Ten of the best: Alternative things to see in Paris




Ok, so you've seen Notre Dame, marvelled at the Eiffel Tower, and seen the Champs Elysee in all its glory. So you've done Paris, right?

We bet you haven't! If you go beyond the typical tourist sites, you'll find a plethora of wonderful Parisian experiences. Here's just a taster of some of the things that should be on your must - bookmark this page for your next trip to the French capital! Click on the image below - you won't be disappointed with these suggestions!

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Ten of the best: Alternative things to see in Paris

This world-famous bookshop, Shakespeare and Company (Rue de la Bûcherie, Metro: Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame) has provided a bed to some 50,000 penniless authors since it opened in 1951 – the idea being that writers who worked in the shop got to live there, too. The store, which predominantly sells books in English, has become something of an institution, with regular literary events and a constant stream of visitors keen to pick up a new read in order to come away with a bag bearing the shop's name.

If you enjoy an ice cream in Paris, you can guarantee it'll be a Berthillon – a Parisian ice cream manufacturer that started up in 1954. Check out the main store on Rue Saint Louis en l'ile (Metro: Ponte Marie) for a bevy of unusual flavours, including granny apple, prune and rhubarb. Prepare to queue down the road for your cone but, rest assured, it'll be worth it.

You don't get a much more lavish setting for lunch than a 19th-century Parisian mansion. The café at the Jacquemart-André museum  (Boulevard Haussman, Metro: Miromesnil) – which is well worth a visit in itself for its impressive art collection – is adorned with antique paintings and tapestries. A fascinating collection of figures looks down at you from the ceiling painted by 18th-century Italian artist, Tiepolo. The set lunch menu comes in at a reasonable €16.50.

Done the streets of Paris? Then why not have a look what's under them? The Paris Catacombs (Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Metro: Denfert-Rochereau) are lined with bones and skulls from The Cemetery of Innocent, which had to be closed because it was causing disease in the city at the end of the 18th century. Housing the remains of close to six million Parisians, it's an eerie but ultimately fascinating sight.

Fashion-lovers, history-buffs and shopping queens should all go on pilgrimage to the Chanel Store on Rue Cambon (Metro: Madeleine) where the iconic brand began. In 1910 Coco Chanel opened her first shop – a hat store – here, and had her private apartment on the second floor. Fancy buying something but can't afford to spend thousands? Then come away with a bottle of exclusive 31 Rue Cambon perfume to remember your visit.

Forget the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Dedicated shoppers should head to the sprawling Les Puces flea market on the edge of Paris (Saint Ouen, Metro: Porte de Clignancourt). The market has built up since the 19th century and today, in the maze of tiny, intertwining streets, you'll find over 2,000 stalls creaking with vintage fashion, furniture, crockery, books, and just about everything in between. Be sure to practice your haggling en Français before you go!

Did you know that New York's Statue of Liberty was actually designed by a Parisian, Frédéric Bartholdi, and was given as a gift to America by the French? So it's perhaps no surprise that Paris has it's own lesser-known version (Île aux Cygnes, Metro: Bir-Hakeim). It's just 37 feet, nine inches, to the New York version's 305 feet. But it makes for a wonderfully quirky and incongruent site, with the Eiffel Tower set behind it.

Escape the obvious romantic hotspots in the City of Love and visit le mur des je t'aime – the I love you wall (Place des Abbesses, Metro: Abbesses). Across 612 enamelled tiles you'll find 'I love you' written in hundreds of different languages. Search for those you can understand or just marvel at this piece of large-scale modern art.

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to churches in Paris, with the likes of Notre Dame and Sacré-Cœur. But Sainte-Chapelle (Boulevard du Palais, Metro – Cité) easily rivals them in the beauty stakes, with three walls of near floor-to-ceiling stained glass. Inside the gothic masterpiece, the air dances with colours as the light catches the multicoloured glass – guaranteed to have you captivated.

If you've ticked off the Centre Pomidou and the Louvre but want an art fix, head to the Rodin Museum (Rue de Varenne, Metro: Varenne). It displays the work of French artist Auguste Rodin, made famous by his sculptures The Thinker and The Kiss. Set in a picture-perfect mansion and with vast gardens, it's a lovely place to amble away an afternoon. And it's a welcome escape from the madding crowds at the more famous Parisian art destinations.

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