Tourists in Paris would typically focus on seeing the famous sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame and the Louvre. But there are lots more to see and do in Paris. Whether you have been to Paris many times or it is your first time there, you would probably want to avoid the throngs of tourists who line up around these popular attractions.
These overlooked and underrated attractions in Paris are excellent too. They deserve to be on your bucket list as much as the most visited tourist sites in this beautiful French capital. You will be surprised!
Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’ 18th arrondissement (approximate to a city district). Everything is beautiful in Montmartre, but they only play second fiddle to its central attraction, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). Completed in 1914, this Roman Catholic church is located at the hill’s summit.
Well, we bet you’ve never thought of visiting a cemetery in Paris for a nice, quiet stroll. But the cemetery in Montmartre (just adjacent to the basilica) is worth a visit, with its gorgeous above-ground tombs. Many of these tombs are filled with famous French and international celebrities and public figures, and the scenery is pretty remarkable as well.
Montmartre is also known for its bohemian spirit (you can see lots of side-street art there), cheap liquor and entertainment.
2. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Still on the subject of cemeteries in Paris… graveyards are places that you least think of as a popular tourist attraction. However, Père Lachaise Cemetery is the most visited necropolis not just in Paris, not even the entire France but in the whole world. Over three million people visit Père Lachaise Cemetery every year.
The main reason why Père Lachaise is a popular cemetery to visit is the number of famous “residents.”
Père Lachaise Cemetery was established in 1804. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it is the largest cemetery in the city and houses the country’s first crematorium and columbarium.
It is the final resting place of many celebrated figures: artists, musicians, writers, scientists, politicians, war heroes, singers, and actors – French and foreigners alike.
Tourists flock at the tombs of the famous interred individuals: Peter Abelard, Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Georges Bizet, Maria Callas, Frédéric Chopin, Paul Dukas, George Enescu, Max Ernst, Héloïse, Marcel Marceau, Jim Morrison (which is among the most visited and vandalized), Edith Piaf, Gioachino Rossini (whose crypt remains in Père Lachaise even after his remains was moved back to Florence, Italy), Rafael Trujillo, and Oscar Wilde.
3. La Promenade Plantée
Look beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and you can find more delightful sites that Paris has to offer. As we say again, you will be surprised!
Paris is home to many beautiful public parks and gardens to spend a quiet escape from all the popular tourist sites. As if they were not enough, go to La Promenade Plantée (also known as Coulée verte René-Dumont), a stunning promenade which you can enjoy ten meters above street level. The area used to be a railway viaduct. But in 1993, it was re-designed and opened as the world’s first elevated park walkway. You can begin your walk at the Bastille, making your way through the 12th arrondissement and end up at Bois de Vincennes. Most tourists do not know that this type of walkway exists, but now you know!
4. Le Marais
If you love Parisian architecture and history, you will surely have a field day in the district of Le Marais. For a long time, Le Marais used to be Paris’ aristocratic district, where you will see many outstanding buildings of historical and architectural importance. Today, the district is teeming with other things such as boutiques, art galleries, fashion houses and restaurants. When you’re in Le Marais, don’t forget to check out the Place the Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris – you will find lots of architectural jewels there!
Le Marais is also the hub of Paris’ gay community – so imagine it makes for a seriously fun night out on the town.
5. Catacombs of Paris
Every city in the world has its dark side, and Paris is no exception.
Get off the beaten track in Paris and do something a bit more different, away from the famous sites and attractions. If you’re into something a bit spookier, you will find it underneath the bustling Parisian streets – the Catacombs in Paris. These are a series of underground tunnels where you can encounter the skeletons of Paris’ past – up close and personal. These ossuaries hold the remains of about six million people.
When you come out after learning about the creepier side of Paris, you’ll be gasping for a glass of wine…