Paris Off the Beaten Path 

Some of the city's most interesting neighborhoods are in the lesser-known neighborhoods often ignored by time-pressed visitors. Once you've seen the major sights, escape the tourist crowds and discover where the Parisians themselves prefer to hang out.

  • Montorgueil & Beaubourg Although dominated by the modern Pompidou Centre and the hulking shopping mall at Les Halles, these central Parisian neighborhoods are full of many hidden passages with unique artisan boutiques, charming cobblestone streets lined with sidewalk cafés, a bustling market street with specialist food vendors and kitchen supply shops, and a vibrant nightlife area with jazz clubs and locals’ wine bars. This exploration can be extended to include activities such as a free organ recital in a 16th-century church, a visit to a Medieval house, a snack break in the ballroom of a converted 19th-century theatre, visits to artist ateliers, or cocktails from a chic bar overlooking the rooftops of Paris.
  • The Covered Passages & Rue des Martyrs  The 9th arrondissement has thrown off its scruffy reputation over the past decade as up-and-coming fashion boutiques, trendy bistros and adorable pastry shops have replaced the seedy bars and outdated storefronts. As it continues to evolve, there’s no better time to visit the Rue des Martyrs market street, the elegant 19th-century Covered Passages that pre-date modern shopping malls, and to discover the hidden artists’ ateliers converted into tiny museums. This exploration can also include activities such as a visit to a famous Parisian auction house, afternoon tea in a tranquil cottage garden, or a tour of the beautiful Opéra Garnier, home of the legendary Phantom of the Opéra.

  • Butte aux Cailles & the Gobelins Heather’s own neighborhood, nestled between the Latin Quarter and Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement, is rarely visited by tourists despite its many wonderful sights, including the 17th-century Gobelins tapestry manufacturer, the tranquil cobblestone streets and garden cottages of the Butte aux Cailles, two unique arthouse cinemas, and one of the city’s best open-air food markets. Explorations can include a meeting with local artisans, a picnic lunch in a 1930s-style garden, or a tour of the neighborhood’s large murals created by famous street artists from around the world. 

  • Bercy Village & Paris’ New Rive Gauche Straddling the city’s eastern banks of the Seine River just beyond the sightseeing cruise circuits, Paris’ former industrial manufacturing and wine bottling districts have been completely transformed over the past 20 years to include a beautiful park of decorative gardens and wildlife ponds, a pedestrian-only cobblestone village of cafés and boutiques, and quayside entertainment of boats converted into bars, restaurants and even a floating swimming pool. Activities may include a visit to the quirky Cinemathèque designed Frank Gehry, a tour of the magical Carnival Arts museum, or drinks on the rooftop of a trendy lounge club overlooking the Seine.

  • The Faubourg St-Antoine & Viaduc des Arts The cabinet-makers of this former working-class fauborg just east of the Bastille furnished the city’s grandest aristocratic palaces since the 17th century. Today a few of these artisan workshops can still be found down hidden passages, while the close-knit multicultural community congregates at the lively Place d’Aligre, home to one of the most colorful food and flea markets in Paris. After tasting your way through the market, you’ll discover the Viaduc des Arts, a mile-long elevated train from the 1800s converted into a garden promenade with dozens of artisan boutiques set up beneath the brick archways. On this exploration we might also visit a luxury chocolate manufacturer or local artist galleries. It can easily be combined with a “Made in France” shopping excursion in the neighboring Marais district.

  • East Paris & the Canal St-Martin Want to visit the latest popular Parisian neighborhoods that were practically dead just a decade ago? You won’t see any “famous monuments” in the 10th arrondissement, but you’ll discover the newest hipster cafés, up-and-coming designer boutiques, and edgy neighborhoods where branché Parisians go to escape the over-priced tourist traps. You’ll also see the scenic bridges of the Canal St-Martin, a working hospital dating back to the 17th-century with its creepy museum of “specimens”, and some impressive street art. This is Bryan’s own neighborhood, and the perfect place to enjoy a summertime picnic or game of boules overlooking the canal. Extra activities can include a visit to the Buttes Chaumont, one of the city’s most scenic parks, or karaoké in a Chinatown Belleville bar.

  • Père Lachaise Cemetery & Belleville This tour takes you to the immense Père Lachaise Cemetery, opened in what was formerly the suburbs in 1804. It’s not only the largest “Green Space” in Paris, but also contains the largest collection of 19th-century funerary statues in the world. From historic figures to popular musicians (yes, Jim is here), you’ll be amazed at some of the elaborate tombs that serve as the permanent resting places of many of the city’s famous residents. Afterwards, we’ll explore the surrounding neighborhood where Edith Piaf was born, its open-air market, street art, and one of the trendiest East Paris hot spots, decorated by Philippe Starck.

  • Pretty-Ugly Paris Once you think you've "seen it all", let us surprise you with the true Secrets of Paris, the bizarre, unique and often beautiful sights hidden in "ugly" (but not dangerous) neighborhoods. We guarantee none of your friends back home have "been there, done that" unless they're the ones who sent you to us!

Combine any Off the Beaten Path Exploration with a Secrets of Historic Paris neighborhood tour or an activity -- specialty shopping in artisan boutiques, tasting tours of pastry and chocolate makers, or afternoon tea in an artist atelier -- to experience a well-rounded day with your guide moving at a relaxed, leisurely pace (including a well-deserved lunch break at a locals’ bistro).

Other Neighborhood Walking Tours 

All Secrets of Paris Tours