The Slightly More Secret Side of Paris

Dali mural outside Centre Pompidou (Photo credit: Margit Detweiler)

There is nothing better than walking around Paris, wherever your feet take you, stopping at cafés, either with your better half, in love, or by yourself, in love with the city.

You’ve likely got a list of things you daydream about seeing or returning to. If you don’t, the guidebooks will send you to the Louvre for the Mona Lisa and the Raft of the Medusa, up la Tour Eiffel and down into the Catacombs, all wonderful and all places you should visit first.

But here’s a slightly more secret list — the hidden Paris that you might have overlooked on your first visit.

Visit Atelier Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi’s studio, remounted in a purpose-built building designed by Renzo Piano, and hidden to the side of the plaza at the Centre Pompidou.

Visiting Paris's Atelier Brancusi
Atelier Brancusi (Photo credit: Land du Pont)

Have lunch or tea at Ladurée in St. Germain de Prés

This is the best location of a wonderful chain of patisseries. Ask to sit upstairs in the deep blue salon. Order a sandwich or salad followed by an assortment of macaroons, or just order all the macaroon flavors. (There is also a nice branch at Madeleine, but it’s best to sit downstairs there for breakfast, under an 18th-century painted ceiling, since there can sometimes be queues of tourists later in the day.) 1 rue Bonaparte. 6th.

Visit the shop of taxidermists Deyrolle

Famous since the 18th century, Deyrolle was recently rebuilt after a terrible fire. Stop by to see an incredible collection of stuffed exotic animals and mounted insects, all for sale, in a series of seafoam green and gilt salons. 46 Rue de Bac, near M Rue du Bac station. 7th.

Stroll through the Jardin de Luxembourg

Watch perfectly behaved Parisian children sail boats in a basin and see if you can find the remarkable city of beehives.

See whatever contemporary art exhibit is at Fondation Cartier

In a perfect Jean Nouvel building. 261, blvd Raspail. 14th.

Have a casual lunch on the terrace of Le Flore en l’Ile

If you have a nice day, sit outside at this lovely cafe on the Isle side of the Pont Saint-Louis and admire the view of Notre Dame and the hordes of bike tours. The ice cream sundaes here are delicious, especially the Café Liégeois. 42,Quai d’Orleans. 4th.

Blow your mind at the Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée

An unbelievable collection of thousands of skeletons of all branches of the animal kingdom, living and extinct, presented in an Art Nouveau building in the Jardin des Plantes. Why this is not one of the top tourist spots in Paris is beyond me, but it seems to be visited only by local families with toddlers and sketchers. 5th.

The Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée
The Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée (Photo credit: Land du Pont)

Visit the Café de la Grande Mosquée de Paris

Sit in the courtyard, drink sweet tea and eat delicate rosewater-flavored pastries. This is a great place to arrange to meet friends near the Jardin des Plantes. If you are very brave, take a steam in the hamam. 2, bis place du puits de l’Ermite. 5th.

Walk along the Promenade Plantée

Visit the inspiration for New York’s High Line, an old elevated railroad landscaped as a public park. While not as high-style as the High Line, it is otherworldly strolling through a lovely garden above a rather pedestrian part of Paris. 12th.

Dine on contemporary French cooking at La Régalade Saint-Honoré

The meal always starts with delicious country terrine, served from the crock, and should always end with Grand Marnier Soufflé. 123 rue Saint-Honoré. 1st. (There is a branch in the 14th too.)

Enjoy your trip!

Tell Us in the Comments

What do you think?

6 Responses

  1. b

    Although I can read some of the “Deyrolle” website in French, is there an English version? Perhaps, not.
    Thank you for some wonderful tips!

  2. John lehman

    I have visited Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée this July. What a terrific experience. My wife and I were very amused to see this gallery. I was very concious about my expense but thank god we found an apartment in Paris for vacation rental. It was really comfortable and very pocket friendly in comparison to hotels.

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