Secret Paris: Unique & free things to do when you’ve seen it all

Our families have been visiting us in Paris for over 8 years, so after a while the typical tourist sights can become both bore some and expensive! Thankfully we have our secret list of back-up activities that are both unique and free. And you guessed it, we’re finally going to share it with you!

Visit the colourful houses on Rue Crémieux

Any photographer in Paris has heard about Rue Crémieux. Why? Because it’s so colourful and pretty. Even if you’re not a photography expert, you can still enjoy walking down this short road and have a discreet peek through the windows of some of the only real houses in Paris.

Rue Crémieux Paris

Villa Léandre – the home of ‘real’ homes

There are very few ‘real’ houses in Paris because apartments are cheaper and offer a better solution to the space issue. However, you can find some truly magnificent ones on the streets named ‘Villas’. One of our favourites is Villa Léandre, also popular with up-and-coming fashion bloggers! It is ideally located around the back of Montmartre, so go have a look if you’re visiting the area.

Villa Leandre

Paris’ biggest veggie patch at Jardin des Plantes

Very few people head out to Jardin des Plantes and it is a bit of a forgotten treasure in Paris. The gardens are home to a few museums, but just wandering around and checking out the huge vegetable garden is fun in itself!

The perfect Sunday at Buttes Chaumont

Another favourite for Sundays in Paris! Because everything is closed on a Sunday, locals tend to spend time with their friends and family. Locals love eating in restaurants at the weekend but it can also be very expensive. That is why so many head to the Buttes Chaumont for a picnic followed by a walk and an ice cream.
If you’re there a bit later in the day, go to the infamous Rosa Bonheur bar at the top of the park to feel like a real local.

Buttes Chaumont Paris

The Marais and Place des Vosges

The Marais has a better location near the Hotel de Ville, but is generally left until last on a tourist’s itinerary. It is home to one of the largest Jewish and gay communities in Paris, so it is best to visit on a Sunday when everything is open (and everywhere else in Paris is closed!).

Wander the bustling streets and grab a tasty falafel from one of the street vendors. We are particularly big fans of the cakes at the Jewish bakery on rue des Rosiers, where you can either take away or eat in.

Explore the Passages Couvertes

Paris is filled with ‘passages couvertes’ which were apparently used to keep the rich dry back in the day. Today they are filled with everything from restaurants, antiques, books and even souvenir shops. One of our favourites is Passage des Panoramas, where you can flick through old postcards.

Passages Couvertes Paris

Visit Paris’ two huge forests

Paris has 2 huge forests on the outskirts of the city: Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne. Unfortunately they both have a rather seedy reputation, but this doesn’t stop people from going on walks and bike rides with their families. In summer you can rent rowing boats on the lakes in both of the parks.

The up-and-coming Parc de la Villette

La Villette is an up-and-coming area in Paris and more people than ever are making the most of the huge park there. Watch a 360° film at La Géode, have a picnic in the park and let your kids have a go at many of the activities based there.

Geode Paris Parc de la Villette

Walk on the roof of the Harmonique de Paris

The Harmonique de Paris is also based in Parc de la Villette but deserves a mention of its own! It is a very recent building as we’re writing this and has been welcomed with mixed feelings from the people of Paris. Whether you like the look of it or not, you can take the lift to the roof for free and then walk down the roof.


Walk along old railway lines: La Voie Verte

If you’re feeling particularly active, you can actually start near Place de la Bastille and walk along the old railway lines all the way to Bois de Vincennes! If not, you can still just walk the first section of the Voie Verte – we really like the rose garden!

There you have it, there are literally no excuses to visit the Eiffel Tower for the 100th time! We hope you liked our list, and let us know about your own secret places (we’re always keen for a different weekend escapade!).

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