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
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
photo Joséphine Baker swimming pool via flikr CC @Fernando Mafra
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.
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 – Charles de Gaulle to Nation
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
via flikr CC @ MCostaParis
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
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!
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!
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.
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
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
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
Did you see Paris from one of these points of view? Do you know other interesting /quirky points of view?
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