In an arts and culture capital such as Paris, it's hard to to know where to start when it comes to museums. Even more, it's almost impossible to sift out and find the local hidden gems under all the Louvres, Musées d'Orsay and Centre Pompidous. But don't sweat — we've got you covered. Here are seven eclectic and truly one-of-a-kind wonders that you can only experience in the City of Lights:
59 Rue de Rivoli
Formerly an illegal squat before it became an icon of Parisian counter-culture, the somewhat chaotic-looking 59 Rivoli can be viewed as an opposing force to its neighbor, the Louvre. Housing 20 permanent artists and 10 temporary residents at all times, both the exteriors and interiors of the building change and vary widely according to what each artist is creating. We recommend exploring its nooks and crannies on a night out at one of their many musical concerts and festivals, such as the annual Nuit Blanche.
Musée des Arts Forains
53 Avenue des Terroirs de France
Nothing captures the Golden Age in Paris quite like the Musée des Arts Forains. A collection of still-functional wooden carousels, antique fair stalls, vintage swings, and costumed entertainers makes visitors feel like they've literally just stepped into 1850. Created by antiques dealer Jean-Paul Favand, the museum is only accessible by reservation, keeping each visit intimate and interactive. Don't miss out on your only chance in the world to ride a manège vélocipédique, aka a wooden bicycle carousel.
Le Comptoir General
80 Quai de Jemmapes
Often referred to as a 'living museum,' Le Comptoir General is an exhibition space, film screening theatre, cafe, restaurant, concept store, lounge and bar that officially calls itself as "The Little Museum of Francafrique". Every single object housed in their two story building tells a story, whether it's an al fresco dish from West Africa or the posters in their Caribbean-style barbershop. Just find the hidden back alley entrance by the Canal Saint Martin and get ready to mingle with the hippest crowd in Paris until two in the morning.
Tombées du Camion
17 Rue Joseph de Maistre
While not exactly a museum, Tombées du Camion (which literally translates to "fallen from a truck") is a treasure trove of charming bric-a-brac that has been lovingly accumulated in three cute boutiques throughout Paris. The small gems you can find here –glass eyeballs, 1930s toilet paper packets, skeleton keys– are better than anything you can find at a flea market or antique store, plus it makes you feel like you're in a real life page of I Spy.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
60 Rue Réaumur
Translated as the Museum of Arts and Trades, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is a haven for steampunk fans and history/science buffs alike. Founded in 1794, the repository boasts over 80 thousand scientific inventions and instruments, including the world's first mechanical calculator and some of the world's first planes. One of the most underrated and low-key museums in Paris, it's also an easy walk from the Pompidou.
Musée de la Magie
11 Rue Saint-Paul
Located in a 16th-century cellar, the Musée de la Magie (AKA the Museum of Curiosity or The Academy of Magic) takes visitors into the world of conjuring as far back as the 18th century. Its seven rooms are filled with antique wands, hats, secret boxes and other genuinely fascinating artifacts; the absolute highlight, though, is their mini magic show which concludes every tour with a bang.
Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques
4 Pont de Clichy
Translated as the Cemetery of Dogs and Other Domesticated Animals, this entry is pretty far from being a museum — but we really couldn't pass up including the modern world's first pet cemetery on our list. Built in 1899 after Paris restricted the burial of animals on city grounds, the tombstones for the various pooches, cats, horses, birds, fish, and even lions buried here range from the unmarked to the highly elaborate. If you're an animal lover, there's no way you can pass up taking a quiet stroll through this endearingly unique spot.