Non Touristy Things to Do in Paris

Non Touristy Things to Do in Paris

Non Touristy Things to Do in Paris

Paris often hailed as the “City of Love” and the “City of Lights,” is a dream destination for travelers from around the world. While iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum draw millions of visitors annually, the true essence of Paris lies beyond the tourist hotspots. Embracing non-touristy activities allows you to delve into the authentic Parisian lifestyle, uncovering hidden gems and experiencing the city’s local charm. In this comprehensive guide, we present an array of non-touristy things to do in Paris, offering a fresh perspective for travelers seeking a more intimate and immersive experience.

Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin, snaking through the 10th and 11th arrondissements, is a charming waterway that exudes a laid-back ambiance. Stroll along its banks, observe the boats passing through the locks, and immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. Picnicking on the canal’s grassy shores is a popular pastime for Parisians, providing an opportunity to savor the moment while watching the world go by.

Built in the early 19th century under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, this artificial canal was designed to supply fresh water to the growing city and facilitate the transportation of goods. Today, Canal Saint-Martin has transformed into a beloved local spot, adored by both Parisians and visitors alike. Its tree-lined banks, arched bridges, and iconic locks create a tranquil haven amidst the bustling city.

The construction of Canal Saint-Martin began in 1802 and was completed in 1825. The canal stretches approximately 4.5 kilometers and connects the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine River. Designed by architect Pierre-Simon Girard, the canal was originally intended to improve the city’s water supply and facilitate the transportation of goods.

A leisurely stroll along the banks of Canal Saint-Martin is a quintessential Parisian experience. The pathways are lined with beautiful plane trees that provide a refreshing shade during warm summer days.

The canal features nine locks, or écluses, which were installed to control the water levels and aid navigation. Watching boats pass through the locks is a fascinating sight and a reminder of the canal’s historical significance in Paris’s transportation and trade.

Canal Saint-Martin has become a popular gathering spot for Parisians seeking leisure and relaxation. The banks of the canal are ideal for picnics with friends and family or simply enjoying a moment of tranquility while watching the world go by.

Canal Saint-Martin is more than just a waterway; it’s an integral part of Paris’s cultural fabric and a cherished spot for both locals and visitors seeking an authentic experience in the city.

Visit Parc de la Villette

Escape the tourist crowds and venture to Parc de la Villette, a vast green oasis in the 19th arrondissement. This cultural hub hosts numerous events and outdoor concerts, offering a chance to engage with local art and music scenes. Take a leisurely walk by the water, relax amidst nature, or explore the interactive exhibits at Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.

Parc de la Villette, located in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, is one of the city’s largest and most vibrant parks. Spanning over 55 hectares, this expansive green space offers a perfect blend of nature, art, and cultural experiences. Designed by architect Bernard Tschumi and opened in 1987, Parc de la Villette has become a beloved destination for both locals and tourists. With its diverse array of activities, architectural wonders, and artistic showcases, the park provides a unique and immersive experience that celebrates the dynamic spirit of Paris.

The site of Parc de la Villette has a fascinating history. It was once home to the Parisian cattle market and slaughterhouses. In the 1970s, the decision was made to transform this industrial wasteland into a public park that would become a cultural hub for the city.

At the heart of Parc de la Villette stands the striking Geodesic Dome, also known as the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Designed by architect Adrien Fainsilber, this iconic structure houses a science museum that offers interactive exhibits and engaging activities for visitors of all ages.

Next to the Geodesic Dome, visitors can enjoy the unique cinematic experience offered by the Géode, a giant dome-shaped movie theater. Its hemispherical screen surrounds the audience, creating an immersive film-watching experience.

Discover Le Marais

non touristy things to do in paris

Le Marais is a popular neighborhood, but it holds many secret treasures beyond the well-trodden paths. Wander the narrow alleys, uncover hidden courtyards, and peruse boutique stores showcasing unique designs. Le Marais is a haven for art enthusiasts, with numerous art galleries and museums showcasing contemporary and classic works.

