Paris, often seen as the epicentre of culture and sophistication, attracts millions to its famed streets every year. But what if you’re keen to sidestep the well-trodden paths to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre? Ever fancied exploring the peculiar nooks of Paris that remain untouched by the Instagram crowds, well, here’s a few unusual things to do in Paris in 2024

Forget the typical ‘must-sees’ and let your curiosity lead you down the cobblestones to the lesser-known but equally fascinating jewels of Paris. From hidden gems to exhilarating experiences, the city holds scores of secrets just waiting for you to discover. So, ready for an adventure off the beaten track?

Catacombs After Dark

Paris catacombs
The Paris Catacombs

Stepping into the Paris Catacombs after the sun sets offers a remarkably different perspective from the typical tourist trail. Imagine embarking on a tour twenty meters below the bustling city streets, amid the bones of millions, in a journey that is as historical as it is haunting.

Exclusive Nighttime Tours

Looking for something truly special? Exclusive nighttime tours of the Catacombs are an opportunity not to be missed. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Booking: Reserve your spot at catacombes.paris.fr.
  • Price: Adult admission with an audioguide is €29, while a reduced rate is applicable at €23. For children aged 5-17, the cost is €10.

It’s essential to book online to guarantee entry, as the demand for this eerie excursion is high.

  • When: Tours are available from Tuesday to Sunday, with last entry at 19:30.
  • Where: Your subterranean adventure begins at 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris.

These tours offer an intimate experience of the Catacombs, allowing you to absorb the solemn atmosphere without the usual crowds.

Secret Tunnel Experiences

Ever heard of the Gallery towards Port-Mahon or the legend of the underground waters in Port-Mahon well? These are just a peek into the secret tunnel experiences you can expect:

  • Gallery towards Port-Mahon: A historic passageway overlooking a ramp connecting two quarry levels. It’s one of the hidden gems you’ll encounter.
  • Port-Mahon Well: Witness the mysterious underground waters in this well, a sight rarely seen by the public.

As you navigate through the labyrinth, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a different era.

Remember, the Catacombs aren’t just about the bones; they are a testament to the history of Paris itself, with street name inscriptions and the engineers’ signatures etched into the stone, narrating stories from centuries past.

And after you’ve delved into this empire of death, why not extend the memory of your visit? The gift and bookshop at the exit offers souvenirs like caps and mugs to commemorate your explorations into Paris’s enigmatic underbelly.

Cinema Paradiso

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Have you ever fancied watching a classic film right in the heart of Paris? This July, the unique open-air film festival, Cinema Paradiso Louvre, transforms the Cour Carrée of the Louvre Museum into a magical movie theatre under the stars.

Drive-In Boat Movie

Imagine floating on water while enjoying a film on a giant screen. This isn’t your typical drive-in; it’s a boat-in! Carefully moor your boat and get ready for an experience like no other with a 24-meter-wide screen lighting up the night.

Floating Screenings

Not on a boat? No problem. Each evening, a series of cult movies and exclusive previews is projected, and you can be part of this from the comfort of a deck chair. With an atmosphere amplified by live concerts and DJ sets, it’s a summer’s night dream.

Location & Access:

  • Entrance: Cour Carrée du Louvre, Musée du Louvre, 75001 Paris
  • Parking: Lot Croix des Petits Champs, 14-20 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris
  • Public Transport: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre or Musée d’Orsay Stations

Tickets & Timing:

  • Entry: Booking is required
  • Opening Times: Films begin at sunset; check the specific timings upon booking
  • Cost: Prices vary based on seating options; ensure to check the latest prices when booking

More Information:

  • At the time of writing tickets aren’t live on the website, but the cinema is definitely live in July 2024 – Check here nearer the time
  • Don’t forget to arrive early to secure the best view!

Offbeat Art Galleries

Searching for something a tad different from the classic Parisian art scenes? Let’s discover galleries where underground and rooftop exhibitions transform the way you interact with art.

Underground Exhibitions

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By Airair (talk · contribs) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=760359

Ever fancied seeing art with a side of subterranean mystique? 59 Rivoli is an art space unlike any other. Nestled in the heart of Paris, it’s where creativity runs wild and free. Imagine walking through a living canvas, where every inch from the staircases to the walls exudes artistic expression.

