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How to See Paris Differently – Paris from Bottom to Top

Are you sure to know Paris well? On this post we give you the opportunity to see Paris differently. From Bottom to Top we are going to rediscover the City of Light from some unusual, sometimes quirky, points of view.

 

EXPLORE UNDERGROUND PARIS

Never wondered about what happens under the fashionable streets of Paris? The basements of Paris are full of surprises for underground activities lovers. This is only a small selection (we keep the full list for another post) of what Paris has to offer . . . underground.

The Most Popular: Catacombs of Paris

This is one of the underground quarries in Paris that people can visit. The proper name for this place would be “Municipal Ossuary” but I guess that the word Catacombs, like the Roman Catacombs, attracts more visitors. This disused quarry was chosen in the XVIII century to be the final remains for the bones coming from the cemeteries in inner Paris.  These cemeteries in the heart of the city had been in use for nearly ten centuries and had become a source of infection for the inhabitants of the locality. After numerous complaints, the Council of State decided in 1785 to prohibit further use and to move its contents to these quarries.

Today the Visit of the Catacombs (1.7 km walk) lasts 1.5 hours during which visitors walk 20 metres below the city through corridors and corridors gracefully decorated with skulls and bones. Take the audio guide if you want to know more about the story of the catacombs and all those ancient cemeteries.

Paris Catacombs – 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14

Our Favorite: The Paris Sewer Museum

This is a quirky but very interesting visit that we always recommend. The Paris Sewer Museum details along 500 m of their tunnels the history of the sewer system in Paris, from the former Roman city of Lutetia (first name of Paris) to its modern structure (XIX century). The museum also explains the sewer workers’ role and the methods of water treatment. We were happy to know that Paris is the city which has the biggest and most modern sewer system of the world !

Paris Sewer Museum – Pont de l’Alma, left bank, Paris 7

Related:  The dirty side of Paris (Paris Sewer Museum)

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PARIS FROM THE SEINE RIVER 

In our opinion, La Seine (+26 metres above the sea level) is Paris’ most beautiful avenue and a cruise along the river should be a must for any first-timer in Paris. Admire Notre Dame, Les Invalides, the famous Eiffel Tower and life in general from another perspective, from the water! La Seine has many sailing options to propose and some of them come with memorable lunch or dinners.

The Most Popular: a Cruise with Bateaux-Mouches

La Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches began its sailing adventures along the Seine in 1949 with a single steam boat, a relic from the universal exhibition of 1900. Today its fleet of 15 modern boats (100 to 1000 passengers) are the reference in Paris. Prices start from 13.5€ (1 hour 10 min cruise).

Bateaux-Mouches – Port de la Conférence,  Paris 8

Our Favorite: le Batobus 

This is not a guided boat tour, it is more a public transportation alternative. On Batobus you get a more local experience: boats are smaller (up to 200 people), no bla bla for tourists, you can carry your bike with you and the price is less expensive (17€ daily pass /10€ with any navigo card). Batobus has 9 stops all along the Seine, from Beaugrenelle (Paris 15) to Cité de la Mode (Paris 13).

Batobus – 9 stations along the Seine

If you don’t like boat tours that much there are a couple of quirky proposals to enjoy Paris also from the water.

Josephine Baker Swimming Pool

Another cool experience floating on the river. This 25 x 10 m swimming pool is hosted in a giant barge docked next to Bibliothèque Francois Miterrand (Paris 13). This is a unique opportunity to swim with views along the river, actually it is if like you were swimming in the river. Of course the pool is opened all the year round but it is especially cool during summer time, when the glass roof is opened and the indoor space is transformed into a huge sun deck with gorgeous views of the Seine.

Our Tip: the swimming pool is small so try to avoid peak hours. On Thursdays it is open until 11pm

Piscine Josephine Baker – Quai François Mauriac, Paris 13

OFF Seine Hotel: sleep on a Floating Hotel

France’s first floating hotel opened its doors in June 2016, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the heart of Paris from the water. Docked close to Gare d’Austerlitz (Paris 13) the hotel proposes 58 small but stylish rooms, a deck bar + a restaurant and a dipping pool all with views along the river. After some sightseeing or shopping we cannot imagine a more original way to end your days in Paris!

Our Tip: you can enjoy the hotel’s bar and restaurant without being a guest of the hotel

OFF Seine Paris – 20-22 Quai d’Austerlitz, Paris 13

Check the last offers for Hotel OFF Seine Paris

photo Joséphine Baker swimming pool via flikr CC @Fernando Mafra

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WALKING THROUGH THE PARISIAN ROOFS 

After enjoying the Seine, reach the street level and head to Paris East for a green and fresh walk.

