In a city as popular as Paris, it can seem impossible to escape the hordes of tourists and still experience all this amazing city has to offer. This time around, consider skipping the big-ticket items like the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower to get a truly unique experience in the City of Light. From exploring the hidden beauty of abandoned train tracks to rocking out at an independent gig, here are some of the best non-touristy things to do Paris – just like a local.
Walk along the abandoned tracks of la Petite Ceinture
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For an outdoor adventure, wind your way through the tracks, tunnels, and graffiti art of la Petite Ceinture (the Little Belt) – a 19th century railroad which wraps around Paris. With the rise of the Paris métro in the early 1900s, the tracks were abandoned and have become unique green spaces, accessible in the 12th, 13th, 15th, and 16th arrondissements. This is a little more adventurous than your average walk in the park, but the feeling of excitement and chance to escape the crowds of the inner city make for an excellent morning expedition.
Wander through the Paris Bird Market
You can hear the chorus of tweets and whistles before you even reach the Place Louis-Lépine in the middle of Île de la Cité. Every Sunday, the famous Paris Flower Market transforms into the Marché aux Oiseaux – the Paris Bird Market. Wander amongst the towers of cages and admire the rainbow of colorful plumage. Hundreds of birds from tropical parrots to rare pigeons preen their plumage, while you can also find sellers of birdseed, goldfish, and flowers. The Paris Bird Market is an interesting look into a 200-year-old market tradition while also being just steps away from the (currently under restoration) Notre Dame and Point Zéro.
People-watch over an afternoon coffee
When it comes to great coffee, Paris is spoiled for choice. Order your caffeine fix and make sure to grab a table by a window so you can watch the vibrant and diverse Parisian population hurry by. Take your pick of hole-in-the-wall cafes and independent roasters across the city and skip the tourist traps centered around popular landmarks. Our selection of the coziest cafes in Paris can help you find the best combinations of superb coffee and lovely spaces.
Catch an indie gig at La Maroquinerie
Parisian nightlife has a long and cherished history, but if you want to skip the themed tourist bars and find the authentic modern sound of Paris, head to Ménilmontant and visit La Maroquinerie. This bar/music venue hosts a regular lineup of independent artists both big and small. Local bands are mixed in with international heavyweights like The 1975, Wiz Khalifa, and FKA Twigs in this intimate venue hidden down a side street.
See a film at Le Louxor
Rescued from dilapidation in the early 2010s, this 1920s cinema was the Parisian home of domestic and foreign films for over 70 years. Inside, marvel at the elaborate gold and cobalt Egyptian-inspired architecture, with heads of gods and mosaics of scarab beetles, cobras, and the rising sun watching over you. Nowadays you can catch a screening of a French arthouse film, a Hollywood blockbuster, or a forgotten classic for under 10 €. Don’t forget to take a trip to the third floor and have a glass of wine on the Louxor terrace, which overlooks the stunning Sacré-Coeur.