Dog burial in the Asnières dog cemetery

Unusual places in the Paris Region

Far from the great classics of Paris and the surrounding area, Paris Region has some alternative sites with curious stories to tell. These unusual places take us back in time, linking up the past and the present and sparking our imaginations.
  1. Inspiration
  2. Top experiences
  3. Unusual places in Paris Region

Don’t fancy the second floor of the Eiffel Tower? For those who enjoy unusual tours, alternative experiences and strange or fascinating places, here’s our selection to take you off the beaten track. Unveil the secrets of Paris and discover the more original places of the capital city and its region. Will curiosity get the better of you?

Twists and turns in the Paris sewers

Above your head, the streets of Paris are buzzing with millions of people going about their busy lives. But ten metres beneath the surface, all you can hear is the trickle of water. The winding network of the Paris sewers, an even trickier logistical challenge than the Paris metro system, can be visited in a one-hour tour. Discover this Roman legacy improved by Aubriot during the 19th century and now playing a core role in the capital city.

Musée des égouts
Paris Sewer Museum

Exploring the underground passages of Provins

Beneath the town of Provins and its particularly well-preserved medieval fortress, awaits an alternative tour oozing with mystery. As a UNESCO World Heritage feature, the town’s underground passages have served many purposes, including that of storage space during champagne trade fairs. Join a guided tour of the site to learn its full story without getting lost.

Les Souterrains de Provins
The Underground Galleries of Provins

A mysterious walk in the Paris catacombs

Although slightly macabre, the Paris catacombs tour is first and foremost a huge leap back into the city’s history. Here, beneath the surface, the depths of Paris are the final resting place of some 6 million people. Among them are Robespierre, Nicolas Flamel and the famous man in the iron mask. Without a doubt, this original tour will give you the shivers.

Catacombes de Paris
Paris Catacombs

A royal tour of the crypt in the Basilica of Saint-Denis

When asked to name the most unusual sites of Île-de-France, the word crypts springs immediately to mind. Among these eternal abodes, the crypt of the Saint-Denis Basilica has to be the most blue-blooded of them all. Dagobert, Francis I of France, Pepin the Short, Catherine de’ Medici and many others rest here in this historic place… As do Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, despite having been pushed out of Versailles.

Facade Nord Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis 93
Saint-Denis Basilica

Visit to La Roche-Guyon Castle, from the keep to the underground passages

Visit the castle of La Roche-Guyon for a plunge into a thousand years of history in one of the best preserved cultural sites of the Paris Region. It is recognisable by its tower which still stands amid the trees at the top of the hill. Besides its impregnable keep, this site boasts many assets, including a sublime panoramic view over the river Seine, the woods and an entire troglodytic trail. You’d almost expect to come across a knight or two during your visit.

Château de La Roche-Guyon
La Roche-Guyon Castle

The Père Lachaise cemetery, an open-air museum

Does this cemetery really fit into the original sightseeing category? After all, it receives more than 3 million visitors every year! The answer is yes, because the tombs and ancient trees create a strange atmosphere of serenity. The ideal place for a walk, between forgotten graves and the eternal abodes of famous personalities.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
Père-Lachaise cemetery

Tinguely’s Cyclops: contemporary art hidden in the woods

In the arts category, this is as ambitious as it gets. In 1969, Jean Tinguely, together with his wife and friends, undertook the construction of a unique artwork, the Cyclops. It took 25 years to complete this structure set amid the forest of Milly-la-Forêt. Nowadays, the unusual sculpture is both an attraction and a venue for artistic events of a bizarreness matched only by its architecture.

_La face aux miroirs de Niki de Saint Phalle_1987-1991
Jean Tinguely's Cyclop

A delicious walk in the royal kitchen garden

If you think kitchen gardens are a merry mix of leaves, fruits and vegetables, you’re in for a surprise at the Versailles kitchen garden. Created by Baptiste de La Quintinie, this superb garden is so well laid out that, from a distance, it can barely be distinguished from the ornamental gardens designed by André Le Nôtre. Its purpose was to provide food for the royal table. But the king also enjoyed venturing into the kitchen garden just for a walk.

