Art, Antiques And Adventure: A 3-Day Itinerary In Paris, France

Art, Antiques And Adventure: A 3-Day Itinerary In Paris, France

When one mentions Paris, the Eiffel Tower is bound to come up in the conversation. If you’re long sick of snaking queues and huge crowds of enthusiastic tourists looking for someone to take a photo for them, why not head down the road less traveled with this itinerary?

Look beyond the romantic night lights of the city to the rustic art museums and sculptures that line the streets, waiting for someone to revel in its aged glory. Explore the uncharted unknown of the dead that lives on in restored magnificence, and shop till you drop with some of the best deals in town.

Whether you’re an adventurer looking for an adrenaline rush or simply passing by while seeking something new, we’ve got you covered! Check out these recommendations for three days in the City in Lights:

Day 1- Deathly delights for adventurous souls

Get a taste of death with these ghastly activities that are bound to send a shiver down your spine.

In the morning: Père Lachaise cemetery and Prison de la Roquette

Verse on Back - Tomb of Oscar Wilde
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user elizabeyth used under CC BY 2.0

Leave a flying kiss through the glass barriers shrouding Oscar Wilde’s grave, as an ode to his famous words “A kiss may ruin a human life”. Surely, innocent kisses may not ruin a man’s life, but from the thousands of grease-strewn kisses he has been getting, his tomb has slowly been eroding away in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. No amount of warnings and fines imposed could stop determined tourists from showing their love. Restored in 2011 to its full glory, Wilde’s tomb now stands tall behind a glass casing covered in his devotee’s kisses. Send your regards to him with a flying kiss instead, it helps to preserve the condition of his tomb, and Wilde would surely appreciate the thought the same.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Address: 16, rue du Repos Paris, 75020 France

Hours: 8 am - 6 pm Mon - Fri, 8.30 am - 6 pm Sat, 9 am - 6 pm Sun

Execute your curiousity

Dalle guillotine roquette
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CédricGravelle used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Head out from the cemetery grounds to the ruins of Prison de la Roquette, a former women’s prison that was demolished in 1974. Feel the chills go down your spine as you walk across the seemingly normal zebra crossing that connects the Rue de la Roquette and Rue de la Croix Faubin. The five stone indents left on the road are the only indication of its violent past, as they used to hold up the arches that supported the great Paris Guillotine. Having executed over 60 people, the educational signboard and five unpaved stone markings are all that remain from the blood-stained past of France’s justice system, a perpetual memento mori for the living.

Paris Guillotine

Address: Rue de la Roquette and Rue de la Croix Faubin Paris, 75011 France

In the afternoon: Catacombs (from 77 USD)

Catacombs of Paris (32)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rijin used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The underground Catacombs of Paris have long been a subject of mystery and awe. Drawn as inspiration for the film “As Above, So Below”, challenge the limits of your own bravery by signing up for a guided tour of this immense maze. Believed to stretch over 200 miles (322 kilometers) of uncharted land, only a small portion of it is open to the public. Littered with the remains of more than 6 million Parisians, it became the final resting place of corpses during the eighteenth century as public graveyards were becoming increasingly overcrowded. Putrid stenches aside, the infectious diseases that started to spread due to poor hygiene conditions were interfering with the daily lives of Parisians. News of the relocation of corpses ignited curiousity, and the first public tour was believed to be held in 1874. Now, you can safely traverse across the threshold of death, without submitting to it, with guided tours. Keep in mind that only officially listed tours are legal, and exploring the catacombs from entrances other than the main one (1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy) are done at your own risk of being found and fined.

For the faint-hearted who would prefer to explore from the comfort of their armchair, check out this video documenting an unguided exploration of the underground tunnels.

Guided Catacombs of Paris Tour

Address: Near Denfert Rochereau, 75014, Paris

Price: from 77 USD

Duration: Around 2 hours for the whole tour


In the evening: Nicolas Flamel's house

Auberge Nicolas Flamel, Paris 11 February 2017
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Guilhem Vellut used under CC BY 2.0

Pay a visit to the oldest stone house in Paris. Built in 1407 by the famed alchemist and bookseller Nicolas Flamel, the inscribed house still stands at 51 Rue de Montmorency. Legend has it that Flamel’s wealth was not only due to his flourishing business. Many believed that Flamel managed to crack the code of an esoteric book passed on to him, allowing him to understand the otherwise unintelligible characters and diagrams dating back to the ancient roots of alchemical practices. Till this day, many people still try to seek out the Philosopher’s Stone and Elixir of Life believed to have been concocted right here, in this house. All that is history now, as the house has long been restored into an atmospheric restaurant named Auberge Nicolas Flamel. Contact them to make a reservation beforehand, as they are always experiencing a full house with curious tourists seeking a taste of the past.

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

Address: 51 Rue de Montmorency 75003 Paris

Opening Hours: 12 noon - 3 pm, 7 pm - 11 pm

Contact: 01 42 71 77 78

Website: Auberge Nicolas Flamel

Day 2 - Artistic endeavours

If you’re an art geek, you wouldn’t want to miss out on these eccentric installations hidden in the normality of daily life.

In the late morning: Defender of Time and Musée de la Poupée

Start your morning off on a positive note by admiring the grand statue of the Defender of Time on Quartier de l'Horloge.

Built out of brass, French artist Jacques Monestier designed this clock to be an automated sculpture, featuring a sword-and-shield wielding man defending himself against fearsome creatures. The fierce dragon, soaring bird, and lethal crab each signify the three main forces of nature; land, air, and sea respectively.

