Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but few have uncovered the many secrets of the French capital; here we take a look at alternative Paris attractions.
From the slightly sinister to the best kept local secrets, there is so much more to discover about this beautiful city in addition to what you might experience during recommended French river cruise itineraries.
So enjoy something different on your next river cruise experience with these alternative Paris attractions recommended by the experts.
Visiting the Catacombs may be among the most popular things to do in Paris, but their intriguing and, at times, ominous history makes for one of Paris’ best kept underground secret experiences. Holding the remains of some six million people, including famed individuals such as the Man in the Iron Mask, this underground series of tunnels of human remains is a must-see when visiting Paris as it makes up the world’s largest grave.
Get Your Guide offers a three-hour tour of the catacombs in their Paris Catacombs: Small Group Tour. Exploring more than a kilometre of the tunnels, the tour will explain more of the catacombs’ incredible history and how they have come to be. With five-star reviews such as “Excellent tour! Guide was very knowledgeable and friendly!” and “Your Guide made it!”, they will give you a tour to remember.
The carefully selected guides at Localers also offer a fantastic Paris Catacombs Tour with Skip the Line Access. Their tour lasts two hours and lets you discover the skeletal remains of Paris’ past with a guide that can explain in more detail the Cemetery of the Innocents; just grab one of the included tour torches to see what an incredible world lives under the city’s streets.
From the more popular tourist attractions under the Parisian streets to a secret in the streets. Digital Proximity, the name behind secret Paris app Secrets de Paris, have given us their top secret of what they think is Paris’ best kept secret.
‘The best kept secret of Paris is for sure "la rue Crémieux" (Crémieux street). Located just a step from Gare de Lyon, la rue Crémieux is one of the most beautiful and unusual street of Paris. With its multi-coloured facades, multiple wall decorations and trompe l'oeil paintings, it is a very great and not touristic place that is much appreciated by the Parisians.’
- Secrets de Paris
‘Secrets de Paris is the only App revealing every day a new wonder of Paris, the greatest city in the world. In Secret de Paris there are no such things as the Eiffel Tower nor Notre Dame! Whether you are Parisian or tourist, you'll find out the most unusual sights of Paris. If you are short of outings or if you just want to visit the actual Paris far from the guidebooks, Secrets of Paris is suited to you. The app is available for free in French and in English, on App Store and on Google Play Store.'
ToursByLocals is the tour operator that is striving to change the relationship between travellers and locals who deliver travel services. Their Paris tours offer a different experience to the norm, where you can enjoy a tour from a local resident who really knows the area. Browse their local guides in Paris and check out their best kept Paris secret.
‘Paris is full of secrets - that’s one of the delights of exploring it! One of the best ones is actually well known by locals and residents, but not frequently considered by travellers. And that is the city’s Velib system. Velib = “Velo Libre”, a virtually free bike share program. Our guides and travellers are all in agreement that the best way to soak in the ambience of Paris is on foot. But with so much to see, this inevitably leads to many miles of walking every day, and eventually some sore feet. The Velib system is a perfect compromise! For just a couple euros, you can pick up and return bicycles from hundreds of locations throughout the city, using the bikes to get from one attraction to another, never having to head underground to the metro. Picture strolling around picturesque Saint Germain des Pres, then grabbing a bike to cycle along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Drop off the bike, and continue on foot down the Champ de Mars to the Eiffel Tower. Aside from the practical aspect, there’s something extremely romantic about cycling down a narrow cobbled street, your scarf blowing in the breeze, perhaps a baguette or bottle of wine in your basket, feeling like a quintessential Parisian.’
- Sara Cooke from ToursByLocals.com
‘We have 15 private tour guides working in Paris, and every one of them offers their own unique twist on the city. Every tour is private: just you and your travel companions. Every tour is also fully customizable, so you can tailor a day to your specifications. A sampling of the sorts of suggested tour itineraries our guides offer:
- Neighbourhood specific tours: in depth walking tours of the Marais, Ile Saint Louis, Saint Germain des Pres, Montmartre, Bastille... Learn the history of each place and where locals who live there today like to shop and dine.
- City highlights tours: the highlights of Paris in a day (driving or walking)
- “How to be a Parisian” - intro to the city
- Skip the line at the Eiffel Tower
- Half-day Louvre tour with an art historian
- Visit St Ouen Flea Market with an antiques expert
- Family friendly tour – designed with kids in mind
- Girls day out Parisian fashion tour
- Paris gourmet tour: a foodie’s delight! Find the city’s best cheese and pastries and enjoy a French cooking class’
Finally, forget the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre; it might surprise you to learn that one of the best Paris attractions is actually a cemetery. Père Lachaise Cemetery is the final resting place of a number of icons, including Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, and its fascinating gravestones could almost class the graveyard as a gallery more than a cemetery because they are so intricately and beautifully designed.
My Parisian Tour offer a fantastic tour of the cemetery that prevents you getting lost among the deceased. Offering a better look into the history of the people and graves that lie there, a tour with My Parisian Tour is a wise choice to make sure you don’t miss anything (or anyone!) out.
They also offer the spooky Ghosts and Legends of Paris Night Tour, which not only offers the chance to see some of the city’s best sites, but also the opportunity to learn some of the city’s best kept secrets and fascinating historic tales.
These are just a few of Paris’ best kept secrets and alternative attractions that you can enjoy on a French river cruise through the city. Speak to your cruise guide for more information and for an insight into the secrets they have picked up along the way.
Image Credit: Ian Wilson (flickr.com)
This content was written by Ashley Collins. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.