Currently staying in the eastern side of Paris, and having a bit too much time in my hands, I like to explore what’s around me when the weather’s great for a day out.
Always having been someone who avoids touristy and over-commercialised places, I itch to explore areas where I don’t walk into some tourists’ photo-taking sessions, nor do I need to wait for ages for other tourists to pose weird poses just to get a shot of them “doing something odd” with the Eiffel Tower
As a result, I have found these 5 cool places worth checking out!
#1 Parc de La Villette
This is in fact a large area filled with something for everyone! Here lies a huge old wholesale meat market hall, La Grande Halle, that has now been converted into a venue to host all sorts of events. Beside it, there is Cité de la Musique, a museum filled with musical instruments dating back to the Baroque period, or ethnic instruments with videos showing you how they are played. This museum also has a concert hall, and is home to the Paris Conservatory. During weekends, the museum has interesting programs with an instrument specialist giving talks and demonstrating their skills at the top floor of the museum.
Just after the museum, there lies a large green space, which is a popular picnic spot! This is also where you can catch open-air cinemas for free during the summer! On the other side of the Grande Halle, there is an exhibition space, Le pavillon Paul-Delouvrier, that hosts photo or art exhibits! Right beside it, is where you can catch dance or circus troupes showing their tricks!
Further north, across the canal, there is La Geode, an IMAX cinema, with a very interesting architecture that you shouldn’t miss. Connecting it is Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, one of the biggest science museum in Europe, containing activities for both adults and kids! Not far from this, is Cabaret Sauvage, a circus-tent structure that hosts concerts and theatres! And Le Zenith, is a concert arena in Paris that hosts huge international performances!
And by walking around, you can enjoy the different landscapes of the space surrounding this area! So definitely worth a go!
#2 Canal de l’Ourcq
This canal stretches 108.1 km long. Part of it is where Parc de la Villette is constructed around. This is where you can find many pleasure boats, or péniche, parked at the sides, and offering passer-bys various entertainments, from jazz music to musical theatres, or just for a bite!
Alongside the canal, there are plenty of open space where you can catch Parisians, young and old, playing a game of pétanque or two!
With plenty of cafés with terraces facing the canal, it can be quite a peaceful environment to walk through and have a coffee or two, or a long apéro session!
#3 Rue Crimée Drawbridge
As you head west by the canal from Parc de la Villette, you will come across this drawbridge that dates back to 1885. The structure of the bridge is very impressive, composing of 4 pulleys on a hydraulic column each, which pulls up the bridge when boats are passing through.
My advice, catch the sunset on top of the pedestrian bridge! With the sun’s reflection on the water, and La Rotonde, a majestic building that sits at the end of the canal before it joins the Canal Saint Martin, it is a lovely way to end a day’s walk!
#4 St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute
My hubby and I found this building by accident. One day, while strolling along a street, we chanced upon someone walking out of a massive gate and we took the chance to pop in to take a look. And amazingly, we found this magnificently built orthodox church structure, right smack on top of a hill surrounded by unsuspectingly normal Parisian flats!
So this place is in fact a private school of higher learning in orthodox theology, for which we didn’t know at that time. However, just taking a walk around its grounds while appreciating the fantastically designed wooden building, was awe-inspiring!
#5 Parc des Buttes Chaumont
A park with an incredible landscape, this was where we got our marriage photos taken! Yes, it is that beautiful!
The 5th largest park in Paris, this park had a sinister history, where one part of it used display the bodies of hanged criminals, then in the late 18th century, it was used as a place to cut up horse carcasses, as well as being used to deposit sewage! And another part of the park, was where a gypsum and limestone quarry used to be, which became the source of building material for many Parisian buildings that you see today.
It was only in the mid-19th century when the area was proposed to be transformed into a park. There is the artificial lake, which surrounds the Île de Belvédère, which is a steep cliff formed by the old quarry, where the feature of the park is being built, a medium-sized gazebo structure, called the Temple de la Sibylle, from which a wonderful view of Paris can be appreciated. Connecting the different pathways to this high point are a suspension bridge, and a long masonry bridge. Both worth crossing just for the fun of it!
Another must-see site is the waterfall installed through the grotto of one of these quarry cliff, which resembles a natural grotto and looks amazing! You can also enjoy the rest of the hills on a sunny day by lazing on the grass with a picnic basket!
So if you’re planning a visit to Paris soon, and feel like spending at least half a day away from the touristy flow, hop onto the metro and head east! I promise, you won’t regret it!