  • Entrance: 59 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
  • Cost: Free admission
  • Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday from 1 PM to 8 PM
  • Further Information: 59rivoli.org

Rooftop Views

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This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

Can you picture a panoramic view of Paris paired with exquisite art? That’s precisely what you’ll find at the Montparnasse Tower Exhibition. Not only can you gaze upon the sprawling Parisian cityscape, you get to do it while surrounded by stunning artworks. It’s a double treat, featuring both visual and cultural feasts!

  • Entrance: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris, France
  • Cost: Around €18 for adults
  • Opening Times: Daily from 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM
  • Further Information: montparnasse-tower.com

Urban Vineyard Tastings

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Fancy sipping a glass of wine right in the heart of Paris? Urban vineyards offer a unique twist on the typical wine-tasting experience. Imagine the stories you could tell after visiting a vineyard nestled among the historic streets of Paris!

Wine Workshops

Clos de Bercy Wine Workshop

  • Location: 41 rue Paul Belmondo, 75012 Paris, SE Paris
  • Cost: Prices may vary; visit the website for current rates
  • Opening Times: Check the website for the latest workshop schedules
  • Bookings & Info: Clos de Bercy Wine Workshop

At Clos de Bercy, you can immerse yourself in the intricacies of wine, right within the city. Each session is designed to enhance your understanding and appreciation of wine, from the very basics of vine cultivation to the subtleties of flavour and aroma that define a fine vintage.

Vineyard Tours

montmartre vineyard rue des saules

Clos Montmartre Vineyard Tour

  • Location: Just behind the Montmartre Museum, 18th Arrondissement
  • Cost: Typically, entry is free, but some tours may charge a fee
  • Opening Times: Vary throughout the year; visit the site for accurate times
  • Bookings & Info: Clos Montmartre Vineyard Tour

Did you know the Clos Montmartre is the most renowned vineyard in Paris, with over a millennium of winemaking history? This vineyard, developed in 1933 to thwart property developers, now provides a slice of rural charm in urban Paris. Learn about the winemaking process and savour the unique flavours of their produce. It’s a not-to-be-missed experience for wine lovers and curious visitors alike.

Vintage Shopping

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The Latin Quarter, Paris

Fancy a jaunt through time and fashion, my fellow treasure hunter? Let’s trot down to some of the chic vintage shops adorning the historic streets of Paris. Imagine leafing through racks of unique garments, each with a tale woven into its threads.

Sous les pavés, le vintage beckons in the Latin Quarter. Stroll through 101 square metres of sartorial elegance, offering handmade vintage dresses and dapper second-hand jackets. Remember, this spot is a bit of a splurge but totally worth it for that one-of-a-kind find!

  • Location: Latin Quarter, Paris
  • Entry: Free
  • Opening Times: Vary, check ahead
  • More Info: No direct website, but a quick online search should lead you to current details.

What about exploring a bit further? Les friperies are dotted around various quartiers, offering a mishmash from high-end pieces to budget-friendly winter coats.

And for those after a quirky adventure, why not peek at the Weirdest Shop in the 19th arrondissement?

  • Location: 22 avenue de Flandre, 19th arrondissement, Metro: Stalingrad
  • Entry: Free
  • Opening Times: Call +33 (0)1 42 40 76 68 for latest hours
  • More Info: Unfortunately, there’s no online booking, but a well-timed visit could land you in a curiosity paradise!

Still got some energy? March yourself to Chercheminippes for a full-on family shopping spree.

  • Location: 102-124 rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 Paris
  • Entry: Free
  • Opening Times: Visit Chercheminippes or dial +33 (0)1 45 44 97 96 for up-to-date information.

For those luxurious cravings, Opulence Vintage offers a sumptuous array of designer goods.

  • Location: Near the stock exchange palace, centre of Paris
  • Entry: Free
  • Opening Times: To be safe, check before you go
  • More Info: No website listed, but a bit of sleuthing online will get you there.

Whether you’re after a Parisian chic look or an eccentric ensemble, the City of Light’s vintage scene will not disappoint! Are you ready to dig in and dress up?

Culinary Adventures

Ever fancied nibbling your way through Paris beyond the classic croissant? Dive into these culinary adventures that offer more than a taste of French tradition; they provide a ticket to the extraordinary!

