paris hidden gems
Europe,  Travel

26 Must-see Paris Hidden Gems

From cozy shopping arcades to secret gardens, here’s my ultimate guide to the must-see hidden gems in Paris.  

Paris boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks.

But if you really want to see a more local and authentic side of Paris, then add a few hidden gems to your itinerary.

Stroll through an artsy district lined with murals, have a luscious picnic on the Seine and sip an espresso at a centuries-old cafe.

Get off the beaten path and you’ll experience the charming Parisian haunts that most visitors never get to see.

And if you’re a first-time visitor, then combine your tours of famous landmarks with some of the city’s best-kept secrets.

You’ll get a more memorable trip that goes beyond the guidebooks.

And you’ll get a much-needed break from the Paris tourist crowds!

paris hidden gems

I always take an afternoon in Paris to wander the avenues and explore without a plan.

And I’ve uncovered some incredible gems along the way.

So here’s my ultimate guide to the best hidden gems that Paris has to offer – and some insider tips from some of my favorite travel writers:  

1. Le Marais

paris hidden gems

Many tourists flock to Montmartre to experience the artsy side of Paris. But Le Marais is where Parisians actually go for art, shopping and nightlife.

Le Marais has been a haven for minority groups throughout history. Today, enclaves of Paris’ Jewish, Chinese, and LGBTQ+ communities make their mark on its vibrant streets.

France’s biggest collection of modern art isn’t at the Musée d’Orsay, but at the Centre Pompidou in the heart of Le Marais.

This stand-out building is easy to spot with colored tubing along its facade. The permanent collection inside includes Kandinsky, Chagall and Miro.

paris hidden gems

Dozens of other smaller museums and galleries dot the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets.

Le Marais is also known for its incredible shopping. Head to shops along Rue Vieille-du-Temple and Rue des Francs-Bourgeois for brand names and quirky vintage shops. The Village Saint-Paul-Le-Marais is filled with antiques from hundreds of independent dealers.

Insider’s tip: To discover Le Marais on foot, start at the Place de la Bastille and its splendid July Column. Then head to the nearby Place des Vosges – Paris’ oldest square and the perfect introduction to Le Marais. Wind your way northwest and stop at the boutiques, museums and cafes that catch your eye.

If you’re a foodie, spend an afternoon in the Marché couvert des Enfants Rouges, the city’s oldest market. It’s brimming with fresh produce and local ambiance.

To explore Le Marais, take the metro to Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau, Metro Republique or Bastille.

– contributed by Mary of Bucket List Places 

2. Parc Monceau

paris hidden gems

Parc Monceau is a lush and quirky park filled with winding walkways, statues of famous French figures and scaled-down models of Egyptian pyramids and Dutch windmills.

It was designed to surprise and amaze visitors as both a natural and fantastical garden. Commissioned in 1779, Parc Monceau boasted a Roman colonnade, a water lily pond and other curiosities.

The park’s main entrance is a wrought-iron, gold-tipped gate near a stately rotunda. Enter here and wander the wide paths. Pass a pond decorated with columns, a carousel and statues of everyone from Chopin to Maupassant.

The garden’s English style sets it apart from the highly landscaped Jardin de Tuileries or Jardin de Luxembourg.

Nature at Parc Monceau grows wild and free.

Parc Monceau

The park has a fascinating history. It was the site of the first silk parachute jump in 1797. And it famously inspired Claude Monet, who painted a series of three paintings of the park.

Insider’s tip: Relax in the grass and watch the locals play frisbee. Parc Monceau is a great picnic spot so pick up some bread and cheese for a slow afternoon on your Paris itinerary.

Walk down the middle path towards the west entrance for a great view of the Arc de Triomphe via Avenue Van Dyke.

– contributed by Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast 

3. Montparnasse Tower

Montparnasse Tower

Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris and the city’s only skyscraper.

And that means spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysees and other Parisian landmarks from the tower’s observation deck.

And while many visitors flock to the Eiffel Tower to get a bird’s-eye view, remember that you can’t see the Eiffel Tower from there!

Montparnasse Tower was built from 1969 and 1973 . It was France’s tallest skyscraper until 2011.

The building has 59 floors and the Observation Deck is on the terrace. There’s also an incredible restaurant called Le Ciel de Paris on the 56th floor.

