Top 10 Hidden Secrets of Paris

A couple standing in front of a church in Paris.

Paris, the City of Love, is the most visited city in the most visited country in the world. However, with a little local insight, it remains possible to find untouched wonders within minutes of the city center.

10. Old City Wall

Near the old neighborhood of Saint Paul in Paris’ 12th district lies a relic of the past that few people know about, and that even fewer have seen. Bordering onto basketball courts and a row of apartment buildings is a small part of the ancient Paris city wall known as the Wall of Philip Augustus, dating to the 13th century.

A stone building in Paris.
Original Image Here

There is only one reason that this wall wasn’t demolished at some point in the past – it is actually built into a number of apartment buildings.

A wall.
Original Image Here

9. Street Performers Near the Georges Pompidou Museum

Most people who come to Paris visit the Center Georges Pompidou – considered by many to be one of the best contemporary art museums in the world. However, if you are willing to take the time to explore some of the side alleys and surrounding streets, you will find some incredible art of a very different kind. Street performers show their tricks, entertaining locals and tourists alike, and are a must for any visitor.

A large building in Paris.
The Center Pompidou is often surrounded by performers and street artists who are well worth watching. Original image here.

8. Bibliotheque Francois Mitterand

For the architecturally minded, or anyone interested in modern building techniques, a visit to the Bibliotheque Francois Mitterand is an absolute must.

A red carpeted hallway in Paris.
Original Image Here.

7. Hotel de Sens

The Hotel de Sens contains a rather interesting relic from the French Revolution – a stray cannonball became lodged in a wall midway up the building at some point during the fighting, and was never removed. The cannonball remains to this day, and is certainly an interesting thing to see.

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A stone building in Paris.
Can you see the cannonball lodged in the wall? Original image here.

6. The Oldest Stone House in Paris

The oldest stone house in Paris, which was built in 1407, is located near the center of the city on Rue de Montmorency. There are many people who believe that the house was built by the legendary alchemist, Nicholas Flamel, and that this was where he created the fabled Philosopher’s Stone – a stone which turns lead into gold, and which supposedly gave him and his wife immortality.

A building in Paris.
Original Image Here

5. Eglise Saint-Gervais

The Eglise Saint-Gervais, or Saint Gervais church, is a small church which, from the outside, appears to be falling into disrepair. However, on entering, you will be greeted with some of the most amazing stained glass windows in the world. There are rarely more than a few people within the church, so you can study the intricately designed glass-work to your hearts content.

The inside of a cathedral in Paris with a long row of chairs.
Original Image Here

4. Buttes Chaumont Park

The Buttes Chaumont Park is truly one of, if not the most beautiful park in Paris. However, due to it’s location in the North East of the city, it is rarely frequented by tourists. With a landscape of rolling hills, a large lake, and gardens all around, it makes the perfect location for a summers picnic.

A group of people in a Parisian park.
Part of the Buttes Chaumont Park. Original image here.

3. Arenes de Lutece

The Lutece Arena is one of two ruins which date as far back as the Roman occupation of Paris – the other being the old baths near Saint Michel. Your will virtually never find another tourist within this ancient gladiatorial stadium, and it is even relatively unknown to many Parisian locals.

A fenced in area in Paris with people playing a game of frisbee.
Original Image Here.

2. Le Petite Ceinture

Built in the early 20th century, the Petite Ceinture, or “Small Belt”, is an old circular railroad within the city of Paris. There is a small section of the railway which has been renovated and turned into a park and popular walking area, but much of it remains as it was when it was abandoned. It has become overgrown, and is home to various plants and wildlife. In summer, it is not uncommon to see groups of young people sitting in the center of the old tracks sharing a picnic dinner. For the nature lover, the Petite Ceinture provides the perfect opportunity for a quiet nature walk, without having to leave the city.

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A bridge over a train track with graffiti on it in Paris.
A section of the Petite Ceinture near the Buttes Chaumont Park. Original image here.

1. Les Catacombs de Paris

Les Catacombs of Paris, or the Paris Catacombs, are a network of tunnels which run under the Southern half of the city. While there is a small section of the tunnels which is open to the public, the majority are illegal to access. However, there are groups of people who still enter the tunnels in secret due to the amazing artwork, architecture, and history which can be found under the city.

The entrance to a cave with a sign on it in Paris.
The entrance to the Paris Catacombs.
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