10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

If you've visited Paris, you've probably seen the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Versailles. You probably whizzed through some world-class art, ate delicious food in restaurants with English menus, and bought crepes from a street cart. However, Paris has a lot of things to do that you'll never find in a guide book. These outings might really take you off the beaten path!
(To visit the venues mentioned in this article, check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Paris)

1. Hammam Spa

Hammam Spa
Ladies, visiting a hammam spa is something you shouldn’t miss in Paris. At Okari, in the Marais, you can spend an afternoon relaxing in the sauna, get your topsoil scrubbed off, have a massage, and then finish it all off with tea and cake. The ladies who work there are discreet and pleasant and the facilities are clean. If you’re shy about your body, don’t worry--you’ll get a robe and undies for your session. They also speak English! You’ll feel like a queen. There are other hammam spas in Paris which have designated times for men and women, often with walk-in appointments available. Everybody can relax from their travels and get refreshed.
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

2. Roma Circus

Roma Circus
The Roma Circus, near the Porte Maillot metro stop, makes for a great evening out. Why do I advise grownups to go to the circus? Because you can see something beautiful and terrifying while sipping hot spiced wine. Because you can see a culture you’ve always heard about but never encountered. Because the musicians and circus performers are lovely, talented, vibrant, fearless people who give you hope for humanity. Because one woman did trapeze with a cat. Who doesn’t need that?
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

3. Walking Tour of Paris Passages

Walking Tour of Paris Passages
Back in the day when sewage ran in the streets of Paris, the genteel folk did their shopping in the passages, covered passageways with shops and restaurants. The passages fell out of favor when Napoleon hired A.E. Hausmann to renovate the city, and he cleaned things up and moved shops outdoors onto the grand boulevards. However, in the last few decades, the passages have made a comeback. They are filled with unique shops, cozy restaurants, and architecture from days gone by. Often, artisans and craftspeople have their studios in the passages, so you can see them at work.

Start with Galerie Vivienne.
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

4. Thrift Store Shopping

Thrift Store Shopping
You know those trendy Parisiens keep up with the styles, right? When they’re done with last season’s duds, they get rid of them at thrift and consignment stores. You can pick up their castoffs with a little bit of searching and a little bit of money. The upscale shops don’t have that Goodwill feel (or smell) and are beautifully designed and organized. There are fitting rooms and the items are lovingly displayed. Get in touch with your inner vintage child, or round out your wardrobe with some reasonably priced basics.

Click here for a link to find shops.

5. Go to a Small Museum

Go to a Small Museum
The big museums in Paris are wonderful, but they’re full of tourists and you probably saw them on your first trip to Paris. You probably ran through the Louvre, right? Or maybe you went crazy and took in the Musee d’Orsay or the Pompideau Center or the Picasso or Rodin museums? Those are great, but this time try a small museum. You’ll see lovely works of art in intimate surroundings such as old mansions or homes. I recommend the Musée Cernuschi, located in the 17th arrondisement, the Musée Jacquemart-André in the 8th, or the Musée Marmottan Monet in the 16th.

6. Neighborhood Flea Markets

Neighborhood Flea Markets
You know about the Paris flea markets, but did you know about their neighborhood street markets? There are no garage sales or yard sales in Paris (mostly because there are no garages or yards, but also because of city regulations) so people wait till their local police give the go-ahead and haul their stuff outside to the designated area. Keep your eyes open for these events, and enjoy the bargains. You might find a knife set made out of deer feet, a needlepoint nude, a snake-shaped brush made out of an antler, or vintage LPs. There are usually vendors selling food and street musicians, as well. No tourists here, so enjoy the private life of a Paris neighborhood!

Click here and go to Ile-de-France to find Paris markets.

7. Medical Pedicure

Medical Pedicure
Somewhere under your calluses, dry skin, and grime, are the feet God gave you. A regular pedicure might help you cosmetically, but your crustiness is coming right back. When you’re in Paris, get a medical pedicure! They will put you in a dentist-type chair, elevate your feet, and scrape off everything that isn’t supposed to be there. They use what appear to be tiny cheese graters and squirrel-sized scalpels. At the end, they’ll lotion you up and you’ll prance away with a new lease on life. You still have baby-soft feet, you just need professional help to find them.

Go to Mon Docteur, enter “pedicure-podologue” and click on “autor de moi.” Make an appointment and get back to your original feet.

8. Promenade Plantée

Promenade Plantée
There aren’t many parks in Paris, so green space is precious. The Promenade Plantée was created when an abandoned viaduct got a makeover in 1993. It’s the High Line of Paris! From this elevated walkway, you can walk for miles and get fresh air and sunshine. You’ll see the city from a new angle, away from cars, with other pedestrians and sunseekers. There are water taps for your dog, cool street art, and shaded benches where you can canoodle with your sweetie.

9. Viaduc des Arts

Viaduc des Arts
While you’re at the Promenade Plantée, go down to street level and visit the Viaduc des Arts. Part of the same revitalization project, the arches supporting the viaduct were cleared out and glassed in, turning them into shops and galleries. There are retail shops and artisans making shoes, pianos, jewelry, umbrellas, furniture, and plenty more. Stroll through the shops, watch some artisans at work, buy some truly unique souvenirs, and have a coffee break at one of the cafes.

10. Passage du Desir

Passage du Desir
Ladies, it’s France, so get your groove on! In France, love shops are not the tawdry business they are in other countries, with nasty sex shops next to XXX video stores on the edge of town. It’s also not Spencer Gifts, that kinky mall shop you went to in high school. In France, lovely and tasteful stores like Passage du Desir, in the Marais, are located in the main shopping areas, unashamed and clear-eyed. At Passage du Desir, they have a selection of toys, cosmetics, books, and devices that will put the zip back in your act. If you don’t speak French, the helpful staff can speak enough English to help you figure things out. You’ll go home with a plain brown bag full of smiles and plans. It’ll be our little secret.

Click here for more things to do in Paris.

Author Bio: Yvonne Shao is an American writer living in Paris. She blogs at Escaping the Empty Nest.

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Walking Tours in Paris, France

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