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Discover 9 Most Hidden Gems in Paris Tourists Miss

Updated: Feb 14

With a remarkable 30 million annual tourists exploring Paris, iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Cœur, and Jardin de Luxembourg are always in high demand. Undoubtedly breathtaking, these locations are a must-visit. Yet, what if there were hidden gems—beautiful places and experiences—that often go unnoticed?

These are the gems that elude most tourists, offering a unique glimpse into the authentic Paris. Here, we present the 9 most overlooked places that visitors often miss when exploring the City of Lights.

9 Incredible Places & Experiences Tourists Miss in Paris

1. Le Petit Palais

This is a place I love visiting. The Petit Palais (or "Little Palace") is a hidden beautiful palace, museum hangout and café all in one. And the best part is, it is completely Free! (Except the coffee of course). It was built in 1900 for the Paris "Exposition Universelle', the Petit Palais has a beautiful architecture and is filled with amazing sculptures, historic monuments, and breathtaking paintings like Monet's Impression Sunrise painting. The Petit Palais also hosts a wide variety of private collections and expositions if you are also interested.

The museum is a giant circle that you can easily navigate, and it has a sublevel featuring a diverse range of art spanning different periods. Despite multiple visits, I haven't explored every section due to the vast collection.

After your museum exploration, if you fancy some downtime, head to the fantastic courtyard. Outdoor tables and chairs are scattered around, providing a perfect spot to grab a coffee or wine from the café. It's truly a place where you can unwind, soak in the serene atmosphere, and admire the beautiful garden and sky.

To plan your visit, checkout details on their website.

2. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Hidden from plain sight, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is a tiny magical, bustling mini city and market inside Paris can easily slip by unnoticed, particularly if you're not actively searching for it. Established in 1615 by order of Louis XIII, the oldest market in Paris is named after the L'Hospice des Enfants Rouges (Hospice of the Red Children).

Nestled near Arts et Métiers, it offers a diverse culinary experience with French, Italian, Japanese, Moroccan, fresh market, and bakery delights. Whether you're a food enthusiast or just searching for a secret spot to relax with coffee or wine, this hidden gem on Rue de Bretagne is a must-visit secret passage in the heart of Paris. A place where the ordinary dissolves into the extraordinary, and each step feels like a discovery, inviting you to create lasting memories in this enchanting refuge.

To visit and see its opening times and schedule click here.

3. Cour du Commerce-Saint-André

This is a place I was introduced to recently by a friend, and I was totally blown away by it. Similarly to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, La Cour du Commerce Saint-André is a secret passage can be dismissed as any boring alley if you're not paying attention. Once you enter into the gates, you will be transported into the 1800 with its beautiful architecture with incredible lights, decoration, shops and food! It's filled with amazing restaurants and super fun and hip places to hang out, and with cuisine from around the world.

The charming Cour du Commerce-Saint-André, located in the heart of the Odéon area in the 6th arrondissement, connects Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-André-des-Arts. It captivates us with its authentic ambiance and interesting history. This open-air route, which dates back to the 18th century as a previous actual tennis court on the moats of Philippe Auguste's fortifications, displays obvious relics of the old structure, including the remains of a tower at Number 4.

Aside from its architectural significance, the courtyard has a rich history, having served as a meeting place for Enlightenment philosophers at the legendary Procope, Paris' oldest café.

Aside from its architectural significance, the courtyard has a rich history, serving as a gathering place for Enlightenment philosophers at the legendary Procope, Paris's oldest café, at number 20, which is marked by a statue in the road where his former home stood.

To visit and see details about the Cour du Commerce St. André click here.

4. Musée et Café Carnavalet

Step into the magic of history at Musée Carnavalet, Paris's oldest museum, located in the heart of Marais. Open to the public since February 25, 1880, within the enchanting setting of Hôtel Carnavalet, this museum unfolds over two historic mansions, offering an architectural journey spanning more than 450 years.

Immerse yourself in the captivating narrative of Parisian history, meticulously preserved in this architectural gem. Explore the museum's rich collections, continuously expanding for over 150 years, tracing the fascinating story of Paris from prehistory to the present day. Indulge in the cinematic ambiance of Musée Carnavalet's breathtaking outdoor garden and café, complemented by a delightful restaurant.

Experience the allure of history like never before. To view opening times, click here.

5. Crêperies at Montparnasse (A Taste of Brittany)

Nestled in Montparnasse, a district brimming with history and culinary delights, discover the heartwarming tale of how Breton traditions infused this Parisian quarter with the art of crêpes. Originating from Brittany, France, the birthplace of crêpes dating back to the 13th century, many Bretons journeyed to Montparnasse, bringing their cherished crêperies, restaurants, and cafés to life. For Parisians, Montparnasse stands out as a haven for savoring the most authentic crêpes and galettes (savory crêpes) in the city (PSST! Get "la complète", and then the "beurre salé" for dessert).

But Montparnasse isn't just a culinary haven; it's a tapestry of iconic landmarks. Imagine stepping back into the elegance of the Twenties at La Coupole, a classic French brasserie on 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, adorned with Art Deco charm. Le Dôme café, founded in 1897 at 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, once a haunt for Anglo-American literati, has transformed into a sophisticated fish bistro. La Closerie des Lilas, a French restaurant, brasserie, and piano bar since 1847 at 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, has hosted luminaries like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dali, and Jagger.

