27 Unique Experiences In Paris

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Looking for unique things to do in Paris? After seeing the famous attractions, you have time for off-the-beaten-path and local experiences In Paris. And Paris does not disappoint!

This list of unique activities is for all tastes, including the oldest traditional cabaret, secret places for dinner and drinks, unique smaller museums, local food and wine tours, music, secret gardens and creepy underground Paris!

I have been visiting Paris since I was a university student in Rennes and I literally discover new activities and hidden gems each time. It is still my favorite city in the world!

Best Unique Things to Do in Paris – Quick List

If you are in a hurry, here is sample of best off-the-beaten-path experiences:

27 Unique Things to Do and See In Paris

Paris is a melting pot of culture and history and of course, interesting experiences. You could spend a lifetime in the french captial and still be discovering unique things to do and see!

I have not been to all of these (yet) and chose them because they are outside the box, local and/or unique. There are plenty to choose from that could fit into even a weekend in Paris itinerary.

1. Au Lapin Agile – Traditional Cabaret

Lapin Agile Cabaret Paris - the oldest cabaret in Paris

Paris’s oldest continuously running cabaret is like a living time capsule in Montmartre. It’s easily one of the most unique (and local) things to do in Paris!

Most tourists visit the Moulin Rouge with its grandeur, but Au Lapin Agile is something much cozier. It’s in a 19th-century stone building, a folk pub space with low ceilings and wooden everything.

Instead of using centre stage, the performers weave through the crowd and sing the old traditional French songs.

Locals mostly come here and sing along lustily with the performers, but you will be welcomed as part of the group, too. It’s an excellent place to meet and interact with locals in Paris.

👉 Pro Tip: Arrive early to get a comfortable seat for this intimate show.

  • Location: Montmartre – 22 Rue des Saules, 75018
  • Cost: Free (but you have to buy drinks)
  • Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9 pm – 1 am

2. See Paris By Night

paris by night

I took a taxi tour of Paris by night with a friend and it was the highlight of that trip to Paris for me! You will see why Paris is called the City of Lights.

Monuments like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum are illuminated; the light reflects on the Seine and cobblestone streets.

I recommend a private tour in a vintage car as the best way to see the iconic landmarks with lights reflecting and illuminating the city.

Segway, bike and bus tours are also possible and for all budgets.

Another option is a night walking tour through some of the best areas to see at night. The guide also shares secret stories and unique experiences in Paris while you are going from landmarks to hidden gems.

3. Dine With a Local Parisian at Home

Getting to know locals isn’t always easy while travelling but if you book this Local Dinner with Parisian Hosts, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a 4-course meal, get to know lifelong Parisians, and see an authentic home in the process.

You might leave with a few local recommendations as well! This is a great way to meet locals and have an authentic cultural experience.

👉 Pro Tip: You will want to book this tour early on in your trip, so you can take advantage of their tips and recommendations. 🍴 Check times and book Dinner With Parisians Here!

4. Take a Hot Air Balloon Over Paris

One of the most unusual things to do in Paris: Fly above the city in a hot air balloon!

You get a birds-eye view of the streets, monuments and gardens in this 10-minute flight 150 meters above the city. It’s one of those once-in-a- lifetime experiences.

  • Cost: 18€ or adults, 12€ or children
  • No reservations
  • Accessible with a manual wheelchair; pregnant women not allowed
  • Tickets and info at Ballon de Paris

5. Tour the Palais Garnier

Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, a unique thing to see in Paris

The Palais Garnier is often overlooked but full of cultural relevance; it is the setting for the Phantom of the Opera, one of the most famous works of literature to come out of France.

It was built for the Paris Opera in the mid-1800s at the order of Emperor Napoleon.

The Palais Garnier is opulent and mysterious with grand staircases and ornate ceilings; somewhat similar to the grand palace of Versailles. There is even an underground “lake” here, which you can learn about with the after-hours tour.

There’s the choice of booking a day tour or an after-hours tour (after 5 pm) for a more intimate and less crowded experience.

  • Location: Pl. de l’Opéra, 75009
  • Cost: €23 for guided tour, €16.50 for those 10-24; €15 for a self-guided tour, €10 for reduced rates
  • Hours: Open daily from 10 am – 5 pm

6. Take a Small Group Food (and Culture) Tour – Local Experience!

While trying French cuisine is a must-do, you can turn that into an unforgettable experience by booking a food and culture tour.

