We all know the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, and the Louvre Museum. And maybe you’ve taken a tumble or two deeper into the rabbit hole of this magical city.
But we want to take you even deeper. Here are ten hidden gems we have uncovered in recent months as part of our “Paris Countdown” explorations. This means everything listed below is located in the 10th-20th arrondissements (the rest of Paris is coming next!).
Be honest in the comments below, how many of these places have you seen?
1. Go for a joyride on an original carousel
At the Musée des Arts Forains (a fairground museum) you can ride several incredible carousels, including one with pedals where you essentially choose the speed. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you might remember seeing Owen Wilson dancing near one of these historic rides. The whole museum is offbeat and excellent, a must-see! Address: 53 Av. des Terroirs de France, 75012
2. Set foot on the floating bookshop
Imagine browsing books by the light of a circular window that’s just a touch above water lever of the Paris canals. Well, that’s the Péniche L’Eau Et Les Rêves (“The barge of water and dreams”)! In the hull is a collection of books about gardening and plants, and a charming cafe. Cyrille, the owner, talked a lot more about the boat and the neighbourhood on the podcast. (Many more pictures of this magical place – and a full blog post – here). @penichelibrairie Address: 9 Quai de l’Oise, 75019
3. Explore the most beautiful secret passage in Paris
The 11th arrondissement is full of old alleyways which were once teeming with artisans. Furniture makers, frame fixers, handymen and more. Nowadays, the passages are still there, but it’s often residents or office workers inside the buildings. If you know where to look, you’ll find stunning oases of calm and sometimes an artisan from today plying their trade. A good one to start at is Passage Lhomme… but we visited about ten of them with the photographer. Here are our full findings and many more pictures.
4. Visit the Parisian church with a metal interior
Have you ever seen this much metal inside a church? The Église Notre-Dame-du-Travail was constructed using the metal stripped from one of the Universal Expositions. Unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in Paris… maybe even in Europe! Address: 59 Rue Vercingétorix, 75014
5. Be blown away by this undiscovered museum
The Musée de l’Éventail (Fan Museum) is a delight tucked away in what was once a (huge) Paris apartment. It’s a functioning atelier too, meaning you’ll likely see people making the hand-held fans as you explore the museum. @museedeleventail. Address: 2 Bd de Strasbourg, 75010
6. Find the king’s enormous globes
Head to the François-Mitterrand Library where you can find the enormous Globes of Coronelli, seemingly suspended in a dark room. Each is about four metres in diameter (over 13 feet). One shows the Earth as far as it had been explored in the 17th century, the other shows celestial star formations. The globes were a gift to Louis XIV. We share more about these globes here.
Address: Quai François Mauriac, 75706
7. Find the OTHER flea market in Paris
The excellent Vanves Flea market is much more fun than its famous big brother to the north (Saint-Ouen). You can find all sorts of treasures from friendly locals, and not anywhere near as many tourists. You can read a lot more about my visit here, and if you’re a Patreon member, click here for a replay of my stroll through the market. Address: 5 Av. de la Porte de Vanves, 75014
8. Find the enormous Statue of Liberty on ‘Swan Island’
The Île aux Cygnes is a man-made island bang in the middle of the river Seine, just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower. There are many more pictures from this excellent strolling island here, but be sure to walk all the way to the western edge for a closer look at the biggest statue of liberty in Paris. (Here’s how to find the other seven). Address: Île aux Cygnes, 75015
9. Travel back in time at this Art Nouveau bar
The Cravan bar is a real treat: both visually and when it comes to the cocktails. You can find the bar inside an art nouveau building that dates back to 1911, designed by the famed Hector Guimard. Inside, the cocktails are much more modern but equally impressive. Read more about it here in our blog post, including an interview with the owner Franck. Address: 17 Rue Jean de la Fontaine, 75016
10. Seek out the private mosaic lobbies
Now these are private residences, so do this with respect and perhaps discretion. But dotted around the 16th arrondissement are some of the finest lobbies you’ll find in France. Here’s a sneak peek at one we found that got me so overwhelmed that I had to sit down. (Here are all the pictures and the addresses from our mosaic explorations).
That’s it for now! On Monday we’ll be back with a new blog post and podcast episode, this time about the ninth arrondissement of Paris. To catch up on all the posts from this Paris Countdown, click here. And to get a taste of the podcast episodes, click play below.