After the articles on Unusual Lisbon, Unusual Berlin, Rome, Naples and Milan… the one on Unusual Paris could not be missing! Everyone comes to Paris to see the most famous and iconic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame or Montmartre, right? Yes, but Paris is also an extremely multifaceted and changeable city, always able to amaze even those who, like me, have been coming here for years. Apart from Rome and Milan, I think it is the city where I have spent the most time in my life, but despite this… I am far from being able to say I know it all. Every time I go back I discover entire neighborhoods that change face, new but also old architectures, which are completely revised. If there is one thing I love about the French, it is the fact that they know how to dare. Do you remember when they built the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre? Of course it was criticized at first, but today it is unquestionably a symbol of the city and everyone loves it. This attitude in Paris is really strong and it is a city, like few in the world, capable of always renewing itself at the speed of light. In this article, therefore, I want to offer you 10 unusual places in Paris, to change your point of view.
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Unusual Paris: 10 places not to be missed
1.Palais Garnier Opera
I am a great lover of the Opera houses, especially the historical ones, and I could not fail to include the one in Paris among the unusual places to see. The Garnier it was designed by the homonymous architect in 1860 at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III, who chose Baron Haussmann to follow the works. It was supposed to be the symbol of the grandeur of the Second French Empire, but when it was completed Napoleon III had already been dead for 2 years. The theater is grand and imposing and this is where "The Phantom of the Opera" was set, a great classic of Gothic literature. You can visit the theater by taking a tour of the mysteries and legends of the Opera, exploring the innermost depths of the palace.
2.Great Mosque of Paris: the great moschea
I only discovered this place recently and I loved it. There Great mosque of Paris it is located in the Latin Quarter, just behind the Jardin des Plantes, and is the largest mosque in France (the third in Europe). This corner of Morocco in France was built in Moresco-Mudejar style after the First World War as a sign of France's gratitude towards the Muslims of the colonies who fought against Germany. The Mosque has a 33 meter high minaret and several inner courtyards with majolica in the colors of green and blue. A real corner of peace!
3.Batignolles district: the new Marais
Il Batignolles neighborhood it is located in the 900th Arrondissement, north-west of Paris, near Port de Clichy, quite close to Montmartre. Batignolles was one of the most loved neighborhoods by the Impressionists, but also by poets (such as Paul Verlaine) and singers (above all Jacques Brel). In the mid-XNUMXs it was one of the most important places in Parisian cultural life; later it lost some of that atmosphere to find it again in more recent years. Today the Batignolles district it is considered somewhat the new Marais, and is full of peculiar and trendy shops, bistros, as well as gardens. Magnificent English-style ones of Square des Batignolles Anchor me Parc Clichy Batignolles Martin Luther-King. Trendy bars dot the bohemian streets around Place de Clichy, while the area surrounding the Martin Luther King park is part of a new project for an eco-friendly neighborhood. Don't miss the Marchè de Batignolles (the covered market) and a great brunch at Dose.
4.Street Art nel XIII Arrondissement
Even Paris, like all major European cities, is full of street art and several neighborhoods have become real open-air museums. This is the case in the XNUMXth Arrondissement, particularly around Boulevard Vincent Auriol, near the metro stop "Nationale". Both the boulevard and the streets around it have large wall murals and it is here that 2019 ended four-year art project Boulevard Paris 13, which saw 26 street artists of different nationalities create 32 murals. The project involved internationally famous artists such as the American Shepard Fairey, the Spaniard Okuda San Miguel, the Portuguese Vhils, the Chilean Inti and the Franco-German couple Jana & Js. If you love street art like myself .. do not miss to come for a ride.
5.Tour Montparnasse: a 360 ° view over Paris
To see an Unusual Paris there Montparnasse Tower it is definitely the right place! With his 210 meters, until 2011 it was the tallest building in France; with the completion of Tour First he then dropped to second place. The Tower was built in 1973 in steel and glass, where Montparnasse station used to be, and you can climb up to the 56th floor in 38 seconds with a lightning-fast elevator. Here you will find an exhibition center, a restaurant bar and a first observatory. Then go up another 3 floors, up to 59 °, to reach the uncovered terrace and enjoy a magnificent 360 ° view of Paris. From here you can easily spot the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the large boulevards. It goes without saying that the best time to go up is sunset. If you want to avoid the queue, I recommend you buy your ticket online in advance through this site.
