Paris is an extraordinary city, full of hidden surprises. As you wander through it’s streets you are likely to find something fascinating around every corner. There is so much to see and do in Paris, that some of the city’s treasures are often overlooked. But once you have visited the Paris’ iconic gems; the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musee du Louvre and strolled the Champs-Elysees there is so much more to discover.
Here are a few of the treasures abound in the City of Lights
Jardin des Plantes, which dates back to 1626, is France’s most popular botanical garden. It was originally a medicinal herb garden, designed by King Louie XIII’s physician. Today the site features a collection of spectacular themed gardens, the Museum of Natural History, a small zoo that originally housed the royal menagerie and a labyrinth that has been delighting visitors since the mid 1700’s.
If you love Monet, you don’t want to miss the Musée Marmottan Monet which boasts the world’s largest collection of Monet’s work, donated by his son. Housed in what was once the hunting lodge for the Duke of Valmy, on the edge of the forested parklands of Bois de Boulogne, the museum’s collection also includes works by Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Manet and other notable artists.
For more than two centuries, the flower market located on the Ile de la Cité, behind Notre Dame, has been supplying the city with beautiful blooms and plants, but on Sundays it is transformed into a bird market. Enthusiastic pet lovers can find all types of exotic birds, along with fish, ferrets and even pot bellied pigs.
Beneath the City of Lights lies the Parisian Catacombs, a maze of eerie tunnels and crypts containing the bones of six million Parisian residents. When the Parisian cemeteries became overcrowded in the late 1700’s, the remains were moved to underground crypts in an ancient stone quarry which lies beneath the streets of Paris. Over the years, the walls of bones where carefully arranged in somewhat macabre, but artistic patterns. Two kilometers of these ancient passageways are open to the public.
Located at UNESCO’s world headquarters in Paris, is the beautiful Japanese Garden of Peace, home to the “Nagasaki Angel”. The stone angel once adorned a church in Nagasaki, Japan. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki during the Second World War, the angel was miraculously spared and when it was found among the bombed ruins of the city became a symbol of hope. Thirty years later, it was presented to UNESCO to grace the Garden of Peace.
The Parc de la Villette is the site of Europe’s largest science museum, the Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie which features a planetarium, a submarine, interactive exhibits and much more. Outside the main building sits a huge mirrored silver ball which houses an IMAX theatre. The futuristic Park also has concert halls and ten themed gardens.
Paris has so many more hidden treasures from small eclectic museums and art galleries to wonderful cafes and patisseries, fantastic boutiques and architectural masterpieces. It is a city you’ll want to return to again and again as each time you visit, you’ll discover more gems.