Weird Places in Paris

59 Rivoli

No, you’re not see­ing things. This is one of the many faces this build­ing wears every few months. This place is lit­er­al­ly off the wall. The 59 Riv­o­li opened its doors to squat­ting artists on Novem­ber 1, 1999 after the build­ing sat aban­doned for fif­teen years. Its new pur­pose was to cre­ate a place for artists to live and work as they pleased. With that came con­flict with the French gov­ern­ment. They made com­plaints and threat­ened to evict the artists that lived there, but the media and polit­i­cal allies helped keep this artists’ safe-haven afloat. Today it has 30 stu­dios open to the pub­lic six days a week. They have as many as 4,000 vis­i­tors stop by per week for expos and oth­er gath­er­ings, and what’s stop­ping you from being among them? It’s with­in walk­ing dis­tance from the Lou­vre, mak­ing it the per­fect coun­ter­cul­ture answer to the gold standard.

ADDRESS: 59 Rue de Riv­o­li (1st arr.)

MÉTRO: Châtelet (line 1, 4, 7, 11, 14)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Louvre/Rivoli/Tuileries

CHECK IT OUT

INSTAGRAM: @59rivoli

Musée des Arts Forains in Bercy

In such an unevent­ful part of Paris, this unusu­al place def­i­nite­ly livens up the mood. What to expect: a bunch of antique, 19th cen­tu­ry fair­ground para­pher­na­lia orga­nized in a very Parisian lay­out. Word of warn­ing: It’s open to the pub­lic only between Christ­mas and New Years. Any oth­er time you have to go with a tour guide. But don’t wor­ry, the rea­son lies in hav­ing the full expe­ri­ence: actor-guides real­ly add to the immer­sive escapade with script­ed pan­tomimes and even oper­at­ing some of these vin­tage rides for the vis­i­tors. It will real­ly bring out the child in you.

ADDRESS: 53 Av. des Ter­roirs de France (12th arr.)

MÉTRO: Cour Saint-Émil­ion (line 14)

NUMBER: 01 43 40 16 22

NEIGHBORHOOD: Cour St. Emil­ion / Bercy

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INSTAGRAM: @museedesartsforains

L’Oasis MEISO

It’s not a spa, it’s not a beau­ty salon. There are spaces for relax­ing and med­i­tat­ing but the real expe­ri­ence lies in their flota­tion cab­ins ded­i­cat­ed to dis­con­nec­tion and intro­spec­tion (yeah…no idea what that means either). It is all Japan­ese-inspired, and the flota­tion device is there for you to tap into a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sen­so­ry adven­ture. For one hour, you can expe­ri­ence what it would be like to float around and feel weight­less (no diet­ing required…woohoo!)

ADDRESS: 8 Rue Albert (13th arr.)

MÉTRO: Olympiades (line 14)

NUMBER: +33 6 52 79 45 61

NEIGHBORHOOD: Butte aux Cailles / Place d’Italie

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INSTAGRAM: @meiso.paris

Papy Bio Macarons

If you’re com­ing to Paris to try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, learn­ing how to make mac­arons from an ate­lier could be the way to go. Learn from a for­mer pas­try chef in his at-home bak­ery. Let’s not beat around the bush, though: mac­arons are known to be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to per­fect so if you do decide to under­go this adven­ture, you bet­ter bring your A‑game (he is known for not cut­ting slack to an-y-bo-dy.) Oh, and you leave with a bag full of mac­arons so, ‘A’ for effort either way, right?

ADDRESS: 20 Rue Jean et Marie Moinon (10th arr.)

MÉTRO: Goncourt (line 11)

NUMBER: +33 6 45 74 17 13

NEIGHBORHOOD: St. Denis / St. Mar­tin / Pois­son­nière / Paradis

HOW TO BOOK: online

INSTAGRAM: @ateliermacarons

La Quequetterie

Just embrace it, you know you want to. Whilst many peo­ple think that shap­ing a baked good into an inti­mate body part is crude, we think «Paris…you’ve done it again». They don’t call it the city of love for noth­ing. Paris can some­how turn taboo sub­jects into classy dis­cus­sions and/or baked goods. La Que­quet­terie shows just that.