Montparnasse Tower

Insider’s tip: Have a drink or two at the rooftop bar next door – the highest one in Paris.

Tickets to the observation deck are 18€ for adults. And they’re absolutely worth the price.

The panoramic view you’ll get is jaw-dropping and even better at sunset. Visit at golden hour for the best photo ops.

– contributed by Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad

4. La Samaritaine


La Samaritaine is a stunning 19th-century Parisian icon that boasts more than 650 designer brands wrapped in a glorious Art Nouveau facade.

It contains over 650 designer brands, a spa, and a private shopping experience called L’Appartement that cocoons you in luxury during a private consultation.

If you love fine food, there are 12 restaurants to tempt you with their Michelin-starred chefs whipping up fabulous lunches and dinners.

You can enjoy some of Paris’s finest dishes and cocktails. There are caviar baguettes, wine and tapas, a gourmet coffee roaster, decadent pastries and innovative vegan and vegetarian dishes.


Insider’s tip: Take a guided tour of La Samaritaine to bring its fascinating history to life. There are also wonderful exhibits, pop-up experiences, exhibitions and designer events. Check their website to plan your trip.

La Samaritaine recently re-opened in the first arrondissement of Paris after extensive renovations. Hundreds of artisans worked on the building and used more than 16,000 gold leaves to restore the railings of the central stairway.

Listed as a historic monument, the original building offered quality goods with an innovative service where clients could actually try on garments with clearly marked prices.

With the slogan “One can find everything at Samaritaine,” it quickly became a shopper’s paradise.

– contributed by Faith of XYU And Beyond 

5. Bouillon Chartier

paris hidden gems

paris hidden gems

A Parisian meal by candlelight is one of the things travelers dream about.

Magret de canard or boeuf bourguignon. A red from Bordeaux. Everything loaded with lots of butter. Because that’s the French way – and it’s grand.

But restaurants in Paris can be eye-wateringly expensive. And they don’t often provide the value you’d expect.

Can you eat well in Paris outside of a fast casual bistro?

Enter Bouillon Chartier. This Paris hidden gem is everything you’d expect from French dining – tuxedoed waiters, fast-poured glasses of wine, gold-tinted decor and noisy yet refined conversation in a massive hall.

But for strikingly reasonable prices.

paris hidden gems

Located in the 9th arrondissement (one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Paris), this restaurant first opened in 1896. They’ve since served more than 50 million meals.

Insider’s tip: Almost every main dish on the menu, from duck confit with apples to Alsatian choucroute, is less than 12 euros. With those prices you can easily add on an appetizer and dessert.

But there is a drawback: Bouillon Chartier is insanely popular.

You’ll likely have to wait in line or share a table with a stranger. It’s one Paris restaurant where an early dinner is a good idea.

Bouillon Chartier has recently opened a second location in Montparnasse, adding Left Bank flavor to their enterprise.

It’s a Parisian gem you’ll remember forever.

– contributed by Kate of Adventurous Kate

6. Jardin du Palais Royal

Jardin du Palais Royal

The Jardin du Palais Royal boasts a stately fountain, fragrant rose bushes and chestnut trees just steps away from the popular Jardin des Tuileries.

But it feels much more intimate – and it’s one of the most tranquil parks in the city.

The Jardin du Palais Royal is framed by three splendid mosaic-tiled neoclassical galleries.

These shopping passages still house some of Paris’ most exclusive boutiques. The upper levels consist of residences that come with front row seats to this wonderful garden.

Jardin du Palais Royal

Insider’s tip: The Jardine du Palais Royal is a meeting place for locals. And it’s a great spot for a picnic in the heart of the bustling 1st arrondissement.

The south side of the park includes a series of courtyards with some interesting artwork. The Cour d’Orléans is home to two sphere-shaped fountains that reflect their elegant surroundings and bring life to the monumental complex.

And the Cour d’Honneur is dotted with the iconic black and white columns by sculptor Daniel Buren.

Cardinal Richelieu once called the Palais Royal home and Sun King Louis XIV spent his early years at this palace. The palace is also the birthplace of Parisian comedy. It still houses two theaters: the Comédie Française and the Beaujolais Theater.

– contributed by Sarah of CosmopoliClan

7. Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint Martin

The Canal Saint Martin enchants with beautiful locks, Venetian footbridges, green parks, chestnut trees and lovely spots to enjoy the water.

