Secret Paris: 10 hidden spots to discover

Le rocher de la Sorcière

On the heights of Montmartre, you can find the last vestiges of its Maquis, in the form of a labyrinth of tangled alleys with old scrap metal houses, where Van Gogh, Renoir, and Berlioz all once resided. There you must visit the throne-like monument, Rocher de la Sorcière, an imposing stone block, devoured by ivy, which is the remainder of an old fountain then called “la sourcière”. The stone is subject of many legends, one of which tells that it protected the home of a witch. It can be accessed via rue Lepic or Avenue Junot. You’ll just have to go through the Hotel Particulier Montmartre, one of the most charming secret places in the capital that is worth visiting.

Passage de la Sorcière, 75018 Paris

Le Passe-Muraille

Le Passe-Muraille


One of Marcel Aymé’s most celebrated heroes has come to life in an eponymous square on Montmartre. Carved by Jean Marais in 1989, the Passe-Muraille is a tribute to the French writer, who in a short story, introduced the readers to Mr. Dutilleul, an office worker who, during a walk in Montmartre, discovered that he had the power to walk through walls. The statue, located just feet away from the former home of the writer, was carved according to a portrait of Marcel Aymé, so be sure to carefully study its features.

Place Marcel Aymé, 75018 Paris

Nicolas Flamel’s house

Nicolas Flamel’s house


During a stroll in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris, be sure to stop by 51 rue de Montmorency, and admire the façade of the beautiful building that you will find yourself in front of. This is the oldest building of the French capital, built in 1407 by Nicolas Flamel, a bourgeois of the fourteenth century, who, according to the legend, discovered the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone. The stone was considered to be the Grail of alchemists and was thought to transform lead into gold. At the time, Flamel housed the poor and beggars who were looking for shelter, and as evidence to that, we can still read an inscription in old French on the façade of the building. Now the building is home to an inn, which still bears the initials of the house’s original owner.

51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris

Gustave Eiffel’s apartment

The Eiffel Tower

Johaness Hayot / EyeEm

In the city that for prohibited the construction of skyscrapers for so long, you can still find one apartment towering at 285 meters (935 feet) above ground. On the third floor of the Parisian Iron Lady, you will find Gustave Eiffel’s Pied-à-Terre, from where he was able to work in peace. Although a bigger part of his apartment was converted into a tech room in the late 1960s, you can still see a reconstruction of its office (just as it was at his time) through a window on the third floor of the tower. This new knowledge is a great pretext for tourists and for the many Parisians, who still haven’t bothered climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, to visit this iconic monument.

Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris

Le jardin de la Nouvelle-France

Paris is full of small hidden gardens, that are often much more charming than its most famous parks. One of the most unknown gardens is the garden of the Nouvelle-France, a small English-style setting nestled between the Grand Palais, the Invalides Bridge, and the Cours de la Reine. At the edge of a small pond lined with wild vegetation, you can spot Le rêve du poète, a large stone sculpture lined with columns, created in memory of Alfred de Musset.

Place du Canada 75008 Paris

1 bis rue Chapon

A mysterious plaque is attached next to the door of 1 bis rue Chapon, in the 3rd arrondissement that reads “J.B. S.B. Specialists”. However, many ask the question, “Specialists of what?” The answer is simple, specialists of contemporary art. The façade is actually false and was installed in 2006 by the artists Julien Berthier and Simon Boudvin, in fitting with the architectural codes of the district. More than ten years later the building’s plaque, its fake door and the number 1 bis which is still there, are regularly “tagged” with graffiti and cleaned by the City of Paris.

1 bis rue Chapon 75003 Paris

La boutique du musée de la Presse

At 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec, La Galcante is perhaps the only shop in the world that belongs to a museum that has never opened. Its founder, Christian Bailly, has collected nearly a million newspaper archives, manuscripts, but also letters and posters, in what is today the heart of the memory of the French press. The idea of giving someone a newspaper that matches their date of birth as a gift originated here. This boutique is a place steeped in history as well as a gold mine for researchers, collectors and the curious minded.

52 rue de l’Arbre Sec 75001 Paris

The lake at Palais Garnier

L’Opéra Garnier

Jean-Pierre Delagrade

Among the many secrets that surround Opéra Garnier, this one is perhaps one of the most fascinating. On the fifth underground level of the remarkable building, hidden, is a lake on which the foundations of the Palace are built. This artificial lake, which extends all the way to the displays of Printemps, was dug in 1861 under the incentive of Charles Garnier, who sought to alleviate the problems of flooding that threatened the construction of the building. Access to this wonder of the French capital is forbidden to the public and only firemen of Paris can go there for their training, swimming alongside carps that chose this reservoir as their home.

8 Rue Scribe 75009 Paris

145 rue Lafayette

Just a stone’s throw from the Château-Landon metro station, in the 10th arrondissement, rue Lafayette is one of the busiest streets in Paris. At 145 rue Lafayette, you will see a rather typical Parisian building. However, if you pause in front of its front doors, you will quickly notice the absence of a door handle or even an interphone. Then you’ll notice that the wooden doors are in fact only a visual illusion, painted on iron sheets. It is also impossible to see through the building’s blackened windows. The building, which has been vacant for a long time, now houses a RER line B air vent installed in the 1980s. In his novel Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco compared this building with the mouth of the hell.

145 rue Lafayette 75010 Paris

La Cité florale

La Cité florale


The 13th arrondissement is much more picturesque than it seems and is full of unusual micro-neighborhoods that are worth visiting. A few steps from Parc Montsouris, the Cité florale is one of those neighborhoods. It consists of 6 paved streets and each is named after a flower (rue des Orchidées, rue des Iris, rue des Glycines, rue des Volubilis etc.). With their colorful little houses and flower-covered windows, each of these streets is more charming than the other. Cité florale is one of the few Parisian corners that has escaped large-scale urbanization.

Cité florale 75013 Paris

Translated by Polina Shaykina