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Parc de Buttes Chaumont in Paris

The hidden gems to tick off your Paris bucket list

Paris, France

What do you think of when you hear “Paris”? 

Right. We know. The Eiffel Tower. Be honest. 

But there’s so much more to the French Capital than the top tourist spots! In fact, some of the best experiences the city has to offer aren’t the ones you’ll see on the posters. They’re known largely by locals. They are, as they say, le Paris authentique

But we’re not here to flex our GCSE French. We’re also not here to tell you to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or the Arc de Triomphe. 

We’re here to tell you about the hidden gems you haven’t heard of – to help you build up the perfect bucket list for your trip to the City of Love so that you can get a taste of everything Paris has to offer. 

So without further ado, allons-y.

The (Sometimes) Hidden Parks of Paris

You might not think of nature when flying into one of Europe’s largest cities, but Paris is teeming with green spaces perfect for a picnic, afternoon stroll or escape from the hustle and bustle. You can’t miss:

  • Parc de Buttes Chaumont: This public park can be found in northeast Paris, with stunning bridges, a lake, a waterfall, and an environment which can look almost primal when the leaves are in summer bloom.
  • Jardin du Luxembourg: The Luxembourg Gardens has a history stretching back to the 1600s, when it was the residence of Marie de Medici, the widow of France’s KingHenry VI. Today it’s known for its flowers, sailboats, fountains and Grand Bassin.
  • Jardin Joseph Migneret: The perfect place for a quiet picnic, this garden’s entrance is hidden between two buildings (just head to 10 Rue des Rosiers – you can’t miss it. Well, you can – but don’t!). The rest is tucked away in a courtyard. The park itself takes its name from a French headmaster who joined the French Resistance, helping to rescue Jewish students during the Second World War.  
  • Hôtel de Sens Garden: This garden sits in the shadow of a beautiful mediaeval castle-turned gallery. It’s a sunken garden, so easy to miss – in fact, it’s practically invisible from the street level. 

The Villages of Oise

Everyone’s always talking about the city centre, but Paris is also surrounded by some of France’s most beautiful and historic villages. Here are three to look out for when you head just north of the city, to the Oise region of France.

  • Senlis: Just 30 minutes from Paris is Senlis, a mediaeval town in the French countryside known as the home of some of the earliest French monarchs. The cobblestone streets are to die for – this is a picture-book French village. 
  • Chantilly: If you take a trip to Senlis, you should hop over to Chantilly as well, a nearby estate town home to one of France’s oldest collections of historic art, the Condé Museum, and The Great Stables, a ginormous horse-racing site with frequent dressage events, horse shows and historic reenactments. 
  • Auvers-sur-Oise: An enchanting village on the outskirts of Paris. Formerly home to Vincent Van Gogh, and bordering Montmorency forest, 

La Petite Ceinture

Paris is home to a disused railway track. 

Okay – maybe that doesn’t sound very exciting. Until you see it. 

The Petite Ceinture (the little belt) loops around the city, and hasn’t seen a train for almost a century. In some parts its overgrown, quiet, and beloved by urban explorers (though anyone hoping to walk through the tunnels should remember to take a torch). In others, it’s used for bars, markets – you name it! The Petite Ceinture is almost entirely open to the public, but make sure to go during the day to avoid getting lost. 

Le Marais Museums

Le Marais is one of Paris’ historic districts, packed full of beautiful buildings that once reflected the neighbourhood’s aristocratic residents. That air of nobility also comes with its quirks, including some beautiful speciality museums for those who want to avoid waiting in the queue to see the Mona Lisa across town. 

Those museums include:

  • The Musée de la Magie: The Museum of Magic (with magic shows included).s 
  • Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP): A gorgeous photography gallery. 
  • Musée National Picasso-Paris: An art gallery housing (surprise surprise) works by the great artist Pablo Picasso. In Paris. 
  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature: A natural history museum housed in a mansion and packed full of taxidermy. 
  • Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris: The City of Paris History Museum houses exhibits covering everything from the city’s prehistory to the present day.

Still looking for things to do on your Parisian escapade? Check out our ultimate travel guide for a holiday in Paris. 


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