Potager du Roi et en arrière plan%252C la cathédrale Saint Louis de Versailles
King’s Kitchen Garden

Visit to the Paris Saint-Ouen flea market

With its 7 hectares, 14 markets and over 1,500 stalls, the flea market of Saint-Ouen is a reference among Parisians in search of vintage items and antiques. Stroll between the bric-a-brac sellers, decorators and other treasure hunters to find that rare pearl, or even do your Christmas shopping here. Then take a break at one of the great local restaurants such as La Péricole, Paul Bert or Mob Hotel Paris les Puces.

Marché Biron- Puces de Saint-Ouen
Paris Saint-Ouen flea market

Intimate tour at the Rosa Bonheur studio museum

Stepping inside an artist’s studio is like entering their mind. You’ll generally see unusual objects, piles of notebooks and a scattering of tools. In this studio, you feel as if Rosa Bonheur’s stuffed animals are watching you. And her last unfinished painting appears to be waiting for her to return. This very intimate tour reminds us of the talent of this artist, a feminist ahead of her time.

Musée de l&%2523039;atelier de Rosa Bonheur
Museum of the studio of Rosa Bonheur

The out-of-the-ordinary Fragonard museum

Housed inside the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort the Fragonard museum is one of those unusual places that seems to belong in a horror film. Between animal anatomy collections, plaster reproductions of organs, skeletons of domestic pets and studies on teratology (abnormalities in living beings), not forgetting the famous flayed figures by Fragonard, this museum visit promises to send cold shivers down your spine.

Musée Fragonard de l’école vétérinaire
Fragonard Museum

An exotic voyage at the Chinese museum of the Palace of Fontainebleau

An Asian culture museum in one of France’s history hotspots. What a curious idea. It was inspired by a whim of the Empress Eugenie. The museum and adjoining salon were used for quiet, private evenings. The site reveals the trends of its era through some 800 artworks of which not all are Chinese. Porcelain, jade pieces and Buddhist liturgical objects are on display in this unusual museum.

Allée de Maintenon
Château de Fontainebleau

Remembering the history of France at the Expiatory Chapel

Beneath the arches of this neoclassical structure of a beauty rarely seen, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette rest face to face. The Chapel stands in the heart of Paris, on a square of the 8th arrondissement, at the exact spot where the couple were buried. Commissioned by Louis XVIII, this memorial is both a remembrance site and a tomb, since the necropolis hidden beneath the monument holds the remains of the victims of the Revolution.

Chapelle Expiatoire%252C groupe sculpté%252C Marie-Antoinette%252C reine de France (1755-1793)
Expiatory Chapel

Tour to unveil the secret of Notre-Dame de Paris: the crypt of the Île de la Cité

Beneath the forecourt outside the iconic Notre-Dame de Paris, Europe’s largest crypt takes you on a journey of 2,000 years. This leap into the past is enabled partly by technologies of the future. During this alternative tour of a hidden Paris, touch screens and 3D projections share with you the history of the site, from its Roman beginnings to Haussmann’s design of the Paris sewers.

A l&%2523039;intérieur de la crypte archéologique de l&%2523039;île de la Cité sous Notre Dame de Paris
Archaeological Crypt of the île de la Cité

Asnières dog cemetery, our companions’ final home

Animals have the right to their own shrine. The cemetery of Asnières-sur-Seine isn’t inhabited only by dogs. Far from it! This collection of graves for pets with fur, feathers or scales is open to visitors, be it to pay your respects or simply to admire the tombs. The cemetery even boasts a few celebrities such as Barry, the St. Bernard who initiated the rescue of 40 people.

Graves at the dog cemetery in Asnières

You might also like

  • Copyright image: © Delphine Poggianti