Innovative French Cuisine

COCO DE MER

Why not whisk your senses away to the Seychelles without leaving Paris? COCO DE MER offers a traditional Seychelles cuisine right on an artificial beach.

  • Location: Paris, exact address to be verified locally
  • Entry: Prices vary; consult the menu
  • Opening times: Business hours to be enquired directly
  • Bookings and information: Visit the restaurant’s page

Derrière Curious about Paris’ secret dining? Derrière might just be your perfect hideaway.

  • Location: It’s tucked behind a courtyard near Le 404 and Andy Wahloo in the Marais
  • Entry: Menu prices apply
  • Opening times: Check directly with the restaurant
  • Bookings and information: Find more here

Cooking Classes

Fancy trying your hand at fine French cooking? Paris offers numerous cooking classes for all levels.

  • La Cuisine Paris: Have you always wanted to master the art of French pastries? This is your spot.
    • Location: 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris
    • Cost: Various, depending on the class chosen
    • Times: Different schedules available
    • Further details: Book a class
  • L’atelier des Chefs: Perhaps you’re leaning towards a more comprehensive culinary session?
    • Location: Several locations in Paris, confirm via website
    • Cost: Starts from about €38 for a class
    • Times: Flexible; check website for availability
    • More info: Check it out

Get ready to stir, bake, and flambeé your way to a mouth-watering Parisian adventure!

Historical Role-Playing

Ever fancied yourself in the middle of a historical saga or wanted to walk in the shoes of a character from the days of yore? Well, Paris offers some enthralling experiences where you can do just that!

Revolutionary Tours

Have you ever imagined being part of the French Revolution? Now’s your chance! Dive into the past with a Revolutionary Tour, where you, clad in period costume, can march down the same cobblestoned streets as Parisians did over two centuries ago.

  • Location: Starts at Place de la Bastille, 75011 Paris
  • Entry Cost: Approximately €30 per person
  • Operating Times: Tours start at 2:00 PM on Saturdays
  • Booking and Info: Revolutionary Tours Booking

Murder Mystery Nights

Looking for an evening filled with intrigue and suspense? Murder Mystery Nights offer you a chance to become a detective or a suspect in a whodunit set in various historical periods. It’s an interactive theatre experience right at the heart of Paris, where every participant has a crucial role to play.

  • Location: Le Procope, 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris
  • Entry Cost: Starts at €60 per person, including a three-course meal
  • Operating Times: Usually starts at 7:00 PM on select evenings
  • Booking and Info: Murder Mystery Paris Booking

Don’t miss the opportunity to spin the wheel of time and enjoy an evening of historic fun and games. Who knew learning about the past could be so dynamic and exciting?

An Evening in Montmartre

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Photo by Anna Hunko on Unsplash

Montmartre, with its bohemian history, is the perfect spot for an evening filled with the charm of Paris. But have you ever wondered what lies beyond the typical tourist trail as night falls? Let’s explore some secret gems!

Secret Jazz Clubs

Ever fancied stumbling upon a hidden jazz club where the soothing sax and double bass echo into the night? Jazz à la Tête des Trains, known for inviting an eclectic mix of both local and renowned artists, offers this exact experience. Feel the rhythm at 45 Rue des Cloys, 75018 Paris, with doors opening at 7 pm. For the budget-conscious, entry fees are usually around €15. Peek at their schedule and secure your spot at Jazz Train Paris.

Artist Studio Visits

What about getting up close and personal with contemporary art where it’s made? Montmartre’s artists’ studios are open by appointment, allowing you an exclusive peek into the creative process. Visit the famed Studio 52, located at 52 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris. Entry can range, but typically it’s about €10 for a guided experience. Openings are typically from 5 pm to 9 pm, but booking in advance is essential. Find out more and book at Montmartre Art Studios.

Nick Garnett
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I've been travelling since the 70's and have visited over 30 countries, but, and it's a big but, my heart has always been in the French countryside. So much so that 15 years ago, my wife Charlotte and I bought a little hamlet house in central France and haven't been anywhere since, except for the odd trip to the Polish steppes (don't ask why, it's complicated). FiftyFrance is an expression of our deep and abiding love for France and her people.

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