Unique, Unusual, & Offbeat Things to Do in Paris
Paris is famed for its architecture, museums, and food, but there’s so much more to explore in the City of Lights than just the guidebook must-sees. Here are some of the more quirky things to do in Paris to really make your visit memorable.
1. Le Musée de la Poupée
Le Musée de la Poupée, or Doll Museum, is a little creepy — unintentionally of course. But there’s no easy way to pull off a building overflowing with dolls, unless you’re Barbie. Father and son team Guido and Samy Odin house their private collection at this quirky museum. Doll devotees can also see temporary exhibits that pass through its doors, like the current Baby Boom or the Made in Italy collection. G.I. Joe aficionados may feel a little left out, if not a little out of place.
2. Musée de la Magie
From optical illusions to all things alchemy, La Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic) will have you disappearing into its interactive displays faster than you can say, “Abracadabra!” Posters and paraphernalia from illusionists as far back as the 18th century are all part of the box of tricks this colourful museum has to offer. You can even take a class at the attached Academie de Magie (Academy of Magic) if you want to learn some sleight of hand for yourself. Some call this a more authentic “Magic Kingdom”, although Disneyland Paris tickets are available just down the street — just in case you’d rather experience the Mickey and Minnie version instead.
3. Musée des Vampires et Monstres de L’imaginaire
While technically not located in Paris (it’s in Lilas, just outside) Le Musée des Vampires et Monstres de L’imaginaire (Museum of Vampires and Imaginary Monsters) is well worth the trip if you’re a into Vampiric Studies (Vampirology? Vamping?), and even if you’re not. Although (thankfully) there are no Twilight posters, there is plenty of Dracula-related documentation, including the signature of every actor who’s played Dracula in the movies. Plus there’s a mummified cat.
And like all hotels in Paris, reservations well in advance are a must.
4. Human Zoos
The Musée du quai Branly is home to a temporary exhibit bound to inform as well as outrage. Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage takes us through the history of men, women, and children transplanted from their home Africa, Asia, Oceania and parts of America to be displayed in Western circuses, zoos, theaters, fairs and the like.
A series of painting , posters, photos, costumes, videos and more gives you a glimpse into the “entertainment” of exploitation. From the museum’s own description: “The exhibition explores the sometimes fine lines between exotic individuals and freaks, science and voyeurism, exhibitionism and spectacle.”
This is one exhibit bound to have you rethinking your own perspective on what constitutes entertainment.
5. Les Catacombes de Paris
Les Catacombes de Paris (The Catacombs of Paris) are arguably the most mainstream attraction in this list of quirky things to do in Paris. Stretching for kilometres underneath the 14th Arrondissement, these long and winding tunnels lined with millions of human bones are not for the claustrophobic, nor the squeamish. The bulk of these earthly remains made their way here from Le Cimetière des Innocents where overcrowding became an issue in the 18th century, though over the years many other cemeteries added their overflow here as well.