It’s a popular meeting place for locals for picnics along the banks. In some spots you can rent a small boat and explore the landmarks along the water.

Walk along the canal and enjoy the scenery – or take a bottle of red wine and a nice lunch. There are also dozens of retro bistros and bars in this iconic neighborhood.

This 4.5-kilometer shipping canal was ordered by Napoleon I to supply the city with fresh water and help avoid diseases like cholera. Traffic dwindled in the 1960s and today it’s a popular route for cruises and passenger boats .

Canal Saint Martin

The most stunning stretch is between Rue Dieu and Rue des Recollets, and there are many eateries and bars along the water. There’s also the historic Hotel du Nord, which served as the location for the film Hotel du Nord.

Insider’s tip: Nearby is the gorgeous Parc de la Villette where you’ll spot Parisians playing petanque.

And don’t forget your camera. This Paris hidden gem offers some incredible photo ops.

– contributed by Martina of PlacesofJuma

8. Cafe de Flore



Cafe de Flore is a gorgeous Parisian cafe with a long history as a meeting place for writers, artists and intellectuals.

This Saint-Germain gem opened in the 1880s and is one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris. It’s been frequented by artists like Pablo Picasso and Eugene Ionesco.

And it keeps to its literary roots with the Prix de Flore, an annual literary prize awarded at the cafe.

Cafe de Flore takes its name from a statue of Flora, the goddess of flowers, across the street. And its facade is always overflowing with greenery.

The interior is Art Deco style with red seating and plenty of mahogany and mirrors. It’s a cozy spot to unwind with a coffee and a sweet pastry.

9. Les Deux Magots

les deux magots

Les Deux Magots was once frequented by Pablo Picasso, Joyce, Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus.

Even American cookbook author Julia Child was a patron.

Like its rival Cafe de Flore, it also awards an annual literary prize to a French novel.

Insider’s tip: It offers a full menu including breakfast and dinner. Stop and enjoy the vibrant Parisian atmosphere over a cup of espresso.

“Magot” means a stocky, Far East figurine, and the cafe still has two wooden figurines inside left over from the building’s bygone days as a fabric shop.

– contributed by Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

10. Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas is the city’s oldest covered walkway and boasts a charming mix of artisanal shops, classic eateries and old postage stamp collectors.

Spend an afternoon browsing its antique shops, bars, bookstores and knick-knack stores for a taste of classic Parisian charm.

First opened in 1800, Passage des Panoramas was innovative for its glazed roofing and gas lights. It attracted postcard and postage stamp merchants. And its vibrant atmosphere was described in Emile Zola’s novel Nana.

As a distant ancestor of the modern shopping mall, the Passage des Panoramas boasts a beautiful glass roof that’s also a warm refuge on a rainy day.

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the Chocolatier Marquis and Stern printing house for a glimpse at the remaining 18th century architecture. The Théâtre des Variétés is still open and hosts a variety of concerts and plays.

Passage des Panoramas is lined with boutiques, eateries and some iconic stamp and postcard shops that retain their old-world spirit. Craftsmen line the passage alongside fine dining and casual restaurants.

Shopping and dinner at Passage des Panoramas is one of the best date ideas in Paris.

– contributed by Dymphe of Dyma Abroad 

11. Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette

This gorgeous upscale department store has an impressive stained glass dome and amazing rooftop views – and some incredible shopping.

Take the escalators to the roof for fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower.

Insider’s tip: There’s a bar on the roof for drinks and birds-eye people watching. It’s a fantastic spot to visit at sunset for photos.

Or experience the city of light in the evening when the neighborhood lights up. The gorgeous rooftop is definitely one of the best free things to do in Paris.

The interior boasts the iconic glass an steel dome, illuminated arches and Art Nouveau staircases dating back to 1912.

Galeries Lafayette

The 70,000 square metro flagship store boasts brands from haute couture to budget, and plenty of restaurants and cafes.

There’s a weekly fashion show for visitors every Friday at 3 pm – buy tickets online before your visit.

Galeries Lafayette is also magical at Christmas when a giant illuminated tree looms over the 6 floors of the department store.

– contributed by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery

12. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is an elevated park with an artificial lake, waterfall and incredible views of Montmartre.

It’s a welcome escape from the city crowds – and a beautiful spot for a picnic. It’s frequented by locals in the 19th arrondissement and off the beaten tourist path.

