No matter how many guidebooks are published, websites are created, or blogs are written about Paris there are and always will be countless hidden places. The thing I love most about this city is that going out and exploring is the only way to truly diverge off the beaten path. However, this is easier said than done in the most visited city in the world. But, despite being the top tourist destination, simply walking around the city instead of being focused on the main tourist attractions will allow a different Paris to open up around you. While the only way to find the best hidden places in Paris is for you to go out and curate your own list, here is a good place to start:
Hidden Fountain of Léda
Visitors flock to the Jardin du Luxembourg to see the famous Fontaine Marie Médicis. However, on the other side, overgrown by trees, bushes and ivy during the summer lies a smaller, hidden fountain that hundreds of people pass every day. During the renovations of Paris under Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann, the hidden fountain was relocated behind the famous Médicis fountain. This is worth adding another five minutes to your walk; simply go straight past the Médicis fountain and uncover the mythology of Zeus and his lover portrayed on the other side.
Located in the 12th arrondissement by the Place de la Bastille, the Rue Crémieux is a street filled with colorful buildings that will make one feel as if they’ve been transported to a Caribbean island. In a beautiful but somewhat cold city, this can be a welcome change of atmosphere. I recommend going during the afternoon (or late afternoon) when the sun best catches the facades of the buildings.
Square by Le Louvre
While this place is not “hidden,” it is overlooked by tourists because of its location next to the Louvre. The real secret here is to visit at night (especially if it’s recently rained) when the lights of the buildings bounce off of every surface. The best part is that this square is mostly vacant after hours, frequented only by some passerby and young couples.
A hip bar serving tapas, this is one of the hangouts of Parisian youth. Hard to get to, it’s located way up in northern Paris (the 18th) towards the end of the line four metro. However, the trip is worth it. Students, recent graduates and other young Frenchie’s mingle with the Caribbean couple that owns the bar, who serve up delicious handmade pizzas. The atmosphere is truly amicable. Hearing the husband (who usually tends bar) laugh is in of itself a highlight of this well-hidden French spot. Expect it to always be packed!
Le Jardin du Potager
After posting a snapstory of this garden, I had half a dozen of my friends in Paris ask me where I was. I jokingly told them Narnia, and kept this secret place to myself. Until now, when I tell all of you! Located nearby (but not too close) to the Montparnasse Tower, I highly recommend grabbing a baguette and enjoying lunch in this garden with beautiful covered passages that also borders a monastery dating as far back as 1634.
I found some of these secret places by recommendations of friends, and the rest by taking walks throughout the city. The best way to experience Paris outside of a guidebook or online is to explore; Paris is a great walking city with so much to discover! While some hidden places are not so hidden, it may be the time of day (or night) that makes the difference. So, go out and explore, and find your favorite secret places!
The world awaits…discover it.