ADDRESS: 28 Rue d’Aboukir (2nd arr.)

MÉTRO: Eti­enne Mar­cel (line 4)

NUMBER: 01 71 20 23 22

NEIGHBORHOOD: Opéra Gar­nier / Grands Boulevards

INSTAGRAM: @laquequetterie

LeGay Choc

Google describes this place as a «tiny bak­ery with arti­san baguettes, Bre­ton pas­try, crois­sants & sand­wich­es to go.» We can assure you that it’s a lit­tle bit more than that. Just like La Que­quet­terie, they also man­age to turn phal­lic shaped goods into, well…baked goods. Here is your chance to exper­i­ment 😉 You know what? Since it’s right next to that oth­er type bak­ery, why not just go all out and go to bed with two sep­a­rate people…if you catch our jizz…(oh, we did it again.)

ADDRESS: 33 Rue Ram­buteau (4th arr.)

MÉTRO: Ram­buteau (line 11)

NUMBER: 06 98 19 56 88

NEIGHBORHOOD: Le Marais

INSTAGRAM: @legaychoc

The Bunker under the Eiffel Tower

The obvi­ous thing to do when you vis­it the Eif­fel Tow­er is to go up it, not under it. How­ev­er, this is one thing which does­n’t get men­tioned enough in Paris Expe­ri­ence lists. Just feet away from the South pil­lar, there is a secret mil­i­tary bunker. It’s known as «secret» because it’s only open a few times dur­ing the week to small groups. How­ev­er, if you ever have the chance to vis­it, do so: The bunker is full of Eif­fel Tow­er his­to­ry, myths and legends. 

ADDRESS: Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Ana­tole (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: Ecole Mil­i­taire (line 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Eif­fel Tow­er / Trocadéro

Ballon de Paris Generali

The Gen­er­ali Paris Bal­loon is a teth­ered hot air bal­loon, mean­ing that you won’t drift away because it is attached to a cable, which is attached to the ground. Feel­ing safe, yet? Good. Now you can get some amaz­ing 360 views of Paris in what is appar­ent­ly the biggest ball in the world (La Que­quet­terie and LeGay Choc have some com­pe­ti­tion). If you’re not sat­is­fied with your land­scape pho­tos from the Eif­fel Tow­er, this giant ball may hold the answers.

ADDRESS: Parc André Cit­roën (15th arr.)

MÉTRO: Lourmel (line 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Beau­grenelle

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The Fake Buildings of Paris

Bet you’ve nev­er real­ized that some of those oh-so-beau­ti­ful Parisian facades are fake. Deeply. Before you get mad because you feel «like you’ve been wronged», there is a good rea­son behind it: Would you rather see a fake facade with paint­ed-on win­dows and rail­ings, or an ugly ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem from the under­ground or elec­tri­cal pow­er sta­tions? Now, it is true that some work­ers made the facades look more real­is­tic and ‘blend­ed’ with the clas­sic Parisian archi­tec­ture whilst others…did not. But, all in all, it’s a fun game to do if you’re bored and in Paris: Go see if you can spot some of these fake facades around the city.

One of the more famous ones is the « Spe­cial­ists » fake store­front that popped up overnight in 2006 and leads to nobody what­so­ev­er, spe­cial­ist or not. It’s in the Marais, and the archi­tec­ture con­forms to Paris city spé­ci­fi­ca­tions, so it was left alone.

ADDRESS: 1–3 rue des Ursins, Ile de la Cité (4th arr.) / 145, rue La Fayette (10th arr.) / 31 rue du Pont-Neuf (1st arr.) / 44 rue d’Aboukir (2nd arr.)

Spe­cial­ist facade: 1 Bis Rue Chapon (3rd arr.)