La Promenade Plantée (also referred to by locals as La Coulée Verte) links Bastille Square to Porte Dorée and Bois de Vincennes, following part of the ancient railway (la Petite Ceinture) which closed in 1969. This 4,5 km path car free is a world apart, crossing tunnels, trenches and long bridges.

The Jardin de Reuilly – Rue de Lyon /Av Daumesnil Section (1,4km) is one of Promenade Plantée’s coolest sections. Here we walk 7 m above the street level (+60m above ground), sometimes we even go through the buildings!

I like to describe this part as a hanging garden with some water bodies, different kind of flowers and plants and some shady spots to take a break. This is another way to see Paris from another point of view, we are very close to the city’s roofs.

Related:  Promenade Plantée, Paris' green walk

 

PARIS FROM METRO LINE 6

The metro in Paris does not go only underground through dark tunnels, sometimes it comes up to the surface along trenches or bridges. Metro bridges are not only beautiful steel constructions, they also give passengers unique opportunities to see nice architecture and street art form another point of view. Take metro line 6, from Charles de Gaulle station to Nation station and get your camera ready: as you approach Bir-Hakeim station you can see the Eiffel Tower from a different point of view. A little bit further, between Place d’Italie and Bercy metro stations in Paris 13, some tall buildings are completely covered by huge graffiti murals.

Metro Line 6 Map

Metro Line 6 – Charles de Gaulle to Nation

See Paris Differently©DXR/WikiCommons

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CIRCLE HIGH ABOVE THE CITY WITH THE FERRIS WHEEL

The Paris Ferris Wheel (Grande Roue de Paris) located at Place de la Concorde, between Champs-Elysées and Tuileries Gardens, is another cool way to see Paris differently.  This 70 m high wheel is not only a landmark in Paris, it offers you a unique 360º view of Paris and the possibility to see the some iconic sights like Louvre or Grand Palais with a bird’s eye. We suggest you to take the ride after sunset, Paris at night is pure magic.

Grande Roue de Paris – Place de la Concorde, Paris 8

See Paris Differentlyvia flikr CC @ MCostaParis

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UNIQUE PARIS VIEWS FROM ITS UNIQUE MONUMENTS

Climb the stairs of Paris’ most iconic monuments for unique views of the city. There are many options (and different prices) to see panoramic views of Paris. From towers to churches, these are the best places to admire Paris from above.

The Most Popular

Eiffel Tower – Paris 7

Tour Montparnasse – Paris 15

Notre Dame’s Towers – Paris 4

Arche de Triomphe – Paris 8

Galeries Lafayette – Paris 9

Our Favorites 

Notre Dame’s Towers – Paris 4. Views of Eiffel Tower, la Défense, Panthéon and Sacré Coeur

Panthéon’s Dome – Paris 5. Views of Invalides, Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, La Défense (only from April to October)

Institute du Monde Arabe – Paris 5. Views of Ile de la Cité with Notre Dame and le Marais

Sacré Coeur Basilica’s Dome – Paris 18. Yes, few people know that you can climb up to its dome and get a super 360º view of the city!

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COCKTAILS WITH A VIEW – PARIS’ ROOFTOPS

In summer time the rooftop bars are Parisians’ place to be. What is the formula of happiness? Cool decoration, good music & cocktails and breathtaking views. Every year there are new additions, new trendy places to be. But there are also the classics, always there summer after summer. This is our selection:

Le Perchoir du Marais – 37 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 4

Mama Shelter – 109 rue de Bagnolet, Paris 20

The Balcony, on the top of the Philharmonic of Paris – 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris 19

Up on the Roof – 4 rue Danton, Paris 6

Le Perchoir Gare de l’Est – 10 Place du 11 Novembre 1918, Paris 10.This was one of the coolest additions last year, we hope they will be still there this summer!

See Paris Differently

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NICE SUNSETS (AND QUIRKY PERSPECTIVES) FROM THE HILLS

Paris is mostly flat (the average altitude at street level is 53 m above ground) but you can climb a couple of hills for a better perspective without leaving the heart of the city.

Montmartre

Paris’ most famous hill is Montmartre (+130 m) from where you have a nice view of colorful Centre Georges Pompidou, Les Invalides, Notre Dame and Bois de Vincennes.

As you can see on the slideshow, Montmartre’s hill is also a good place to get some shots of common things, like buildings or carrousels, with quirky perspectives!

Parc Buttes Chaumont

Parc Buttes Chaumont in Paris 19, is a less touristy option but it is definitely our favorite one. Apart from nice walking trails, playgrounds for children, a central lake and countless places to relax, Buttes Chaumont has beautiful views of Paris from its top (+101 m).