The park is massive and lush, filled with waterfalls, caves, exotic trees and seagulls, moorhens and mallards.

The 25-hectere park was built on a quarry as one of Paris’ original green spaces.

The Temple de la Sibylle is the park’s most iconic landmark, modeled after a famous ancient Roman temple in Italy. It’s perched on a cliff overlooking a lake.

There’s a suspension bridge over a lake designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. Another bridge fenced with mesh is known as the “suicide bridge” after a series of suicides at the site.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

There’s also an artificial grotto with a waterfall on the south side of the park inside the old gypsum and limestone quarry. The grotto even includes man-made stalactites.

Insider’s tip: The top of the hill offers stunning views of Paris. You can admire the hill with the temple as you watch mallards swimming along the lake.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is full of lounging Parisians on sunny days. It’s also popular with runners for its more hilly paths.

Whether you have one day in Paris or a few, a picnic here is always a delight.

– contributed by Kat of France Voyager 

13. Rue Rivoli 59

Rue Rivoli 59

Rue Rivoli 59 is a colorful art gallery known for its brightly painted building.

The building has six floors connected by a spiral staircase. And it’s filled with colorful paintings and murals around every corner.

Insider’s tip: You can often see the resident artists at work during your visit.

It’s inside an old bank building that was abandoned until a group of Parisian artists occupied it in 1999 and transformed it into exhibits and workshops.

Rue Rivoli 59

Though the city initially tried to kick out the artists, they eventually legalized the setup in 2006.

The art gallery is one of Paris’ best contemporary art galleries in a city known for its museums.

The Rue Rivoli gallery is also a great spot to meet the artists, see exhibits and buy unique souvenirs and artwork. It’s definitely one of the most photogenic spots in Paris.

– contributed by Maartje of The Orange Backpack 

14. Promenade Plantée

Promenade Plantée

The Promenade Plantée is an old elevated railway track transformed into a beautiful planted walkway.

The walkway gives you a fresh perspective of Paris – and a bird’s eye view of its boulevards and architecture.

Being at eye level lets you see wonderful details that you’d otherwise miss on the ground. And the views down Paris’ tree-lined avenues are magical.

If you think it sounds a bit like New York’s High Line, then you’re right. But the Coulée Verte is actually the original.

Promenade Plantée

It was inaugurated 16 years before Manhattan’s famous linear park. And it’s nearly double the distance of its Big Apple counterpart at 4.5 kilometers.

The Promenade Plantée stretches from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes park.

Insider’s tip: With regular exits, you can walk the whole path or divide your strolls into sections. Don’t miss the artisanal shops built into the original archways at the start of the pathway.

The leafy walkway cuts a green pathway through the city that’s popular with joggers and workers en route to their offices.

The Promenade Plantée is open year round, but it’s most colorful in the spring and summer (Paris in springtime is perfect).

– contributed by Hannah of Hannah Henderson Travel

15. College des Bernardins

College des Bernardins

Nestled in the heart of the Latin Quarter, the College des Bernardins is an architectural marvel and one of Paris’ oldest medieval buildings.

It’s a stunning spot to admire the sobriety of Cistercian architecture and its mesmerizing geometry.

The site is quiet and inspires reflection. It feels like you’ve left the buzzing city behind – and it’s magical on a Paris rainy day.

Built in 1248, it was founded as a part of the University of Paris to train Cistercian monks and students.

The College des Bernardins became state property after the French Revolution and was later used as a jail, a warehouse, a fire station and a police school.

College des Bernardins

Pancrat, CC BY-SA 3.0, Groume, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was purchased in 2001 by the Diocese of Paris and restored to its original objectives: a meeting place for scholars, culture and religion. Nowadays, it hosts public conferences, art exhibitions and concerts.

Insider’s tip: There’s a small cafe in a glorious room that used to be the monks’ living area, classroom, kitchen and canteen.

Wander around the old Gothic sacristy and its majestic 11-meter roof and striking 70-metre nave.

There are one-hour guided tours daily at 4 pm (except Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays) around the large and small auditoriums and the medieval cellar – the biggest one in Paris.

– contributed by Eloise of My Favorite Escapes 

16. Musée de Montmartre

paris hidden gems

The Musée de Montmartre chronicles the history of this famous bohemian district – and the lives of artist like Renoir who called this 17th-century building home.

