City of lights: check out the best kept secrets of Paris

Think you know the City of Lights? Think again... these spots will have you falling in love with Paris all over again

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Think you know the City of Lights? Think again... these spots will have you falling in love with the French capital all over again.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Père Lachaise Cemetery

A cemetery doesn’t usually feature on most people’s travel itineraries, but then Père Lachaise isn’t your usual cemetery. As the resting place of great literary and musical icons such as Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf and Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise has naturally become something of a pilgrimage site for fans of these inspirational creatives. You can spend hours walking through the gardens, which are dotted with interesting memorial stones (check out the lipstick kisses all over Oscar Wilde’s grave), but spring has to be the best time to visit, as the tulips have just started to flower.

The cemetery is in the 20th arrondissement. Take the Paris Métro to Philippe-Auguste, Père Lachaise or Gambetta stations (and don’t forget to grab a free map from the administration building before you head in).

My Reading Room

Rue Cremieux

This pastel-hued road has to be one of the prettiest streets in Europe. Featuring cute cobble-stoned streets, a house in every shade you can imagine, plant pots galore and picture-perfect doorways, it really is hard not to get a good shot of Rue Cremieux.

Rue Cremieux is a short walk from Gare de Lyon train station and Quai de la Rapée Paris Métro station. It’s a residential street, so you can visit anytime.

My Reading Room

Maison de Serge Gainsbourg

When it comes to iconic duos, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin spring to mind as one of the hippest, most bohemian couples of their time – so who wouldn’t want to see a place plastered with graffiti of their faces? You can’t go inside the home where Serge spent the last years of his life but you can stand outside and take in the heart-felt tributes and ever-changing art on the walls. Rumour has it Serge and Jane’s daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourgh, was going to open up the house to visitors at one point, but plans have been put on hold. Fingers crossed that it happens in the future.

The house is at 5 bis, Rue de Verneuil, and is a short walk from Rue du Bac or Saint-Germain-des-Pres Paris Métro stations in the 7th arrondissement.

My Reading Room

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

As one the world’s largest flea markets, it’s amazing how many people overlook Les Puces when they’re in Paris... OK, so it’s not technically in Paris; you’ll find it in the suburb of Saint-Ouen – but it’s just 30 minutes away from the city centre by Paris Métro. Set over 70,000m , people in the know have been searching out curiosities here for years. From vintage frocks and old French movie posters to kitsch designer jewellery, you can find whatever you’re looking for – just try to dedicate a good amount of time for rummaging and don’t forget to haggle. If you want to stay in the area, the new MOB Hotel is fun, with an organic restaurant that’s reasonably priced to boot.

Les Puces is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays all year round. The nearest Paris Métro stations are Porte de Clignancourt and Garibaldi. Rooms at MOB Hotel start from $160. 

My Reading Room

Sleep next to the Eiffel Tower

Rather than book an overpriced hotel room, check out this Airbnb studio apartment instead. With over 100 positive reviews, tasteful decor, a gorgeous bathtub and prime location (it’s literally 30 seconds away from the Eiffel Tower), the residence is really one of Paris’ best kept secrets. Plus, the host speaks English and French. Book in advance with the Airbnb app from $233 a night.

Check out the studio at

Images, Lydia Swinscoe Text Lydia Swinscoe.

More: paris