Top 10 Unique Things to Do in Paris

Top 10 Unique Things to Do in Paris

Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world and rightly so. You may think you’ve seen it all once you’ve hit its famous landmarks, like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower. But you’ve only scratched the surface of what the City of Lights has to offer! Add these unique things to do in Paris to create your offbeat itinerary.

When assembling a list of unique things to do in Paris, you realize many of them are pretty commonplace experiences, like the kinds things you’d find you’d be doing as if you were living there. But even “normal” things in Paris, at least to us travelers, are a hundred times better than anywhere else. Paris makes even the simplest thing feel magical!

Avoiding or limiting the tourist attractions on your itinerary will allow you more time to actually experience that city from the perspective of a local.

So, discover the top 10 unique things to do in Paris!

Go Thrift Shopping

Parisian style is timeless, so why not indulge in the vintage looks of Parisians’ pasts?

Thrift shopping in Paris is so much fun. Not only do you discover one-of-a-kind boutiques, but you get to experience the authenticity of French culture through their fashion.

Now, that’s not to say thrift shopping in Paris is always budget-friendly. Luxe items are often still a bit pricey (which is sadly expected for Parisian vintage.)

Here are some amazing thrift stores to visit in Paris:

  • Come On Eileen
  • Bis Boutique Solidaire
  • Chinemachine
  • Bleach Vintage Store

If you prefer a more guided experience, then embark on a vintage Paris and flea market tour!

Sip The Best Hot Chocolate at Angelina

Angelina is an absolute must stop for me in Paris – it’s all things girly, elegant, and regal!

Picture ornate flourishes in the decor, posh table settings complete with fluffy pastel macaroons and delicate teacups. Oh, and one of the best hot chocolates in the world!

And I’m not just making that up myself, check out this list. (Angelina is #3!) The white hot chocolate is my personal recommendation!

Angelina is no secret, so expect to be joined for your tea by many others in the dining room.

But it’s certainly a unique break from sight-seeing and transports you to your vintage, chic Paris dreams!

Spend an Afternoon at the Park

Because Paris is so famous, a lot of tourist’s itineraries are jam-packed, hopping from one attraction to another.

But like I said, I believe the beauty of Paris shines through in the calmest and most commonplace moments.

That’s why I suggest you reserve time to simply do nothing and enjoy Paris as if you lived there.

Stroll through the Tuileries Gardens like you just got off work and need a relaxing moment. Or, get to know the history of the famous parks on a walking tour of Luxembourg Gardens.

If you want to make it even more picturesque, stop by a patisserie to grab a baguette or some pastries and set up an afternoon picnic on the grounds.

The way to not feel like a tourist and find unique things to do in Paris is to take a break from all the touristy things!

Track Down Beautiful Bookstores

There’s something about standing in bookstores that just makes you feel like anything is possible.

Being surrounded by millions of words, the faint scent of paper in the air, the soft sounds of crisp pages being turned or creaky floors being tiptoed on – it’s such a visceral environment. And Paris bookstores have all of that sensory stimulation, plus a whole lot of charm.

Shakespeare and Company is in the Latin Quarter of Paris! It represents everything beautiful about literature – timeless, unique, and full of inspiration.

Here are a few of my favorite bookstores in Paris, from big and beautiful to quaint and antique hidden gems:

  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Librairie Galignani
  • San Francisco Book Co.

Discover Rooftop Views

Try to convince me otherwise, but there’s nothing that beats a rooftop view. It’s always a pinch-me moment!

One of my favorite panoramic views is at the top of Printemps Department Store, near the Galeries Lafayette.

Atop the Printemps rooftop with a vast view over the city.

There’s actually quite a fancy restaurant at the top, Perruche, if you’re looking to be bougie and glamorous!

However, if you’re a budget traveler like me, you can also take the elevator up for free just to take in the view!

Rise Early for Amazing Photo Opportunities

Paris is so peaceful in the morning, so regardless of whether you’re interested in taking photos, it’s simply worth waking up early to experience the city at dawn.

You can go to the Trocadero to see the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower or walk the usually crowded streets in their quietest state to start your day off with the calmest and most positive state of mind.

But, I mention the amazing photo opportunities because they truly are amazing!

Not only will the lighting be soft and fantastic, but you’ll get to enjoy taking stunning photos of lifelong memories without sharing the background with hundreds of your fellow tourist strangers.

The Trocadero is usually packed with people, but as you can see in the photo below, there is barely anyone at sunrise!

This is the Trocadero at sunrise – completely empty besides a couple other photographers like you!

Pro Tip: The biggest secret behind taking photos at famous places without people in them is to simply wake up before most people!

Take advantage of a self-guided photography tour of Paris to hit the best photo spots and check out my favorite instagrammable places in Paris.

Go Cafe-Hopping & People-Watching

Paris is well-known for its café culture, with tons of cute and quaint cafés in each of its arrondissements.

French café culture is also perfectly designed for people-watching and absorbing the slow travel lifestyle.

You’ll find almost all restaurants and cafés have outdoor seating along the sidewalk so that you are always involved in the hustle and bustle of the city!

The poster child for Parisian cafés is Café de Flore, and despite its fame as one of Paris’ oldest cafés, it is easy to get a seat here if you come during off-times of the day.

Enjoy a classy coffee break at Café de Flore in the beautiful St. Germain arrondissement.

What I love the most about it is sitting in the café that so many notable artists and creatives have sat in over the past century – including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Brigitte Bardot.

It’s a wonderful place for introspection and inspiration – perfect for us travelers!

