris is the biggest tethered air balloon in the world. Rising to an altitude of 150 meters, the balloon is filled with 6000 m3 of Helium and is attached to the ground by a cable.
Rub the rather cheeky Victor Noir
Almost 150 years after his death, Victor Noir has become a legend of sorts after a bronze statue was erected over his tomb. I literally did a double-take when looking at this tomb! Take a look at his trouser line… you will see why!!!
Urban legend suggests that if you place one single flower in his top hat, kiss his lips and (if you dare) a little rub of his excited trouser hump – you will be forever granted the perfect husband and amazing ‘in the bedroom’ activities for the rest of eternity! A very cheeky tradition, wouldn’t you say!
Beehives at Jardin du Luxembourg
At the southwest corner of Jardin du Luxembourg, a bunch of busy bees are making honey for local Parisians. An apiary (collection of beehives) since 1856, this secluded, but fascinating part of the beautiful Luxembourg gardens allows you to learn more about the process in which honey is made. The more adventurous can even have a try for themselves with classes every Wednesday and Saturday.
Boating at the Bois de Boulogne
Another activity off the tourist-trail is Bois de Boulogne and its boating area. Bois de Boulogne was once a hunting ground for the Kings of France, but now, it has become a key destination for those wishing to relax in Western Paris. It is one of the largest parks in the west of Paris and offers a vast array of activities such as a trek around Lac Inférieur and a boating experience in the lake.
Little Sri Lanka
There are over 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils currently living in France, and you will find many of them in Parisian’s “Little Jaffna”, located at the end of Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis
Commonly mistaken as Little Bombay by many Parisians, you will see women in vibrant saris, colourful shops selling everything from silk to spices, cheaper Indian restaurants
You will also hear the latest Bollywood music bouncing around the streets while find your way around the town. And that strong fragrance of spices stacked in the groceries and restaurants… mmmm… it’s so evocative! Don’t forget to save some time to try their chai tea and samosas before you leave.
Belleville was once a village that provides wine to central Paris, but now, it turned livelier with its own Chinatown, artistic quarter and has become a melting pot of different cultures.
You will find Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and French restaurants and Bistros all around Belleville with significantly lower prices than anywhere else in the capital. For example, there is a major Chinese neighbourhood located between the canal and The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Paris sewer system
What is the strangest museum you’ve ever visited? Now you can add the Paris Sewer System to your list. Here you can follow the history of the city’s drainage system from its first ever sewer system in the 1200’s, to the epidemics of the dark ages, and to the creation of the modern sewer system of Paris. For an unforgettable hour, you can walk through tunnels and see the machines and gushing sewer water underneath your feet.
Underneath the glowing lights and bustle of Parisian streets, there lies a creepy labyrinth of carefully arranged skulls and bones. The ossuaries hold the remains of almost six million Parisians from the late 18th century. In addition to the unsettling number of human bones, you will also find graffiti dating all the way back to French Revolution and enigmatic inscriptions lining the walls. It is not advisable to enter the Catacombs illegally because of the risk of getting lost.
You may find some of them strange at first, but all have their own beauty, and allow you to see another dimension to Paris. Nevertheless, we know that there are still more secret places which might be even better than those in the list; we would appreciate any suggestions and comments from you.