The museum boasts a permanent collection on the history of Montmartre, from its days of mills and vineyards to its heyday of cafes, bohemian artists and cabarets.

It’s also about the artists who lived on the property, like Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo.

Immerse yourself in paintings, photos and posters that depict Montmartre’s artistic past, including works by Toulouse-Lautrec and the famous poster for Le Cabaret du Chat Noir.

Explore Valadon’s recreated atelier apartment for a look at her tumultuous life.

Valadon lived in the apartment with Utrillo and André Utter. And they became known as the “cursed trinity” because of their alcoholism and frequent quarrels.

Musée de Montmartre

Insider’s tip: Wander through the Renoir Gardens, named after the famous impressionist who once lived on site and painted several masterpieces at this apartment. Don’t miss the vineyard views and wildflowers.

And stop at Le Cafe Renoir for lunch before you explore the rest of Montmartre. The cafe offers a snack menu and gourmet products, all under a glass roof with views of the Jardins Renoir.

If you’re spending 4 days in Paris, the Musée de Montmartre is a great spot to explore this artistic district off the beaten path.

– contributed by Kat of World Wide Honeymoon 

17. The Catacombs

paris hidden gems

This ossuary right underneath Paris holds the remains of more than 6 million people and makes for a very haunting experience.

The Catacombs of Paris are one of the most unusual places to visit in the city. They’re full of tunnels with carefully arranged bones that will make you wonder about the lives of the deceased.

The Catacombs cover a whopping 11,000 square metres. But only a section of them is open to visitors.

They may not be for everyone. But they’ll teach you about Parisian history and make you think about life and death.

catacombs of paris

Insider’s tip: Anyone can visit these fascinating ossuaries – though it’s recommended to buy a ticket in advance. Also note that touching the ossuaries or using a camera flash is prohibited.

The catacombs were built in the late 18th century to take some load off the cramped local cemeteries that were causing sanitary problems. The remains from the cemetery Les Innocents were moved to these abandoned stone quarries under the city.

The quarries were once outside of Paris. But as time went on the catacombs expanded.

The catacombs were opened to the public in 1809 and quickly became a popular tourist attraction for royals.

– contributed by Laura of Laura Wanders 

18. The Panthéon

paris hidden gems

The Pantheon looks like it’s been dropped into Paris straight out of Rome.

Many notable Frenchmen (and women) are honored with tombs in the crypts: Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Emile Zola, René Descartes and Voltaire, to name a few.

Josephine Baker was also the first Black woman entombed here in recognition for her role in the French Resistance during WWII.

Insider’s tip: You’ll be surprised to find Foucault’s pendulum inside. The brainchild of French physicist Léon Foucault, this pendulum is a heavy weight suspended from the ceiling on a long steel wire.

The back-and-forth movement of the pendulum slowly inscribes a circle over the course of 32 hours (due to the relative motion of the Earth). It’s an early scientific demonstration of the Earth’s rotation.

The Pantheon

The Panthéon was originally built to be a church to Sainte Geneviève, the patroness saint of Paris. But it now serves to honor those who’ve made significant contributions to France.

The Panthéon’s grand entrance is graced by imposing columns and frescoes. Its interior is finely decorated from the patterned floors up to the paintings within the lofty cupola and domes.

Visit the Panthéon from April through September and climb to the top of the dome for a birds-eye view of Paris.

Entry to the Panthéon is included with the Paris Museum Pass. There are several other famous Paris attractions within walking distance.

– contributed by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones

19. Musée Picasso Paris

paris hidden gems

Musée Picasso Paris boasts the world’s richest public collection of Picasso housed inside a splendid 17th-century mansion.

The museum offers a more intimate experience than many of the capital’s renowned art meccas.

It showcases the breadth of Picasso’s work and his numerous reinventions. It houses more than 5,000 works from his first drawings to those made just before his death.

From Young Ladies at Avignon to large Cubist paintings like Man With Guitar and Mandolin, the museum shows how this genius developed over time.

Picasso had different artistic periods including the Blue Period, Cubism and Surrealism. The collection represents all these aesthetics through his paintings, ceramics, engravings and more.

Musée Picasso Paris 

Wasily, CC BY-SA 4.0, Daniel Lobo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Insider’s tip: Picasso’s personal art collection is also on display, including Renoir, Cezanne, Degas and a selection of his beloved African art.