If you are in Paris for a weekend, I suggest taking a food tour first to give you an idea of where you might want to go back to and so you can ask the guide for suggestions of where to go later.

These are my favorite small group food tours, each with a unique focus:

🏆 Paris Ultimate Food Tour Best for Overall Paris Food Experience: Explore family-run eateries, and learn about the dishes from the locals who create them.

🍷 Paris at Sunset: Aperitif, Food & Wine Tour. Best for Sunsets and Latin Quarter. Visit the characteristic streets of the Latin Quarter, soaking up spectacular views and incredible food and drinks

🧀 Montmartre Like a Local – Paris Food Tour. Best for Montmartre and Local Experience. Sample cheeses France is famous for with small-batch wine and artisan bread and pastries. If you love patisserie, wine, and cheese, this is the tour for you.

7. Dine on a Classic River Barge

River Barge restaurant and bar, Paris
River Barge Peniche Marounet on the Seine River

Another unique Paris experience is having drinks and dinner on a river barge.

The Péniche Marcounet, in the 4th arrondissement, is a good place to unwind in the evenings. They have a small restaurant and bar, great tapas, plus live music and jam sessions.

It’s also a good place for Sunday brunch, which isn’t widely available in Paris.

It’s open year-round, with heating and a covered terrace. Some nights have a cover fee of around 5€ and other nights have free entry.

Check their calendar to plan your visit.

  • Location: Port des Célestins, Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004
  • Cost: Varies
  • Hours: 9 am – 2 pm daily, opens at 11 am on Sundays for brunch

8. Visit Secret Gardens – Walking Tour

I haven’t done this tour, but I want to!

It has excellent reviews, one person stated it was the highlight of a 14-day trip to France. From the website:

“Your guide will take you into magical gardens, hidden in scenic wilderness, and introduce you to some of the grand French gardens of history…find out-of-fashion rose bushes, chessboards, and even cemeteries and hospitals that leave you alone with the best views of Paris”

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Cost: 80€

👉 Check Times and Book Secret Garden Walking Tour Tickets 🌲

9. Attend a Concert in a Cathedral

Visiting a French cathedral is another must-do in Paris, but you can take it one step further by attending a classical concert in one. This is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.

The music, the architecture, and the mood all combine for a magical and moving experience.

There are always cathedral concerts going on in the city, so take a look at the calendar to find one during your visit.

  • Location: Various cathedrals across Paris
  • Cost: €22 +
  • Hours: Vary

10. Experience a Grand Pipe Organ Concert

St. Eustache Church with grand pipe organ

Above is Saint-Eustache church just before an organ concert.

Sundays at Église Saint-Eustache in the 1st arrondissement feature morning concerts by the Saint-Eustache singers, preceded by an intriguing introduction to the Grand Organ.

St. Eustache is large enough and impressive enough to be cathedral-like and is worth a visit by itself. The Grand Organ here is one of the most prestigious in France with 8,000 pipes.

I attended the free organ concert which is on Sundays at 5:30 before the 6:00 pm mass.

Grand Pipe Organ St. Eustache Church Paris
The Grand Pipe Organ at St. Eustache Church

Other venues like Église Saint-Roch in the 1st arrondissement, Oratoire du Louvre in the 1st arrondissement, Église de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement, and Paroisse Sainte-Clotilde in the 7th arrondissement, offer free concerts.

Check this listing for a calendar of concerts in Paris, including the free pipe organ concerts.

11. Learn to Make Those Gorgeous Parisian Macaroons!

Pink, yellow and blue macaroons in a white box.

Nothing like a macaron-making class in Paris for a local experience in the Latin Quarter!

Over two hours, you’ll dive into the secrets of crafting perfect macarons using the Italian meringue style, plus learn how to make your filling and pipe.

Once you’re finished, enjoy coffee or tea with your handmade macaroons as you get to know your classmates. One of the best things about this Paris macarons class is that you’ll get to leave with a box of your handmade treats – the perfect souvenir!

  • Location: Latin Quarter – Le Foodist, 59 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, 75005
  • Cost: € 140
  • Hours: 3 pm daily

👉 Check times for the macarons in Paris class here! 🍪

12. French Wine and Champagne Tour

Immerse yourself in the spirit of Paris and deepen your cultural understanding of French wine with a sommelier in an authentic wine cellar.

You will sample five wines and one champagne sourced from various regions across France. The expert sommelier guides you through the unique characteristics of each, demonstrates tasting techniques and teaches you to read a French wine label.

