Exploring the Secrets and Back Streets of Paris

We all know about Paris being the City of Love.

And the chances are that if you ever head over to this incredible part of France, you will find yourself visiting all those famous locations like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre.

But actually, there is a lot more to Paris than you hear about in the average travel guide.

Look a little further afield and off the well-beaten track, and you will find a plethora of exciting, interesting and wonderful experiences.

With this in mind, we’re going to take a look at some of the alternatives that Paris has to offer. This cliche-free guide will reveal some awesome places that few tourists know about, meaning access should be simple and straightforward.

Ready to explore the back streets of Paris? 

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower at night,  from the Montparnasse Tower
photo credit

Montparnasse Tower

Most people head to the Eiffel Tower to get their panoramic view of Paris. But what about going for something different – a panoramic view that actually has the Eiffel Tower in it?

You might recognize the view from the Montparnasse Tower, as many people use it as a place to shoot brilliant snaps of the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not the only thing on offer.

Montparnasse is one of Europe’s tallest buildings, costs less than its competitor, and there are much shorter queues! Head over there at night and enjoy the bright city lights of Paris and the Eiffel Tower to see this particular view at its best.


La Promenade Plantee

The best Paris walking tours will show you the famous sites, of course, but they will also bring you to places such as La Promenade Plantee. Its rough translation is The Green Walkway, and it’s a stunning, three-mile-long green space elevated on an old railway line.

The walk will take you through a pathway covered by beautiful trees and shrubs, which is best experienced in the spring and summer months.

You’ll see everyone from families walking their dogs to people taking romantic picnics together – and it’s also a favorite spot for the locals.


La Dôme des Invalides
Le Dôme des Invalides
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Le Dome des Invalides

This is a fantastic little museum that is home to a huge array of historical treasures.

But the building itself is a place of wonder, with exceptionally beautiful architecture that is probably worth the small entrance fee by itself.

However, the pride of place in the museum is, without doubt, the tomb of Napoleon, and the vast array of military artifacts on display – some of the best in Europe.


Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Graveyards aren’t everyone’s favorite place, of course. But whether cemeteries are on your travel bucket list or not, this one is something special.

For those that are fans of The Doors, it’s something of a pilgrimage, as the lead singer Jim Morrison is buried thereBut the whole place is a thing of beauty, with cobbled paths, a peaceful atmosphere and trees lining the whole area.

If you are in Paris in the fall, make sure you visit this hauntingly beautiful place – many people come away feeling rather touched.


Chez Marianne, Le Marais
Chez Marianne, a fixture of the Le Marais neighborhood
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Le Marais

If you want to see one of the best places for shopping and cafe culture in Paris, head to Le Marais.

It’s one of the most fashionable areas of the city, and there’s a vast array of different eateries, boutiques, and plenty of surprises.

The small little-cobbled lanes are inviting, and draw you into an environment that is loved by locals and savvy tourists alike. Just bring lots of spending money, as you won’t be able to resist a lot of the shopping on offer!



Le Marais might be the most fashionable part of Paris. But make no mistake about it, Belleville is the coolest.

It’s a truly cosmopolitan place, with a heady mix of working-class people, hipsters and bohemians from all races and backgrounds.

This hodgepodge and mesh of cultures result in a brilliant atmosphere, and it’s fair to say that the locals like to keep Belleville as something of a secret. It can look a little rundown and messy – but that’s part of the charm.

If you like your city travel with a little more grit, you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere cooler in Europe.


The Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures

Like all slightly off-center major cities, there are plenty of bizarre places in Paris. One of them is the Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures.

It’s an old, wonderfully quirky museum that focuses on the occult, and houses a huge array of weird and wonderful things.

Expect to find ancient books on demons, vampire killing kits, and all manner of macabre objects and exhibits.


Canal St. Martin
Canal Saint-Martin
photo credit

Canal St Martin

Paris has always enjoyed a reputation for being a great place for underground scenes to develop – and graffiti is a good example.

If you love your graf culture, make sure you head to Canal St Martin in the 10th arrondissement – it’s fantastic for street art.

Tie this brilliant graffiti with some incredible shops, amazing street food, and you have an experience you will remember for many years. There are plenty of tour operators that work in this part of town, but the best way to see Canal St Martin is just to get a map and explore it all yourself.


The Catacombs

Every big city has its underground secrets, but none are quite like those you will find in Paris. The Catacombs are simply incredible, and a must-visit for anyone with a love of history.

Dating way back in time to the Roman era, the catacombs used to be used for quarrying but were turned into something similar to a mass graveyard in the Middle Ages.

It’s a little creepy down there, to be honest, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But the historical facts that the catacombs were used for all kinds of things like smuggling and underground cults make it a must-see.


Have you ever explored the backstreets of Paris?

Tell us about your experiences and suggestions.

Share them in the comments section below!


  1. Evan Kristine

    Paris is indeed a perfect romantic place. So much to do and enjoy beautiful sights plus the delicious foods to savor every bite. Enjoyed reading this post of yours and I love looking at your pictures.

  2. Pingback: Paris: Romantic Date Ideas – dipkiss travels

  3. Samantha Sparrow

    I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t love Paris when I visited – I just don’t think it was for me. that said, I have vowed to return to get a little more acquainted and I felt that getting off the tourist track would help so this guide is perfect. I have wanted to visit the cemetery for ages to see Jim Morrison’s grave. I’d also like to head to Montparnasse Tower for the views!

  4. Sandy N Vyjay

    Paris indeed has so many secret treasures that need to be explored. Our visit to Paris was confined to the main sights like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc.. However the next time around we hope to explore Paris and its hidden places more. The Catacombs and the La Promenade Plantee would be high on our list.

  5. Jennifer

    You did a good job of sleuthing out some of Paris’ lesser known attractions. I’d also add a visit to Paris’ only remaining vineyard in the city.

    I live in Bordeaux and one of the places I haven’t been yet in Paris is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. This particular cemetery appears in a lot of books because of its secret nooks and crannies. You reminded me I’ve been wanting to go.

  6. Paige

    Oh my gosh. This makes me want to go to Paris all over again. I didn’t see any of these things when I was in Paris! I would love to visit the vampire museum. That’s so cool!

  7. Vibeke

    Wow, pinning this for later reference. I went to Paris in 2009 and mostly visited the tourist places. I really loved Paris and want to go back. Paris is the perfect place to explore secret and hidden places and streets 😀 Thank you for sharing 😀

  8. Claire

    I think I went for dinner in a restaurant in the Montparnasse Tower, it was absolutely stunning! I adore Paris, and each time I go I try to find somewhere new – I think the Catacombs are next on the list!

  9. Niels Thomas

    Very nice post. It is good to not see the same old touristic places. I have visited all your spots before because Paris is so close to my place. It is a very different experience and I highly recommend it that anybody visiting this beautiful city.

  10. Marcus and Mel

    When you visit Paris for the first time you definitely need to go to the famous sights. Although if you are lucky enough to be staying longer or returning for a second visit then exploring the backstreets is a must. We’ve done the Catacombs which was great fun and agree, the Montparnasse Tower offers superb views over the city. The Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures sounds fun and we must try that on our next visit.

  11. noel

    I’ve only been to a few of these hidden gems and now you’ve given me another reason to go back to gorgeous Paris and visit these wonderful hidden attractions in the city.

  12. Shweta

    Nice post. I feel Paris is one city where one trip is just not enough. So much to see and experience. I have been only once and taken in the top sights as a first-time traveler. But would love to go back and walk around the neighbourhoods suggested in your post to get a deeper feel of this magical city.

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