The St. Martin canal enters the French capital from the north-east, and it is also possible to follow it by bike (there is a cycle path for several kilometers) starting from Aulnay-sous-Bois or from other towns in the Parisian hinterland that are in the direction of Charles de Gaulle airport. Coming from outside, the canal arrives at the Villette and then widens to form the Quay of the Seine; at this point there are several very nice floating clubs / restaurants, especially in summer. On all the Point Èphémère, a multifunctional location with restaurant, bar, art center and concert hall overlooking the water. From here the canal narrows again and reaches the République area. Walking along this stretch is magnificent because it is an area full of shops, restaurants and clubs that I particularly like (like The Comptoir Général eg). If you love art, not far from the canal there is also the Centquatre, a very large cultural and exhibition center, located in an industrial building from the mid XNUMXth century. Inside there are now artistic workshops, ateliers, rehearsal rooms, bars and restaurants.
7.Ménilmontant and Belleville: 2 hipster neighborhoods
If you want to see an unusual Paris you can come and stroll in these two neighborhoods north of the Marais. I am former workers' quarters become more and more alive and multicultural and today long Belleville Street (which then becomes Rue de Menilmontant) there are tons of nice shops, nice bars and restaurants, like the trendiest Marais. A road not to be missed is definitely Sainte-Marthe Street, a street with colorful houses that ends in a relaxed-looking square, full of trattorias and bars (it looks like a mini Portobello!). Also in this neighborhood is the Belleville Park, a little-known public garden that offers magnificent views over the city. Even the Buttes-Chaumont Park it is definitely fascinating, with caves and artificial waterfalls and a lake in the center of which stands an island with a temple connected with 2 pedestrian bridges. If you head north for a moment, the area around is also worth exploring Magenta.
8.Pére Lachaise Cemetery: the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison
Along with the opera houses, when I travel I also love to visit monumental cemeteries, especially those of the great cities of art and the Pére Lachaise cemetery it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. It is among the most visited cemeteries in the world and is located at the end of Boulevard de Menilmontant. Here are buried many among the greats of many disciplines, from Chopin a Molière, da Apollinaire a Proust, da Modigliani a Edith Piaf, and many others, and the tombs are true masterpieces of art. The most frequented tombs, however, are undoubtedly that of Oscar Wilde And that of Jim Morrison. The Pére Lachaise cemetery is very large and the risk of getting lost in search of the various graves is high; if you also want to know more about the history of the cemetery and the characters who are buried there I recommend you participate in a guided tour. It lasts 2h and is really well done (here you will find all the info to book it).
9.Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
In the heart of Saint Germain there is this little gem, an extraordinary chapel hidden at the end of a courtyard. But what is special about it? It is believed that this place he witnessed a miracle, namely the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the presence of the nun Catherine Labouré. In the course of 3 apparitions, all of which took place in the chapel, the Madonna entrusted the novice with the construction of the so-called Miraculous Medal. This medal would protect the people who wore it. The first 3 were made in 1832, the year of the cholera epidemic in the city, and immediately became very popular. Many faithful still carry them today and the chapel today constitutes one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in Paris. Admission is free, but if you are interested in learning more you can join a guided tour.
10. Sainte-Geneviève Library
I close this review of unusual Paris with another very beautiful place, there Sainte-Geneviève Library. This public library is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter and welcomes many students, especially from theSorbonne University, who seek tranquility and particular texts. The building was designed by the architect Henri Labrouste (the same who designed the Palais Garnier Opera) on the remains of an ancient abbey which in the XNUMXth century received the remains of the patron saint of Paris, Saint Genoveffa (Geneviève). The façade is in neo-Renaissance style, while the ground floor is characterized by a series of arched windows, the same ones that also illuminate the reading room. The whole building is full of symbolism; from the dark vestibule, which symbolizes ignorance, to the light of the reading room, where the reader reaches freedom and knowledge. To enter you will need to obtain a tourist pass.
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