I’ve been to Paris 5x or so… I’ve lost count. Here are the best off the beaten path Paris activities and restaurants.
You can easily see the Eiffel Tower from many points in the city and figure out the top 10 sites to visit, but finding off the beaten path Paris activities and lesser known but phenomenal restaurants takes a bit more digging online; or at least a few more visits to this French metropolis.
Having been to Paris more times than I can count, here are my favorite off the beaten path things to do in Paris in a neat, summed up guide for you!
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Must-Know Information Before Getting Your Off the Beaten Path Paris Tips
The currency for France is the Euro (€).
Since France is part of the Schengen Agreement, U.S. Citizens can visit the country up to 90 days for any tourist or business purposes without a visa.
If you are not a European or U.S. Citizen, make sure to check with your local government with what visa you may need to apply for to enter France.
People in Paris speak French. Since it’s a larger city, some people may speak English, especially in touristy areas, but knowing how to say Merci (thank you) and Bonjour (hello) will go a long way with Parisiennes.
They really appreciate when others can speak a bit of French (from experience).
France uses the socket Type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
This universal travel adapter will work converting US appliances to EU sockets and has space for two USB cords.
However, it will not work with appliances that heat up such as a hair straightener or clothes steamer. Head to this post to learn about using hair appliances abroad.
France is generally a safe country. The biggest threads to tourists are pickpocketers, bag snatchers and scam artists so be mindful of your belongings, especially in tourist areas.
Note: I have been to Paris multiple times and have never had an issue, even when I traveled there at age 17 without supervision. But again, be mindful of your belongings.
You might also like: Ultimate Europe Packing List
Local Tips and Customs to Be Aware Of
Before embarking on your off the beaten path Paris trip, it’s a good idea to be mindful of some local tips and customs that’ll make your trip to this French city a seamless one!
- Generally, Parisiennes talk a bit quieter than some cultures. Of course, there are always exceptions, but this is something to keep in mind when out to dinner or when you’re on the train– use indoor invoices when having conversations!
- Wearing sweatpants and hoodies in public is not really a thing here (unless it’s on the super trendy side). In fact, Parisienne women like to wear heels often. Not saying you have to wear heels ’cause I certainly don’t, but aim for casual chic style.
- Many locals like to go to on picnics in the parks and along canals, and bring their own wine! Technically, only licensed establishments can serve alcohol in parks, but Parisiennes bring their own wine anyways and just don’t make it obvious.
Best Off the Beaten Path Paris for Foodies
Eat Authentic Vietnamese Food at Pho Bom Restaurant in the Vietnamese Neighborhood
The Vietnamese are one of the largest immigrant population in Paris. As a result, every single time I’ve been to Paris, I make sure to eat at least one or two Vietnamese restaurants.
On my most recent visit, family friends of mine who have been living in Paris for well over 30+ years brought me to Pho Bom. I went to pho heaven.
I’ve never been to Vietnam so of course, excluding Vietnam, I would say Pho Bom is my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the world. The authentic Vietnamese flavors combined with the Parisiennes’ love for high-quality vegetables and meats makes this place a must-eat at restaurant in my off the beaten path Paris guide.
What to Get: I repeatedly get the Pho Tai with the rarest meat because I never see this rare of meat of such high-quality at any other pho spots. Of course, the broth is brimming with flavor.
Over a couple of visits, we’ve probably ordered seven+ dishes and they were all fantastic. You can’t go wrong with any of them. In fact, Mike and I were drooling over every single bite we ate.
Location Tip: The Vietnamese restaurant is a bit further out from the main tourist sites so yes, you will be literally going off the beaten path. As to not “waste” time going to this arrondissement just for food, I highly recommend going to Butte-Aux-Caille right after (see next section).
Eating a Pho Bom then going to Butte-Aux-Caille is always my number one recommendation given to friends and family visiting Paris because it is so different.
Timing Tip: Pho Bom is extremely popular, rightfully so. Even right at opening, there may be a 15 minute wait so I highly recommend going at opening to avoid a line. If you’re coming later in the day, then come an hour early before you’ll be hungry so you’re not waiting in line with a growling stomach.
However, Butte-Aux-Caille is a good place to casually bar hop. So if you like to drink, then Pho Bom, which means waiting in line, may be a better option for dinner to experience a local nightlife in Butte-Aux-Cailles. For those of you don’t drink, you can order sparkling waters and ginger beers at bars, which is what I did on my last trip.
Enjoy a Local Omakase Tasting at Sushi Okuda
The French have a great love for their food. They make sure its of high-quality and local as much as possible. Of course, this care extends beyond only French food. It goes into practically every cuisine available in Paris, including sushi.
For a high-end dinner experience, try having an omakase tasting in Paris at Sushi Okuda. What made this omakase tasting stand apart from other omakase tastings I’ve had is the fish! The chef served local river fishes that I’ve never had before.
Overall, the menu is more than just your normal tuna and salmon that you may be used to at your local sushi restaurant.
Location: 18 Rue du Boccador, 75008 Paris, France
Discover Little Tokyo
The last time that Mike and I went to Paris, we discovered Little Tokyo, which was really fun for us considering most cities we go to have Chinatowns but not really an area dedicated to Japanese culture.
Location Tip: Use Aki Boulanger as a starting point for Little Tokyo in Paris.
