Beat the crowds and enjoy the sunshine with 17 beautiful off-the-beaten-path spots in Paris.
Paris isn’t always blessed with the most beautiful weather, which means that when the sun does emerge, people take to the cafés, parks, and gardens in droves. For folks who want to soak up some rays without rubbing elbows with too many fellow travelers, this can be an unfortunate reality.
However, there are a few off-the-beaten-path spots where you can enjoy the sun without the crowds. Here are just a few of our favorites.
This English-style park was added to Paris in the 19th century. Stretching over 37 acres, the park’s location in the southern 14th arrondissement means that it’s usually favored exclusively by locals. Wander along the shores of its lake, enjoy a picnic on the lawn, and keep an eye out for the local Emperor geese which make Montsouris their home.
Shakespeare Garden Theater
Despite the famed rivalry between France and England, the French hold English playwright William Shakespeare in high esteem. The proof? Within the Bois de Boulogne sits a theater devoted to Shakespeare, host to a variety of theatrical performances all spring and summer long. While not all of the plays performed in the garden theater are Shakespearian—in fact, the father of the five-act French comedy, Molière, makes frequent appearances—Anglophones will enjoy Shakespeare plays performed in English in this outdoor paradise.
INSIDER TIPThe Shakespeare Garden Theater frequently hosts plays specifically designed for children and school groups.
Parc de l’Ile Saint-Germain
Paris is known for the two islands in the center of the city–Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cité–but just outside the city limits in Issy-les-Moulineaux sits the Ile Saint-Germain, home to an expansive park. While this park is little known to Parisians, it’s actually not at all hard to get to, and it offers quite an expanse of green space perfect for picnicking and sunbathing.
Cimetière Père Lachaise
It might seem strange to spend a sunny afternoon in a cemetery, but Père Lachaise is home to some of the most emblematic former residents of Paris, and the ornate tombs, built beneath the shade of the trees, make it a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. Here, you can visit Gertrude Stein, Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Molière, among others—of course, the cemetery’s most famous resident (at least for Anglophones) is former Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
INSIDER TIPNavigating the 110-acre cemetery is no easy feat, so be sure to pick up a map at the office at the cemetery’s entrance before setting off on your own.
Parc Georges Brassens
This relatively small park in the 15th arrondissement is actually home to a host of activities: kids will surely enjoy the playground and marionette theater, while adults might like to wander past the apiary and small vineyard. On weekends, the former meat market is home to an antique book fair.
Parc de la Villette
At 135 acres, Parc de la Villette is the largest in Paris. It boasts not only 33 green spaces (including several themed gardens like the bamboo garden, the garden of mirrors, and the dragon’s garden) but also several art spaces including the Geode cinema, the Zenith concert hall, and the Paris Philharmonic. In addition to a wide variety of temporary music and art events, la Villette is home to the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, an incredible science museum that will please kids and adults alike.
This museum of work by famed sculptor Auguste Rodin and his collaborator and lover Camille Claudel exists both inside the early 20th century Hôtel Biron, where Rodin lived, as well as in the gardens. The sculpture garden of the museum is the perfect place to take in art and sunshine simultaneously.
Bagatelle Rose Garden
In the heart of the Bois de Boulogne sits the Bagatelle Rose Garden, home to 10,000 rose bushes and over 1,000 different rose species. Created by Marie-Antoinette, the garden sits within the park itself, surrounded by bridges, rocks, caves, and waterfalls.
INSIDER TIPWhile you can certainly enjoy a simple wander through the garden, the park regularly hosts music concerts, so check online and plan ahead.
Jardin du Ranelagh
This small park in Paris’ 16th arrondissement may not seem like much as compared to others in the city, but it’s the neighbor of one of the best museums: the Musée Marmottan. Enjoy exploring this museum’s extensive collections of Monet’s works, then soak up the sunshine and discuss your favorites in this small garden usually frequented only by locals.
Claude Monet’s former home is just a quick train ride from Paris, and the Japanese gardens that inspired so much of his later work are still intact and open for exploration in warmer months. From the Japanese bridge to the green boat on the pond, all of your favorite symbols from Monet’s work can be enjoyed here.
INSIDER TIPOnce you’ve visited Monet’s house and garden, don’t miss a wander through the quaint village of Giverny. Monet himself is buried in the small churchyard.
Le Perchoir is a local haunt that allows you to take advantage of a rooftop bar overlooking the city. While it’s already popular amongst locals, it’s not quite on the tourist radar yet. Find a seat amongst comfy, colorful pillows, and enjoy an innovative cocktail with this unique view of Paris from above.
The typical guinguette of the Camargue in Southern France has been transported to Paris with Rosa Bonheur, a café and wine bar located within the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. This 19th arrondissement park is a local favorite, with one of the highest hills in the city (affording great views over Montmartre). The guinguette itself is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a glass of rosé in typical apéro ambiance.
Paris is home to several street markets, including rue Montorgueil, rue Cler, and rue Mouffetard, but rue Daguerre is a bit more off-the-beaten-track than most. This market street in the 14th arrondissement, not far from the Catacombs, is the perfect spot to pick up local cheeses, fruits, and charcuterie before pulling up a chair at a café and enjoying the most popular of Parisian summer sports: people-watching.
Vanves Flea Market
Paris is home to several flea markets, including the very famous (and very crowded) Puces Saint-Ouen. At the opposite end of the city, however, this slightly smaller flea market may house a treasure or two. Open every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., this market is the ideal place to shop for antiques and trinkets without feeling like a sardine.
Canal de l’Ourcq
The Canal Saint Martin in Paris’ 10th arrondissement has quickly evolved from a locals-only haunt to one of the most popular nice-weather-hangouts, which unfortunately means that it can be tough to snag a seat. Not so at the neighboring Canal de l’Ourcq, which boasts wider banks, all the better for playing pétanque and sipping on a brew from Paname Brewery, located on the canal itself.
The Galeries Lafayette is a department store, which might make it seem like a strange fair weather spot, but one secret of this grand magasin is its rooftop view over the Garnier Opera house and central Paris. All you need to do is ride the escalator to the very top floor to take advantage of this free panoramic view.
The former railroad line taking well-to-do Parisians to the Vincennes woods has been closed to trains and open to pedestrians: bit by bit, the city is turning these former tracks into parks, one of the most beautiful of which is located near Bastille. Here, the train ran above the city, so a wander through this stretch of the Coulée Verte not only allows you to enjoy this green space but also take advantage of views over the city itself.