24 FUN Things to Do in Paris – Forgotten Railroad, Picnic and NO eiffel tower

Let’s talk about awesome, cool and fun things to do Paris! And what else would be more handy than a big list of +24 entertaining way to spend your time in Paris?

Paris is known as the city of love, but it has much more to offer! There is so much more to experience apart from the famous Eiffel tower, Montmartre, and the Louvre. You already know that, that’s why you are here, right?! If you enjoy travel tips outside the tourist box, have a look at our best-kept secret tips for Paris.

Official Hostelgeeks contributor Emily knows the french capital like the back of her hand. Together with her we are keen to share with you +24 Fun things to do in Paris. Those recommendations are partially surprising, funny, and unique.

After the hilarious fun things to do in London and the Amsterdam fun compilation we just decided to do another one for Paris. Simple because we like to have fun! So, let’s get this party started with a bike ride.

1. Go for a bike ride

Paris was the city that originated the “hire bike” system. In Paris it’s called Velib, and it’s free for the first 30 minutes! Just pop in your credit card, grab a bike and go!

A few tips: find another station to switch out the bike every 30 minutes (time resets after you return the bike) and beware of backwards seats – that’s the Parisian signal for “this bike has problems”!

2. Pizza picnic on the Canal Saint Martin

The Canal Saint Martin, located in the 10th arrondissement in the northeast of the city, is a great place to picnic on its own. But what makes everything better, especially a picnic? Pizza!

Pizza picnic from Pink Flamingo, Paris

You can order one pizza from Pink Flamingo, and they’ll give you a pink balloon. You go find a spot on the canal and wait with your pink balloon, and they’ll deliver your pizza right to you!

3. Get drinks with a view at Perchoir

The original Perchoir has become so popular- it’s a rooftop bar that’s open year round! – that they’ve opened two more seasonal rooftop bars for the spring and summer months.

Le Perchoir Marais is on top of the BHV department store next to Hotel de Ville, Paris’ city hall, and offers a far-off view of the Eiffel Tower.

Sip a cocktail in Paris

The newest addition for summer 2016 is the Perchoir de l’Est, located at Gare de l’Est. If you’re looking to enjoy a good cocktail high above the city, these spots are for you – just get there early when the weather’s good! We recommend check the seasonal opening times.

4. Escape to a fun-fair world

For some people, even hearing the word “museum” is like pulling teeth, but this one is absolutely worth it. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you’ll recognize this place as one of the party scenes from when Owen Wilson’s character goes back in time. It’s called the Musee des Arts Forains, and it’s filled with beautiful carnival rides from an age gone by – some of which you can even ride!

The museum is open to the public by reservation only, and you go with a tour group, so it’s a more intimate experience without tons of people climbing all over the rides. You can make your reservation here!

5. Climb 300 steps to a tower (NOT the Eiffel tower!)

Yes, yes, the Eiffel tower is on the bucket list for Paris of everyone coming here.

The towers of the Sacre Coeur basilica in Montmartre are open to the public, and for a small fee, you can climb the 300 steps up to the dome for a panoramic view over the city.

Climb to Sacre Coeur basilica in Montmartre

If you happen to be in Paris before September 25th, you can also climb to the top of the Saint Jacques Tower in the city center. The climbs leave every hour and cost 10€ (or 8€ if you’re an EU citizen/resident). Happy climbing!

6. Oh la la, Take a river cruise…

During the summer season, there’s a free river cruise every Saturday organized by a group who, on Facebook, goes by J’Peux Pas, J’ai Peniche! (loosely translated: I Can’t, I’m On a Boat). There are tables on deck that you can sit at if you buy a bottle of wine or liquor, and a band plays right through the boat cruise.

Enjoy Sunset on a River cruise in Paris

The cruise leaves at 10PM, so you can also experience Paris by night from the river. They create an event for each cruise so you can make reservations, simply as that!

7. …or rent a boat

This collection about fun things to do in Paris would not complete without RENTING A BOAT!

Up on Canal de l’Ourcq, which is an extension of the Canal Saint Martin, itself feeding from the Seine, you can rent an electric boat from Marin d’Eau Douce and spend a few hours with friends exploring the waterways of the northeastern part of the city.