The history of Le Marais dates back to the 12th century when it was merely a marshy area located outside the medieval city walls of Paris. The term “marais” itself translates to “marsh” in French. In the 14th century, the area began to be drained and developed, attracting a mix of artisans, merchants, and nobility.

During the 16th century, Le Marais experienced a period of opulence and cultural growth. It became a fashionable district, attracting prominent aristocrats and wealthy families. Many grand townhouses, known as “hôtels particuliers,” were constructed, adorned with elegant facades and intricate architectural details.

Le Marais earned royal favor during the 16th and 17th centuries when King Henry IV and King Louis XIII chose to establish their residences in the district. The Place des Vosges, one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Paris, was commissioned by King Henry IV and completed during the reign of Louis XIII.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Le Marais experienced a period of decline as the aristocracy gradually moved to other parts of the city. The neighborhood became more crowded and industrialized, leading to a decline in its status.

Stroll through the Butte-aux-Cailles

The Butte-aux-Cailles, tucked away in the 13th arrondissement, retains its bohemian spirit and offers a glimpse of an authentic Parisian neighborhood. Admire vibrant street art as you explore the cobblestone streets. Stop at a local café for a leisurely espresso or savor traditional French dishes at charming bistros.

The Butte-aux-Cailles, which translates to “Quail Hill,” derives its name from the quails that once inhabited the area. In the 16th century, the neighborhood was primarily a rural village surrounded by vineyards and farms.

By the 19th century, the Butte-aux-Cailles began to attract Parisians seeking an escape from the crowded city center. Its elevated position provided picturesque views of the surrounding countryside, making it an appealing destination for leisurely outings and picnics.

As Paris underwent industrialization, the Butte-aux-Cailles transformed into a working-class district. Many of the rural houses were replaced by workers’ housing, reflecting the neighborhood’s growing urbanization.

In the early 20th century, the Butte-aux-Cailles became a haven for artists, writers, and intellectuals. Its bohemian atmosphere and affordable rents attracted creative minds seeking inspiration and camaraderie.

During World War II, the Butte-aux-Cailles played a significant role in the French Resistance. Its narrow streets and discreet alleys provided a refuge for resistance fighters and fugitives, making it a site of historical significance.

Today, the Butte-aux-Cailles is renowned for its vibrant street art scene. Colorful murals, graffiti, and art installations adorn its walls, adding to the neighborhood’s unique character and creative ambiance. This makes an ideal inclusion for the list of non touristy things to do in Paris.

Explore Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Experience the beauty of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a natural wonderland designed to resemble the picturesque English gardens. Unwind in its tranquil ambiance, witness cascading waterfalls, and admire the romantic Temple de la Sibylle perched atop an artificial island.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, nestled in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, is a picturesque and sprawling public park known for its lush landscapes, stunning vistas, and diverse recreational opportunities. Designed by landscape architect Adolphe Alphand and opened in 1867, the park holds a unique place in Paris’s history and urban planning. From its origins as a former quarry and execution site to its transformation into a beloved green haven, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

In the early 19th century, the area now occupied by Parc des Buttes-Chaumont was a disused gypsum quarry. The extraction of gypsum had created a gaping depression in the landscape, leaving behind an unsightly and hazardous space.

In response to the rapid urbanization of Paris and the need for green spaces, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the Prefect of the Seine, initiated a series of public park projects. The vision was to transform former industrial sites and wastelands into beautiful public parks accessible to all Parisians.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont was inaugurated on April 1, 1867, and opened to the public during the Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair held in Paris that year. The park was an instant success and quickly became a beloved recreational destination for Parisians, and not many tourists know of this beautiful spot.

Local Markets

Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by visiting Parisian markets. Marché d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement and Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais offer a delightful array of fresh produce, regional delicacies, and artisanal goods.

Marché d’Aligre, located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, is a lively and bustling market that offers a delightful blend of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and a vibrant atmosphere. Nestled around Place d’Aligre, this traditional market has been a cherished fixture in Parisian life for over two centuries. With its colorful stalls, diverse offerings, and friendly vendors, Marché d’Aligre provides a quintessential market experience that captivates both locals and visitors alike.

