Weird + Underexposed 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 had its doors pried open by squat­ting artists on Novem­ber 1, 1999 after the build­ing sat aban­doned for fif­teen years. In the emp­ty build­ing on one of cen­tral Paris’ main thor­ough­fares, they cre­at­ed a place for artists to live and work as they pleased. The French gov­ern­ment had some opin­ions about that and threat­ened to evict the artists that had set up camp there, but the media, polit­i­cal allies, and the sheer pow­er of freaky-cool that was hap­pen­ing helped keep this artists’ safe-haven afloat. Today it is all on the legal up-and-up with 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. No reser­va­tions need­ed, come as you are. (But if the door is closed, please don’t use a crow­bar to get in. That only works once… )

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

On the far end 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 book an expe­ri­ence in advance 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

CHECK IT OUT

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…oh la la)

ADDRESS: 8 Rue Albert (13th arr.)

MÉTRO: Olympiades (line 14)

NUMBER: +33 6 52 79 45 61

NEIGHBORHOOD: Butte aux Cailles / Place d’Italie

CHECK IT OUT

INSTAGRAM: @meiso.paris

Cabaret Silvano Jo

Sil­vano Jo per­forms one-man (one-drag queen?) shows in his atelier/living room (unless he is invit­ed by oth­er venues around the coun­try, which hap­pens more and more often these days). Accom­pa­nied by a mas­ter pianist, he takes his guests on a musi­cal jour­ney through time — over a cen­tu­ry of  French (and Parisian) music. Called « All the women in my life », his show is a maybe a bit niche, but it’s every bit as cabaret‑y in terms of cos­tumes and tal­ent as the pre­vi­ous ones we’ve men­tioned. And here, you have din­ner with the show­man him­self! And, there’s no sit­ting in the nose­bleed sec­tion! VIP, indeed.

ADDRESS: Rue Legou­vé (10th arr.)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Canal St. Martin

METRO: Jacques Bors­en­gent (line 5)

HOW TO BOOK: through Airbnb

INSTAGRAM: @silvanojocabaret

Papy Bio Macarons

If you’re com­ing to Paris to try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, learn­ing how to make mac­arons from an authen­tic [and eccen­tric’ local ate­lier could be the way to go. The ‘Papy’ [that’s gramps in French, is a local fig­ure — with neck tats of fat stacks of mac’s [sor­ry it was too fun to write that] Papy gives you a roll-up-your-sleeves type of expe­ri­ence in his at-home bakery.

You can also roll up to the work­shop and find that 1. it may be open and you can buy some of the over­flow mac­arons from his celebri­ty-cater­ing oper­a­tion, 2. that Papy is chill­ing watch­ing the soaps in his chair and there are no sweets left, or 3. It’s closed just because [like­ly he ran out…] 

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. NOTE: Nor­mal­ly a few guides are grant­ed access in any giv­en year (with your Edi­tor hav­ing been one of them but not cur­rent­ly) and we can­not locate any tours run­ning so the clos­est you’ll get is to go on a hunt on the Champs de Mars to see if you can find the secret door­way. Hint it is paint­ed to blend in with the sur­round­ing foliage…)

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

CHECK IT OUT

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 Buildings in Paris

In our pock­et here in Paris are hid­den a few tiny build­ings with biz­zarro back­sto­ries. There’s the one in the 10th Arrondisse­ment, that hous­es a shop that sells jeans  — which makes sense, they can’t exact­ly sell mat­tress­es in a build­ing that is 1.1 meter in width (that’s 3 feet 7 inch­es) and 5 meters in height… if you are near the Canal St. Mar­tin neigh­bor­hood pay them a vis­it as they are wedged in just across the street from the Mairie (mini City Hall) of the 10th arrondisse­ment.  This build­ing is 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. The next small­est, (pic­tured) is much more pic­turesque and a bit of a Paris cliché of being chic and slender…This one can be seen from the riv­er Seine if you are cruis­ing, just across from the spot where the Lou­vre and Tui­leries Gar­dens meet…

ADDRESS: 39 Rue du Chateau d’Eau  in the 10th arrondisse­ment or 13 Quai Voltaire in the 7th arrondisse­ment

Chez Lulu

Note: cur­rent­ly avail­able only as a ful­ly pri­vate experience. 

Ah, that erot­ic-chic vibe Paris has got­ten so good at broad­cast­ing… Chez Lulu does not 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

CHECK IT OUT

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. They know you aren’t buy­ing a stuffed croc­o­dile so no need to be shy. 

ADDRESS: 46 Rue du Bac (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: Rue du Bac (line 12)

NUMBER: 01 42 22 30 07

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sèvres-Baby­lone

CHECK IT OUT

INSTAGRAM: @deyrolle.officiel

A Most Suggestive Door

Hid­den among the scene of nature and Art Nou­veau beau­ty is a hid­den hunk of, eh, ~fau­na~.

Look close­ly on your prom­e­nade to La Tour Eif­fel, as just in her shad­ows is a piece of archi­tec­ture 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. Let’s say it’s some kind of curi­ous scarab and then keep mov­ing along.

In a world desen­si­tized to sub­tle cor­po­re­al sug­ges­tions by Kar­dashi­anesque but­t­loads of sur­gi­cal excess and the inescapable avail­abil­i­ty McDon­ald’s dol­lar menu meals in any city you may alight, the hid­den plea­sures of a phal­lus, art­ful­ly and venge­ful­ly (so the leg­end goes) carved into a door by an archi­tect who had had it down to there with his client…is sim­ply one of life’s lit­tle allot­ments of fun and surprise.

Take it all in from across the street to get the full mon­ty as the build­ing from rooftop to ween is one of the loveli­est of all of Paris, which is a BFD in the most beau­ti­ful archi­tec­tur­al city in the world.

But don’t let poten­tial feel­ings of infe­ri­or­i­ty stop you from pay­ing the dick door a vis­it — how many fel­las can say that theirs near­ly hits the ground? 

ADDRESS: 29 Avenue Rapp (7th arr.)

MÉTRO: École Mil­i­taire (line 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Eif­fel Tower

La Bellevilloise

This place actu­al­ly dates back to 1877 as the first Parisian coop­er­a­tive. The ini­tial project con­sist­ed of gath­er­ing work­ing-class types (not what for­eign­ers think of when they think,  ‘Parisian’ nowa­days, thanks to Laduree and glit­tery stuff, but France is actu­al­ly pret­ty hard­core about social democ­ra­cy so…) and pre­sent­ing them with polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion, booty-shak­ing, and cul­ture, all in one place. Since then, La Bellevil­loise has evolved into some one-stop shop­ping, in terms of going-out – cul­tur­al and social events, pre­sen­ta­tions, media cov­er­age, con­certs, shows, exhi­bi­tions, screen­ings, fash­ion shows, a café and last but cer­tain­ly not least, a club. The entire build­ing is divid­ed into sec­tions which include a loft area, the forum (aka the club), the olive hall (pos­si­bly the area where you can expe­ri­ence more of that live music/band sce­nario) and the ter­race to just…chill. Either way, you’ll def­i­nite­ly find a place where you fit in.

ADDRESS: 19–21 Rue Boy­er (20th arr.)

MÉTRO: Gam­bet­ta (line 3)

NUMBER: 01 46 36 07 07

NEIGHBORHOOD: Belleville

CHECK IT OUT

INSTAGRAM: @labellevilloise

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