Ah, the City of Light. Nothing seems to capture the imaginations of travelers better than Paris. Visits to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre often require hours of lines, and a stroll on the Left Bank is typically an exercise in dodging the rest of the crowds who had the same brilliant idea as you. However, Paris is filled with many lesser-known and very cool places that will get you off the beaten (and crowded) path and into a parts of the city that will make your visit truly memorable. Let’s explore, shall we?
Cemetery of Dogs and Other Pets
Initially built in 1899, the Cemetery of Dogs is the final resting place for hundreds of beloved Parisian animals. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, chickens, and a monkey were all buried here by their loving owners. The cemetery is also home to two canine celebrities. A World War II trench dog named Barry received a hero’s burial after rescuing 41 wounded people from a battlefield. Rin Tin Tin, one of the first canine film stars, is also interred here. After he died in 1932, Rin Tin Tin was returned to his native France for his funeral.
The cemetery is about 20 minutes by Metro from the city center and is perfect for a quiet afternoon away from the crowds.
The Paris Sewer Museum
While a tour of a sewer system does not initially sound like a good time to many, if you happen to be a fan of Les Miserables, this is right up your alley. Or if you’re an engineer this is also boubnd to appeal to you. For the rest of us, the chance to walk around under the streets of a huge city is appealing for no reason other than it is a cool and unusual way to spend an hour or two. The museum offers guided tours, but visitors are also free to explore on their own. The museum is open Saturday through Wednesday from 11 am to 4pm.
The catacombs beneath Paris are the stuff of legends. Originally built to house the skeletons of the thousands of dead for which there was no room in the cemeteries, the catacombs are now a creepy tourist spot to satisfy our love of the macabre. While sometimes a bit crowded, visiting on the early side of their 10am to 5pm open hours is advised.
In addition to the catacombs that the tourists parade through, there are also numerous urban legends regarding the reported 100 kilometers of additional tunnels beneath the city. Supposedly Parisian teenagers sneak in at night, drug dealers use the catacombs as a creepy lair, and entire communities have been reported as living a relatively normal life underground. Very interesting.
Museum of the History of Medicine
Another institution that toes the creepy line, and probably hops over it, is the Museum of the History of Medicine. Stocked with antique medical instruments, prosthetic limbs and additional weird items, this is another Paris location that you might have all to yourself. However, the main reason to visit here might just come in the form of the strangest table in the world. A gift to Napoleon by an Italian doctor, the table is made of various human organs, bones, and blood.
Jim Morrison’s Grave
The mysterious deaths of famous people hold a certain fascination for many, and the death of Jim Morrison is no exception. In fact, some say he isn’t dead at all, but there is a gravesite reported to be his in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Often difficult to find due to the fact the grave markers are consistently defaced or stolen, the grave is visited by thousands of fans every year, and is also reported to be haunted.
Creepy, weird, and scary places abound in Paris, and while they may not exude the romantic charm typically associated with the City of Light, they are still worth a look for those who enjoy something a little off-kilter or downright strange.