So you’ve hit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe… Ready to get off the beaten track and discover Paris’ hidden gems? From secret parks and passageways to old monasteries and abandoned railways, here are 12 of the best hidden spots to explore in Paris.
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1. Passage des Panoramas
After you’ve visited the Place de l’Opéra, take a short ten-minute walk down the road and you’ll stumble upon one of Paris’ best hidden gems. Dating back to 1799, the Passage des Panoramas is the oldest covered walkway in Paris. The glass roof and hanging lanterns will make you feel like you’ve travelled back a century when you wander through here and it’s a great spot to snap some gorgeous photos… Plus there are plenty of lovely boutiques and restaurants to explore.
Where to find it: 11 Boulevard Montmartre; 2nd arrondissement.
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2. Parc Monceau
Paris is famed for its beautiful parks, but if you’re looking for the best hidden spots and parks to explore in Paris, don’t miss Parc Monceau. You’ll find paths winding through leafy trees and statues, and be sure to seek out the Roman columns surrounding the tranquil pond. After a busy day of sightseeing, this is a wonderful place to relax and soak up the Parisian atmosphere.
Where to find it: 35 Boulevard de Courcelles; 8th arrondissement.
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3. Nicolas Flamel’s house
Nicolas Flamel’s house may be the oldest building in Paris, but it’s still something of a hidden gem. Flamel built the beautiful stone house in 1407. He was a famous alchemist, said to have discovered the legendary Philosopher’s Stone that could transform lead into gold. While this claim was never proven, Flamel features in many books including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Da Vinci Code. Today, Flamel’s house is a hotel and restaurant, but you can still wander down the cobbled road and read inscriptions on the façade of the building, including symbols and the initials of Flamel.
Where to find it: 51 Rue de Montmorency; 3rd arrondissement.
4. La Petite Ceinture
If you’re looking for the best historic hidden spots to explore in Paris, you can’t miss La Petite Ceinture (the Little Belt). This 20th-century wonder was a 32km railway line for a steam train that carried people around Paris between 1852 and 1934. After the construction of the Parisian Metro in the 1900s, the city abandoned La Petite Ceinture. Today, you’ll find many sections of the railroad and train stations overgrown with hauntingly beautiful greenery, while some areas have transformed into community gardens and playgrounds.
Where to find it: Head to any arrondissement from the 12th to the 20th, or get easy access from Villa du Bel Air near Porte de Vincennes.
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5. Collège des Bernardins
As one of the oldest and biggest medieval buildings in the city, this is definitely one of Paris’ best secret spots. Built in the 13th century, the college once housed Cistercian Monks for centuries before French revolutionaries abolished monasteries. Today, it’s a cultural centre and was the last medieval building in Paris to have renovations. You’ll marvel at the grand sandstone architecture with vaulted ceilings and a Gothic hall… Plus it rarely gets busy so you’ll have it all to yourself.
Where to find it: 18-20 rue de Poissy; 5th arrondissement.
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6. Coulée Verte René-Dumont
This stunning public park was built on the historic Vincennes Railway Line that inspired New York’s Highline. The abandoned railway was doomed for demolition but was saved by local residents and transformed into a public space where people can experience a blend of nature and art. Also known as La Promenade Plantée, you’ll love exploring the dreamy walkways and views of the city.
Where to find it: 1 Coulée verte René-Dumont; 12th arrondissement.
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7. Passage de l’Ancre
This gorgeous passageway is one of our favourite hidden spots to explore in Paris. Dating back to the 17th-century, it’s one of the oldest alleys in Paris, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you admire the old-fashioned stores and workshops. Each shop is a different colour and there are trees, plants and flowers everywhere along the tranquil stone walkway.
Where to find it: 30 Rue de Turbigo; 3rd arrondissement.
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8. The Witch’s Rock
Paris is full of mysterious gems – like the Witch’s Rock. It’s said to be the remnant of a centuries-old fountain but no one knows how it got there. Some legends say the rock was a meteorite, while others say the rock protects the entrance to the grand home of an old witch. You’ll find this strange stone block on a private road between 23rd Avenue Junot and 65th Street Lepic in Montmartre. You can enter through the quirky Hôtel Particulier – just find the gate marked #23 and press the buzzer. You’ll see the Witch’s Rock, and if you press another buzzer on the second gate to the left, you’ll enter the secret paradise of the hotel. From cocktails in the garden to views of the Eiffel Tower from the passageway, this is one of the best hidden spots to explore in Paris.
Where to find it: Passage de la Sorcière; 18th arrondissement.
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9. Galerie Vivienne
Take a trip back to 1800s Paris at Galerie Vivienne, one of the last remaining covered walkways in the city. The city has restored the elegant mosaic floors and glass ceilings to their former glory, and you can explore the lovely cafés and boutiques while snapping some gorgeous photos of this secret spot.
Where to find it: 5 Rue de la Banque; 2nd arrondissement.
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10. Le Bateau Ivre
You might already have Jardin du Luxembourg and L’Église Saint-Sulpice on your bucket list; The Luxembourg Gardens are stunning, while the enormous 17th-century church is famed for its unusual towers and it featured in the movie The Da Vinci Code. But just steps away in between these two famous attractions, you’ll find one of Paris’ hidden gems. Inscribed on a stone wall, Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) is a poem written in 1871 by a 16-year-old Arthur Rimbaud. It tells the tale of a boat lost at sea and Rimbaud first recited the poem at a nearby café.
Where to find it: rue Férou; 6th arrondissement.
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11. Parc de Belleville & Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
If you’re looking for amazing views over Paris and its famous monuments without the crowds, head to Parc de Belleville. Once you’ve soaked up the sights, take a short walk to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Created by Napolean III, this leafy English-style park is a beautiful place to relax in greenery. You can also walk the 207-foot long suspension bridge to an island where you’ll find the Temple de la Sybille.
Where to find it: 47 Rue des Couronnes; 20th arrondissement.
12. Butte aux Cailles
Known as Little Alsace, this charming neighbourhood is one of Paris’ top secret spots. You’ll feel like you’ve arrived in the French countryside, with cobbled streets, hanging ivy, stone walls, and terraced houses built in the style of the Alsace region. Be sure to find Villa Daviel, one of the most beautiful laneways.
Where to find it: 10 Rue Daviel, 13th arrondissement.
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Have you stumbled upon any secret spots in Paris? Let us know in the comments below!