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dahlie Jun 18th, 2008 08:46 AM

"Secret" Tours or Places to see in Paris?
I know nothing is a secret in traveling but we are hoping to either take a tour that not many people have heard of or visit an unusual place. For example, in Rome, we did the Scavi tour (excavations under St. Peters, which was a treat because we got to tell people about doing something somewhat novel. Can you think of anything really fascinating, maybe not well known or ??? I know it's an odd request but we like finding the "stuff that isn't normally found". Even though the catacombs are *very* popular, I really enjoyed those, too, and will be going back.

Any suggestions? We'll be there for 5 days in October.


Robespierre Jun 18th, 2008 09:23 AM

Unusual place: the sewer tour

Little known: "Ghost" stations of the Métro (knowledge of French helpful)

shellio Jun 18th, 2008 09:38 AM

Here are some walks you can do on your own:

Maybe a photography tour?

Michel_Paris Jun 18th, 2008 10:09 AM

I posted a thread couple of weeks ago with free but different things to do...

For the last 10 years, a group of hard-core dancers have gathered on the Seine every evening from mid-May through September. They do the tango, salsa and rock-swing. Free lessons start at 7:30 p.m. (a hat for tips is passed), followed by dancing until midnight. It all happens at Square Tino Rossi at 9, quai St.-Bernard in front of the University of Paris at Jussieu just a few steps from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (“Paris Danses en Seine,”

(I've seen them while taking Seine River cruise and wondered who they were)

The iconic restaurant Taillevent has one of the best wine cellars in the world, and every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. it offers a free tasting. Visit the and click on “Les Caves Taillevent,” then “Nos Prestations” and then “Les Dégustations” for information (in French only) on the schedule and theme of the tasting.

Christina Jun 18th, 2008 10:12 AM

It depends who you don't want things known to -- no tour can stay in business if no one knows about it or takes it. If you know French, I always like taking one of the many walking tours listed in Pariscope around the city, and some of them are fairly "unknown" locations in Paris -- at least to the average tourist. People on the tour will be mostly French tourists, although always a few others. Those are listed under "conferences" in any weekly entertainment guide.

Other than that, I read about a new organization called Paris Greeter where locals give tours of their neighborhoods for free to tourists. YOu can sign up and see if one is available

dahlie Jun 18th, 2008 10:13 AM

Wonderful ideas! Thank you. The ghost stations look really interesting...

Margaretlb Jun 18th, 2008 10:26 AM

If you are there during the first Friday of the month, the Holy Crown of Thorns is venerated at Notre Dame at 3:00. There is a procession and special prayers and songs (in French). The ceremony lasts about 2 hours. If you want a seat, arrive early.

Iregeo Jun 18th, 2008 10:29 AM

Christina, that is so cool! I've never heard of that. Have you or anyone you know ever been on such a tour?

tower Jun 18th, 2008 11:30 AM


This may not qualify as a "secret place", but it represents a series of notorious historical events...

Memorial des Martyrs et de la Déportation

Memorial to the Martyrs of the Nazi Deportation
World War II Memorial
Square de l'Ile de la Cité Paris, 75004 Ils-de-France France

Phone: +33 1 46 33 87 56
Location: Central
Hours of Operation: 10am-12pm, 2pm-7pm, daily, (Apr-Sept); 10am-12pm, 2pm-5pm, daily, (Oct-Mar)


Approximately 200,000 French men, women, and children were deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. This simple, yet modern memorial recognizes this tragic event with a roll-call of the names of victims, and the camps to which they were deported. Conspicuous to this site are a number of small tombs made out of earth from the camps, and concluding the memorial in dramatic fashion is a tomb dedicated to the Unknown Deportee.

This memorial is right next to Notre Dame, but out of site, barely visible to the tourist throngs nearby. Go down the narrow stairs and you'll find the barred-window looking out over the Seine, a symbolic view of a prisoner. The walls are inscribed with poetry, words of the deportees, and tiny lights representing every one of the lives lost. A very touching memorial.

History Buffs:
The architect had the concrete made from pebbles collected from every region in France and then crushed to make the mortar.