The history of Marché d’Aligre dates back to the late 18th century when the market was established on the site of the former Barrière d’Aligre, a toll gate that marked the entrance to Paris. The name “Aligre” is derived from the Duc d’Aligre, a nobleman whose land included the market’s location.

Marché des Enfants Rouges, situated in the heart of Le Marais, is one of Paris’s oldest and most charming covered food markets. With a history dating back to the 17th century, this vibrant market loved by locals and savvy travelers alike. Stepping into Marché des Enfants Rouges is like entering a world of culinary delights, where the aromas of diverse cuisines fill the air and the vibrant stalls offer a tantalizing array of fresh produce, gourmet dishes, and international specialties. This is one of the best examples of non touristy things to do in Paris.

The name “Enfants Rouges” translates to “Red Children” and is believed to be a reference to the red robes worn by the children of a nearby orphanage in the 17th century. The market’s roots can be traced back to 1615 when it was established as a traditional market serving the local community.

Neighborhood Street Markets

Embrace the community spirit at weekly street markets held in various neighborhoods. Mingle with locals, savor the scents of freshly baked bread and flowers, and discover the authentic flavors of Paris.

Picnic in Parc Monceau

Escape the touristy crowds and head to Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement. This serene park, adorned with statues and follies, offers a tranquil setting for a leisurely picnic amidst lush greenery.

Parc Monceau, located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, is a serene and picturesque park that exudes elegance and charm. With its lush greenery, enchanting architectural features, and tranquil ambiance, Parc Monceau offers a respite from the bustling city streets. Designed in the late 18th century, this historic park has a rich cultural heritage and has been a source of inspiration for artists, writers, and visitors seeking a tranquil retreat within the heart of Paris.

Parc Monceau was commissioned by the Duke of Chartres, later known as the Duke of Orléans, in the late 18th century. He sought to create a private garden that would reflect the fashionable and picturesque landscape designs of the time.

Visit Petite Ceinture

Step off the beaten path and explore Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway line transformed into an urban green space. Wander the hidden trails and experience a peaceful retreat within the heart of the city.

Petite Ceinture, translated as “Little Belt,” is a historic railway line that once encircled the city of Paris. Spanning approximately 32 kilometers, this railway played a vital role in the city’s transportation network during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, much of the line is abandoned, but it has found new life as a unique and intriguing urban space that combines history, nature, and community initiatives.

The idea for Petite Ceinture originated in the mid-19th century when Paris was experiencing rapid urban growth and needed improved transportation infrastructure. The railway was designed to connect major train stations and facilitate the movement of goods and passengers throughout the city.

With the emergence of the Paris Métro system and the gradual shift of transportation preferences, the Petite Ceinture gradually lost its significance as a main railway line. By the mid-20th century, most passenger services on the line were discontinued.

In recent decades, community groups and local initiatives have embraced the abandoned railway as a unique urban space with the potential for new purposes. Portions of the Petite Ceinture have been transformed into green corridors, offering respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Discover Parisian Street Art

Venture to neighborhoods like Belleville and Ménilmontant to admire vibrant street art adorning walls and facades. Paris’s street art scene reflects the city’s diverse and dynamic cultural expressions.

Belleville, a vibrant neighborhood located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, has gained renown for its thriving street art scene. The streets and walls of Belleville have become a dynamic canvas for local and international artists, who use this urban landscape to express their creativity and share powerful messages. From eye-catching murals to thought-provoking graffiti, Belleville’s street art adds a splash of color and a sense of rebellion to the city’s cultural tapestry.

Belleville has a long history of attracting artists, writers, and musicians, thanks to its bohemian spirit and diverse cultural heritage. This melting pot of creativity has nurtured a thriving street art community.

Ménilmontant, a lively and eclectic neighborhood situated in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, has a rich history of artistic expression and cultural vibrancy. Over the years, the streets of Ménilmontant have become a haven for street art, attracting local and international artists who use the neighborhood’s walls and surfaces as their canvas. This urban art scene reflects the bohemian spirit and creative energy that have been synonymous with Ménilmontant for generations.

