Hidden Gems of Paris You Won’t See in A Guidebook
When you think of Paris, what comes to mind? The Eiffel Tower? The famous Louvre? Brie and baguettes? Or is it the warm, mouth-watering chocolate croissants found at almost every street? It’s all the above.
The main attractions of Paris are enough to convince anyone to book a ticket to this romantic city. What they don’t tell you is that despite it’s high tourist attraction, this city also has hidden gems. As much as we love exploring the famous sights that make a city endearing, we are keen on discovering more of the unknown places.
So, here’s how to exceed being an average tourist and instead, explore the hidden gems of Paris.
Parc de Sceaux
Escape the hustle and bustle of Paris and instead, spend a few hours at Park de Sceaux. Although this isn’t quite in the city of Paris, we thought it was still worth to list because of the short commute.
If we could describe this place in one word, it’d be enchanting. Many people are familiar with the famous Palace of Versailles and allot time to include a visit there during their trip to Paris. As great as it is, it is often very crowded. Park de Sceaux also offers a beautiful wide garden, a lake with water features, and a château in the center of it all.
If time isn’t an issue and you are craving a little escape, then take the RER B line in Paris and get over here! It is about 30 minutes south of Paris, and once arrived it’s another 15-minute walk to enter inside the park. Inside the park you’ll find this estate to be one of the most gorgeous parks you’ve laid eyes on. If it’s a nice day, plan for a picnic by the château to take it all in. There is also a little café truck that sells some quick things to eat and drink.
This park is huge and goes on for miles! Wear the appropriate shoes to be able to experience the park as well as enter the château. You will not be disappointed you came here, and neither will your pictures!
Address: Domaine départemental de Sceaux, 8 Avenue Claude Perrault, 92330 Sceaux, France
Despite Paris’s typical gloomy weather, it does have some real color. And this is it. Rue Crémieux is the name of the famous colorful street in Paris. It’s a one-block pedestrian street located in the 12th arrondissement. It was originally built for workers’ housing but fast forward to 2019, it is now the street for every Instagram-worthy photo.
With it’s pastel colored houses, white pane windows, and overload of plants, it’s indisputable to say Rue Crémieux is one of the most charming gems. It has become very popular amongst tourists, and even locals.
Even though it’s growing in name, it’s not quite as busy as other places, meaning you can get your perfect solo shot. To be safe and avoid crowds though, get there earlier in the day.
Address: Rue Crémieux, 75012 Paris
Au Vieux D’Arcole
Au Vieux Paris is my favorite place on this list! It was one of those places stumbled upon randomly on my normal walks through the city. Located in the 4th district of Paris, you’ll find this quaint café just steps away from Notre Dame.
With its colorful chairs and vine-covered front, it’s easy to take a double look at this picturesque place. Aside from its store front charm, inside you’ll find a small restaurant that serves lunch and dinner daily. Due to its tiny size and high appeal, it’s often very busy and hard to get a table. I’d recommend getting just a glass of wine here, which is still enough to make you feel like you’re in a fairytale-like movie set.
If you’re looking for a true Parisian experience, then you must stop here! There are only a handful of historic, Parisian cafes left in the city, especially this central – don’t miss out on it.
Address: 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004 Paris, France
As if Paris can’t get charming enough, there comes along this boutique called Merci. Your first glance of the store is a tiny red car with a license plate titled Merci parked in front of the courtyard. Once again, this place was discovered during my casual walks in Le Marais area. I came for a premium sandwich from the famous Chez Alain Miam Miam (do yourself a favor and go here – and yes, it’s worth the wait) while I came across Merci which also has a café next door to it.
What’s really special about this place is the history behind the hip store. The founders, Bernard and Marie-France Cohen felt like Paris was missing a place that could bring together the world’s best fashion, décor, and household goods that could give exposure to young designers who contributed. And for that, Merci was born. Now, all proceeds of Merci go toward funding development and educational projects in Madagascar!
The brand serves its purpose literally: a big thank you to all the designers who contributed, and a big thank you to life.
If you’re interested in shopping around for some authentic clothing, accessories, or home goods, then take a look inside.
Address: 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France
Shakespeare and Company
One of the most famous, independent bookstores in the world sits at the left bank in Paris. But wait, there’s more! There’s actually two locations of Shakespeare and Company. The one we visited is located in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
This isn’t your typical bookstore. A few fun facts about Shakespeare and Company:
- This bookstore has housed famous writers and artists for generations, even some who wrote away their experiences living during World War II.
- There is known to be a famous cat walking around throughout the store, so be on the lookout for that!
- This place is open for “tumbleweeding.” Or in other words, aspiring writers get to sleep here to focus on their work in exchange for a few hours of service to the store. We didn’t see any tumbleweeders when we came, but apparently it is still a thing!
If you are feeling inspired or want to take a look back into history and literature, Shakespeare and Company is your place. People spend hours in this tiny place talking to others, or getting lost in the words of famous writers. Or better yet, buy a book to take down to read by the Seine river. Whichever you prefer, this place is worth a visit.
Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Little Red Door Bar
Last but not least is this bar named Little Red Door. The name speaks for itself. Little Red Door is a speakeasy bar we (drunkenly) stumbled upon located in the 3rd arrondissement in Le Marais area.
When you enter through the discreet tiny red door, you’ll find a dimmed bar with an interesting concept. Once you are seated, you grab a particular “menu” which is actually just a card with art on it. Each card represents a certain beverage, so whichever card you pick determines the drink you’ll get!
Don’t worry, these are all quality handcrafted cocktails that are worth the surprise. So, if you’re feeling indecisive on what to order and would rather leave it to fate to decide, take a stop at this vintage-interior, exposed brick walled bar. It is more than just a bar, but quite a fun experience to do with friends!
Address: 60 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris, France
And there you have it! A park, a colorful street, a café, a bookstore, and a bar should fulfill your day of exploring hidden gems of Paris. What’s great about Paris is that these gems aren’t nearly a fourth of what other charming, unknown places are also out there. The best way to really know a city, especially Paris, is to walk it. Don’t be afraid to wander and get lost in the beauty of the city, it is truly special.