The Alternative Paris Travel Guide
16 February 2015
Five Unique Attractions and Events in the City of Light
2,138. That's the number of attractions and sights to see in Paris (at least according to TripAdvisor). With that many points of interest, you're not likely to run out of things to do on your holiday to the French capital. However, with the wealth of culture comes an overwhelming array of decisions. Which galleries do you visit? What famous shopping district do you go to enjoy a spot of retail therapy? If you're looking to make your visit unique and perhaps avoid some of the crowds along the way, we've compiled a guide to the alternative side of this magnificent city.
Why everybody else is in town: The Paris Marathon
Where to go instead: Le Mans 24 Hours Skate
While the Paris Marathon is undoubtedly a world-class event, it's already sold out for the 2015 edition. If you still want to try your hand at a unique endurance event, then the Le Mans 24 Hours Skate might just be for you. The popular annual event involves teams of roller skaters competing to complete the most laps on the iconic Bugatti Circuit at Circuit de la Sarthe. If the 24 hours part of the event is a bit too daunting, then you can take part in the pre-race procession (it lasts approximately one hour), then settle down in the stands to watch some highly entertaining racing.
Art Galleries and Museums
Why everybody else is in town: Musee D'Orsay
Where to go instead: La Maison Rouge
With most Parisian galleries housed in magnificent palaces, or even in a magnificent old train station, as is the case with the Musee D'Orsay, there is a certain level of decorum that goes with being a popular art gallery in the French capital. The Maison Rouge throws this stereotype straight out the window with its old factory building location. The gallery also has a prominent focus on showcasing alternative and independent artist with ever-changing displays of work and private collections.
Why everybody else is in town: Rue du Faubourg
Where to go instead: Canal Saint Martin
With high-end labels like Lanvin, Hermes and Pierre Cardin having their flagship stores on the famous Rue de Faubourg, the street has become one of the world's most well-known designer streets. However, there are a number of other excellent shopping destinations in the city, especially if you're looking for independent boutiques. The Canal Saint Martin is a prime example. This picturesque corner of Paris has shops like La Centre Commercial, a space dedicated to up and coming French brands, as well as Pop Market, a treasure trove for unique gifts and home decorations.
Why everyday else is in town: The Eiffel Tower
Where to Go Instead: The Tour Montparnasse
What's the one thing missing from the views atop the Eiffel Tower? You guessed it, the Eiffel Tower. Plus, the queues at the tower can mean you'll be standing in line for hours. The Tour Montparnasse stands at 211m tall and gives excellent views all across the city from its 56th floor viewing platform. Also found within the 15th Arrondissement is the excellent and often overlooked Musée Bourdelle, dedicated to the masterful sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. The museum contains 500 pieces of his work along with his own personal collection of art from the likes of Auguste Rodin and Eugene Delacroix.
Parks and Gardens
Why everyday else is in town: Jardin du Luxembourg
Where to Go Instead: Parc de la Villette
There's no arguing that the Jardin du Luxembourg isn't a wonder to behold, with its manicured lawns, grand palace and ornate fountains. However, everyone in Paris knows this, so the beauty can be somewhat diluted by the crowds. Paris is home to numerous parks and gardens, but one of the most interesting to visit is the Parc de la Villette. Despite being the 3rd biggest park in Paris, behind only the sprawling Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne, the park is still somewhat of a hidden gem, even with its huge concentration of cultural venues, like the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie and Le Zénith concert hall. The most unusual sights in the park is the collection of follies. These bright red, climbable sculptures encapsulate the park's unique atmosphere.
From roller-skating relay races to one of Europe's most unusual public parks, there's definite proof that Paris isn't just traditional galleries and ornate palaces. If you want to enjoy an alternative city break in Paris (or just try something out of the ordinary while here), then Amarante Beau Manoir can provide a luxurious base to rest your head of an evening. Plus, with a central 8th arrondissement location, close to the Madeleine Metro station, you can easily explore all that this diverse city has to offer.
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