You also learn how champagne is made and what makes it unique.

You can choose a cheese and charcuterie board option to enjoy with the regional wines.

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Cost: 70€

👉 🍷 Book your wine and champagne adventure here! 🍷

13. Jazz at Caveau de la Huchette

Neon sign of Caveau de la Huchette jazz club in Paris

The historic Caveau de la Huchette is a jazz club just 5 minutes from Notre Dame. It’s popular with both locals and visitors.

When I came here years ago I didn’t know what to expect, and I came away with an unforgettable evening. I still remember the feeling of a strange and cozy underground setting.

The venue feels intimate and a bit grungy. You’ll descend into this small, cave-like space that may seem off-putting at first, but as soon as the music begins, you’ll see why this is one of the best nightlife places in Paris.

It has a friendly, laidback, and inviting vibe that encourages you to dance freely (the drinks also help). It has a hidde and cozy vibe similar to the speakeasies in Paris.

  • Location: Latin Quarter – 5 Rue de la Huchette, 75005
  • Cost: Weekdays €14, weekends €16, students under 25 €10 daily
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 9 pm – 2:30 am, Fridays & Saturdays 9 pm – 4 am

14. Make Your Own Perfume

Looking for your signature scent in Paris? None will be more ‘you’ than one you’ve created yourself. 

This workshop near the Trocadero Gardens is a small class with just 6-8 people, hosted by a perfume master who will give you a lesson in how to make perfume and help you discover a scent that is all yours.

You will take home your own unique Parisian perfume in a 50-ml bottle. Other great unique experiences in Paris.

👉 Create your own signature perfume in Paris! Get Tickets Here!👒

15. Shop the Marché Aux Puces (Flea Market)

Paris flea market - a unique thing to do in Paris

You can find any hidden treasure imaginable in the Marché aux Puces, the world’s (yes, the world’s!) largest flea market. It is a cultural experience in itself and much like a small village with many unique streets.

Everything from high-end chandeliers to Paris memorabilia is here. Also cafes and food vendors. It is possible to visit on your own but daunting to navigate the 2500 booths.

A good option that also gives you real local experience is this small group tour, where you will meet local vendors and your expert guide will teach you to bargain like Parisian It’s a perfect place to buy souvenirs.

🥇 Check Times for Paris Flea Market Small Group Tour Here! 🥇

It’s a complete experience that still leaves you with plenty of time to shop for items.

  • Location: St-Ouen Flea Market (Paris Flea Market) 99 All. des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine
  • Cost: Free to enter
  • Hours of operation: Saturday, Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, Monday 11 am – 5 pm

16. Visit the Gustave Moreau Museum

If you are an art lover, take a wander through the former home of one of France’s renowned symbolist painters from the 1800s, Gustave Moreau. It’s a small and intimate Paris museum with a stunning spiral staircase and many sketches and creations by the painter.

This museum is unique since you are in the actual home of the artist filled with his many creations in all stages of design.

It’s like being in a museum within a museum and the spiral staircase is a work of art in itself.

  • Location: 14 rue de la Rochefoucauld
  • Hours: 10-6 every day except Tuesday
  • Cost: 7 Euro. Free the first Sunday of every month.

17. Walk Along La Petit Ceinture

Graffitie along the Petite Ceinture, an old railway track in Paris now used as a walking trail.
Street art graffiti along the railway ring of the Petite Ceinture, transformed to a walking trail.

The Paris Ceinture, also known as the Petite Ceinture or “Little Belt,” is off the beaten path, even unknown to many locals. It is a former railway that circled Paris, now turned into a walking trail.

The wooden tracks are overgrown with wildflowers, lush greenery, and untamed vegetation. It’s like a glimpse into the forgotten industrial remnants of Paris’s past.

There are many access points to the Petite Ceinture, but you can follow this guide for info on where to get on the old tracks.

Warning! If you’re planning on walking through some of the tunnels, be warned that they can be very long and VERY dark. You’ll need a strong flashlight as your phone simply won’t do. 

  • Location: All around Paris
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Trail usually opens around 8 am – 9 am and closes between 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

18. Learn to Play Pétanque (Boules) – Local Experience

Petanque, French game of boules

Learn the beloved French game of Pétanque (Boules) with a glass of wine in your hand at the charming Place Dauphine on the île de la cité. A truly unique Paris experience!

