Been there, done that, got the T-shirt during your first trip to Paris. Of course, you just have to come back to Paris for more. “We’ll always have Paris”, you know.
Paris has a lot more than Seine cruises and Eiffel Tower views. Discover quaint neighborhoods of old Paris, hidden museums, open arenas as you take a map and just wander the streets.
Here’s the secret Paris, the one you probably missed on your first whirlwind trip and the one that’s definitely worth exploring.
Nicolas Flamel’s Paris
Harry Potter fans can instantly recognize the name. This legendary 14th century alchemist’s home on Rue de Montmorency is the oldest stone house in the city, housing the Auberge Nicolas Flamel which serves some of the most delectable dishes in all of Paris. Flamel designed his own tombstone, which can be found at the Musee de Cluny.
Musee du Vin
A heady break for tired travelers, the Musee du Vin (Wine Museum) is for oenophiles. Displaying historical wine-making artifacts from the time of the Romans, to mini-Bacchus figures, viticulturists’ tools, a barrel-maker’s workshop, and other equipment, this museum also hosts wine tasting sessions.
A place where mineral springs flowed alongside an abbey till the 18th century, the Wine Museum is on Rue des Eaux – Water Street.
Cabaret Au Lapin Agile
The Au Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) cabaret in Montmarte, once the hangout of dubious types as well as art luminaries such as Picasso and Matisse, keeps the old world atmosphere alive today, and gives you an insight into Bohemian Paris.
Paris of The Da Vinci Code
While the Louvre Museum, Jardins des Tuileries and L’arc du Carrousel are Da Vinci staples for visitors, the Saint-Sulpice of the Paris Meridian fame, the Gare St Lazare and finding the Rose Line insignia are for harcore fans revisiting the city. Saint-Sulpice, a huge Baroque church with beautiful Delacroix frescoes in the Luxembourg Quarter, was turned into a Temple of Victory during the French Revolution. It has a gnomon line on the floor, which is the fictional Rose Line of the book, though it does not have any historical, real-world significance. Discover the Holy Grail on this Movie Tour of Paris. Of course, there are 135 Arago bronze disks marking the erstwhile Meridian before the one in Greenwich was canonized, and they are obscured in a large area, so chancing upon one serendipitously as you wander around Paris can be a great joy.
Arenes de Lutece
Even locals may not know about this, so you definitely need a map to return in time to Historical Paris.
Modern day Paris got its name in the 4th century AD from the Parisii, the Gallic tribe. Our site dates back to the times when the city was called Lutecia, after the Romans invaded it in 52 B.C. under Emperor Julius Caesar. Built at the end of the 1st century AD by the Romans, the 25000 sq ft amphitheater could hold about 16,000 spectators. During the next century, gladiator fights and other gruesome sports (e.g. offering early Christians for lunch to beasts of prey) were held for the benefit of the local Roman population. With the fall of the Roman Empire and rise of Christianity, such sports fell into disrepute and died down. The arena was demolished during the barbarian invasions of 280 A.D., and the site later became a cemetery. In the late 12th century, the ruins were buried under a large rampart built to defend Paris. They remained forgotten until 1869 when they were unearthed to the greatest surprise of all historians. Later on, in 1883, the site was repurchased and rehabilitated under the guidance of French novelist Victor Hugo. A further rehabilitation project began in 1916 which unearthed the site completely.
Today in a quiet and empty corner of the Latin Quarter, the arena may not be a grand vision, but stands as a reminder of the historical past of Paris.
Musee de la Magie
The underground Museum of Magic is a testament to all that is wacky in Paris. Displaying artifacts from the history of magic, this museum can be tacky, but justifies its entry price if you’re in the mood for just some strange.
Marche St Quentin
A food market dating back to the 19th century, this is a favorite local shopping ground for cheese, wine and all things good.
The Botanical Gardens
The Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens) is actually a collection of individual gardens, with several old structures, including the Botanical School and the Magny Mansion (built in 1650). The Botanical Gardens are a huge site with an enormous variety of species. The Rose Garden (La Roseraie) alone has some 170 species of roses! Between the Otter Basin and the Cuvier alley is the Alpine Garden, 40,000 square ft of mountain flora, from places as diverse as the United States, China, Japan, the Balkans, Morocco, the Caucasian mountains, Spain, and the Himalayas! There are some really old trees as well, such as an 18th century Pistachio tree, a17th century acacia from the United States and an 18th century Lebanese cedar.