For those who love the esoteric, strange and legendary tales or bewitching places, the city of a thousand secrets awaits you. Dan Brown and his famous Da Vinci Code didn’t make anything up: this Paris really exists, more dizzying than in any novel!
From the Père Lachaise cemetery, where the founder of spiritism, Allan Kardec, lies not far away from Chopin and Jim Morrison, to the Catacombs, which is entered via Place Denfert-Rochereau – formerly known as Place de l'Enfer (The square of the underworld) – you can explore a number of scandalous, but devilishly romantic, sites.
For those able to spot them, Masonic symbols will give you a wink. They can be found at the Eiffel Tower, the July Column, the Pantheon, the Parc Montsouris, the Louvre Pyramid and the Paris Observatory; they’re everywhere. In the Marais district, you can retrace the footsteps of Nicolas Flamel, those of Cagliostro in the Bastille district, or those of Eliphas Levi on the Rue de Sèvres before stopping to recharge your batteries at the Temple de l'Amitié on the Rue Jacob.
If you fancy ghosts, why not stroll down the Rue Cujas one evening or drink at the Fontaine des Innocents? Would a visit to the Manoir de Paris on the Rue de Paradis be less scary? Belphégor will probably wave to you at the Louvre, as will the little red man at the Tuileries Garden, not to mention the phantom who is still haunting the Garnier Opera House and Gérard de Nerval, on the Allée des Brouillards, who will try to sniff you!
But if you have both feet on the ground, you’ll most probably want to explore the sewers of Paris, under the Pont de l’Alma, go to the 58th floor of the Montparnasse Tower, or visit one of the historic cafés from the time of the Commune.
For unusual restaurants, try the Temps des Cerises, the Merle Moqueur or Cinq Diamants, located on the Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles. Or take a ride in a hot-air balloon on the Rue Javel in the 15th arrondissement. The RATP public transport system will let you discover some of the system’s ghost stations; the Rungis food market will astound you at 4 a.m.; and the Great Mosque of Paris will be an unforgettable visit, with its odours of mint tea. Paris is a city, for those willing to unlock its secrets, where the unusual and the real co-exist.