Parc Buttes Chaumont – 1 rue de Botzaris, Paris 19

See Paris Differently

Parc de Belleville

We are not fans of Parc de Belleville in Paris 20 but at the same time we cannot deny that the highest park in Paris (+122 m) is perfect for some cool sunset pictures with a different perspective of the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Parc de Belleville – 47 rue de Couronnes, Paris 20

See Paris Differently

TOUCH THE SKY WITH BALLON DE PARIS

Ever dreamt of flying over Paris? You can have a similar experience with Ballon de Paris. Since 1999, the Ballon Generali de Paris, the biggest air balloon in the world, controls the air quality in Paris. If the flying balloon has a greenish color it means good news! In parallel with their main activity, they propose a 10 minutes vertical flight up to 150 m above the ground to get a very cool view of Paris.

Our Tip: the ballon only flies when the weather is very good and without wind so we don’t suggest to buy tickets in advance. Before going to Parc André Citröen, call them to check if they are flying or not and buy the tickets only before the take off.

Le Ballon Generali de Paris – Parc André Citröen, Paris 15
+33  (0)1 44 26 20 00
www.ballondeparis.com

Did you see Paris from one of these points of view? Do you know other interesting /quirky points of view?

OUR SUGGESTIONS: CLICK FOR MORE INFO ↓

See Paris Differently

Paris Souterrain Tome I (FR)

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Paris Souterrain Tome II (FR)

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Olympus 8×40 DPSI Binocular

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44 Comments

  • Reply
    Swati & Sam
    04/13/2017 at 6:39 pm

    The Catacombs look creepy. I would love to go on that Ferris wheel but I am equally scared. 🙂 The floating hotel seems amazing, would definitely love to have a cocktail there.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 7:08 pm

      So you prefer not going too much down or up ! Yes, the floating hotel is very cool 😉

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    04/12/2017 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve been to Paris a few times and now that I’m living a short train ride away in Bordeaux, you’ve given me some unique ideas for my next visit. I’d love to do the swimming pool, stay in a floating hotel and do the rooftop tour.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 8:30 am

      This looks like a very cool plan! 🙂

  • Reply
    Galeries Lafayette
    04/12/2017 at 10:01 am

    Hi World in Paris,

    Great article, thanks for featuring Galeries Lafayette! We’d love to repost on our Facebook, may we have your permission?

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:03 pm

      Bien sûr, avec plaisir! 🙂 🙂 Please, don’t forget to tag me on your FB or other social media repost (@worldinparis).
      And I challenge you that World in Paris can do a similar post ONLY about Galeries Lafayette: we are sure there are other different /quirky ways to enjoy the Galeries apart from shopping! 😉

  • Reply
    Wibi
    04/12/2017 at 7:11 am

    Bookmarking this, really need posts like this for my trip to Europe in October. Got any blog posts for budget travellers you can link me to?

  • Reply
    Mel Jones
    04/11/2017 at 10:40 pm

    Every angle you could possible want to see in Paris in one post 🙂 I really need to go back to paris, I only went for a day trip years ago and it was so fogged over in mid-February that we just couldn’t see anything. I hope to go one summer and using your guide is a great way to start planning photo ops! I definitely want to do the Catacombs and La Promenade Plantée for sure. I didn’t even know the Promenade existed, looks like a fantastic place to get pictures <3

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:27 pm

      Hope you will make it to Paris again, Mel. One day was very short time indeed 😉

  • Reply
    Greg
    04/10/2017 at 5:04 pm

    This is how I want to see Paris! Skip all of the crazy busy tourist stuff and see these instead!:)

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:33 pm

      Lol ! I totally agree with you, Greg 😉

  • Reply
    Carmen's Luxury Travel
    04/10/2017 at 2:45 pm

    Okay, these are all great suggestions. I’ve been to Paris several times but still haven’t seen it all! Next time I want to visit the catacombs and stay on a floating hotel!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:33 pm

      There is only one floating hotel! Well, at least for the moment 😉

  • Reply
    Travelwith2ofus
    04/10/2017 at 2:24 pm

    I really never though about this side of Paris. However, I did have an amazing view of Paris from the restaurant located at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I would definitely love to see Paris from an air balloon and waddle about in the floating Josephine Baker Swimming Pool. This is a really good list if you want to do some things out of the ordinary.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks! Glad that you liked this list 🙂

  • Reply
    Barb
    04/10/2017 at 12:38 pm

    I love how your photos are dynamic. I used to live in Paris, but I was unfamiliar with many of the sites you listed in this post.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:35 pm

      So maybe you will come back to Paris 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    04/10/2017 at 8:24 am

