34 Very Unusual Things to Do in Paris (Cool Experiences)

Very Unusual Things to Do in Paris

Beyond the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Champs-Élysées lies a treasure trove of unusual things to do in Paris waiting to be discovered.

From sailing electric boats along canals to confronting phantoms in a theatrical haunted house, this guide will introduce you to the hidden gems that provide a unique twist on the Parisian adventure.

1. Discover Paris’ Pipes and Balls at the Museum of Sewers

Paris Sewer museum

Paris, the city of light, love, and… sewers? That’s right, beneath the chic boulevards lies the Musée des Égouts de Paris, a museum dedicated to the city’s historic underbelly.

As you wander through the dimly lit tunnels, you’ll get an up-close look at the giant balls used to clean the sewers, and yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds. 

If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Paris, it doesn’t get better than sewers…

+Info || @musee.des.egouts.de.paris || Location (7th)

2. Sail an Electric Boat in Paris

Sail an Electric Boat Along the Parisian Canals

Discover the waterways of Paris with Marin d’Eau Douce’s electric boat rentals, where you can captain your own eco-friendly vessel along the city’s canals.

Without the need for a boating license, you and your group can enjoy the sights at a leisurely pace, taking in the street art, historical bridges, and Parisian life unfolding along the banks.

The boats are available in various sizes, suitable for parties of 5, 7, or 11 people, ensuring a comfortable and private journey. 

+Info || @marindeaudoucefrance || Location (19th)

3.Surround Yourself With Skulls at the Catacombs of Paris

In the late 18th century, Paris faced a public health crisis due to overcrowded cemeteries. To solve this morbid dilemma, authorities decided to transfer the remains to the abandoned limestone mines beneath the city.

Starting in 1786, a nightly procession of black-draped wagons began the transfer of bones, a task that took two years to complete. 

But it’s not all about the dead. The Catacombs also have a living history of secret societies and wartime bunkers, having been used by the French Resistance during World War II.

Read: best things to do in Paris at night.

The Catacombs are a testament to Paris’s layered history, where every skull and femur has a story. So, take a deep breath (not too deep, it’s quite dusty) and dive into the depths of Paris’ most chilling attraction.

+Info || @catacombesdeparis_officiel || Location (14th)

4. Le Clos Montmartre: one of Paris’ last remaining vineyards

Le Clos Montmartre

This small vineyard, the last of its kind within the city limits, clings to the slopes of the famed artistic district, covering a mere 1,556 square meters.

Established in 1933 as a community initiative to prevent land development, it preserves a piece of Parisian heritage and charm.

I especially recommend this one if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Paris for couples – some even host proposals there!

+Info || Vigne Du Clos Montmartre || Location (18th)

5. Pretend You’re a Parisian Pigeon in Parc André-Citroen

Balloon ride in Parc André Citroen

This unique attraction offers a serene ascent 150 meters above the ground, providing passengers with a captivating 360-degree view of the city’s iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and the Montparnasse Tower, as well as the Seine River’s gentle curves.

+Info || @ballondeparisgenerali || Location (15th)

6. Hike in Paris in the Petite Ceinture

Walk the Petite ceinture

This “Little Belt” is an old railway that once encircled Paris, connecting various neighborhoods throughout the city. Built in the mid-19th century, it was active until 1934, after which it fell into disuse and was largely abandoned.

Read: Best Hostels in Paris.

For those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure, the Petite Ceinture provides a quiet, verdant stroll through the heart of Paris, far from the typical tourist spots. This one is a fun thing to do in Paris for young adults.

+Info || La Petite Ceinture || Location (12th to 20th)

7. Enjoy Tea and Art at The Grande Mosquée de Paris

La Mosquée de Paris

The Grande Mosquée de Paris, located in the 5th arrondissement, is one of the largest mosques in France and a monument to the Franco-Arab friendship. Within its walls lies the Salon de Thé, a tranquil tea room where visitors can indulge in traditional Maghrebi mint tea, a refreshing, sweetened green tea with fresh mint leaves.

Surrounded by ornate carvings, intricate tile work, and a mesmerizing ambiance, guests can enjoy a moment of relaxation and reflection.

The tea room looks out onto a serene garden and fountain, contributing to the atmosphere of an authentic North African haven. This is one of the best unique places in Paris.

