Top 20 Alternative Things to do in Paris (indoors and outdoors!)

When you think of Paris a few things immediately pop into your mind… the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs Elysees to name a few! These are must dos, but, if like me you like to really explore a city and experience things as a local, then here are 20 alternative things to do in Paris that aren’t the “main” attractions (but are still just as amazing!).
Maybe you’re visiting again or you’re living in Paris and looking for ideas on what to do – feel free to comment below your favourite things to do in Paris!

If it’s raining you might want to try:

1) Musée D’Orsay

Probably my favourite museum in Paris, located just across the river from the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay is just wonderful architecture, being a former train station it has a large inner atrium with several beautiful and instagrammable clocks, it houses many notable oeuvres by Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne to name but a few!
Make sure you head up to the impressionist section for a view of the Sacré Coeur behind one of the impressive clocks and you can also go out on the balcony for a view of the Seine and the Tuileries.
The museum is 12 euros or it’s free for under 26 year olds and for everyone on the first Sunday of the month. Keep an eye out for special events – I once had the pleasure of experiencing a mini opera in the main atrium, the acoustics were just amazing!

2) Saint-Chapelle

Hands down the most beautiful stained-glass windows in Paris (if not the world!), when I first walked in a was a little under-whelmed by the basic church (also I didn’t know what to expect) but when I climbed the stairs to the chapel it just took my breath away!
Saint-Chapelle is a beautiful gothic style church which was intended to house precious Christian relics such as Christ’s crown of thorns!
You can visit for 10 euros (or 15 euros if you want to visit the Conciergerie as well) or visit on the first Sunday of the month from November to March for free entry!

3) Petit Palais

Such a great and FREE art museum right near the Champs Elysées. Built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition (like the Eiffel Tower) it now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts.
Make sure you drop into the little café – the outdoor garden completely transports you out of Paris!

4) Galeries La Fayette (Hausmann)

Go for a little shop in the Galeries La Fayette on Boulevard Hausmann – make sure to check out the inner atrium, especially over the Christmas period!

I would also recommend heading up to the terrasse on the top floor for a free view over Paris!


5) Catacombes

The catacombes, as you can imagine from the name, are meters and meters of stacked bones in an underground tunnel, it’s pretty creepy and personally I don’t really get why it’s so popular but it’s worth seeing once!

There is always a long queue so make sure you bring an umbrella if it’s raining!

6) Watch a cabaret show!

There is nothing quite like watching a cabaret show at the iconic Moulin Rouge! Prices start from 77€ and are dependent on the time/day you go and what you want included (just the show / dinner / VIP). You should also check out Crazy Horse or Lido for more cabaret fun.

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7) How to Become a Parisian in One Hour

I saw this one-man-show comedy sketch before I actually lived in Paris. The show is in English, lasts one hour and is guaranteed to crack you up! Olivier Giraud certainly knows how to charm a crowd and with tickets starting from only 12€ it’s no wonder why his shows are so popular!

8) Go shopping in the covered passageways

There are quite a few beautiful covered passageways in Paris. You can browse antique and secondhand bookshops in Passage Verdeau then walk straight through into the wonderful boutiques (including M&G Segas where Toulouse-Lautrec bought his walking sticks) in Passage Jouffroy and then enjoy the restaurants and shops down Passage des Panoramas (the first arcade to be lit with gas lamps in 1817). These are all located in a line at Grand boulevards, so easy to visit when it rains!


9) Musée bourdelle

If you’re under 26 or visiting Paris on the first Sunday of the month a lot of the museums are free! However there are also some museums that are free all year long such as the petite palais (above) and the musée Bourdelle!

The Musée Bourdelle is a workshop museum showing you the process in which Bourdelle sculpted as well as displaying a lot of his art work. Bourdelle was known for creating large bronze statues and the gardens of the museum are most impressive!

10) Château de Versailles

Just a short train ride away (about half an hour away on the RER C from Saint Michel) is the Château de Versailles, a palace built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV. It covers an area of 8,150,265 square meters making it the World’s Largest Royal Domain!

