Travel

Paris Activities

Establishment neighborhood
Cinémathèque Française
51 Rue de Bercy, 12th
Built on the collection of co-founder Henri Langlois—who, with the help of friends, managed to smuggle most of his compendium of films out of France before the German Occupation—the Cinématheque Francaise houses one of the largest movie archives in the world. Though it's had a peripatetic existence, it's now housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building. There are exhibitions along with daily screenings of classics (and a restaurant on the ground floor).
Les Catacombes de Paris
1 Ave. of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 14th
When a handful of city cemeteries were closed in the 18th and 19th centuries because they were overflowing and posed a threat to public health, the bodies of more than six million Parisians were relocated to a former quarry below the city. What's even gnarlier is that bones and skulls were used to create its walls. You can tour the labrynth-like ossuary—and theoretically visit the remains of notables like Rabelais and Robespierre—but this is not for the claustrophic, and probably not for kids.
Jardin des Tuileries
Place de la Concorde, 1st
Erected by Catherine de Medici in 1564 as part of the Tuileries Palace, this public garden has a textured past (it was the hunting grounds of Louix XIII). Now, it's an excellent place to take a long-ish walk, alongside sculptures from Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and even Roy Lichtenstein. It's also home to the Jeu de Paume and its collection of contemporary art, along with the Musée de l’Orangerie, which famously houses Monet's Water Lillies.
Palais Garnier
8 Rue Scribe, Place de l'Opera, 9th
Though it's arguably most famous for being the backdrop to Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, its real acclaim comes from the fact that it's a stunningly opulent Second Empire masterpiece. While in its first life it was home to the Paris Opera, it now hosts the Ballet. It's absolutely worth making a night of it if only to see the Grand Foyer, plus The Palais harvests its own honey on the rooftop, which is served by two-starred chef Christophe Aribert in the recently opened restaurant, L’Opera.
Le Jardin des Plantes
57 Rue Cuvier, 5th
First planted in 1635 as a medicinal herb garden by Guy de la Rousse, Louis XIII’s physician, these days Le Jardin des Plantes offers 69 sprawling acres of botanical gardens, scenic trails, and a natural history museum. The highlight, though, is a small zoo, which was founded in 1795, making it the second oldest in the world that’s still in existence (it’s outranked by Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Austria). Once home to animals from Versailles’ royal menagerie, the zoo is now known for its unusual, exotic (and often endangered) species.