Intrepid visitors who step off the beaten path of tourist highlights in Paris will be rewarded by a fascinating city filled with quirky and unusual sights.
1. Visit Oscar Wilde And Jim Morrison
The Père Lachaise cemetery in the north of the city is one of the most famous graveyards in the world, and yet it is often skipped by tourists. It is perhaps most famous for being the final resting place of several famous figures, the most prominent of which are Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Because of this, it has become a pilgrimage of sorts for fans of literature and music, who come to the cemetery to pay their respects to their idols.
However, Père Lachaise is so much more than a few famous tombs: aside from being a beautiful park, it comprises a stunning collection of intricately carved tombstones and mausoleums spanning the ages. It is a great visit for a chilly winter morning or sunny summer afternoon, where you can take a leisurely stroll amid centuries of Parisian history.
It is a simple 30-minute walk -- in a straight line -- from Place de la Bastille. Four metro stations are dotted around the park: Pere Lachaise, Phillipe Auguste, Alexandre Dumas, and Gambetta.
2. Say 'I Love You' In Every Language
Hidden in a small park in Montmartre, away from the tourist bustle surrounding the Sacré-Cœur, is one Paris' most beautiful artworks. It is a 40 square meter tiled wall, created by artists Frederic Baron and Claire Kito in 2000, on which is written the phrase "I love you" in over 250 languages. Completely free and open to the public, the wall celebrates the universality of love across cultures and borders.
The Wall of Love is a quick visit, but one that does not fail to move and inspire those who take the time to go see it. It is a less than 10-minute walk from Sacré-Cœur, and a great stop to incorporate into a visit to Montmartre
3. Go For A Walk In The Park - Above The City
Paris does not have a shortage of beautiful parks to walk through, but one of them rises above the rest -- literally. Starting near Bastille and stretching out into the suburbs, La Coulée Verte René-Dumont (formerly known as the Promenade Plantée) is a garden walkway built on a disused raised railway line. A stroll down it provides a one-of-a-kind view of Paris' streets and buildings as well as numerous photo opportunities, but it is also a chance to relax and get away from the crowds.
The path starts off raised before leveling out and then becoming below-ground, and is lined throughout with a beautiful array of plants and flowers. It also passes the Jardin de Reuilly, a small local park which is worth a detour for its delightful public water fountain dispensing fresh sparkling water.
4. Take A Trip To Africa
Le Comptoir Général is a one-of-a-kind artspace and bar that celebrates Franco-African culture and heritage through an eclectic collection of African objects. As a bar and cafe, Le Comptoir Général offers reasonably-priced African snacks, drinks, and coffee, however, it really shines as a cultural space. You will find artifacts of all sorts, historical photographs, tropical plants, a library of books on African culture, a record-listening corner, a thrift shop, and much more, all in a beautifully decorated building that pays tribute at every turn to the African continent.
Le Comptoir Général is hidden behind a graffitied wall along Canal St Martin. The place fills up at night for cocktails, beers, and DJ's spinning African and Caribbean beats. While the clientele at nighttime is varied and can suit anyone, visiting between 6 pm (when it opens) and 8 pm is recommended to explore the full extent of what the space has to offer in relative peace and quiet.
5. Visit Some Offbeat Museums
Paris has so many world-class museums that it is difficult to see them all in one visit. Because of this, tourists often skip -- or entirely forget about -- the city's quirkier, less traditional museums. And there are a lot of them. Ideal for visitors with some extra time, or for those who have already seen the highlights, these smaller museums and galleries can be a fascinating foray into the more eccentric side of Paris.
Why not visit the Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures, the only vampire museum in the world? Run by a self-proclaimed "vampirologist" who gives you a tour himself, the collection houses such objects as a Victorian vampire protection kit and a mummified cat. If that sounds too macabre for you, you may enjoy the Musée des Arts Forains, with its collection of antique carnival objects and attractions, some of which you are even encouraged to ride. Another -- admittedly quite niche -- option is the Musée du Fumeur, an unusual museum dedicated entirely to the art and history of smoking.
When you visit Paris, you want to see all of the iconic sights. But make some room for these lesser-known marvels to enjoy a side of the culture Parisians experience every day!