Non-mainstream Paris, a unique and different ‘City of Lights’

By Sergio González | 10:15


Philo-cafes are among the most interesting non-mainstream things to do in Paris

Have you ever been to Paris? Maybe you are one of the 16 million people who visited the capital of France in 2012, according to official data from the ‘Convention and Visitors Bureau’ of the city. Maybe you are one of the 970 million tourists who didn’t. Either way, you most probably have never heard of these other unique monuments and things to do in Paris.

Paris was the city that allowed people to be free, that everybody has the right to free thinking and equality. The revolution that shaped our modern world -and the city itself- met its Waterloo but all the philosophy and ideals from the past would never leave people’s mind.

Discussing about morals, ethics and the course of life is a Parisian’s favorite. 

But don’t start picturing a bunch of snobs getting heated over shallow matters. Philosophical cafés in Paris are meant for anybody, who speaks orderly -most of the times- and before a mic. Founded by philosopher Marc Sautet, you can join them if you speak French fluently at any cafe-philo around Place de la Bastille. They usually take place in the evenings but you can enjoy a Sunday philo-morning at Cafe des Phares, from 11am to 13 pm.

Cafe de Flore, in the Latin Quarter, offers philo sessions in English every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm. Get a little earlier and order a drink while you think of the topic you want to propose for the day. After voting, the winning matters are discussed. It’s seriously fun and a totally different experience in Paris.

If you don’t mind getting out of mainstream Paris and leaving the touristic areas for traveler aficionados, there’s an unexpected jewel in the form of a Japanese garden in the nearby Boulougne, so close to Paris it’s usually considered just another arrondissement.

Your eyes will be amazed with the tranquil yet empowering beauty of the Jardin Albert Kahn so start training your tapping fingers for the bunch of pics that will be coming your way. Don’t mind spending four euros on the ticket to get into Mr. Kahn’s Museum, a banker and philanthropist from the turn of the century that undertook the ambitious project of documenting buildings and cultures from all over the world. The result? ‘The Archives of the Planet’, an exhibit of more than 72,000 beautifully colored photographs.

If you want to enjoy a unique accommodation, chic and exclusive as only Paris can be, book your stay at Hotel Lotti, a Haussmanian dream near Le Louvre part of the exquiste NH Collection of historical hotels. Treat yourself as the special traveler you are at NH Lotti. And don’t forget asking for the ‘Gourmet’ package. Foodies of the world, Paris is your dream!


Paris is not all about Monet or Gauguin

Talking about the strange side of the city, vampires are always a safe choice. Go for all the folklore and the most juicy legend of Parisian vampires at Le Musée des Vampires. Only accessible by appointment because it’s a party exhibit, just to make it weirder and cooler. You can also book for the ‘Dinner Club’ and attend one of those private dinner/home restaurants everybody is talking about these days in Paris.

Looking for a real creepy visit? If you have the guts and the Catacombs are too freshman year for you, Le Musée des Égouts is your thing. A museum entirely dedicated to the supposedly fascinating sewer system of Paris. Your choice! Some fine yet powerful French perfume will come in handy.

Ok, let’s go back to normal mode with a little spotting game. Soon you’ll be reading about four strange things in Paris. Dare you to find them and take a selfie with them! 

Street pixel art – there are tons of pixel tile mosaics in the corners and walls of Paris; obviously most of them are of 90s video games nostalgia.

George Washington statue – everybody knows there’s a tine Lady Liberty close to Eiffel Tower, but where’s the French tribute to the American revolutionary president?

Middle Ages houses – Paris, like many other wooden towns, was burnt to the ground several time during history, erasing any trace of medieval civil architecture but these houses, proudly standing up since the 14th century.

The Fake Windows – whether out of a pranking mood or as a symbol of human mundanity, some buildings in Paris have fake painted windows where there should be real ones. Can you tell them apart?

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