+Info || @mosqueedeparis || Location (5th)

8. Attend a Creepy but Cute Show at El Clan Destino

El Clan Destino

This quirky storefront, home to Diego Stirman—a self-styled charlatan, magician, and marionetologist—is a treasure trove of papier-mâché puppets, dismembered Barbie parts, and the odd skull here and there, beckoning the curious and the bold.

Step into this intimate venue for an unforgettable puppet show or a piece of street theater that will transport you into Stirman’s eclectic world. This activity is one of the most unusual things to do in Paris.

+Info || Location (20th)

9. Learn About… Smoking? At Le Musée Du Fumeur

Le Musée du Fumeur

It’s dedicated to the history and culture of smoking, encompassing all aspects from tobacco to cannabis and other substances that have been smoked throughout history.

The museum’s collection is not only about the act of smoking but also delves into the botany of tobacco and other smokeable plants, the artistry of pipe-making, and the sociocultural implications of smoking in societies around the world.

+Info || Le Musée du Fumeur || Location (11th)

10. Notre Dame du Travail Church: Unusual Architecture

Notre Dame du Travail Church

An architectural marvel that stands as an ode to the working-class community it was built to serve. Completed in 1902, it was designed to reflect the industrial era, with a unique interior that boasts an exposed metal framework reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower’s iron lattice.

Read: Free Things to Do in Paris.

This structure speaks to the dignity of labor; its materials and design honor the industrial workers of the neighborhood, many of whom worked on the Eiffel Tower itself.

+Info || Église Notre-Dame-du-Travail de Paris || Location (14th)

11. Walk on the Oldest Basketball Court in Paris

Basketball history buffs can step onto Paris’s oldest still-in-use basketball court. Inaugurated in 1893, just a few years after Dr. James Naismith invented the game, the YMCA court is a hardwood time capsule.

Here, you can almost hear the bounce of the original leather balls and the squeak of canvas shoes from players of yesteryear.

@ymcaparis || Location (9th)

12. WWII Bunker Under Gare de l’Est: Unusual Exploration

WWII Bunker Under Gare de l'Est

Beneath the Gare de l’Est, one of Paris’s major train stations lies a hidden remnant of history: a World War II bunker. Constructed during the war, this bunker was designed as a command center to coordinate railway traffic and ensure the movement of troops and equipment.

Today, the bunker is not generally open to the public, but occasional tours are organized by the railway company SNCF, allowing history enthusiasts a rare glimpse into this secretive underground space.

If you manage to score a tour, this is one of the most unique things to do in Paris off the beaten path.

+Info || Location (10th)

13. Forget About Your Eyes at Dans Le Noir?

Dans le Noir?

“Dans le Noir?” (which translates to “In the Dark?”) is a unique dining experience that invites guests to enjoy a meal in complete darkness. This concept aims to enhance the diner’s senses of taste, smell, and touch by eliminating the sense of sight.

The experience also fosters social interaction in a novel way, as diners are not influenced by the visual presentation of food or the appearance of their fellow guests.

The restaurant has multiple locations around the world, including in Paris, where the concept originated.

+Info || @danslenoirgroup || Location (4th)

14. Enjoy Free Exhibitions at 59 Rivoli

59 rivoli

59 Rivoli is a former squat turned official art space that’s as unconventional as it gets in Paris. Imagine an art gallery where the paint hasn’t dried – because it’s still being painted.

This place buzzes with the energy of over 30 artists, each turning their whims into tangible art across six floors of studio space.

+Info || @59rivoli || Location (1st)

15. Pretend You’re at the Beach During Paris Plage

Paris plage

Paris Plage is a unique urban phenomenon where, each summer since 2002, the banks of the River Seine are transformed into a makeshift beach.

Real sand is brought in to create the beaches, and palm trees are planted to add to the seaside ambiance. It’s not just about lounging though; there are water sports, games, and even free concerts.

Paris Plage Paris || Location (4th)

16. Unusual Architecture in Paris: The Pagoda

Built in the early 20th century, this authentic Chinese pagoda was once a private mansion before being transformed into an Asian art cinema and event space.

Inside, it houses a collection of Asian artifacts and frequently hosts art exhibitions, film screenings, and private receptions. The serene garden, complete with a koi pond, offers a tranquil escape from Parisian streets. 

+Info || @pagodaparis || Location (8th)

17. Learn About Crazy Parisian Crime Cases at the Police Museum

Musée de la Prefecture de Police

This museum offers a unique glimpse into the evolution of law enforcement in Paris, from the days of the ancien régime to the present.

