Top 10 fun and original things to do in Paris
Have you come to Paris several times and you are used to seeing the big touristic landmarks, so you want to do something different, fun and original? This article is for you! Indeed, it can be hard in such a big city not to follow the touristic track, but to find activities and places off the beaten path. And there are a lot, even though pretty unknown. So here a few tips to spot them: enjoy our top 10 fun and original things to do in Paris.
Balloon at André-Citroën square, an underrated panorama of Paris
One of my favorite activities in Paris is to find the best panorama of the capital city. Of course you can go to the best known places, such as the Eiffel tower alongside with the Sacred Heart or the Montparnasse tower. Nonetheless, I recommend you have a fun and original view of the city in the 15th arrondissement. In the André-Citroën square, next to the Seine river bank, stands a hot-air balloon.
Every day from 9 am, you may fly at 300 meters high if it’s sunny. But pay attention to the weather: if it’s too awful, it will be closed. Otherwise it’s the perfect spot to admire the whole city in a turning flying balloon for almost 15 minutes. For this amazing yet unusual view, you will have to pay 12€ each if you’re over 11 years of age. During the high touristic season (mainly in July and August) but also on weekends, I advise you go “flying” in the morning to avoid the queues.
A boat cruise on Bassin de la Villette, a wonderful experience on your own
Another fun and original thing to do in Paris is a boat cruise, but by yourself, in the north of the city. Indeed, at Bassin de la Villette – 37 quai de la Seine – (Villette’s pond, in the 19th district), you can easily (there is no driving license required) rent an electric boat to navigate the Seine inside and outside the capital city, thanks to the company Marin d’Eau Douce, opened every day from 9.30am to 10pm.
Personally, I am really fond of this activity as you choose the time of the cruising (from 1 hour to the whole day), depending on the itinerary you want to do. Furthermore, it is not that expensive (for instance, you would have to pay 8€ each for a one-hour cruise on a 5-people boat), yet so pleasant. Indeed, the itinerary allows you to moor in wonderful squares, to have a picnic at lunch for example. Plus, the company also offers you an appetizer, refreshements and some games – above all the famous pétanque, the French bocce ball to make sure you fully enjoy the experience.
A stroll alongside the abandoned railways, the unusual walk inside the capital city
Not a big city, Paris is nonetheless a dense town. That’s why it’s easy to miss some good and incredible spots. Here is one of these, almost invisible from the street.
Indeed, almost invisible from the streets, deserted railroads from the 1850s surround Paris alongside more than 30 kms (about 20 miles). Nowadays invaded by nature (there’s a lot of biodiversity), these railroads – called La Petite Ceinture (the “little belt” in english) – were closed between the 1930’s and the 1990’s, as they were died down because of the competition from the metropolitan.
Nonetheless, in less than 10 years, the city decided to pedestrianize some parts of the railroads. So you can now enjoy an original stroll, alongside almost 1km in the 15th arrondissement for example. For the adventurous or the ones who like “urbex” (urban exploration), you can even walk through the closed portions, basically forbidden for pedestrians!
59 Rivoli, the uncommon artsy building
“Surprising” is the word that best describes 59 Rivoli. Just arriving in front of the building, at number 59 on Rivoli street, it already looks like a fun and original thing to do in Paris. Indeed, the façade of this haussmannian building looks nothing like the other ones on the street, as it’s a (temporary) work of art by itself. On 6 floors, the building which used to host a bank, was then turned into a squatting for artists. Now institutionalized, I highly suggest you enter the place filled with colorful and amazing paintings, sculptures or photographs made by 30 talented artists (15 permanents, and 15 temporaries, here for 3 to 6 months).
Opened 6 days per week (not on Monday) from 1 pm to 8 pm, you can find a gallery for temporary exhibitions, alongside with artists’ workshops, all for free! What’s more? On every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6pm from September to June, the 59 Rivoli organizes original concerts, where you can find both pop, jazz or classical music! So take a look at the programming!
Live escape games – will you eventually reach the exit?
Don’t get me wrong. Paris is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So you basically don’t want to leave the place! However, some Parisian spots have emerged for the last decade as places you would want to escape. Indeed, one of the most incredible, fun and original things you can try in the capital city are “live escape games”. The concept is simple: locked up in a room, you have about 60 minutes to find clues in order to escape the place. As a team, take part in this incredible adventure, that will give you adrenaline and excitement, for sure!
Personally, I enjoy doing so at the Leavin Room, on 28 boulevard Pereire (17th district), or the Mystery Escape, on 50 Rue de Monceau (8th district). The first place offers you an incredible atmosphere, worthy of Saw, whereas the second one an astonishing Mayan setting. Not too easy, enigmas are numerous, so invite all your friends, and have fun where Parisians love spending their time!
