Hidden Gems in Paris near Hôtel Plaza Athénée
While the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame Cathedral may the best-known tourist attractions in Paris, some of the city’s most fascinating sights are far less famous. From the house museums of literary masters to hidden parks and local markets, there’s much to discover beneath the surface of this great city. Delve deeper into the history and culture of the French capital with this two-day itinerary of secret sights.
Start the day at Circus Bakery, just 15 minutes from the hotel by taxi.
Circus Bakery, the latest venture from the team behind the popular Fragments cafe, is said to bake the best cinnamon rolls in the city. Found on a small street on the Rive Gauche, it’s also the place to go for crusty sourdough loaves and fantastic coffee from speciality Parisian roasters, Hexagone.
Next, take a 15-minute drive to get to the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Author of world-famous works like Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Misérables, Victor Hugo is widely regarded as one of the greatest French poets and novelists of all time. Literary enthusiasts can visit his former home of 16 years, which has been converted into a museum with rooms modelled on the writer’s original house and exhibitions dedicated to his life.
Next, take a taxi for the 15-minute journey to the Passage du Grand-Cerf.
Passage du Grand-Cerf
Built in 1825, the Passage du Grand-Cerf has been offering a stylish place for Parisians to shop for almost 200 years. The glass ceiling overhead floods the chic arcade with natural light, while the delightful array of boutiques offer everything from antiques and handmade jewellery, to furniture.
From here, take a seven-minute walk to the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
Contrary to its name, the Museum of Arts and Trade is, in fact, one of Europe’s oldest science museums. Housed in a former Benedictine monastery, it has been showcasing treasures relating to science and manufacturing for nearly 200 years. Visit to discover fascinating scale models of ancient machines, ranging from airplanes and steam engines to clocks and astrolabes.
For the final stop of the day, hail a taxi for the 25-minute journey to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
With more than 2,000 stalls spanning seven hectares, Marché aux Puces de Saint-is one of the largest and oldest flea markets in the world. Open only at weekends, it attracts tens of thousands of visitors every week, who come in search of unique antiques, furniture, clothing and souvenirs. For more contemporary shopping, visit the Paul Bert Serpette section, which is dedicated to emerging designers and avant-garde artists.
Return to the hotel with a 20-minute taxi ride.
Begin day two with a scenic 20-minute drive along and across the Seine.
Shakespeare & Company
A literary utopia close to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Shakespeare and Company is one of the greatest independent bookstores in the world. Its historic shelves showcase thousands upon thousands of works by many of history’s best writers, past and present. Visitors can lose themselves browsing the collection, enjoy a coffee in the café or attend readings on the square in front of the characterful 17th century building.
Next, take a 10-minute drive or a 20-minute walk to Musée Zadkine.
Close to the famous Luxembourg Gardens lies the lesser-known Musée Zadkine, the former home and workplace of distinguished Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine. It’s now a studio-museum dedicated to the artist and his wife, painter Valentine Prax. Visitors can explore an exhibition route that is designed to create a beautiful dialogue between the elements of earth, cement, wood and stone.
The next location, Parc Montsouris, is located 10 minutes away by car.
Created in the 19th century by Emperor Napoleon III, Parc Montsouris is one of the finest English-style gardens in Paris. Home to the city’s Meteorological Observatory, the regal park features a large lake, landscaped lawns lined with rare trees, and historic monuments including the Mire du Sud, which marks the location of the Paris meridian. It’s also a great place for a lunchtime picnic.
From the park, it’s a 10-minute drive to Beaupassage.
An evolution of the Parisian tradition of covered arcades, Beaupassage – which connects Boulevard Raspail and Rues de Grenelle and Bac – is a collection of food-centric bars, restaurants, and shops from super chefs like Yannick Alléno and Anne-Sophie Pic.
The final stop of the day, L’Arc Paris, is then just 10 minutes away by taxi.
While Arc de Triomphe is a magnificent sight to behold, a stone’s throw from the famous monument is one of the city’s hottest nightlife destinations, L’Arc Paris. From the outside it looks like a Parisian mansion, but inside it’s an opulent club with modern neon décor, an extravagant cocktail menu and a glamorous clientele.
The hotel is located just 10 minutes’ drive from L’Arc Paris.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.