I’ve been to Paris twice now; the first time I spent the trip ticking off all of the traditional tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Notre Dame. For my second trip (a sister holiday to celebrate my turning 30), we wanted to do things a little differently, so I scoured the internet for weird and unusual things to do in Paris.
If you’ve been before and are looking for cool things to do in the French capital, or you simply want to avoid the touristy-areas, then this list is for you!
Musée de la Magie
The Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic) is a private museum first established in 1933 and located in the 4th arrondissement. Odd, old-fashioned and full of historical magical artifacts, this is definitely one of Paris’ more unusual attractions.
Though the museum is small, it is full to the brim of antique posters, magic tricks, props and gadgets and there is a wealth of material regarding historical magicians and illusionists such as Houdini. There are some fun tricks for children – and adults – to have a go at and each ticket includes entrance to a magic show and Musée des Automates which includes lots of creepy old automatas. To top it off, the museum is housed in a 16th century basement bellow the Marquis de Sade’s house. Impressive!
Catacombs de Paris
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines. So good I’ve been twice, this popular attraction is situated 20 meters below ground and is a weird, dark labyrinth of the macabre.
Bones are piled upon bones, skulls are arranged in Romantic taste and dark tunnels turn off into unknown charters; The Catacombs of Paris are a unique part of Parisian history that you’d be a fool to miss.
A word of warning, though: Because it is such a popular attraction and only a certain number of visitors are allowed in at one time, you will be queuing for at least an hour to get in, though you can buy ‘skip the queue’ tickets. Also, it is not suitable to people who have mobility issues as there is no lift, and some small spaces.
Musée d’histoire de la médecine
The Musée d’histoire de la médecine (History of Medicine Museum) is a small museum located on the second floor of the Paris Descartes University set in the beautiful buildings of the historic Faculty of Medicine.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was incredibly impressed with the creepy historical medical apparatus on display, and though the information is in French, the creators have produced a useful booklet in English that helped to give context. From the earliest surgery instruments to some scary-looking implements used on ahem – private parts – this collection is perfect for anyone who has an interest in weird or creepy medical stuff or in the evolution of medical practice.
Have you been to any of these places? I’d love to hear of any other unusual attractions you’ve come across, Paris or beyond! If you’re looking for day-trips from Paris you can find my post on them here.