Paris is the number one destination for so many people, and it’s not hard to see why. While I love a winter getaway in Canada more than most people can fathom, getting to use my (very limited) French in the city of lights is so wonderful. With romantic restaurants, stunning architecture and more art than you can shake a stick at, it’s a city where it’s oh-so-easy to fall in love.
Of course, Paris has more than its fair share of famous spots: think the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, but it’s also got plenty of secret spots that haven’t quite become famous yet. Here is your need to know on all those hidden gems!
Vignes du Clos Montmartre
A vineyard in Paris? You heard correctly! If you happen to visit the Moulin Rouge or the Sacré-Cœur, then make a little space in your itinerary for this. Perched in this hidden spot for more than 800 years, the Vignes du Clos Montmartre is the last vineyard in the whole city. Make your way west around the side of the Sacré-Cœur to Rue des Saules where you’ll find the Les Clos Montmartre vineyard.
If you’re lucky enough to have timed your visit right, then you can see La Fête des Vendanges, a five-day celebration in October where they harvest grapes bring them down to the City Hall to make into wine. Each year, they produce between one and one and a half thousand bottles for auctioning. A bottle of this wine isn’t necessarily the highest quality; after all, the vineyard sits on land that was once a rubbish dump! However, it’s a talking point, and at as little as 20 euros per bottle, it’s quite a reasonably priced one.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Museum of Arts & Trades may be a little less famous than the Louvre, but it’s no less interesting. Although you’re unlikely to stumble across the Mona Lisa here, you might find some incredible artifacts in the collection. A piece that I couldn’t take my eyes off was Blaise Pascal’s incredible 17th-century adding machine. Blaise Pascal, of course, was a truly gifted French mathematician, who among other things, has received credit for inventing the game of roulette.
You can find the museum in the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs and has been here since 1819, making it Europe’s oldest science museum! For anyone with a secret (or not-so-secret) nerdy streak, this will be heaven. You’ll find many scientific treasures here, from the first-ever powered vehicle to scale models of various famous landmarks as well as buildings, clocks, barometers; you name it. This extraordinary building houses many scientific breakthroughs that it would be entirely possible to lose a whole day wandering around here. It’s a must for your list!
If you take an interest in art, then Paris is for sure a city that you could spend years getting to know. Between the enormous collections of the Louvre, the modern marvels at the Centre Pompidou, the beautifully curated lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, you could fill up many hours marveling at the artwork. If you want to step away from the traditional art scene and discover the fringes, then there’s nowhere better to dip your toe than 59 RIVOLI.
Now, arguably, a gallery, 59 RIVOLI began life in the 1800s as an artists’ squat. Nowadays, things are a little more regimented, with concerts at weekends and a free to visit program during the week. The building itself is impossible to miss, situated in a busy shopping district, artwork, banners, balloons, graffiti and sculpture adorn the walls of the facade of 59 RIVOLI — quite a contrast to nearby multinationals like McDonald’s and H&M. Inside, expect to find work from a myriad of artists, and many will even create bespoke pieces then and there — a wonderful souvenir to bring home.
Last on the list is Buttes Chaumont. This oasis in the middle of Paris is arguably not unheard of but possibly underappreciated by tourists. While we flock to the Eiffel Tower for views of Paris, some of the best views are in this park. Climb to the top of the hill for an especially romantic outlook on the city. The hill itself is how Buttes Chaumont got its name, from chauve mont — meaning bare hill.
Today, the hill encircles a human-made lake, which is home to waterfowl and fish. In other parts of the park, you can discover a grotto with a waterfall, a belvedere based on the Temple of Vesta and, of course, acres of beautiful parkland. If you’re looking for a romantic conclusion to your time in Paris, then grab yourself a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese, climb to the top of the hill and wonder at the views of Montmartre.
Questions or questions about hidden gems in Paris? Have a hidden gem in Paris to recommend? I’d love to hear from you – just leave me a comment below!