What can you say about Paris that hasn’t already been said? Yes, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Of course, the Louvre and Champs-Élysées are spectacular. But what about the hidden gems concealed within the City of Love? We’re giving you the inside scoop on the under-the-radar activities, curious sights, and secret spots you won’t find in the guidebooks.
1. There are angels everywhere.
From the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris is renowned for its awe-inspiring architecture. What many people don’t know is that the cityscape brims with beautiful angels. These winged protectors don’t just adorn churches, they’re carved into the stone facades of apartments (the giant, three-story guardian of 57 rue de Turbigo is particularly impressive), perched on rooftops such as the Théâtre du Châtelet, and floating above fountains.
2. You can stay in a bordello-turned-boutique-hotel.
While the vast majority of bordellos have ceased operation, one of the most notorious has recently been reborn. Maison Souquet served as a Parisian pleasure house during the Belle Epoque. Today, it’s still described as a temple to hedonism, although for very different reasons. The intimate boutique hotel brings the mystique and sensuality of the era to life through saturated hues, plush velvet, and provocative art. And each of the 20 room are named after courtesans.
3. The most breathtaking vistas aren’t from where you’d expect.
The best vantage point is from the top of the Eiffel Tower, right? Ce n'est pas correct. Montparnasse Tower boasts unparalleled panoramas of Paris. You can gaze for 25 miles on a clear day. Come sunset, a warm glow washes over the city skyline. And in the evening, it gives visitors a front-row seat to the dazzling lights. In addition to an observation deck, there’s also a champagne bar where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly with your boo before hitting the town.
4. It has two rivers.
No doubt you’re familiar with the mythical Seine, immortalized by artists and writers for centuries. But here’s a flabbergasting fact: It’s not the only river in Paris. Another waterway, la Bièvre, runs through—or, more accurately, under—France’s capital. The reason so few people are aware of it? You can’t actually see it...at least not anymore. The river was at one time a source of drinking water, but during the Industrial Revolution it became so polluted that it was filled with concrete. Today, it flows into sewage drains underneath the city.
5. You can stroll along unexpected greenway.
The Highline is to New York City as Promenade Plantée is to Paris—except it came first (it made its debut in 1998) and strangely isn’t in every guidebook. This pedestrian-friendly greenbelt, which occupies an abandoned railway viaduct, is the world's first elevated park. Three stories above the ground, it’s lined with fragrant cherry trees, roses, and lavender. Simply put: It’s the perfect spot for a romantic midday stroll with your sweetheart.