Local Café Concert

Experience the vibrant nightlife of Paris by attending a café concert in neighborhoods like Belleville or Oberkampf. Enjoy live music performances in intimate settings, where artists connect with their audience on a personal level.

Explore Père-Lachaise Cemetery

While Père-Lachaise Cemetery attracts visitors, it also provides a peaceful and contemplative space for a leisurely stroll. Admire the ornate tombstones and sculptures while reflecting on the lives of prominent figures laid to rest here.

Père-Lachaise Cemetery, located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, is one of the world’s most famous and revered burial grounds. This historic cemetery is not only a final resting place for many notable figures but also a stunning work of art and a serene oasis within the bustling city. With its grand tombs, tree-lined paths, and rich history, Père-Lachaise Cemetery offers visitors a unique and contemplative experience, inviting them to explore the intertwining tales of the departed and the beauty of the human legacy.

Père-Lachaise Cemetery was established in 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte, making it one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Paris. Its creation aimed to address the issue of overcrowded burial grounds in the city.

The cemetery’s name “Père-Lachaise” pays homage to Père François de la Chaise, the confessor of King Louis XIV, who once lived in the area. The name represents the serene and sacred nature of this final resting place.

Over the years, Père-Lachaise has become the final resting place of many notable figures from various fields, including literature, music, art, and politics. Visitors can pay their respects to luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and Frédéric Chopin, among others.

Visit Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in the Marais. This quirky museum delves into the history of hunting and nature, housing an unusual collection of art and artifacts.

Discover the Promenade Plantée

Escape the tourist crowds and follow the Promenade Plantée, a beautiful elevated park that stretches along an old railway viaduct in the 12th arrondissement. As you walk above the city streets, you’ll be surrounded by greenery and charming gardens, offering a unique perspective of Paris.

Uncover the Charms of Village Saint-Paul

Nestled within Le Marais, Village Saint-Paul is a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. This quaint district is a labyrinth of narrow streets and historic buildings, housing antique shops, art galleries, and artisanal boutiques. Lose yourself in its timeless atmosphere, and you may stumble upon rare and captivating finds.

Relax at Square du Vert-Galant

For a peaceful moment away from the tourist hustle, head to Square du Vert-Galant, a serene park located on the western tip of Île de la Cité. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Seine River and indulge in a moment of tranquility while surrounded by nature.

Square du Vert-Galant, located on the western tip of the Île de la Cité in Paris, is a charming and picturesque garden that offers a peaceful escape from the city’s bustling streets. With its serene ambiance, panoramic views of the Seine River, and historical significance, this hidden gem holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors. The square’s name pays homage to Henry IV, known as “Vert-Galant” for his reputation as a gallant and amorous king.

Square du Vert-Galant’s name is derived from the nickname “Vert-Galant,” given to King Henry IV of France. Renowned for his youthful vigor and numerous love affairs, Henry IV left a lasting mark on French history and culture.

The square was established in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIII, Henry IV’s son, as part of the expansion and beautification of the city of Paris.

Discover La Coulée Verte René-Dumont

La Coulée Verte René-Dumont, also known as the “Promenade Plantée of the 12th,” is a green oasis above the city streets. This elevated parkway stretches for nearly 5 kilometers, offering a scenic path for walking or cycling amidst lush vegetation and urban architecture.

Experience the Local Café Culture

Step into a local café and experience the essence of Parisian life. Unlike the touristy establishments, these cafes are gathering spots for locals, where you can enjoy a leisurely coffee, people-watch, and engage in friendly conversations with Parisians.

Delight in Local Pâtisseries

Discover lesser-known pâtisseries scattered throughout the city. These hidden gems offer delectable pastries, cakes, and macarons that rival those of famous establishments. Savor the artistry and flavors of these delightful treats.