    These are all lovely perspectives of elegant Paris. The sewer museum sounds intriguing and we would love to make it there next time around. We have enjoyed a cruise on the river Seine, but would definitely like to stay in a floating hotel and take a roof top tour to get some amazing views of Paris.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:35 pm

      Still many things left, I see ! So maybe there will be a next time for you in Paris 😉

  • Reply
    Nathan
    04/10/2017 at 7:52 am

    I’m really wanting to make it to Paris this summer! I most want to do the underground tours- the catacombs seem amazing. It seems like something different to do.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:36 pm

      Oh, cool to know you are coming! Make me know when you are around 😉

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    04/10/2017 at 5:13 am

    What a fascinating post. I just can’t get over how Paris has so many angles to it. You can never really claim to know this city completely, can you? And I’ve just been there thrice.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:37 pm

      Yes, if I told you I know Paris well, I would probably lie 😉

  • Reply
    Lara Dunning
    04/10/2017 at 12:03 am

    The catacombs have been on my to visit list since I was a teenager. I’d love to do that, then enjoy a cocktail with a view, and head to the floating hotel for the night. And, of course, stay a few more days to check all the other things out,

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:37 pm

      It sounds like a great (different) plan, Lara 🙂

  • Reply
    Jing
    04/09/2017 at 3:36 pm

    Great recommendations! I’ve visited Paris more than ten years ago and you’ve given me unique ideas how to explore Paris in a different way. I have taken note of these for a future reference.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/10/2017 at 6:39 pm

      Glad that you liked this post, Jing 🙂

  • Reply
    Dave (Silverbackpacker)
    04/09/2017 at 9:06 am

    What a wonderful idea taking a trip through the sewers and Catacombs of Paris. That is a very unique way to discover the history of the place , i would imagine. I also like the metro trip. Train trips through cities are always fun and let you see the other side of it.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:28 pm

      Well the parisian metro’s history is as interesting as the metro itself! I will talk more about the metro in Paris soon 😉

  • Reply
    Rhonda Albom
    04/09/2017 at 8:16 am

    We missed so much of this when we were in Paris. We waited in the queue for the about an hour for the sewer tour, but realised by the time we actually got to the front we would need to leave for our timed tickets up to the Eifel Tower. It’s not my favourite city, but perhaps if I had gone with you, it would have been.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:31 pm

      Oh, thanks for your kind words ! 🙂 🙂 Strange what you say about the sewer tour, last time I went there (last year) there was 0 queue for the Sewer Museum. Actually it is not much known by tourists, I think

  • Reply
    Kris
    04/09/2017 at 1:25 am

    That pool on the Seine sounds really cool! I wish I’d known about it when I was there last fall. We did get to do a river cruise, and it was perfect at night.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:32 pm

      Yes, the pool is very cool, especially in summer. But it is very small so it gets crowded very easily. I am sure you had a great time with your night cruise, they are unique 🙂

  • Reply
    Lyn -@ A Hole in my Shoe
    04/09/2017 at 1:07 am

    Ah… any way you look at it, Paris is beautiful 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/12/2017 at 7:32 pm

      I cannot disagree with you ! 😉

  • Reply
    Onur Aslan
    04/08/2017 at 10:54 pm

    I have been in Paris many times, but haven’t heard about Sewer Museum. It sounds like a interesting idea to check through! Totally recommend view from Montmartre and Galeries Lafayette!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 7:10 pm

      Good tips, Onur! I believed the Sewer Museum was not very known but one of our readers here told me there was 1hr queue when she tried to visit! :-O

  • Reply
    Laura Lynch
    04/08/2017 at 10:22 pm

    Great extensive list of things to do in Paris. We were just there a few weekends ago and I’m always surprised by how many new things there are to do that I’ve not done yet. The rooftop bars are awesome for a break from all the walking.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 7:10 pm

      Oh, now that you live close to Paris you can come back again to check your missing things 😉

  • Reply
    Danik
    04/08/2017 at 9:20 pm

    I been looking into this Paris Sewer TOur as I seen it on the Amazing Race, an American television game show. Hope to do it later this year when I am back. 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 7:14 pm

      Just checked that Paris Sewer Tour. Well, I visited the Sewer Museum by myself for 4.5€ ãnd I saw and learn the same things this Tour Operator is proposing for 30$ . . .

  • Reply
    Siddhartha Joshi
    04/08/2017 at 11:26 am

    I heard about the Catacombs of Paris a few yards back and have been fascinated by them ever since. It’s going to be my number priority on my next visit there 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      04/13/2017 at 7:15 pm

      So enjoy the Catacombs! 🙂

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