Delve into the vibrant history of Montparnasse's traditional cafés, bars, and bistros, where creative minds such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, and Man Ray found inspiration. Explore hidden gems like the Rosebud speakeasy at 11 Rue Delambre.

For a tranquil experience, take a leisurely stroll in Montparnasse Cemetery, the resting place of luminaries like Sartre, Irish writer Samuel Beckett, and other world-renowned figures. Montparnasse welcomes you into a world of cultural richness, where every bite of a crêpe tells a story.

A crêperie you can visit and that's recommended by French locals is Le Petit Josselin.

6. Parc Cité Universitaire

If you have flown in to Charles de Gaulle airport and used the RER B train to go to Paris, you probably stopped at the final stop, Cité Universitaire. As its name suggests, this is a station directly in front of the famous international student dormitory that hosts 12,000+ per year from all around the world. It even has dormitories specific for almost every country!

Now the entrance to the university is impressive and all, but after gazing for around 5–7 minutes and marvelling at how many students are walking about, it's easy to dismiss it and go to the “main attractions” in Paris. However! If you enter the main building and keep walking straight, you will find a huge, beautiful and relaxing park filled with sights, paths, flowers, a café, and even places to play the famous colloquial french game, “la pétanque”.

A historic building and rebuilt after World War II, Cité Uiversitaire is a one-of-a-kind campus globally. It's a private foundation, recognized for its public service, owned by donation from the universities of Paris. Each year, it hosts students and researchers from 150 different nationalities in its 43 residences.

While it doesn't offer formal education, it provides a unique model of communal living. As a hub for innovative thinking shaping the future, Cité Universitaire is a global hub nestled in the heart of Paris. Serving as both a living space for many future talents and a breeding ground for ideas and interactions, it's more than just accommodation; it's a hub of creativity and exchange.

To learn more or to schedule a guided visit to the parc Cité Universitaire, click here.

7. La Coulée Verte René-Dumont

One of the most beautiful experiences in Paris is to visit at least one its coulées vertes ("green flows"), and one of the most awe-inspiring ones is the Coulée Verte René-Dumont. Parisians and French a-like love this coulée verte because it is full of magic, beauty, and mystery as it takes you on a pathway of discovery.

Coulée Verte René-Dumont, previously known as the Promenade Plantée, is a pathway spanning over 4.7 kilometers. It stretches from the Bastille Opera to the Boulevard Périphérique at the Porte de Montempoivre (near the intersection of Boulevard Carnot, Avenue Émile-Laurent, and Rue Édouard-Lartet).

Following the route of a former railway line, the Coulée Verte immerses you in a lush green landscape that can make you forget the hustle and bustle of the capital city.

To schedule your visit and learn more information, click here.

8. Château de Vincennes

If you are into French history and battles, the Château de Vincennes is the perfect castle for you. Right near the beautiful and floral Bois de Vincennes. The Château de Vincennes, is a majestic fortress on the outskirts of Paris, and it offers a fascinating dive into French history and architecture.

Its towering medieval keep, the tallest in Europe, and the expansive, beautifully preserved grounds transport visitors back to the chivalric age. Beyond its historical significance as a royal residence and a military stronghold, the Château de Vincennes stands out for its architectural features, including the Sainte-Chapelle and its beautiful stained-glass windows.

The castle also served as a pivotal site in French history, from the Middle Ages through to World War II, offering a comprehensive narrative of France's political and cultural evolution. Its rich history, coupled with the serene beauty of the surrounding Bois de Vincennes, makes it a must-visit for those looking to explore the depth of France's heritage away from the bustling city center.

For more information about guided visits to the Château de Vincennes click here.

9. Parc de Saint Cloud

This is a hidden gem cherished by Parisians but often overlooked by tourists, yet it's an absolute must-see. Named after Cloud (Clodoald), a Catholic saint in 522 A.D., and son of Clovis, the founder of the Kingdom of the Franks, Saint-Cloud boasts a rich history. It served as the residence of Marie-Antoinette, was home to Napoleon Bonaparte and where he was proclaimed Emperor of France in 1804, and in July 1870, it witnessed Napoleon III signing the declaration of war against Prussia.

Spanning over 1,100 acres, the Parc de Saint Cloud is revered as one of Europe's most breathtaking estates. Its allure lies in its stunning architecture, meticulously manicured gardens, captivating sculptures, elegant fountains, captivating artworks, serene woods, ideal for climbing, hiking, and biking, a museum showcasing its rich heritage, and it's hailed as one of the finest picnic spots near Paris. Moreover, the park offers unparalleled panoramic views of Paris, including the iconic Eiffel Tower.

To visit and learn more about the Parc de Saint Cloud click here.

Go On and Discover These Hidden Gems in Paris!

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We hope you found our 9 top hidden gems in Paris valuable, and we hope we were able to show amazing new places that you can add to your trip to Paris!

There is so much to discover in Paris, and we hope you will have an unforgettable time on your next visit! Until next time! Happy travels!

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