Read: 33 Tourist Mistakes to Avoid in Paris.

Among the displays, you’ll also learn about famous cases, such as the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 and the capture of the notorious serial killer Henri Landru.

+Info || Musee De La Prefecture De Police De Paris || Location (5th)

18. Look at Dead Mice at Julien Aurouze and Co.

Julien Aurouze and Co.

Julien Aurouze and Co. is a peculiar little shop that looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a Tim Burton film.

Established in 1872, this pest control store in the heart of Paris has become an unlikely tourist attraction, thanks to its window display of dead rats, mice, and more, all artfully arranged to showcase their demise.

Maison Aurouze || Location (1st)

19. Ride Extinct Animals at the Dodo Carousel

The “Carousel of Extinct and Endangered Animals” (Carrousel des Animaux Disparus et en Voie de Disparition) is a unique merry-go-round located at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

Unlike traditional carousels that feature horses and chariots, this carousel is designed to raise awareness about conservation by featuring beautifully crafted sculptures of extinct and endangered species.

Dodo Manège || Location (5th)

20. Stroll Along the Coulée Verte René-Dumont

La Promenade Plantée, also known as the Coulée verte René-Dumont, is Paris’s answer to an elevated walkway with a twist of green.

This pioneering urban garden stretches 4.7 kilometers atop an old and now unused railway line, leading you on a botanical journey through the 12th arrondissement.

@La Promenade Plantée || Location (12th)

21. Experience The Louvre at Night

The Louvre at Night

The iconic Parisian museum offers a different atmosphere in the evening. The crowds are usually smaller, the lighting is more dramatic, and the ambiance is more intimate, making it an ideal time for those looking to explore the museum in a more relaxed setting.

The Louvre occasionally offers night openings, allowing visitors to enjoy its collections and special exhibitions after regular hours. 

+Info || @museelouvre || Location (1st)

22. Test Out a New Face at the Musée Des Moulages

Le Musee des Moulages

Nestled away in the hallowed halls of Paris’s dermatological hospital, Saint-Louis, Le Musée des Moulages is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

This medical museum boasts the largest collection of dermatological casts in the world, displaying over 4,800 waxworks that capture various skin diseases in almost too much detail.

+Info || Musée des Moulages dermatologiques || Location (10th)

23. Tombées du Camion: Unusual Fallen Trinkets

Tombées du Camion

The store is known for selling an eclectic mix of vintage items, curiosities, and oddities that are like treasures from another time.

These can range from old-fashioned toys and trinkets to medical supplies, school posters, and various knick-knacks that you might indeed imagine finding in a forgotten crate that fell off a delivery truck.

+Info || @tombeesducamion || Location

24. Real Off the Beaten Path Area: Butte Bergeyre

Butte Bergeyre is one of the city’s few hidden areas (no, the Latin Quarter isn’t a hidden gem). This small residential district, reaching about 100 meters above sea level, is accessible through a series of staircases or a single winding road, creating an intimate atmosphere akin to a secluded village.

One of Butte Bergeyre’s most remarkable features is its micro-vineyard, which is reminiscent of Paris’s historical landscape, once dotted with numerous vineyards.

This little patch of vines is lovingly tended by local residents, symbolizing a community’s commitment to preserving a piece of Parisian viticulture.

The view from the top of Butte Bergeyre is also great, offering vistas of the iconic landmarks of the city, including the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

La Butte Bergeyre || Location (19th)

25. Les Pavillons de Bercy – Musée des Arts Forains

Musee des arts forains

The Musée des Arts Forains specializes in the preservation and display of carnival and amusement artifacts and rides.

It’s a museum and an interactive experience, where visitors can engage with the exhibits (and ride them), which include antique carousels, century-old fair stalls, and classic funfair games.

*Note: No admission without booking!

+Info || @museedesartsforains || Location (12th)

26. Disappear at the Museum of Magic

Musee de la Magie

This specialized museum is situated in the Marais district and offers a captivating glimpse into the world of illusion and conjuring through a collection of magic artifacts, optical illusions, and interactive exhibits.

In addition to the historical aspect, the Musée de la Magie also provides live magic performances, where magicians demonstrate their skills and engage with the audience, adding an element of entertainment and wonder to the visit.

+Info || @museedelamagie || Location (4th)

27. Gustave Eiffel’s Secret Apartment… shhh

Gustave Eiffel’s secret apartment is a little-known feature of the Eiffel Tower, offering a glimpse into the personal life of its famous creator.