Boats can accommodate 5-11 people depending on which one you rent, and the larger sizes have removable tables so you can even have a picnic on the boat!

8. Go for a stroll down the middle of the Seine

The Allee des Cygnes, or Swan’s Alley, is a man-made island that runs between the Pont de Bir-Hakeim (better known as the Inception bridge) and the Pont de Grenelle, with the smaller Statue of Liberty gracing its western end.

It’s a beautiful spot for a stroll or even a bike ride on a warm evening, and offers great views of the Eiffel Tower between the breaks in the trees.

9. Eat a delicious brunch (who wouldn’t love that?)

Good brunches are becoming a thing in Paris, and the places that offer them are more numerous by the week, it seems. For the weekends, PaperBoy, Le Poutch, and Hardware Societe are three of the best.

A tasty brunch in Paris

If you’re only around on a weekday, try the avocado toast at Ob-La-Di, the shakshuka at Cafe Oberkampf, and absolutely don’t miss the pancakes at local favorite Holybelly. Just be sure to get an early start- they all fill up very quickly!

10. Visit a chateau

If you feel the need to escape the city, there are several small castles within the near Paris area- Yes, there are other ones besides Versailles!

Visit Chateau de Sceaux in Paris

Chateau de Sceaux (pronouced so, not sko) has stunning gardens, Chateau de Vincennes is a bit more rugged, and Chateau de Saint Germain en Laye comes with an adorable town to explore.

The best part? They’re all on the RER train system that runs out of Paris, making them easily accessible.

11. Stroll through the Paris version of NYC’s Highline

The Promenade Plantee is a walkway built on an old overground railroad line that runs from close to Place de la Bastille through the 12th arrondissement of Paris. As its name suggests, it’s lined with plants and is absolutely beautiful in the spring when the flowers are blooming.

You can stroll for approximately 4.5 kilometers along the path, which isn’t all built on the overground railroad- after that portion ends, it becomes a path called the Coulee Verte and can be followed almost all the way to the Bois de Vincennes. This second part is great for biking, but you’ll annoy everyone if you continue onto the Promenade Plantee on your bike.

12. Have a picnic – and some wine!

While the Seine and the big gardens are the most famous places to picnic, if you want to really sprawl out and spend your afternoon lying on the grass in the sun, head towards the outskirts of the city – specifically, Parcs Monceau, Montsouris, and Buttes Chaumont.

Picnic in Paris

Monceau is located between the 8th and 17th arrondissements and is the easiest to access; Montsouris is the biggest and has tons of grassy space to spread out; and you get Paris bonus points if you can find the waterfall in Buttes Chaumont– many Parisians don’t even know it’s there!

13. Discover a forgotten railroad

Okay, now this one a serious fun thing to do in Paris! Paris is an old city, and many of its old relics have become fun places to explore. Similar to the Promenade Plantee in that it’s a no-longer-used railroad line, the Petite Ceinture (little belt) encircled Paris between 1852 and 1934.

After falling into disuse, sections of it were reopened to the public beginning in 2007, and it’s a fascinating and calm place to go for a walk– you won’t feel like you’re in Paris anymore! Find the entry points here.

14. Rollerblade through the city by day (or by night)

There are a couple of groups that organize massive group skates– we’re talking thousands of people- on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.

Friday nights are organized by Pari Roller and begin at Place Raoul Dautry by Montparnasse train station at 10pm, returning to the same place at 1am.

Sunday afternoons are organized by Rollers & Coquillages and begin at boulevard Bourdon near Bastille at 2:30pm, returning at 5:30pm. All you need are a pair of rollerblades and a bit of confidence in your skating (and knowing how to brake).

15. Taste the best cocktail in Paris

Similar to the craft coffee revolution, craft cocktails are becoming increasingly popular amongst foodies and visitors alike. While the general online recommendations are good, check out the up-and-coming bar la Resistance in the Marais neigbourhood.

The philosophy behind French cocktails is balance- you should never taste a drink and think, “oh, that has vodka/whiskey/lime” in it, and the head barman’s carefully curated menu ensures that you’ll be drinking something you’ve never tasted before.

Have a cocktail at la Resistance Paris

The barman at la Resistance was recently nominated for best bartender in France, so you know you’re getting some amazing cocktails.  And it’s a great atmosphere, with the front windows opening entirely to let people and chairs spill a bit into the street. Plus, its central Marais location puts you in a great position to try some of the food in our next suggestion!

