Meditation at the Japanese Garden of the Buddhist Pantheon
Travel to the Land of the Rising Sun while staying in Paris: head for the 16th arrondissement, where you'll find your way up to the most Zen garden of the city. Well hidden and little known, it has been part of the Guimet museum (national museum for Asian art) since the 19th century. With giant bamboo trees, ponds, a wooden bridge across a stream and statues of Buddha spread all over the place, everything makes for a real change of scenery, far from the city's hustle and bustle. If you come at tea time, you may witness a genuine tea ceremony, which is considered an art in Japan. The location exudes a sense of serenity and allows you to discover Japanese culture through 250 exhibited items on display in the galleries of the Buddhist Pantheon.
Jardin du panthéon bouddhique
19, avenue d'Iéna
The most secret bar in Paris
This secret has been skilfully kept by both regulars and the boss, who has sparingly been communicating about the address for the past 20 years. You shouldn't therefore expect to find much information before walking in. Simply and humbly named “Le Bar”, it has retained its charm of yesteryear, discreet and sober... at least from outside, for the interior decoration is truly different. Mysterious, dark and intimate, with very subdued lighting, it makes you feel like you're part of a select group. The decoration offers slightly Asian touches and cosy velvet sofas. Choose a cocktail on the menu for the classics or ask directly for a creation. The boss will be pleased to prepare a delicious drink according to your current taste and mood.
27, rue de Condé
+33 (0)1 43 29 06 61
Lovely unusual alleyways
Start your trip through Paris' most secret streets in the 12th arrondissement, at the Passage du Chantier, a shopping street that once welcomed carpenters and cabinetmakers. To this day, you still notice craftsmen and furniture shops that adorned with old-school signs. The feeling of nostalgia also creeps in while you visit various local exhibitions on craftsmanship.Not far from there, head for the rue Crémieux, one of the most beautiful of all Paris. Suffused with bucolic charm, the street is riddled with multiple pastel colour tones façades and mural paintings or various flower shapes and trompe l'oeil.
Finally, the rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement has pretty much remained unchanged for more than 2,000 years now. Many of the buildings on its flanks give access to small courtyards. It was an inspiration for Victor Hugo when he wrote Les Misérables, yet it still holds a great many mysteries. If you go to number 52, you may also very well find a secret passageway...
Passage du Chantier
On a quest for the ghost train lines
ADEMAS, the association responsible for the conservation and restoration of the Paris metro, arranges visits of forgotten stations. These guided tours are organised on a regular basis and last for a half day, offering visitors an opportunity to discover the history of the metropolitan as well as unusual sections, such as connecting lines and ghost stations... Many of the latter have been closed during World War II, and remained closed ever since: Arsenal, Porte des Lilas, Saint-Martin, Croix-Rouge and even Champs-de-Mars. Other stations have been built but were never made accessible or linked to the network, like Porte Molitor and Haxo. If you're looking for more classic visits, the RATP metro operator holds contests that give winners a chance to discover the command centre of Line 1, or to walk down 70 feet towards the Line 12 boring machine...
ADEMAS (Association D'Exploitation du Matériel Sprague)
15, rue Erlanger
Little belt railway, paradise for graffiti artists
The little belt railway is a remnant of the train tracks built around Paris in the 19th century, used to transport freight and passengers alike. It is now a major spot for graffiti artists and street art lovers. There, nature also reclaimed its rights, as it covers part of the tracks. Forget about street noise and walk along the tracks to look for the graffiti and frescoes that take up a large part of the run down walls. From 21 rue de Rottembourg within the 12th arrondissement, you can access a 650-feet long green path and communal garden. Since 2013, a portion of the belt in the 15th arrondissement (almost a mile long) is also open to the public, between Balard square and rue Olivier de Serres, where you'll find the entrance at number 99. The last accessible chunk is located in the 13th arrondissement, at 60 rue Damesme, and runs from the Charles Trenet garden to the Moulin de la Pointe one.