Finish your visit to the museum with cocktails, tapas and live music at the museum cafe. And check the museum’s website for special events.

Don’t miss this Parisian hidden gem when you’re visiting one of the most beautiful cities in France.

– contributed by Jenifer of The Evolista 

20. Place Dalida

paris hidden gems

Place Dalida is an offbeat Montmartre destination that pays tribute to the iconic French singer with a literally much-loved statue in a leafy square.

The square’s bronze bust of Dalida holds some interesting local lore. And there are some juicy tidbits you can learn from the locals.

Some say that touching the statue of the iconic singer will bring you good luck. Others say the statue is more golden across the breasts because tourists are always touching those parts.

Stay in the square long enough and you’ll see tourists snapping photos and touching the statue’s chest.

Dalida, born in Egypt to Italian parents, is well loved for her heartfelt ballads and catchy pop music.

But she lead a tragic life and killed herself just days after her last concert.

Place Dalida

Her passionate music is still loved worldwide.

Dalida gained success in several different genres, and holds the world record for the song with the most weeks at the top of the charts.

Stroll around the square an admire the beautiful homes an leafy trees of Montmartre, the neighborhood Dalida loved and called home.

Insider’s tip: Pay your respects to Dalida at the nearby Montmartre Cemetery, where she’s buried alongside Edgar Degas, Nijinsky and Emile Zola.

Combine Place Dalida with one of the many amazing attractions in Paris for an afternoon of sightseeing off the beaten path.

– contributed by Loredana of Earth’s Attractions

21. Rue Saint-Dominique

paris hidden gems

Rue Saint-Dominique is the perfect spot to get shots of the Eiffel Tower from a distance without the tourist crowds.

This lesser-known street is full of Parisian charm, cozy cafes, shopping and specialty stores. It’s easily one to the prettiest streets in Paris.

Rue Saint-Dominique is nestled in the 7th arrondissement with some chic and cozy cafes. Le Recrutement Cafe and Brasserie Au Canon des Invalides not only have great coffee but some delicious food too.

Don’t miss that classic French photo with the red and white cafe awning and the Eiffel Tower looming in the background.

Rue Saint-Dominique

Insider’s tip: Pick up a coffee and baguette from one of the street’s numerous cafes. Le Moulin de la Vierg is a great one for a true Parisian experience.

Rue Saint-Dominique is also great for shopping.

Many chic French brands have their boutiques here, including Berenice, The Kooples, Claudie Pierlot, Comptoir des Cotonnieres, Des Petits Hautes, and Gerard Darel.

Take some time to browse for unique souvenirs and French fashion.

– contributed by Jackie of Jou Jou Travels

22. La Maison Rose

paris hidden gems

This beautiful restaurant has a long history as a gathering place for Montmartre’s artists and intellectuals. And it’s one of the most photographed facades in the city.

La Maison Rose is nestled in a narrow cobblestone street near the Sacre Coeur. It recalls the time when Montmatre was a hilltop village full of windmills and vineyards.

Insider’s tip: The menu is based on seasonal and local products, and offers a mix of French farm-to-table and Italian in a cozy atmosphere. It gets crowded so reservations are recommended.

Painter Ramon Pichot bought this little house in 1905 and later painted the walls a rosy pink. He soon turned it into an affordable canteen that attracted his circle of artistic friends.

In its heyday in the 1960s and 70s, clients included Albert Camus, Picasso and Dalida. La Maison Rose is also famously depicted in a painting by Maurice Utrillo.

23. Au Lapin Agile

Au Lapin Agile

Au Lapin Agile is the city’s oldest bar-cabaret and a Montmartre icon since 1860.

Shows at the Lapin Agile include old-time French drinking songs, Edith Piaf melodies, poetry and songs where the audience sings along in the packed little bar.

The Lapin Agile was once popular with Montmartre’s eccentrics, anarchists and students from the Latin Quarter.

Today the cabaret maintains its down-to-earth atmosphere with shows that feature poets and songs as old as the 15th century.

Insider’s tip: Make reservations online to secure your place and bring cash only. Drinks are served but food is not.

In its heyday, the Lapin Agile drew artists like Modigliani, Apollinaire and Utrillo. It was once called the Cabaret des Assassins and featured portraits of famous murderers on its walls.