If you visit any park in Paris, or France for that matter, you’re bound to see people playing pétanque.

In two hours you will learn the rules and practice throwing techniques in a friendly match against the other folks on the tour, which enjoying a glass of French wine.

👉 Tickets and Pricing: 🍷 Book Learning Pétanque with Wine! 🍷

19. Visit the Museum of Magic and Curiosity

If you’re into magical things, you will enjoy the Musée de la Magie.

It’s not a must-have experience in Paris but is one of the unique experiences in Paris, but it’s interesting if you’re in the Le Marais neighbourhood and have some extra time. It’s also a nice family-friendly activity!

Inside you’ll find optical illusions, interactive games, and a permanent magic show. Most of the captions are written in French, so keep this in mind if you visit.

20. Visit the Louvre at Night

Louvre at night
The Louvre and its courtyard at night.

While going to the Louvre itself is not unique, visiting it at night most certainly is. 

As the world’s most visited museum, The Louvre often hosts special night events or extended evening hours

Be sure to check the schedule. Sometimes, the museum opens its doors late on certain days. Nighttime openings might require reservations or specific tickets. 

You’ll also want to see the Louvre’s exterior and surrounding courtyards illuminated at night – which is free! They make for fantastic photo opportunities and are also among the unique experiences in Paris.

👉 Louvre Events

21. Visit the Montmartre Museum and Renoir’s Garden

Montmartre Museum and Renoir's Garden Paris
Paris – gardens dedicated to Auguste Renoir surround the Museum of Montmartre

The Montmartre Museum is one of the museums in Paris with a focus on impressionist artists, and offers a fascinating journey through one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. It’s housed in a charming building dating back to the 17th century.

It has an intimate feel that portrays the lives and works of famous artists, like the impressionist artist Renoir, who once called Montmartre home.

I recommend taking a stroll through the Renoir Gardens (€5 extra). It’s a tranquil space that overlooks the Clos Montmartre vineyard – the city’s last remaining vineyard.

You can buy a combo ticket for visiting the museum and vineyards with a complimentary wine tasting.

22. Spooky Paris Experience – The Catacombs

A unique thing to do in Paris is visit the Paris Catacombs
Catacombs in Paris

The Paris Catacombs, an underground labyrinth stretching beneath the city, offer haunting and unique experiences in Paris.

You descend into tunnels and find yourself in an eerie world of history and mystery – the forever home of some six million people. A little creepy, yes, but it’s certainly one of the most unique things to do in Paris.

You will need to be able to walk about a mile and go down 130 steps and back up again, there is no elevator.

👉 Take this Skip-the-line Catacombs small group guided tour 👻 unless you want to try it on your own with the recorded audio tour.

  • Address: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014
  • Hours: Daily 9:45 to 8:30 daily. Closed Monday.

23. Secrets of Père LaChaise Cemetery with the Great Mme. Sybille!

This unique tour of the secrets of Père Lachaise is budget-friendly, theatrical and fun!

You learn historical, mystical and romantic anecdotes of the cemetery and its famous residents from the vibrant Marie-Anne Lenormand, a woman who played a great role in the French Revolution.

Some of the gravesites included are Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin and Edith Piaf. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Cost: 20€

👉 Book Secrets of Père LaChaise Cemetery Tour here! 👻

24. Drinks or Dinner at Le Comptoir Général

Set along Canal Saint-Martin, Le Comptoir Général is more than just a cute bar/restaurant, it’s a melting pot of art, history, and entertainment.

Inside, you’ll find a bar, an art gallery, a thrift shop, a music venue, and a greenhouse all in one.

While you soak up the unique experiences in Paris, enjoy a delicious rum cocktail paired with one of their popular seafood dishes as you take in the eclectic ambience.

If you like rustic chic places with quirky energy, you’ll probably love Le Comptoir Général.

  • Location: 84 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010
  • Cost: $$-$$$
  • Hours: Closed Mondays, Tuesdays 6 pm – 1 am, Sunday 11 am – 1 am, Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 2 am

25. Drinks at a Paris Speakeasy

There’s something about Paris that feels forever in the 1920s. You can get that vibe at a any of the speakeasies in Paris, but they are not that easy to find. Fitzgerald is a restaurant with a hidden speakeasy tucked away in the back.

Location: 54 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, 75007

👉 Directions: You head to a completely unmarked door and push on through. Once inside, you’ll find a small venue with plush booths and unassuming flamingos on the walls. It’s characteristic and mysterious, and the cocktails are the average price for a place of this style.

