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The Eiffel Tower’s cool, I get it. The Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Sacre Coeur—they’re famous hot spots for a reason. If you’re like me, you pay your tourist dues and visit these beautiful places, but you want something else to do other than to look at buildings. Here’s where I can help ... Below are five underrated places and experiences you should check out when you find yourself in the 'City of Love.'
1. Cent Quatre
5 Rue Curial, 75019 Paris, France
Cent Quatre is a multi-faceted building that invites people of all ages to come and create in any capacity they feel. Even in a quick visit, you'll see people dancing in every open space, acting and practicing speeches and plays, or you can get involved with the curated, touring exhibitions that are often hosted there. The beauty of it all? It's free entry. There are cafes inside to work, chat or chill. Whatever you want to do, it's a break from the buzz of tourism in the city center and an invitation to tap into your creative side. Hands down, one of the coolest places I've been. I'm a sucker for art accessibility, and I love that Cent Quatre encourages everyone to get involved. Get inspired!
Nestled between the 10th, 11th, 19th and 20th arrondissements
If you find yourself wanting a taste of authentic Paris, then Belleville is the place for you. It's a bite-sized, active piece of Paris that provides entertainment of all kinds, from parks to galleries, great (affordable) restaurants, bars and clubs. Building walls are covered in beautiful street art, and there's a cozy cafe nearly anywhere you find yourself. My favorite places to go out at night and meet people? Aux Folies or Generator.
3. Musée d'Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007
Why it seems as if this museum is little known/less popular than the Louvre, I'll die trying to figure out. Home to a generous collection of impressionist paintings, the Orsay includes a couple Van Gosh self-portraits, a number of Gaugin, Monet's "Water Lilly Pond, Green Harmony" and many others. The entry is €14 and worth every penny. The museum's architecture is open and maze-like, inviting you to get lost in the many rooms and art historical periods to discover something you weren't expecting.
4. Église Saint-Eustache
2 Impasse Saint-Eustache, 75001
I'd call Saint-Eustache Church the forgotten and highly underrated sister of Notre Dame. Located right next to the Châtelet metro stop, the church is easy to access in a lively neighborhood of restaurants, shops and cafes. With similar Gothic architecture and much fewer people, the church is easy to get into and provides a peaceful, quiet space to take in all of the beauty inside. The side chapels offer various art pieces, from sculptures to paintings and even modern art installations of a digital, living heart and a Keith Haring piece.
5. Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 Rue de Fourcy, 75004
I've got to throw this one in because my love of photography is forcing me to. The museum is a three-level building that regularly rotates contemporary photography work for a low price. The ticket costs €10 but can quickly be discounted for a number of reasons (check out the website, the sign at the front desk or ask!). The museum also offer screenings at particular times in the basement.
When I visited, the entire exhibition was dedicated to JR and his many projects. I was impressed by the production and curation. The images weren't just flat against the walls but interactive and engaging. Up next, the museum will feature photographers Ren Hang and Coco Capitán. Whether you're a full-blown photographer or an admirer of images, there's much to see and learn at Maison Européenne de la Photographie.