Legend says it gained notoriety when gangsters killed the owner’s son during an attempted robbery.

Picasso famously painted a scene at the Lapin Agile that’s become an icon of life in Bohemian Paris. The painting depicts Picasso himself sitting at the bar dressed as a Harlequin.

24. Rue de l’Abreuvoir

Rue de l’Abreuvoir

Rue de l’Abreuvoir is a quiet cobblestone street lined with picturesque homes and old-time Montmartre charm.

Known as one of the prettiest streets in Paris, Rue de l’Abreuvoir dates back to the 12th century.

It includes the famous La Maison Rose, a picturesque restaurant once frequented by Picasso and Utrillo.

And it ends at Place Dalida, where you’ll find a bronze bust of the French music icon.

This picturesque street recalls a time when Montmartre was a quaint village.

25. The Sinking House

paris hidden gems

The Sinking House near the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is a great optical illusion that photographers love to shoot.

The house beyond a green hill looks like it’s sinking if you tilt your camera to the left and straighten out the horizontal line.

Though the Sinking House is tricky to find.

When you’re walking up the steps to the Sacre Coeur, look to the right towards the bank of grass. The orange house is just beyond that hill.

26. La Petite Ceinture

paris hidden gems

La Petite Ceinture is an abandoned railway line that once circled the city. It’s now an eerily overgrown paradise for urban explorers.

The line includes developed stretches open to the public with communal gardens and playgrounds. It’s popular with bicyclists and joggers.

But there are also rougher patches overgrown with lush vines and dark tunnels with plenty of rats, foxes and other wildlife.

Some 200 species of flora and fauna now call these tracks home. And it all comes alive in spring with colorful wildflowers.

La Petite Ceinture draws in nature lovers, hipsters and those looking for some quiet in the city.

The 19th century railway line was build under Napoleon III and once carried passengers on a steam train. But it fell into decline after Paris built its metro.

It was finally abandoned in 1934.

Insider’s tip: A few former stations have been turned into bars and restaurants. Favorites include the Poinçon in the 14th arrondissement and the Brasserie Auteuil in the 16th arrondissement.

There are access points from the 12th to 20th arrondissements. But pack a powerful flashlight before you go – and don’t wander alone.


Paris has some incredible hidden gems that you’ll love to explore for a more offbeat and in-depth experience of the city.

Add a few hidden gems to your sightseeing itinerary and explore them alongside the iconic Parisian landmarks.

They’ll give you a well-rounded look at local life and French culture that will make your trip all the more memorable.

I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite Paris hidden gems? 

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paris hidden gems


  • kagould17

    Excellent post. We were in Paris for 2 1/2 days this past May. It was our 4th trip and while we did some things again, we did a lot of new things. Walking to the top of L’Arc de Triomphe is a highlight for us. Watching the traffic chaos below is like watching waves or a fireplace. We went on line our last morning to see if we could get on a tour of Palais Garnier and were rewarded with the last 2 tickets for the English speaking tour. We walked and walked and did not go into many of the tourist stops. Instead of the Louvre, we went to Musee d’Orsay. We were staying in the Marais this time and we need to go back to wander this area some more.

    • Dee

      Thank you! I’ve heard such great things about the Marais, and it sounds like a beautiful neighbourhood to wander around.. There’s always so much to see in Paris, no matter how many times you go! The Louvre definitely needs a full day on its own.

  • Photo Richard Canada

    Love your Paris post Dee. I have been there numerous times and there is always something new to see and/or photograph . . . or some same things in a different light and time of day. Looking forward to reading more!

  • 1944april

    Thank you – you brought back all my memories of Paris, I think we must have had the same inner guide :- ) at least when we did it only rained once, but even in the rain, particularly in Paris there is magic.

  • Sita

    Loved your post on Paris… The Montmartre area, with the beautiful Sacre Couer is a lovely place to stroll around & people watch while sipping coffee in one of the roadside cafes. Another area I love walking around is Saint Germain & nearby St. Sulpice. Loads of lovely cafes and patisseries, with the Jardin du Luxembourg just round the corner.

    • Dee

      Thank you, Sita! It’s a beautiful city, and the cafe life in all of those neighborhoods is wonderful to experience too and really makes you feel like you’re part of everyday Paris life.

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