Some other Paris speakeasy bars include spots like Clandestino in the centre of Paris, Secret 8 inside Buddha-Bar Paris (get in by telling the doorman the answer to a riddle from their Instagram @secret8bybuddhabar), and Lavomatic hidden in a laundromat.

26. See the “Oh My God, She’s Parisian!” Comedy Show

This is the only one-woman comedy show in Paris. It’s all in English, by a Parisian woman and it is hilarious!

You get to learn about and laugh about Parisian quirks and customs.

  • When: Most Friday and Saturday evenings
  • Length: One hour
  • Cost: 31€

👉 Get tickets here for “Oh My God, She’s Parisian!” 👒

27. See Hidden Gems of Paris on Electric Bikes

Get access to places and sites not open to the general public and hear little-known stories about historic sites. This tour has a solid five-star rating.

You get to see Secret Paris up close with a guide, go for a bike ride and you don’t have to pedal up hills! What’s not to like? 😎

👉 Book Hidden Gems Electric Bike Tour Here! 🚲

28. Breathtaking Views of Paris at Galleries Lafayette Rooftop

The rooftop at Galeries Lafayette’s department store is a less well-known spot with excellent panoramic views of Paris. Plus, it’s free!

And from June-October you can have drinks and vegetarian snacks at the rooftop bar/restaurant, Créatures.

Rooftop access from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

29. Visit Richelieu Library – National Library of France

Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris, Richelieu
Labrouste reading room, Richelieu Building, National Library of France, Paris

There are four national library spaces in Paris, and the Richelieu building is the one you want to see for its unique and majestic architecture. There are literally thousands of books.

You can enter and take photos, but to read you must show proof of research.

So this is a short visit for lovers of libraries, books or architecture, and/or for a break from the busy centre of Paris (it is near the Palais Royal).

It is possible to visit some of the other rooms and also possible to book a tour on certain days. Check their website for more info: https://www.bnf.fr/en/richelieu

And a bonus: across from the library on rue de la Richelieu is a lovely small garden and fountain on the Square Louvois

BONUS FOR CAT LOVERS: Pet Cats at a Cat Cafe in Paris!

Did you know Paris has two authentic cat cafes, where rescue cats live and cafe guests can have a coffee or meal and interact with the cat inhabitants? Chat Mallows Cafe and Le Cafe des Chats are authenthic cat cafes in Paris.

If you are a cat lover and want to find cats or cat-themed experiences in Paris, check out my post on where to find cats in Paris to find out where to get your purr therapy 🙂

MAP – Unique Things to do in Paris

Where To Stay In Paris

I’ve stayed in six different neighborhoods (arrondissements) in Paris and each has its charms. The main thing you want is to be within easy walking distance of a metro station.

Here are three high-quality hotels with character, located near a metro.

📍Budget Option: Hotel Bonsejour (Montmartre). Classic interior, some rooms have balconies, a local and romantic neighborhood near attractions, good value, authentic interior, near metro, quick walk to Moulin Rouge and Sacré-Cœur Cathedral, cozy atmosphere, kind staff.

📍Mid-Range Option: Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles (Latin Quarter) Unique country house atmosphere, country-like setting, gardens, peaceful.

📍Luxury Option: Relais Christine (Latin Quarter) is an elegant 16th century built on the ruins of a 13th-century monastery; they produce honey from bees onsite; the excellent restaurant serves very local products; spa on site. Classic Parisian elegance.

👉 More Paris hotels with character and culture.

FAQs – Unique Paris Experiences

Here are some questions about Paris and answers based on many trips there.

What things are unique to Paris?

The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Bastille, The Catacombs

What is one thing not to miss in Paris?

The Louvre

What to splurge on in Paris?

Four-course meal, wine, a good quality hotel in an excellent location.

Final Thoughts – Unique Experiences in Paris

For those willing to branch out, Paris is full of interesting and unique things to do.

Paris is a vibrant and multicultural city with ancient roots, made of many old neighborhoods, each with its character and hidden gems.

Hemmingway called Paris “a moveable feast” and I would say that applies to activities as well as food! I hope this list whets your appetite for all the unique experiences in Paris you wish. Enjoy!

Related Reading:

45 Hidden Gems in Paris to Feel Like a Local in 2024

Best Places for Gypsy Jazz in Paris

Chocolate Tour in Paris

Parisian Culture Guide