Even if I perfectly understand that when you come to Paris, you wish to visit the “must-see” attractions, I would like in this article to propose five walks a bit away from classic city tours. If you stay several days in Paris, it should be easy to find enough time for to the Tour Eiffel or Notre Dame. So just pick one of the following for something completely different.
With all due respect to Montmartre fans, La Butte-aux-Cailles (located in the 13th arrondissement) is really the highest point of the French capital (63m). This working-class district is bursting with funny little surprises and is very popular due to its cafés and restaurants in particular. One such establishment is the cooperative restaurant ‘Le temps des cerises’. It’s easy enough to find; just head for Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles. On the same street, there’s a shop called ‘Les Abeilles’ where you can buy honey produced by Parisian beehives. Then as you turn into another cobbled street, you might just chance upon one of the works of the famous street art artist Miss Tic or other very interesting pieces. Place Paul-Verlaine is an important stop when visiting La Butte-aux-Cailles, it hosts one of Paris’s oldest swimming pools. Inaugurated in 1924, the swimming pool is now a listed building. The square also boasts an intriguing fountain, which is actually an artesian well dating from 1866. It boasts very pure water which I recommend…
Paris is also home to quite remarkable catacombs, with different origins. They served as an underground ossuary for more than 6 million skeletons. At the beginning of the 19th century, the authorities decided to have them taken away from the capital’s dirty cemeteries and stored together underground in what used to be quarries, accessible from the Place Denfert-Rochereau. This was a gigantic mission, for transporting all those skeletons at night and storing them in vast, endless tunnels was no mean feat. Today, they are all perfectly ordered, without anything to indicate their social status or date of death. Do go and take a look at the millions of shinbones, arms and skulls, it’s a unique experience. At first, it is simply staggering and following a bit of metaphysical questioning about our own fates, surprise at seeing all these piles of bones takes over, after which you acclimatise and finally lose interest… as life quickly get the upper hand again!