The Smallest Building in Paris

At a whop­ping 1.1 meter in width and 5 meters in height, this house is known as the small­est build­ing in Paris. It is so small that most peo­ple don’t even notice it when walk­ing by (it actu­al­ly just looks like a wall which is cov­er­ing an oth­er­wise use­ful pas­sage­way between two big­ger build­ings). His­to­ry tells us that this house was actu­al­ly birthed by a feud between neigh­bors. To set­tle the dis­pute on who owned that sliv­er of road, they decid­ed to have no win­ners or losers and built a com­plete­ly sep­a­rate «build­ing» cov­er­ing the area which they were fight­ing over. Even­tu­al­ly, it was final­ly rec­og­nized as a build­ing and giv­en an offi­cial address. 

ADDRESS: 39 Rue du Chateau d’Eau (10th arr.)

MÉTRO: Château d’Eau (line 4)

Chez Lulu

Ah, that erot­ic-chic vibe Paris has got­ten so good at por­tray­ing. This place won’t dis­ap­point. With a restau­rant, bar and club shar­ing real estate in tan­dem, it’s a show all in one. If we could only pick a few words to describe it, they are: dim, sen­su­al, boudoir, vel­vet, feath­ers and panache. Eat your food. Get a blow out (by this we mean there’s a hair­dress­er ready to style your hair for the night…so get your head out of the gut­ter), buy some naughty acces­sories and par­ty to dis­co music. The expe­ri­ence is sen­su­al, but nev­er vul­gar. That’s Paris for you.

ADDRESS: 66 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1st arr.)

MÉTRO: Les Halles (line 4)

NUMBER: +33 (0)1 42 36 91 15

NEIGHBORHOOD: Les Halles

HOW TO BOOK: online

INSTAGRAM: @chezlulu.paris

Studio Galande

Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show, as per usu­al. But in Paris? This rock and roll musi­cal clas­sic has tak­en over the world’s the­aters. This par­tic­u­lar stu­dio has been broad­cast­ing the show every week since 1978…That’s a lot of cult film. It is actu­al­ly the first cin­e­ma in the world to have show­cased the film with no inter­rup­tion. On Fri­day and Sat­ur­day every week, you can watch the clas­sic movie with a shad­ow cast and ani­mat­ed ses­sions (you can even throw rice and water to the vol­un­teers who recre­ate the movie right before your eyes).

ADDRESS: 42 Rue Galande (5th arr.)

MÉTRO: Cluny La Sor­bonne (line 10)

NUMBER: 01 43 54 72 71

NEIGHBORHOOD: Latin Quar­ter

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FACEBOOK: Stu­dio Galande

Deyrolle

Found­ed in 1831, this out­landish taxi­dermy shop is a Paris insti­tu­tion. Why go see reen­act­ments in nat­ur­al his­to­ry muse­ums when you can go see the same thing, in a small­er, com­fort­able set­ting, with­out the scream­ing chil­dren and pricey entry tick­ets? Go see this gem of a shop for your­self and pre­pare to be in awe.

ADDRESS: 46 Rue du Bac (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: Rue du Bac (line 12)

NUMBER: 01 42 22 30 07

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sèvres-Baby­lone

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INSTAGRAM: @deyrolle.officiel

The Dick Door of Paris

The most stun­ning Art Nou­veau build­ing in Paris also boasts a hid­den dick. The Dick Door of Paris, just in the shad­ows of La Tour Eif­fel is def­i­nite­ly worth the detour. Is that intri­cate carv­ing a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an insect? If chil­dren are present, no prob­lem: We sim­ply are try­ing to keep them archi­tec­tural­ly edu­cat­ed. This is a mil­lion times bet­ter than our world of Brazil­ian butt lifts and McDon­ald’s dol­lar menu meals, right?

ADDRESS: 29 Avenue Rapp (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: École Mil­i­taire (line 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Eif­fel Tower

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