Learn How to Bake French Baguettes
The French arguably have the best bread in the world so Paris is a great place to take a cooking class!
I had so much fun taking a class with La Cuisine Paris who not only taught me how to bake baguette and focaccia, but I also got a ton of local tips on where to eat and buy foods I could bring home.
Best Off the Beaten Path Paris Activities
Explore Butte-Aux-Caille, a Local Neighborhood in Paris
Butte-Aux-Caille is a local neighborhood in Paris untouched by commercialism. As you walk around, you’ll rarely run into another tourist and definitely won’t inundated with any billboards or stores telling you to buy their goods.
All you’ll find are cute cobblestone streets tucked away between the main roads, casual bars serving craft beers and decadent martinis, and bistros with locals buzzing away about their day.
Location Tip: A good point to start at is le Melecasse. If you don’t mind a bit of caffeine, order the espresso martini. This drink is what sparked Mike’s love for making espresso martinis at home.
Some restaurants don’t serve only drinks; you have to also order food. If you don’t feel like eating, then just keep moving your way down from restaurant to restaurant or bar to bar until one invites you in for a drink. There are many so you’ll have plenty of options to pick from!
Butte-Aux Cailles is part of my photo-worthy spots in Paris.
Dive Deep into Gustav Moreau’s Life
The Louvre is the most common museum that tourists like to visit in Paris, but it’s HUGE. You can’t see it all within a day or even a week, and if you’re like me (someone who appreciates art but severely lacks knowledge in it), you might get overwhelmed and/or bored (out of ignorance) of all the art in the Louvre.
That’s why I suggest going to the Gustav Moreau museum, which is much more digestible since it focuses on one artists’ life: Gustav Moreau.
I originally went to the Gustav Moreau museum for its Instagrammable stairs, but seeing the evolution of Gustav Moreau’s life from his earlier to latter works is what truly intrigued me (to the point of sharing his museum with you).
What’s also cool is that his own apartment is on display here because he, in fact, turned this studio/apartment into a museum himself. This essentially one-man museum is what makes this place one of the unusual things to do in Paris.
Ticket Information: The cost of this museum is only €6 but if you plan on visitings more museums in Paris, then it’s included in the Paris museum pass, which allows you to skip the line at over 50 monuments and museums. There’s both a two-day museum pass or a four-day one.
Have a Drink in Canal St. Martin
Canal St. Martin is a vibrant neighborhood where many locals in their 20s and 30s live. As the name suggests, there’s a beautiful canal running through the canal where you can spot many locals enjoying an after-dinner wine and cheese picnic with their friends.
You could join them for a picnic of wine and cheese too, or head over to the bar Le Comptoir Général to have a drink in another world. As soon as you step inside this bar, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported from Paris.
Welcome to the Comptoir Général.from Le Comptoir Generale’s site
A timeless place out of a midsummer’s night dream.
A haven of escapism with meticulousness and passion.
Inspiration, relaxation, meetings … You’re on holiday.
This is certainly not a bar that you could just randomly stumble in from the street. It’s set far from it so you have to know about it in order to get there. You may even get confused when you arrive wondering if you’re at the right place– don’t worry; you are.
Cultural Note: It is very normal in Paris to have your bags checked when you go into a bar. Just in case you get weirded out (I was the first time it happened), it’s just to keep everyone safe!
Location: 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris, France
Party at Rex Club
Rex Club is a popular club for the underground techno scene in Paris. Laurent Garnier, a French DJ, even has a monthly residency there.
Upcoming Events: Head to Resident Advisor to see who’s playing at Rex Club during your off the beaten path Paris trip!
Walk on the Coulée verte René-Dumont
The Coulée verte René-Dumont is like Paris’ version of NYC’s Highline Park. It’s a 4.7km long park created on top of old railroad tracks that Paris no longer uses. It’s a nice, peaceful place to get a bit of respite from the busy city, and there’s even a spot to dip your feet!
Last time I went, I stopped at au coeur du marché for cheese and Le Pain Au Naturel for bread and had a snack on top of the park! Of course, there’s a shop or two around to grab wine too if you want something to drink with your bread and cheese.
Location: 1 Coulée verte René-Dumont, 75012 Paris, France
You might know Montmartre from the infamous photos of the Sacré Coeur sitting on a hill in this neighborhood, but there’s more to Montmartre than this church, which by the way is an excellent place to rest, get a view of the city and people watch.
It’s a charming neighborhood with cute little shops and last of Instagrammable places in Paris.
Tip: If you have trouble walking up a massive hill or metro stairs, take the funiculaire that’ll bring you right up to the top of this neighborhood.
Thanks for making it all the way down to the end of the post. I hope this post helps you with your off the beaten path Paris trip!
If you have more time to explore more of France, you may want to go to these captivating places to visit near Paris by train.
I’d love to connect. Come say hi to me my Instagram @sarchetrit, especially if you found any part of this post to be helpful.
Till then, thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!
Monday 3rd of February 2020
Loved your article, we are always looking for new things to do when we visit Paris, it is one of our favorite cities in the world. We will be in Paris at end of February, so the weather will still be cool. It will be good to rug and go wandering around some of the places you mention. We are especially looking forward to walking the Coulée verte René-Dumont and stopping for a glass of red wine along the way.