An alternative way to discover Paris

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We cannot say it often enough, Paris is the most fun and beautiful city in the world. You will never get bored of it. There is also another side to this city that is often overlooked: its vibrant alternative scene. From street art, vintage shops, vegetarian cafes, to amazing cultural events, Paris has much to offer for the creative traveler. In this article we have made an overview of the sights in Paris that you must see if you want to visit this city in an alternative way.

Artistic Neighborhoods

Paris is home to many neighborhoods that are perfect for art lovers. For example Montmartre which is known for its bohemian vibe and its role in the development of modern art. Here you have the chance to walk the streets where great artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh lived and worked.

The Marais is also an amazing place, with its charming narrow streets and historic architecture. This neighborhood is home to many art galleries and boutique shops, where you can find unique pieces from local artists. 

Saint-Germain-des-Prés is located on the Left Bank of the Seine and has a long history of artistic and intellectual activity. It was a hub for writers and philosophers in the 20th century, and today it's home to many galleries and bookstores.

Another vibrant neighborhood to explore is Belleville, which is known for its street art and alternative scene. Wander through the streets in this neighborhood and you are sure to discover many colorful murals and graffiti art.

The last neighborhood we recommend is called Canal Saint-Martin. It is located along the canal and is known for its trendy cafes, bars, and boutiques. It's also home to many artists and designers who are drawn to its creative energy.

Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants

Paris is a city that's known for its French meaty cuisine, but it's also a great city for vegans and vegetarians. One of the best places to eat in Paris is Le Potager du Marais, a vegetarian restaurant that offers a range of delicious dishes made from fresh, organic ingredients.

Le Grenier de Notre-Dame has been serving healthful, flavorful dishes since 1978. It's located in the Latin Quarter and has received excellent reviews for its cozy atmosphere, friendly service, and flavorful food.

42 Degrés is a raw vegan restaurant in the 9th arrondissement serves organic, plant-based dishes that are prepared without cooking. It has received high ratings for its innovative cuisine, beautiful presentation, and friendly service.

If you're looking for something sweet, you can try VG Pâtisserie, a vegan bakery that specializes in French pastries.

An eco friendly place to stay

When looking for a place to stay you might want to think about the impact traveling has on our planet. There are many eco-friendly accommodations in Paris that offer sustainable and environmentally conscious experiences. Here are some examples:

Yooma Urban Lodge: This hotel is located in the trendy 15th arrondissement of Paris and is designed with sustainability in mind. They use recycled materials in their furniture, and their rooms feature energy-saving technology and eco-friendly amenities.

Les Piaules: This hostel is located in the vibrant neighborhood of Belleville and is committed to sustainability. It even has a bar which is very popular, not only for hotel guests.

Alternative things to do

There are many alternative things you can do in a city beyond the typical tourist attractions. Here are some ideas:

Promenade Plantée: This is a green oasis in the heart of Paris. Do you know the Highline in New York? It was inspired by this old Parisian railroad line that was transformed into a park. You walk between buildings as much as 10 meters (32 ft) above street level over old railroad arches, past rose gardens and ponds, sometimes right through buildings, through the air over busy intersections. And you get an oasis in the Parisian frenzy in addition to beautiful views. Not a traffic light in sight, either.

Marché Raspail: This market is located in the 6th arrondissement and is known for its organic and locally sourced products. It's open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and offers a range of fresh produce, dairy products, breads, and other artisanal foods.

La Felicità Foodhall: This 4,500 m2 (48437.6 sq ft) food hall has been described as the largest restaurant in Europe. It is located behind Library Mitterrand in Arrondissement 13. At La Felicità, an old train depot houses several train cars and food trucks where you can order food. From pizzas or ceviche to Italian ice cream and fresh Sushi; all made from fresh produce, very affordable and in an inspiring and appealing environment.

Jardin du Luxembourg: According to many, it is perhaps the most beautiful park in Paris and therefore it should definitely not be missed in this list. Plant lovers are also in for a treat, there are many colorful flowers to be discovered. In addition, it is a real recreational garden: many people come there to play tennis, ping-pong, chess and, of course, real French-style boules.

Take a street art tour: Paris has a thriving street art scene, and many local companies offer guided tours of the city's most interesting and colorful murals.

Go on a bike tour: Paris has many bike rental companies that offer guided tours of the city, allowing you to see Paris from a different perspective. Also it is great for the environment and you get some exercise.

Visit the Paris sewers: While it may not sound glamorous, a visit to the Paris sewers can be a fascinating and educational experience, giving you a unique perspective on the city's infrastructure.

Visit more Parisian parks: Paris has several beautiful parks and gardens, including the Jardin des Plantes and the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which are perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.

Attend underground parties: Paris has a thriving underground party scene, with many secret and unlicensed venues hosting illegal raves, techno parties, and other experimental events.

Great vintage and thrift stores

Paris has many great vintage and thrift stores, here are some of the most popular:

Looking for an unusual dress and do you like a retro vibe? Then Mamz'Elle Swing is the vintage store to go to. You do pay a little more for the dresses, but if you're going to a party or want to spend several summers with them, it's well worth it. Mamz'Elle Swing is a small store with a fantastic pink window display. Specialty of this vintage shop are really the 20s and 30s cocktail dresses.

On the same street as Mamz'Elle Swing, you'll find the larger vintage store The King of Frip Vintage on a corner. Because this second-hand shop is located on a corner, you quickly bump into it and it is certainly big. Here you can buy vintage denim jackets, bags, dresses with prints and all kinds of other funny vintage items. Definitely worth stopping in.

Episode has a large selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They have several locations in Paris and are known for their reasonable prices.

Guerrisol is a chain of second-hand stores and has multiple locations in Paris and offers a variety of clothing, shoes, and accessories at very low prices.

All the clothes at Kilo shop hang neatly by type or color on the racks, so it almost feels like a "regular" store. Cool items are definitely to be found here, from leather jackets to floral dresses. You can stay here for hours. Despite the name, items here are also sold at fixed prices, but generally you pay per kilo. Each piece of clothing is labeled with a color (see for example the white shoes above, one has a green button and the other a red one) and with each color comes a certain kilogram price.

These are just a few examples of the many vintage and thrift stores in Paris. Each store has its own unique style and selection, so it's worth exploring several to find the ones that best fit your personal style.

Spending time on the Seine

The Seine River is one of the most iconic and beloved features of Paris, and it has been a central part of the city's history and culture for centuries. Many people enjoy spending time on the Seine.

The Seine has many parks and public spaces along its banks, which are perfect for a picnic. People gather with friends, bring their own food and drink, and enjoy a relaxed afternoon by the water.

Throughout the year, there are many festivals and events that take place along the Seine, including music festivals, street art exhibitions, and outdoor markets.

Where to go out

Le Comptoir Général: This eclectic venue is a mix between a bar, a cultural center, and a museum. It's located in the 10th arrondissement and often hosts a wide array of live music events, art exhibits, and film screenings.

Le Trianon: This historic concert venue located in the 18th arrondissement hosts a variety of musical acts, from indie bands to electronic DJs.

La Bellevilloise: This cultural center in the 20th arrondissement is housed in a former workers' cooperative and features a restaurant, bar, and concert hall.

Best time to visit Paris

The average weather in Paris is temperate year-round. Only during July and August the average temperatures run high and are the worst for crowds. Parisians desert their city, leaving it to the tourists.

The best time to visit Paris would be in spring (April-June) or fall (September-November), when things are easier to come by. It can be a bit busy during this period so it is recommended to book a place to stay in advance. Click here for more climate details.

This article was last updated on April 05, 2023.