Visit the Most Colorful Street in Paris

Rue de Crémieux has actually become quite popular on some itineraries, but it certainly wasn’t known when I first went to Paris!

This little street looks like it doesn’t even belong in Paris. Of course, it’s got the beautiful architecture, but in more of cutesy, delicate way than an intimidatingly grandiose way.

All the houses are painted in beautiful pastel colors and could make for a girly photo backdrop.

It’s a bit further from the city center, but if you have the time, it’s a unique stop on your Paris itinerary.

Venture out into Lesser-Known Arrondissements

Which brings me to my last of unique things to do in Paris – go somewhere unique!

While the likes of St. Germain and Montmartre are quintessential to experience the chic glamour and cozy streets of Paris, sometimes it’s nice to get into the neighborhoods that feel lived in and authentic.

Consider going out to the Place de la Bastille or Bassin de la Villette!

The area of Place de la Bastille is interesting because it is the place where the Bastille prison stood before it was destroyed in the French Revolution, the first symbol for Republicanism.

The quaint neighborhood of the Canal de la Villette.

Bassin de la Villette is a lake and canal area of Paris.

I actually stayed here the first time I went to Paris and it was the perfect experience of real Paris.

People playing bocce ball along the canal, enjoying live music, doing street art and simply living life. Sounds awesome, right?

Explore Paris walking tours with a unique twist to explore beyond the usual Paris sites like a Medieval Paris walking tour.

Extra Paris Trip Planning Resources

These are all perfect places to add to your Paris bucket list, but round out the rest of your trip planning with some of my other Paris resources!

Save on Pinterest for your future Paris trip inspiration!

I hope you all enjoyed this post and got some ideas of unique things to do in Paris to add to your own itinerary!




Michela is a travel writer and photographer living in northern Italy. She is passionate about helping people make the most of their travels by sharing advice gained from her personal experiences, off-the-beaten-path destinations and time-saving quick itineraries. Browse her top articles or have her help you plan your itinerary to your dream destination!

Find me on: Web | Instagram


  1. June 20, 2020 / 12:59 am

    Wow I love seeing other areas of Paris that are away from all of the touristy spots. Last time I was there was 2011 and only for a few days so would love to go back and explore more 🙂 Thanks for these great tips. Beautiful photos btw!

    • June 20, 2020 / 9:06 am

      Thank you so much! I hope you get to go back soon!

  2. Kelli
    June 20, 2020 / 3:07 am

    I love Paris! These tips are great. I cannot wait to go back!

    • June 20, 2020 / 9:05 am

      I love it too! Thanks Kelli!

  3. June 20, 2020 / 4:42 am

    Great ideas! I am planning a visit to Paris next spring (after this May’s trip was cancelled). Can’t wait to try out some of these cafes. I will definitely be seeking out the Rue de Cremeiux. Thanks for the top tips.

    • June 20, 2020 / 9:05 am

      Aw I hate to hear your trip was cancelled, but at least you’ll be going in the future! Thanks for reading!

  4. Marisa
    June 20, 2020 / 5:52 am

    I love Paris so much and dream of returning again one day! Your pictures are beautiful and you have given lots of great ideas!

    • June 20, 2020 / 9:03 am

      Thank you so much Marisa!

  5. June 20, 2020 / 9:01 am

    I love this list! I went to Paris a few years ago but I feel like I barely saw anything and I was too young to fully appreciate it all. Saving for when I go back!

    • June 20, 2020 / 9:03 am

      I felt the same the first time I went! There’s so much to see, it’s overwhelming! Hope you get to go back soon!

  6. June 20, 2020 / 10:19 am

    As a Parisian it was nice reading your article Michela! I personally take most of my photos at sunrise and I can only recommend it too!

    • June 20, 2020 / 1:32 pm

      Yes, it’s truly the best time to see the city! Thank you for reading! 🙂

  7. June 20, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    Great ideas! Just being in Paris is a pleasure, enjoying the simple things.

    • June 20, 2020 / 1:31 pm

      I couldn’t agree more!

  8. June 20, 2020 / 1:39 pm

    I never get tired of Paris. Love the tips you gave. Some I missed for sure and will require a new trip… Like I mind ???

    • June 20, 2020 / 4:18 pm

      I think the same exact way! It’s hard to not always want to go to places like Paris, there’s just so much to discover every time!

  9. June 20, 2020 / 2:14 pm

    I love Paris so much! I’ve been to that bookstore and I’ve ventured outside to other areas. These are great suggestions. I’m always wondering about new places to eat and different things to see. Thanks!

    • June 20, 2020 / 4:17 pm

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  10. June 20, 2020 / 2:15 pm

    I don’t know why, but every time I’m in Paris, it’s only for a weekend so it’s never enough time to really get to know the city or find all those wonderful unique things to do. Hopefully, I can finally visit for longer than a weekend so I can experience some of these fun things. Thanks for sharing.!

    • June 20, 2020 / 4:17 pm

      I totally understand, the whirlwind of weekend trips is fun but you it’s always nice to settle into a place and have extra time to explore! I hope you get to do that too!

  11. Jiayi Wang
    June 20, 2020 / 3:44 pm

    You’re making me miss Paris! 🙂 Next time I go back, I’ll definitely keep the bookstores in mind! Thanks for these tips!

    • June 20, 2020 / 4:15 pm

      We can look forward to future Paris trips together! Thanks for reading 🙂

  12. June 20, 2020 / 8:38 pm

    You’re making me want to go to Paris! I’ll have to keep these in mind when I plan my next trip.

    • June 21, 2020 / 4:39 pm

      I hope you can go soon!

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