Located at the top of the tower, this private space was designed by Eiffel for his own use and for entertaining prestigious guests like Thomas Edison. It’s definitely a noteworthy place to visit in Paris, France.

+Info || Location (4th)

28. Bouquet of Tulips by Jeff Koons

'Bouquet of Tulips'

‘Bouquet of Tulips’ is a large-scale sculpture created by American artist Jeff Koons, known for his work with kitschy, pop-culture subjects.

This particular piece was offered by Koons as a gift to the city of Paris in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks that struck the city in 2015 and 2016.

 Location (8th)

29. Pretend You’re a Gladiator at the Arenas of Lutetia

These ancient ruins, once an amphitheater where gladiators clashed and crowds roared, now serve as an almost secret park where locals play pétanque.

It’s a surreal juxtaposition: one moment you’re surrounded by Roman ghosts echoing through the ages, and the next you’re dodging a soccer ball from a nearby game.

Location (5th)

30. Take a Tour of the Marché De Rungis

This temple of taste is the largest wholesale food market in the world. Imagine an ocean of cheeses, a mountain range of meats, and enough fruit and vegetables to start your own Garden of Eden.

Chefs, grocers, and restaurateurs rub shoulders in the early morning hours, all seeking the perfect ingredients to delight the palates of Parisians. Visiting Rungis gives a rare chance to see what it takes to keep Paris’s stomach satisfied.

+Info || @marchederungis || Location

31. Check Out Odd Equipment at the Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine

Museum of the history of medicine

The collection spans from the Middle Ages to the present, displaying objects like ancient scalpels, forceps, and even Napoleon’s postmortem death mask.

One highlight is the 19th-century obstetrics collection, which includes a frightening array of forceps and other birthing instruments. 

+Info || Musée d’histoire de la médecine || Location (6th)

32. Père Lachaise Cemetery & Montmartre Cemetery

Paris Cemetery

Perched atop the city like an open-air museum of mortality, Père Lachaise Cemetery is the eternal home to a star-studded cast of the past. Here, you can pay your respects to the likes of Oscar Wilde, whose lipstick-kissed tomb is a testament to the enduring power of a well-turned phrase. 

Not to be outdone, Montmartre Cemetery offers its own blend of the macabre and the magnificent. Here, you can find the resting places of artists like Edgar Degas and Émile Zola, whose stories are interwoven with the bohemian spirit of the Montmartre district itself.

Both cemeteries are not just places of remembrance, but gardens of art, history, and nature, coming together in a quiet celebration of lives well lived.

They remind us that in Paris, even in death, beauty and creativity reign supreme (both also offer very unusual experiences of Paris).

33. Pretend You’re on a Mountain at the Alpine Garden

Tucked away within the larger Jardin des Plantes, the Jardin Alpin is a hidden gem that offers an escape to the highlands without leaving Paris.

This specialized garden is a carefully curated collection of alpine flora, presenting a unique and educational environment where visitors can explore and admire plants that are adapted to the harsh conditions of mountainous regions.

@Jardin Des Plantes || Location (5th)

34. Check Out the French Statues of Liberty

The 5 Statues of Liberty

Paris, France, has several replicas of the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of Franco-American friendship and shared values of freedom and democracy. Five notable ones are:

  1. Île aux Cygnes: This is the most famous replica in Paris, located on the Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island in the River Seine. It’s a quarter-scale model of the original and was inaugurated in 1889, three years after the New York statue. It faces west toward its “sister” statue across the Atlantic.
  2. Musée d’Orsay: Inside this renowned museum, you’ll find a smaller version of the Statue of Liberty. The museum itself is housed in a former railway station and is home to numerous works by French artists, including this iconic sculpture.
  3. Luxembourg Gardens: There is also a bronze model of the Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens. This one was displayed at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris before being placed in the gardens.
  4. Musée des Arts et Métiers: This museum dedicated to industrial and technological innovation has a full-size original plaster model of the Statue of Liberty’s flame. It was used to create the mold for the final statue.
  5. Flame of Liberty: While not a full statue, the Flame of Liberty near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma bridge is an exact replica of the flame held by the statue in New York. It has become an unofficial memorial for Princess Diana, as it is situated above the tunnel where the fatal car crash occurred in 1997.

Each of these replicas holds historical significance and is a nod to the enduring relationship between France and the United States.

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