Also. some further chilling statistics here:

stu t.

(To further guide you, there is a small footbridge connecting the two islands..the stairs down to memorial are located here)

As an added related note, in The Marais,just off Rue de Rosiers, on Rue du Marche Blanc, behind Marianne's restaurant, there is a small former school building...a plaque on it's outside wall commemorates the tragic deportation to the death camps of 165 of the Jewish school children. On April 26,1987, we accidentally bumped into the one day a year when there is a ceremony where each child's name is slowly read, followed by a chanting of the Kaddish Prayer for the renewal of faith...a most sobering tear-filled event.

PalenQ Jun 18th, 2008 11:35 AM

After hours tour of the metro system in a special metro train, including stops at disused stations for cheese and wine tasting?

Robespierre Jun 18th, 2008 12:03 PM

Yes, that would be the ghost stations tour mentioned twice above. Welcome to the party.

kerouac Jun 18th, 2008 12:21 PM

The pet cemetery in Asnières is perhaps of interest. The real Rintintin is buried there.

LJ Jun 18th, 2008 12:37 PM

You do have to be interested in forensics or policing, (but with the polularity of CSI, who isn't?)but the Police Museum (or Musee de Prefecture Polce) is very interesting for those who are.We do and found is fascinating.

Here you go: decide for yourself


palette Jun 18th, 2008 12:51 PM

Did the Paris Greeter program in April; had a wonderful woman who showed us around her work place and then the back streets of Montmartre (her 'hood). We already had dinner plans and invited her to join our small group which made for a lively evening. The "greeters" are all vontunteers so one needs to be flexible with time and interests in order for the organization to be able to match you with someone.

cw Jun 18th, 2008 12:52 PM

The Picpus Cemetery, site of two mass graves of victims of the guillotine during the Reign of Terror and also where General Lafayette and his wife are buried. Some of her family members are buried in the mass grave.

It is the largest private cemetery in Paris and is open limited hours. Take the metro to Nation. The cemetery is a short walk from there at 35 Rue de Picpus.

dahlie Jun 18th, 2008 01:06 PM

Thank you all! This is exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to be googling all afternoon...and that's bad since I'm at work! :)

dahlie Jun 18th, 2008 01:10 PM

It doesn't look like the Ghost Station tour is still going on. What a bummer...I was going to drag my sister to it. Does anyone else know of another Ghost Station tour?

Here's what the site says: Since the incident happened at the circuit RATP, 16 September 2007, trains carrying passengers are no longer allowed to pass through the connection.

mlaffitte Jun 18th, 2008 01:40 PM

If you are an early riser, you could visit the Rungis wholesale food market south of the city, which supplies all those wonderful Paris restaurants. There are organized tours starting at 5:30 a.m.; you have to reserve in advance. See their website, for details.

A little-known area of Paris that I like is the Butte de Chaumont up in the 19th arrondissement. There are sometimes neighborhood tours (in French) advertised in Pariscope. It's a working-class neighborhood and despite the usual ugly high-rises there are pockets of wonderful architecture, including several pedestrian-only blocks called 'villas,' with rows of little houses along them ... taller buildings were forbidden because of old quarries underground.

One other suggestion is to take either the RER A or the SNCF commuter train from Gare du Nord to the town of Conflans, at the confluence of the Seine & Oise rivers. There is a community of people living on barges, as well as a floating church, community center, and fire/rescue station, all on barges. It is not at all 'prettied up' for tourists -- in fact there are hardly any tourists. The best day to go is Sunday when there's an outdoor market on the waterfront until about 1 pm. Conflans is 25-30 minutes by train from the center of Paris.

Iregeo Jun 19th, 2008 10:40 AM

palette, did you request to see a particular area, or leave it to the discretion of your guide? Thanks.

travelhorizons Jun 19th, 2008 12:32 PM

You can get a tour called "Backstage at the Eiffel Tower." They take you *underground* and show you the mechanism that Gustave Eiffel invented to operate the elevators. You also get to beat the lines this way!

But I believe this tour needs to be booked in advance.

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