16. Eat non-Parisian food

The interesting thing about France is that food comes from all of its different french regions– crepes from Bretagne, camembert from Normandy, choucroute from Alsace, bouillabaisse from Marseille- and while you can get them all in Paris, it’s fun as well to try the different iterations on foreign dishes.

Try the rue Sainte Anne for Japanese cuisine, rue des Rosiers for amazing falafel (the lamb kebab from Miznon is hard to beat), Schwartz’s Deli or Hamler’s for amazing burgers, and Chinatown in the 13th for a delicious variety of southeast Asian options.

17. Shop in the Marais

Far from the glitz and glamour and crazy, touristy crowds of the Champs Elysees or the Grands Magasins (Galeries Lafayette and Printemps), the Marais is a much more interesting place to shop.

Its streets are lined with little boutiques, some of whose names you may recognize, but are equally likely to be a new brand’s pop-up store, a small boutique whose owner is behind the counter, or a cool concept store.

Merci is a local favorite, with the famous car in the courtyard, but Fleux is equally cool, with four different physical stores on the same block and a wide range of items and prices.

18. Wander through the street markets

Is there anything more French than a classic street market to buy fresh produce, meats and cheeses?

The Marché Bastille is one of the largest in the city and takes place on Thursday and Sunday mornings, but the city’s market streets are also great to stroll through on a random afternoon.

Buy a cheese in a Parisian market

Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement, Rue Mouffetard in the 5th, Rue Poncelet in the 16th, and Rue des Levis in the 17th are all more informal market streets where one can get delicious pâté, berries, and a freshly baked baguette for a picnic in one of the parks mentioned before!

19. Admire the stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle

Most people go to the Ile de la Cité to see Notre Dame, but it’s not the prettiest church on the island!

The Sainte-Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house the relics of Christ’s Passion, including the Crown of Thorns, and has one of the most beautiful collections of stained glass in the world.

Go on a sunny day to really get the full effect of the refracting colors.

20. Learn how to become Parisian in one hour

The English-language hit comedy show “How to Become Parisian In One Hour” has been entertaining expats and tourists since 2009 with a Frenchman’s take on the cultural differences between French and Americans.

Find more information and buy tickets here.

21. Cherry blossom hunting

If you have the chance to visit Paris in the spring, we recommend doing it in mid-April, so you can see the cherry blossoms turning the city a gorgeous, fluffy pink.

Cherry blossom in Paris

You can find a complete guide to the blossom season on Theglitteringunknown blog.  

22. Dancing on the rain Seine

On the banks of the river in the Jardin Timo Rossi by Gare d’Austerlitz, there are mini amphitheaters where people gather on summer nights to dance.

Don’t know how? There are plenty of people willing to teach! And if dancing’s not your thing, bring along a bottle of wine and just observe.

23. Walk through the forests

Just outside the city on the eastern and western ends, the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne, respectively, provide plenty of tree-covered walking paths which change into stunning shades of yellow and orange during the autumn months. It’s a perfect escape from the city to get back in touch with nature!

24. Ice skate on the Eiffel Tower

Normally the Eiffel Tower is a total tourist trap, but the opportunity to go ice skating on one of the world’s most famous monuments is just too good to miss!

Ice skating on the Eiffel Tower

Running from late November/early December to just before spring, the magical ice rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower will definitely be an unforgettable part of a holiday trip to Paris.

25. Go Karting in Paris

Go Karting is absolutely entertaining. If you want to try it in the french capital, check out this page for more information.

26. Escape Rooms (PURE FUN!!)

Escape Rooms were popping up all over Europe during 2015 and 2016. And of course there are plenty here as well. Here you can find overview of 3 best escape rooms in Paris.

We also enjoyed an escape room in Prague as well as in Skopje.

Summary +24 fun things to do in Paris

Why on earth are you still here? You should get some entertainment right now in the french capital. But okay…we got you some more useful travel information for your Paris experience. Here is the list:

We teamed up with Emily, official contributor at Hostelgeeks and the girl behind TheGlitteringUnknown, to bring you these 24 fun things to do in Paris.

Enjoy and have fun in Paris,
Anna&Matt

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