Post: Hidden Gems in Paris Only Locals Know About

Paris Cobblestone Street

Locally known as Ville lumière, Paris delights tourists with iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. However, underneath all the marvels within the City of Light lies many lesser-known charms just waiting to be discovered.

The locals certainly know where to find the hidden gems quietly concealed within residential neighborhoods, far from crowded tourist spots. Walking down these peaceful streets, you’ll find yourself returning in time, experiencing the tranquil rhythm of real Parisian life, and finding delightful discoveries around every corner.

These are some of the best-hidden gems in Paris that you should purposely seek when you get there.

Top 5 Hidden Gems in Paris that Make You Feel Like a Local

Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen Flea Market

Seeking to stumble upon Aladdin’s cave of treasures and trinkets? Head to the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, a great Paris hidden gem. This sprawling flea market in northern – central Paris is a glorious maze of antiques, collectibles, vintage clothes, and bric-a-brac.

Beyond the typical tourist destinations in Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower, Paris sewer museum and Rue de l’abreuvoir, the Saint-Ouen flea market offers an authentic and immersive local experience. Over centuries, the market has grown into Europe’s largest flea market, attracting thousands of visitors worldwide every weekend. Nonetheless, it’s a secret spot that only the locals know how to navigate its winding alleyways to find the best deals truly.

The flea market started in the 1840s when peasants from the nearby countryside would sell their used belongings in an open field. Gradually, stalls and shops sprung up during the French Revolution, and the flea market took its current form in the early 1900s. Today, the Saint-Ouen market comprises three distinct sections that make it one of the best-hidden gems in Paris. This includes Marché Dauphine, Marché Paul Bert Serpette, and Marché Vernaison. The secret spot boasts over 2,500 vendors selling antiques, collectibles, furniture, art, clothing, and more.

Wandering through the flea market can be a joy, as you never know what treasures you might find around the next corner. However, knowing a few key spots can help speed up your search. Experienced dealers frequent the Place des Vosges in Marché Dauphine, while fans of mid-century furniture should head to Sector Paul Bert Serpette. For art lovers, check out the galleries and dealers lined up on Rue des Rosiers. And fashion hunters will dig Marché Vernaison, filled with vintage designer clothes, bags, and accessories.

La Promenade Plantée Elevated Park Walkway

If you love walking through green escapes in the city, you’ll want to discover the enchanting Promenade Plantée elevated park as one of your favorite hidden gems. Located on a former railway line, this 4 km paved walking and cycling path winds through the heart of Paris, taking you above the traffic as you traverse the city rooftops.

The Promenade Plantée was built in 1994, converting abandoned infrastructure into an urban oasis. It follows the route of the Vincennes railway, which transported Parisians for day trips outside the city from 1860 until 1969, when the line was closed. The disused viaduct and bridge structures were transformed into this delightfully tranquil promenade with gardens, plants, benches and artwork.

As you stroll along the pathway, you’ll glimpse stunning views of Parisian streetscapes and rooftops through metal railings on either side. Watch the city’s life go by far below you as you wander amongst the century-old plane trees, shaded benches and verdant flowerbeds. This haven of calm and greenery is only 2.2 km from Latin Quarter and Rue de la Parcheminerie and offers a sweet escape from the bustle of Parisian streets, yet it’s right in the middle of the city.

You’ll come across charming green spaces and secret spots peppered along the route, like the Jardin de Reuilly with its open-air theatre and café. Or stop for a moment at Bercy Park, a vast botanical garden built in a former wine depot. Keep an eye out for fascinating murals and sculptures tucked away in quiet corners, plus whimsical contemporary art installations dotted along the viaduct.

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature Hunting Museum

Escape the tourist crowds at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a hidden Paris gem near the Luxembourg Gardens. This overlooked hunting museum houses an astounding collection of art, trophies, and artifacts related to hunting and the natural world.

Step inside a world of royalty, aristocracy, and the noble art of the chase. The museum occupies a lush 18th-century mansion that once belonged to the Prince de Condé. The opulent interior features grand salons decorated with paintings, sculptures, and taxidermied animal mounts collected by French kings and nobility over the centuries.

Marvel at the huge animal trophies on display, including a giant eland (the world’s largest antelope) and enormous water buffalo heads. See their ambitious collections of hunting weapons and tools that span centuries, from medieval crossbows and clay pigeon traps to flintlock rifles and double-barreled elephant guns.

Among the best Paris hidden gems, it showcases an impressive collection of wildlife art and nature studies, with paintings depicting lion hunts, fishing expeditions, and animal courtship rituals. Exceptional bronze sculptures capture the nobility and grace of elephants, horses, and other wildlife.

Head to the lower levels to learn about the fascinating relationship between hunter and prey and humanity’s impact on wildlife and the environment. You’ll see careful reconstructions of different ecosystems and habitats, providing context for how various animals live and interact.

The Hidden Garden of Archives at Hotel Soubise in the Marais

Tucked away in the Marais district of Paris lies one of the city’s hidden gems – the Hotel Soubise and its exquisite gardens. Located on rue des Francs-Bourgeois, the Hotel Soubise is among the favourite hidden gems in Paris; that was built in the 18th century and today houses the Archives Nationales, the national archives of France. But few locals and tourists know that the archives building also contains stunning Renaissance gardens that date back to the 17th century.

Walking through the stately gates and courtyard of the Hotel Soubise, you enter a quiet oasis filled with boxwood hedges, Renaissance fountains, and flower beds blooming with roses and lavender. The garden is divided into four parterres centered around an octagonal fountain. Neat green pathways weave among arrays of symmetrical boxwood plantings in elaborate patterns. Stone benches provide places to sit and take in the timeless tranquility of this spot.

The gardens were originally constructed to provide a peaceful refuge for Princess Palatine, Elizabeth Charlotte, who lived in the mansion from 1694 until she died in 1722. Today, they remain a slice of history and tranquility largely hidden away from the bustle of the most famous streets. The archives building is closed to the public, so to experience the gardens, you must obtain permission or join one of the occasional guided tours.

La Butte Aux Cailles Village in The 13th District

Tucked away amidst the high rises of Southeast Paris lies a hidden gem that locals have long held dear- the charming village of La Butte aux Cailles. Pass through the Rue de la Butte aux Cailles archway, and you’ll be transported back to a Paris of winding cobblestone alleys, leafy squares, and timeworn houses.

La Butte aux Cailles dates back to the Middle Ages when it was a farming community outside the city walls of Paris. Over time it was absorbed into Paris but retained its village character. “Butte aux Cailles” refers to the hill the neighborhood sits upon and translates to “Hill of the Quails.”

The heart of the village is Place Paul Verlaine, a lush square surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and colorful houses. Generations of locals come here to soak up the sunshine, watch children play, and sip drinks at outdoor terraces.

Unlike other hidden Paris gems like île de la cité and canal saint martin, the square hosts a lively organic farmer’s market on Sundays where you can stock up on fresh produce, bread, cheese, and more.

Venture into the winding alleyways nearby, and you’ll find quiet, upscale residences, corner cafes, small boutique shops, and bohemian bars. The laid-back village atmosphere and distinctly Parisian charms make La Butte aux Cailles especially popular with artists and students from nearby universities.

In our next update, we’ll review the Japanese Garden, the hidden cobblestone street, Paris Montmartre
and Rue de Médicis.

Want more insider tips? Check out our post 21 Parisian Things: A cultural guide on the top things to know about Parisians.

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