Paris is one of the most popular international city destinations, famed for its food, culture and architecture. There is no shortage of tourist “hot spots” in the City of Light, and visitors are often drawn into the regular circuit of sightseeing at landmarks and museums. However, there are many unique places in Paris that often go ‘under the radar’ of those seeking to explore the city. These places can provide an authentic and romantic Paris experience, with an added dose of enchantment.
1. Beautiful beehives at the Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of Paris’ most popular parks. Its throngs of visitors often overlook one of its most eccentric offerings. The park harbors a botanical secret: an enormous cluster of beehives. The working beehives are frequented by honey enthusiasts and beekeepers from all over the world. The park hosts special beekeeping classes for laymen and families to introduce them to the art of raising the buzzing beauties. The bees are always busy making Parisian honey and are featured prominently in the park’s autumn festival called the “Fete du Miel” or Festival of Honey. Honey from the park’s bees is sought after by the top pastry chefs of Paris and is sold by the jar for tourists to take home as a sweet souvenir.
2. A magical market in Paris
The Marche St Quentin is an authentic French street market and a favourite among local Parisians. This quaint, covered market dates back to the 1860’s and is designed around the concept of stall-bought fresh produce and artisan food and craft items. The bustling market is undoubtedly the source of many a French chef’s secret ingredients. Visitors to the market can expect to see stalls selling the freshest countryside vegetables, succulent fruits, spices, baking ingredients as well as handmade perfumes and candles. Tourists can get a taste of local flavour by enjoying an afternoon at the Marche St Quentin.
3. Charmed by the charms at La Perlerie
This small store specialises in selling very small items: charms. While many visitors to Paris visit the city’s designer boutiques and big-name couture fashion storefronts, a store like La Perlerie often goes unnoticed. The selection is overwhelming and shoppers can chose from hundreds of pewter, silver and gold charms. Charms are a wonderful custom gift idea, as there truly is something for everyone. Popular charms depict sports equipment, flags, religious symbols, teddy bears, animals and flowers.
4. A secret museum in Paris
Tourists who visit Paris almost never miss its blockbuster museum, the Louvre. Home of the Mona Lisa and other iconic art pieces, the Louvre has rightfully gained its status as the world’s top art museum. However, a less famous museum not far from the Louvre provides a unique experience: it showcases the history of Paris itself. Featuring antiques dating all the way back to the Middle Ages, the Musee du Carnavalet features everything from paintings to old vehicles—items curated to visually display the deep history of a world class city.
5. A French Chinatown
Unbeknownst to most visitors to Paris, there is a bustling Chinatown not far from the city’s centre. Paris’ Chinatown is comprised of hundreds of small shops and over 150 restaurants. Visitors will occasionally find a hint of French influence, such as croissants or crepes, blended amidst the distinctly Chinese culinary delights offered in the bustling Parisian Chinatown neighbourhood.
6. A Japanese Movie House
La Pagode is a movie house designed with a traditional Japanese theme. The building captures the joy and romance of early Parisian cinema, and was a hot spot for film viewing in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Today’s visitors can still view movies in its ornate halls.
This is a guest post from Louise Vinciguerra, a Brooklyn native who loves travelling in search of fun food, dabbling in urban farming or planning nature trips.