Explore Cité des Fleurs

Escape the urban buzz and find serenity in Cité des Fleurs, a charming residential passage in the 17th arrondissement. This idyllic enclave features rows of picturesque houses, adorned with blooming flowers and vines, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

Attend a Vernissage

Experience Paris’s art scene beyond the tourist galleries by attending a vernissage—a private preview of an art exhibition. These events offer an opportunity to mingle with artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts while discovering emerging talents and cutting-edge works. non touristy things to do in Paris.

Wander the Rue des Martyrs

Rue des Martyrs, stretching from the 9th to the 18th arrondissement, is a lively street frequented by locals. Explore its boutique shops, specialty food stores, and vibrant markets. This bustling thoroughfare offers a glimpse into everyday Parisian life.

Rue des Martyrs, situated in the 9th and 18th arrondissements of Paris, is a bustling and historic street that weaves through the heart of the city. This storied avenue has witnessed the evolution of Paris, from its humble beginnings to its modern vibrancy. With a name that echoes tales of martyrdom and a past that intertwines with the city’s rich history, Rue des Martyrs stands as a testament to Parisian resilience and the enduring spirit of its inhabitants. Parisians love this non touristy things to do in Paris.

Rue des Martyrs owes its name to a tragic event in the 3rd century AD when Saint Denis, the city’s first bishop, was beheaded on a hill that would later bear his name, Montmartre. The road that connected this hill to the center of the city became known as Rue des Martyrs.

In the Middle Ages, Rue des Martyrs gained significance as a route of pilgrimage. Devotees would walk the street, paying homage to Saint Denis and other martyrs who had been executed in the vicinity.

Take a Boat Cruise on the Canal de l’Ourcq

Escape the touristy Seine River cruises and opt for a boat tour along the lesser-known Canal de l’Ourcq. The journey takes you through charming neighborhoods and offers a tranquil experience away from the crowds.

Canal de l’Ourcq is a historic and picturesque waterway that winds its way through the northeastern outskirts of Paris, France. Spanning approximately 108 kilometers, the canal was commissioned in the early 19th century to provide the growing city with a reliable water supply and to support its industrial development. Today, the Canal de l’Ourcq has transformed into a recreational and cultural haven, offering Parisians and visitors a scenic escape from the urban hustle and an opportunity to explore the city’s industrial past and vibrant future. This certainly qualifies for non touristy things to do in Paris.

The idea for the Canal de l’Ourcq was conceived in the late 18th century to address Paris’s water supply challenges and to enhance its transportation infrastructure.

In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction of the canal to supply water to the city and to create a waterway connecting Paris to the Marne River.

The canal quickly became an essential feature of Paris’s urban landscape, providing a source of water for the city’s fountains, gardens, and parks, which is why it features on our list of non touristy things to do in Paris. .

Attend a Neighborhood Flea Market

Peruse the neighborhood flea markets that pop up on weekends throughout the city. These local bazaars are a treasure trove of vintage clothing, antiques, and quirky collectibles, making them perfect for unique souvenirs.

Unwind in the Parc Montsouris

Parc Montsouris, located in the 14th arrondissement, is an idyllic spot for relaxation. Escape the tourist crowds, take a leisurely stroll, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon amidst the park’s serene landscapes.

The best non touristy things to do in Paris.

Paris, a city steeped in history and romance, holds numerous hidden gems waiting to be discovered. By venturing off the beaten path and embracing non-touristy activities, you can immerse yourself in the authentic Parisian lifestyle and experience the city like a local. From enchanting parks to charming neighborhoods, vibrant markets to secret passages, the non-touristy side of Paris offers a deeper connection to the city’s rich culture and dynamic energy. So, next time you visit the City of Lights, dare to explore beyond the famous landmarks and embark on a journey of authentic discovery. Embrace the local experience and create lasting memories as you uncover the true essence of Paris.

Looking for more great ideas for things to do in Paris? Have a look at our 50 Free Things to Do in Paris

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is based on personal experiences and research. Please note that operating hours, availability, and accessibility of venues may vary, so it’s advisable to check in advance before planning your visit.



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