At different times of the day, the man used to engage in battles with the individual monsters. Scenic soundtracks of crashing waves, deep rumblings of the earth, and the whistling of the winds would accompany the fight, depending on which creature was attacking. However, it has stopped moving since July 1, 2003, and although plans to restore it has been talked about, it never came to fruition due to funding problems. Still, the 13-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) installation is a sight to marvel at; its aged glossiness is reflective of the man’s victories, as time and again, he triumphs against the unending forces of nature.

The Defender of Time Sculpture

Address: 8 Rue Bernard de Clairvaux Paris, 75003

Do you want to play?

The dolls here want to play a game or two … with you!

Located 10 minutes away from the Defender of Time, the Musée de la Poupée houses an eerie collection of dolls. Venture into the dollhouse-styled museum, and prepare to be extremely uncomfortable or enthralled; there’s no in between!

Featuring collections dating back to the 1800s, the often expressive dolls have an uncanny resemblance to real-life infants.

Whether you’re an avid vintage doll collector or just stumbled upon this place by accident, you will definitely find a doll that lingers in your mind more than the rest. Amongst the crowd of around 500 dolls, their glassy eyes and wry smiles seem to stare back at you as you make your way around their home.

Musée de la Poupée

Address: Impasse Berthaud Paris, 75003

Price: from 4.50 USD

Opening Hours: 1 pm - 6 pm. Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Website: Musée de la Poupée

In the afternoon: Le Musée des Vampires

Drop by the Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures for a spine-chilling, one-of-a-kind experience. Make sure to call in advance as entry is strictly via appointment only!

Upon reaching the location, the eloquent curator / founder, Jacques Sirgent, will bring you around his museum. His extensive collection of all things spooky is admirable, from the autographs of all the actors who have played Dracula in a Hollywood movie to a mummified cat, prepare to have your mind blown away! For tourists who can’t speak French, fret not, as Monsieur Sirgent speaks perfect English. Be sure to drop a polite message when calling or emailing to book an appointment and he will be happy to help.

Le Musée des Vampires

Address: 14 Rue Jules David Paris, 93260

Opening Hours: 12.30 pm to 8 pm, contact to book appointment

Contact: [email protected]

Website: The Vampire Museum

In the evening: Dans Le Noir dining

Starving? Feed your heightened senses by dining in the dark.

At Dans le Noir? (In the Dark?), you can indulge in your regular three-course meal in total darkness. Yes, no candles, no flashlights; just pitch-black darkness! Staffed by a team of visually impaired workers, you will be assigned a guide upon entering the restaurant. They will help you throughout the night, such as guiding you to your table and moving around if you need to visit the washroom. Once your line of sight is cut off, you have to rely on your other heightened senses to do otherwise regular tasks, such as finding your food in front of you, or simply taking a sip of your drink, without making a mess!

Many customers leave on a good note. Having experienced what it’s like to be blind for an hour and a half, you do realize that it’s much harder than it looks (no pun intended), despite how swift and efficient your guides may be. Beyond having fun guessing what your dinner is, perhaps the humbling experience of living without sight may be a bigger takeaway for you.

Dans le Noir?

Address: 51 Rue Quincampoix Paris, 75004, France

Price: from 59 USD

Opening Hours: 7.30 am - 10.30 pm, weekends open for lunch at 12.30 - 14.30 as well

Contact: 0142779804

Website: Dining in the dark

Day 3 - Shop till you drop

Time for a little retail therapy! From vintage buys to designer clothes, you can find something for everyone here.

In the morning: La Vallée Village

Vallée Village (Serris) (2)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gzen92 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Shop till you drop with a wide selection of outlet malls located just five minutes away from the Disneyland Resort. Designed with a village interior, this 90-store mall is packed with all of your favorite brands such as Longchamp, Celine, and Givenchy, just to name a few. Find the bag you’ve always wanted to own at whopping discounts of up to 50%, and leave the stores with your hands chock full of paper bags! Open for business daily (except Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and May 1st), drop by anytime to satisfy your shopaholic desires. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of arranging your own transport, sign up for the Shopping Express Bus Service by La Vallée Village. Choose from two departure times a day at the Place de Pyramides near the Louvre Museum. Visit the official website for more information.

La Vallée Village

Address: 3 Cours de la Garonne, 77700, Serris

Opening Hours: 10am - 7pm.

Website: La Vallée Village

In the afternoon: Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Indulge in a lovely weekend shopping trip at the picturesque Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market. Receiving about 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend, Les Puces, as it is affectionately coined, is the largest antique flea market in the world. From little china tea sets to globes made of innovative materials, you really can’t expect anything because what you find here will simply blow those expectations away!

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

Address: 150 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen, France

Opening Hours: Every Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm, Sundays start an hour later. Mondays from 11 am to 5 pm

Access: Take the métro to Porte de Clignancourt on Line 4 and head towards the crowded large concrete overpass

In the evening: Vinyl at Music Please

Vinyl store
Source: Pixabay

Bring back a vintage vinyl record as a cool souvenir for your family and friends. Stop by Music Please for a trip back in time. Stocked with various genres ranging from hip-hop to alternative rock, even the modern music-lover can find popular hits in the CD section of the store. For a reasonable price, you are assured of authentic and quality vinyl records that are hand-picked by the staff and the owner.

Music Please

Address: 5 Rue Jean Moinon 10e Paris

Opening Hours: 2 pm - 8 pm, Tues - Sat

Access: Goncourt ou Belleville Metrò station

Website: Music Please

The road less traveled may be unpopular

Though stepping away from the tried-and-trodden path may at times challenge you in various ways, you will find yourself on an exhilarating adventure with irreplaceable memories. How many can live to tell the tale after stepping into the depths of death, or having dined in pitch-black darkness? Look around you; the chance to embark on your own Parisian escapade is everywhere!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Crystal is a curious child, who loves exploring Singapore in her free time with a camera in hand. Her street photography subjects often include unaware strangers, uncommon architecture, and...Read more

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