Unexpected Attractions In Paris

** NOTE: France, like the rest of the world, continues to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Paris museums, shops, restaurants and tourist destinations either remain closed or have limited hours. All will require masks while indoors. Many also will require proof of vaccination. Please check online information or telephone your intended destination to determine any restrictions. Let’s all help each other through this harrowing period in global history. Merci! **

Visiting Paris, you can quickly get caught up in all the things you’ve always wanted to see and do. Famous buildings and monuments, charming cafes and legendary shopping areas are often among the main draws. But it’s a big city that seems to get more entertaining by the year—probably because it’s always catering to fresh waves of tourists.

For that reason, there are a lot of attractions in town that you might not necessarily expect to come across or enjoy. These can be fun to put on your list, though, as they make the trip feel a little less like you’re simply meandering through the front pages of a Parisian guidebook.

Here are a few things to think about doing.

MontparnasseView_1 (1)Catch The View From Montparnasse Tower

The Montparnasse Tower is basically just an office building. But it’s one of the taller buildings in Paris, and another article looking at some alternative things to do in the city made an excellent point that the only thing better than a Paris panorama from the top of the Eiffel Tower might be a panorama with the Eiffel Tower in it. In other words, the view from the top of this tower gives you a unique and wonderful perspective on Paris, showing the whole city, including the tower that may just be Europe’s most famous monument.

Montparnasse Tower
33 Avenue du Maine
Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue

Notre Dame archaeological crypt 1Explore Ancient Lutetia

As you probably know if you like your ancient history, Paris was a site used by the Romans for  a long time before it ultimately fell to the Frankish tribes and then, eventually, became French. The Roman city on the site was known as Lutetia, and if this is the sort of thing that fascinates you, you can actually get a glimpse of some of the ruins. They’re located in a crypt that you’re free to visit and learn about.

Crypte Archeologique du Parvis Notre-Dame
7 Place Jean-Paul II-Parvis Notre-Dame
Metro: Cite

Play At Cercle Clichy Montmarte

You don’t think of Paris as a casino town, and you certainly won’t find any gaudy resorts. You might also think that no one in Europe bothers with real casinos anymore. There are countless slot arcades, unending poker tournaments and even several different variations of Blackjack to be found online. Despite these facts, Cercle Clichy Montmarte represents a classy gaming option in the heart of Paris. It’s a nice place to try out even if you’re not necessarily a casino gaming enthusiast.

Cercle Clichy Montmartre
84 Rue de Clichy
Metro: Place de Clichy

CanalStMartin_1Wander Canal St. Martin

The Seine tends to get most of the publicity as Paris’s chief body of water, and it’s definitely the main river in town. If anything, it’s probably going to be getting even more attention from tourists after it became one of the subjects in song “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” which was nominated for an Oscar from the movie La La Land. But Canal St. Martin shoots off of the Seine and represents some of the more charming walking areas in the city. It’s almost like a little slice of Amsterdam laid down unexpectedly in Paris.

Canal St. Martin
Runs from Rue du Faubourg du Temple in the south to Rue Lafayette/Boulevard de la Villette in the north
Metro: Republique or Goncourt (south)/Jaures (north)

ParisLibrary_1The National Library

Bibliotheque National de France is an impressive place to spend some dim, quiet hours if you need a bit of a break from sightseeing. It’s a huge library—once among the biggest in the world—and yet it’s a very cozy place to sit and read or get some work done for a time. The design almost doesn’t resemble a real place, as books are arranged on several floors openly stacked upon one another in a vast circle marked at intervals by high columns.

Bibliotheque National de France
Quai François Mauriac
Metro: Bibliotheque Francois Mitterand