Paris. City of light. City of love. Paris has many names and according to many it is the city with the highest amount of interesting things to see per square kilometer! Everybody who visits Paris wants to view the usual suspects; The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and Arc de Triomphe. There is, of course, more to do and discover in Paris. This blogpost will sum up some of the hidden gems to be found in Paris.
1. Hôtel Carnavalet
Like all major European destinations, Paris is very old, and the history of this enchanting city is beautifully shown in Hôtel Carnavalet. From Early Paris – known as Lutetia in the Roman times – to the Medieval city, to the Renaissance and the revolution, everything can be found the the Hôtel Carnavalet. The museum holds a huge amount of paintings, drawings, photographs, artifacts and beautiful scale models of ancient Paris. Location on Map
2. Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris or “Les Carrireres de Paris” are a huge network of underground tunnels which were limestone quarries in the distant past. In around 1786 Paris suffered from epidemics caused by the many graves in the center of the city. It was decided to remove all bones and place them in the abandoned mines that were, at that time, on the outskirts of the city. Parts of the Catacombs of Paris are now open to the public and in here you can still see huge piles of bones. Location on map
3. Tomb of Gustave Eiffel
To continue in the world of the dead, our number 3 is the grave of the architect of the Eiffel Tower: Mr Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel also created the armature for the Statue of Liberty in New York. He died in 1923. His family grave can be found in the northern area of Paris, in a peaceful burial place. Location on map
4. Park Asterix
While you are already traveling north to visit Mr Eiffel’s grave, why not drive a further and visit amusement Park Asterix? Everybody knows Disneyland Paris, but Park Asterix is a fabulous alternative; people say the roller coasters in Park Asterix are even better than in Disneyland Paris! The park is especially fun for people who know the comics, because all characters can be found throughout the park, together will all kinds of small jokes. Location on map.
5. Sisters of the New York Statue of Liberty
Worldwide there are many replicas of the Statue of Liberty, and since France was the creator of the original version in New York, you can imagine that most can be found here. Paris holds 3 versions in various sizes throughout the city, which can be found in the following places:
- Jardin du Luxembourg: According to the panel, this bronze version was used by Sculptor Bartholdi to model the version in New York. Location.
- Pont de Grenelle: This version can be found on a small island in the Seine near the Grenelle Bridge. It is around 11.5m high and was also used in the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” Location.
- Musée des Arts et Métiers: The version inside the museum is said to be the first Statue of Liberty made in a series to shape the version in New York. Outside of the museum there is also a bronze version. Location.
6. Paris sewers tour
Being a large city, Paris also has a sewer system to match. It is one of few cities where you can actually see the whole thing in action! You will learn how a big city like Paris tackles the waste problem – both in the present day and throughout history. If you are interested in seeing Paris from a different angle, and are not afraid of bad smells, this is something you cannot miss!
7. Boat trip on the old Paris canals
Boat trips in Paris often start on the River Seine, and will take you along some major landmarks in Paris such as the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, before entering the narrow old canals created by Napoleon himself. These canals show a different and more tranquil side of Paris. The entrance to the canal network is found via the canal Saint Martin, which starts with a long, narrow and dark tunnel running underneath the Place de la Bastille. Emerging from the tunnel, you will pass along a very romatic section of the canal. Many romantic hangover bridges with beautifull trees can be seen along the banks. During the trip the boat will go through a large number of locks which will bring you, after 2.5 hours, to the Bassin de la Vilette – 26m higher than the Seine water level. Cruises will run on a daily basis from March until November. Starting point on map.
8. Some small Paris hidden gems
- Zouave soldier of the Alma bridge: A statue of a Zouave soldier can be found on the pier of the Alma bridge. Parisians use it for measuring the water level of the River. Access to the footpaths along the shores are normally shut down when the water reaches the soldier’s feet. Location
- Passy Water: In the past Passy, which at the moment lies a little outside of the center of Paris, was known for its healing waters. Many Parisians visited the local well to have a sip of this clean water. At some point it was decided to drill from the center of Paris to these underground sources in order to bring this pure water to Paris. What people didn’t know is that drilling took a very long time; six years in total. At the moment Paris has better ways of providing citizens with water, but one active well can still be found in a small park in Passy where locals still drink this pure water. Location on map.
- Le Passe-Muraill: Le passe Muraill or “the passer of walls” is a statue created by Parisian writer Marcel Ayme. It is a self-portrait based on a small story he wrote in 1943. Later the story was turned into a hit French musical. It is here, near the top of Montmartre, where the story lives on with this great statue. Location on map.
- The Headless Saint left of the Notre Dame: This is a hidden gem that many people don’t notice while it is in plain sight. It is the statue of the headless saint Denis at the utmost left side of the entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Denis was a bishop in around 250AD. He was martyred and beheaded around that time and it has been said that after his beheading he picked up his head and ran for 10kms, preaching all the way. Location on the map.
- Gregos Faces in Paris: The last sight is one of a local artist. His name is Gregos and he made numerous copies of his face in plaster, spreading them over Paris with all kinds of designs and drawings on them. The faces can also be found in Lille and Lyon.