When you think of Paris, the likes of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Sacre-Coeur will always rush to mind. These iconic landmarks are worthy of a visit, especially if it’s your first time visiting the French capital. However, if you prefer to get off the beaten track, then you should also add some of the following sights and experiences in Paris to your travel itinerary.
Offbeat and Peculiar Museums
Skip the long lines at the typical museums and head to one of the lesser known gems in Paris. Not far from the Pantheon, the Musée Curie is located in the former laboratory of the physicist Marie Curie at the Radium Institute. The museum showcases original scientific instruments and documents in both the former office and decontaminated lab of Curie.
The Musée Édith Piaf is another quirky alternative. As one of the most successful French singers and cabaret performers, Édith Piaf is known internationally for La Vie en Rose. This museum is situated in her former residence in the Ménilmontant district and showcases her clothing, records, sheet music, and other possessions. You need to book in advance to tour the collection.
One final place for curious minds is the Museum of Counterfeiting. Most of the items exhibited were sourced from French customs officials and police and they range from counterfeit art and luxury goods to knock off perfume. The quality of the bogus goods varies with some objects being extremely convincing.
Coulée Verte René-Dumont
Head to 1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont in the 12th arrondissement and you will find this elevated walkway that extends along the now disused railway line. Known locally as the Promenade Planteé, the whole walk is strewn with trees, flowers, and ponds. The entire route is 3 miles (5 km) in length and it’s one of the most tranquil walks you can do in Paris on a sunny day.
If you are exploring the neighborhood around the Eiffel Tower, take a side trip to this street and locate number 29. The exuberant building you will find was constructed in 1900 by the French art nouveau architect Jules Lavirotte. An extravagant doorway is framed by sculptures of Adam and Eve and the head of a woman rumored to be the wife of Lavirotte, the painter Jane de Montchenu. There is so much detail to linger over and photograph.
Another unexpected architectural gem that stands out in the middle of the 8th arrondissement is this pagoda. The Chinese art dealer Ching Tsai Loo commissioned that a classic Parisian townhouse be renovated into this Asian-style building which would form the home of his private art gallery. Besides visiting the pagoda for photos, it is also possible to tour the interiors.
Square Rene Viviani
The Latin Quarter is a fabulous spot to visit while in Paris for the gardens, museums, cafes, and boutiques. After browsing the tomes at the bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, you can take a turn around this picturesque park that provides the home of the oldest tree in Paris. Planted in 1601, the locust tree predates the Eiffel Tower and registers a height of over 15 meters.
When you are ready to book your trip to Paris, contact me and we will curate the perfect itinerary that combines a mix of famous and unusual attractions.
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