As Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina once said, “Paris est toujours une bonne idée” and it’s hard to disagree. Millions of people across the globe are firm of the belief that yes, Paris is indeed always a good idea, flocking in their droves (40 million in 2018 alone) to visit the expansive City of Light.
Paris and The World
Parisian culture has had a ripple effect on pop culture, entertainment, liberty and love for centuries, so naturally, it’s one of the most-visited places on earth. The city was the epicentre of the Age of Enlightenment, whose intellectual ideals have gone on to shape human rights laws and even the US Constitution.
Back in the 18th Century, casinos in Paris were the birthplace of “little wheel” or roulette as it’s properly called. Thanks to the fashionable gaming elite in the city, the popularity of the game surged and it would soon be transported around the globe.
Paris’ effect on global fashion trends is similarly impactful, the city has been the centre of attention for sartorial style and elegance since the days of the “Sun King” Louis XIV. And that’s to say nothing of the city’s impact on art and architecture.
While there are plenty of touristic hotspots that serve as temples to Paris’ influential past, there are also a wealth of gems to discover. After all, Paris is a thriving, lived-in city, so there’s plenty to see and experience here off the beaten path.
59 Rivoli, 59 Rue de Rivoli
If you’ve had your fill of Paris’ more formal art galleries, head a few doors east and step inside this unique artistic space.
With its gloriously creative façade, you can tell that 59 Rivoli is far from the established art galleries the city is known for. Once a former squat, this artist collective was re-opened in the early 2000s to become a truly Parisian cultural hub.
Inside the building, you’ll find six floors filled with independent art, from artists’ studios to galleries and exhibition spaces. This is a wonderful place to visit to see the whole spectrum of local art, there are slick, commercial studios selling photographs and prints of the city alongside ramshackle sculptors’ studios and obscure painters.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, 62 Rue des Archives
Dedicated to Hunting and Nature, as you might’ve guessed by its name, this museum is not for the faint-hearted. An eclectic choice for the true adventurers among you, this unique assortment of collections fills the dark, high-ceilinged rooms of a 17th Century mansion.
Several of the exhibits will take you as far back as Roman times to dive into the history of hunting, but it’s the taxidermy that is arguably the biggest draw here. The museum is crammed with stuffed animals, from majestic birds of prey to fearsome black bears. Step into the Trophy Room, if you dare, as this is where tigers, leopards, cheetahs and even a panther stalk their prey.
Paris Sewer Museum, 93 Quai d’Orsay
Another unique museum that is very much an acquired taste is the Paris Sewer Museum, situated in the sewers of the Habib-Bourguiba esplanade in the 7th arrondissement. Much like the more famed Catacombs, the Sewer Museum offers a look at Paris underground. During the 19th century, Parisians became incredibly proud of their advanced sewer system and this museum stands in testament to that.
Offering up a deep dive into the history of the tunnels that run underground the city, the museum’s galleries are filled with fascinating facts about this sewage network, parts of which date back to the Roman occupation of Paris from 250 to 52BC.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris
After a day exploring the city, what could be better than relaxing in a sprawling park complete with a lake and folly? The Parc des Buttes Chaumont takes the prize for being one of Paris’ most beautiful retreats and, being situated as it is in the 19th arrondissement, it’s also one of its best-kept secrets.
Head to the Temple de la Sybille folly for some spectacular views of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or head along the Petite Ceinture railway line turned urban trail for a gentle stroll far from the busy crowds.