La Coulée Verte, one of the most original squares of Paris
What if I told you, that you can enjoy a 4, 5 kilometer long stroll, fully pedestrianized, in downtown Paris? Not a dream anymore, this walk is a reality in the east of Paris. La Coulée Verte is definitely one of the top 10 fun and original things to do in Paris. Starting from Bastille, at Viaduc des Arts, a building for craftsmen where you can see them working, what used to be called the “Planted stroll” ends at boulevard Carnot, near the ring road.
Thought as a stroll, the square follows the itinerary of Parisian deserted railroads since the end of the 1980s, as the city decided to renovate the place. Doing so, they have preserved viaduct, trenches or else tunnels, for an even more authentic, fun and original walk through Paris. Isolated from the busy streets of the capital city, you can enjoy a colorful and flowery stroll thanks to a large range of trees and flowers, from lichen to lime trees. It’s also the perfect place to rest during summer, as you can sit down on a quaint and removed bench standing under the trees, for protecting you from the scorching heat of July or August.
Sewers Museum, the strange yet fun experience you must have in Paris
I really think this is one of the most original, though underrated museums in the capital city. At first sight, it looks like a weird idea to visit the Parisian sewers system but then it becomes a great one, as you can learn a lot about Paris, underground. That’s basically why loads of tourists go to the Catacombs. Nonetheless, I heavily recommend you go to the Sewers Museum (standing at Pont de l’Alma, 7th district), as it’s much less overcrowded than the other Parisian museums because you don’t have to wait for 2 hours to get in. And it is as much interesting as the others.
Indeed, alongside 2,100 kilometers (the distance between New York and Miami), the sewer system of Paris is one of the most impressive worldwide, as almost every street has its equivalent underground, and buildings are there identified as on the streets. That’s why discovering this maze teaches you a lot about how Paris works. So I have only one piece of advice: stay away from the beaten path, and don’t hesitate to visit this fun and original, (kind of odorous) museum!
Enjoying the Bois de Boulogne, the perfect spot for a sunny day
On the west of Paris, stands a beautiful 850 hectare square, open 24/7. This is definitely the best place to bring your whole family, because each of you will always find an activity you like. Indeed, at Bois de Boulogne, you are able to bike, alongside a 15 kilometer stroll, navigate on the lake thanks to a small boat (10€ for the first hour), or else bring your children to a kids ‘playground. Plus, at noon, it’s the perfect spot for having a picnic!
No matter which activity you choose, you will always enjoy an amazing environment, especially if you go towards the west of Bois de Boulogne, in Bagatelle square, or towards the south, in Jardins des serres d’Auteuil (Greenhouses’ garden of Auteuil). The first place offers you a royal frame, while the second one will make you feel as though you were in a tropical area. In addition, each year during summer, there is a classical music festival.
Open-air cinema at Parc de la Villette
With summer, life becomes a bit different from the rest of the year, as new activities are available. One of my favorite is going to Parc de la Villette (Villette square, in the north of Paris – 19th district) for watching a movie. Every year, Parc de la Villette turns into an open air cinema, at 7.30pm every day. This year’s theme is related to the kitchen. Let’s go check the many surprises the festival has for us!
In the evening, between the 20th of July and the 20th of August, a film (mainly well known and recent, ones from the likes of Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood) is broadcasting for free. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French, films are in original version, subtitled in French. And on Saturday evening, you can enjoy a short film from a young director. To being more comfortable, you can also rent a deck chair (7€ each, or 20€ for 5)!
A walking tour in the very center of Paris, to discover the Louvre’s area off the beaten track
Last but not least, I have something for you if you have already visited the best-known spots in Paris and you get tired of big touristic landmarks listed up in travel guides. Here is something for you! I suggest you take a surprising walking tour in the very center of Paris, that starts right in front of the Louvre’s pyramid, at the statue of the Sun-King, every day at 11 am.
Just a few streets away from it, you can discover some fun and original spots, yet pretty unknown among foreigners, even among Parisian people sometimes. Covered passages, lovely paved squares or amazing buildings removed from great boulevards, form an incredible setting for this walking stroll around the city. Indeed, you will find some unexpected – and underrated – spots, very different from the Louvre, yet in the same neighborhood.
During this original tour, there’s only one rule: have fun while discovering the city, by following your guide around this amazing area! No matter what you prefer to do, there is always a fun and original thing for you to do in Paris. So don’t hesitate to feel the vibes of the city in a totally different way!
My top 10 fun and original things to do in Paris is now over. But there are actually many more fun things to do in Paris! Another suggestion I can share with you is for instance to join a street art tour. Paris has a very strong urban alternative culture, and some of the most famous street artists on earth are from Paris. If you want to do something different from the usual and discover the best of Paris walls and the stories it tells us, you really need to join a street art tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed my suggestions. See you around Paris!