The court of Versailles was the center of political power in France for little more than a century, up until the French Revolution where the palace was almost destroyed.

Visiting the château you can see the iconic hall of mirrors, the grand apartments, the royal opera and the beautiful gardens.

If you’re under 26 it’s free! Otherwise it’s 18€ for the château and gardens, or 8.50€ for just the gardens with the musical fountain show.


If it’s nice outside you should visit:

11) Jardin de Luxembourg

I absolutely love this public garden! Lots of trees, beautiful flowers and a beautiful big pond with children watching their toy boats sail. Like most parks in Paris there is no sitting on the grass although there is a small patch of grass where you can sit.

Make sure you watch out for the dome of the Pantheon peaking up behind trees and buildings, and check out the Medici fountain.


12) Palais Royale

Just across the street from the Louvre is a beautiful courtyard surrounded by Parisian architecture. Enjoy the cute little park and also the many columns to climb and pose on! It’s open everyday and free!


13) Le Marais

Literally translating as “the swamp”, Le Marais is a charming part of Paris with winding cobbled streets, lots of cute little parks and loads of museums. The best time to visit in on a Sunday when the whole area is bursting with activity (and shops are OPEN!)

Make sure you head to Rue Des Rosiers, the most famous Jewish street in Le Marais, and where you can find the best falafels and shawarma in Paris! I would also check out the gardens of “Les Archives” – generally there aren’t too many people so it’s the perfect place to chill with your falafel!

As I said there are lots of museums, from the Musée National Picasso to Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. You can also visit for FREE the house where Victor Hugo lived and wrote many of his chef d’oeuvres. The museum is situated on Place des Vosges, a beautiful square surrounded by iconic red architecture (pictured below).

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14) Rue des Barres

Probably the cutest street in Paris, traffic-free, coloured and vine-covered houses, what more could your instagram account want?!

Stop at the L’Ebouillante for a hot drink or for one of their tasty crepes!



15) Canal Saint Martin

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There is nothing more “Parisian” than grabbing a few beers, a baguette and some cheese and heading down to the Canal Saint Martin for an “apéro”. On Sundays the roads alongside the canal are closed to cars, so it’s the perfect location for an afternoon walk.

Stop for a drink at “Chez Prune” for a classic Parisienne looking restaurant/bar.

If you walk further up the canal you can join the Canal de l’Ourcq where you can hire electronic boats (you don’t need a permit)! The price starts from 40€ for an hour (for 5 people) and then even have boats to fit 11 from 70€. You can book online here.




16) Place Dauphine

Easily my favourite square in Paris. Located on the ile de la cité, Place Dauphine has plenty of space for a game of pétanque as well as lots of restaurants with cute terraces. It even features in the film “Me Before You” (Where you see Louisa at the end).


17) Ride the balloon in park André Citroën

In the far corner of the South West of Paris is the park André Citroën, which is home to a “montgolfiere” – a hot air balloon (although actually it’s a helium balloon). On calm days (so hardly any wind) you can go up in the balloon for 10€ for a view of the Seine, la Defense and also a bit of the Eiffel Tower!


18) Rue Mouffetard

One of the oldest streets in Paris, beautiful and cobbled and brimming with cute restaurants, bars and shops! If you’re after authentic French food (think fondue and raclette) this is where you want to be! Best time to visit is at night when the street is bursting with activity.


19) Walk around Bastille

Once you’ve explored Le Marais you can just hop over to Bastille, from here you can visit Passage l’homme (cute cobbled street), rue Charonne (lots of shops/bars), rue Cremieux (the street with the different coloured houses) and the promenade plantée (an elevated park built on a 19th century Vincennes railway viaduct).

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20) Pont Bir Hakeim

My personal favourite bridge in Paris. You can either ride over it on the metro line 6 (with a great view of the Eiffel Tower) or walk through the elegant arches below – this part actually features in the film “Inception” when Ariane is starting to create her own city and she breaks and glass to reveal a bridge.

If you walk halfway over the bridge you have access to a little pedestrian island – walk to the end of it to see the statue of liberty (the cast used to create the real one)!


What are your favourite things to do in Paris? Share in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more travel tips!

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