7 offbeat places in Paris

September 12, 2023
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A wine shop that only sells non-alcoholic drinks, coworking in a supermarket, a nap bar: There’s nothing ordinary about these seven establishments.

JM Video

Streaming services killed the video star. Or almost. JM Video in the 11th arrondissement is still very much alive and continues to be visited by local and international movie buffs (watch Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, Christopher Nolan, Edward Norton or Brad Pitt talk about their favorite films in the store).

If you’re a collector, you’re sure to find some gems in their catalog of over 70,000 DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS for rent and sale, which includes many French films and all kinds of movies from around the world. But even if you threw away your VHS and DVD players a long time ago, it’s always fun to snoop around and chat with the passionate team about French cinema and their favorite new releases. 

The retro store front of JM Video, an offbeat place in Paris.

Founded in the 1980’s, it’s one of the two last VHS and DVD rental stores standing and provokes a sweet feeling of nostalgia in those who visit it.

JM Vidéo
121 Avenue Parmentier
11th arrondissement
Métro: Goncourt (11)
Opening hours: daily 10:30am-9pm

Le Paon Qui Boit

A shelf inside the store with alcohol-free wine, beer and soft drinks.

Opening a store selling alcohol-free beverages for adults in a wine-loving country like France is a risky move. Yet Le Paon Qui Boit stands proudly among the 1100 caves à vin (wine shops) in Paris and seems to be doing quite well. Perhaps that is because times have changed. The days when middle schools served wine at lunch (to the pupils, mind you) are over, despite French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume’s claim that wine is not like other alcohols and is not a culprit in alcohol addiction and binge drinking.

A few sample products of Paris' first alcohol-free beverages store for adults.

France’s first cave sans alcool ever revolutionizes the classic apéro hour with more than 400 alcohol-free wines and sparkling wines, beers, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks and lemonades, most of which are organic, low-sugar and made in France.

Le Paon Qui Boit
61 Rue de Meaux
19th arrondissement
Métro: Bolivar (7b)
Opening hours: Mon 4.30pm-8.30pm, Tue-Fri 11am-2pm, 4.30pm-8.30pm, Sat 11am-8.30pm

Les Sales Voleurs in the 15th is the most offbeat secondhand shop in Paris. It's prison themed and has clothes hanging behind bars.

Les Sales Voleurs

If Les Sales Voleurs isn’t the best thrift store in terms of product, it’s certainly the most original. Not only does the shop look like a bank after a robbery, but the clothes are offered at sliding prices. Each day of the week, items are priced differently, ranging from 4.50 euros (Fridays) to 0.95 euros (Thursdays). 

Their concept has been so successful that they opened up a second store in the 15th, this one with a prison theme. Again, there are much better vintage shops in Paris. But if you happen to be in either area, it’s worth checking out just for the decor.

Les Sales Voleurs
285 Rue de Vaugirard
15th arrondissement
Métro: Vaugirard (12)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10am-7pm

Les Sales Voleurs
31 Rue d’Avron
20th arrondissement
Métro: Buzenval (9)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10am-7pm

The fake safe deposit boxes of the store all have celebrity names such as Bruce Lee, Kylian Mbappe and even Chandler Bing from Friends on them.


Deyrolle & Design et Nature

Taxidermist Deyrolle has been around since 1831. Specialized in entomology, the study and classification of articulated animals, the store is both a collector’s paradise and what could be considered as a kind of natural science museum. Except that here, unlike a real museum, you can leave with one or more of the exhibits. Fancy having a stuffed  lion, a rhino or a giraffe at home? Or something smaller, a butterfly perhaps? A visit to Deyrolle is certainly morbid, but oh so interesting.

Same goes for Design et Nature, which is a smaller, less crowded taxidermist that gives you the opportunity to get meticulous guidance, chat with the helpful staff, or simply admire polar bears, lions, giraffes and other exotic animals up close. Rest assured that all animals are ethically sourced and died of natural causes. 

46 Rue du Bac
7th arrondissement
Métro: Rue du Bac (12)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm

Design et Nature
4 Rue d’Aboukir
2nd arrondissement
Métro: Sentier (3)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm

A taxidermied lion.

Zen Bar

There are wine bars, cocktail bars, sports bars, hotel bars, and then there is the nap bar, where neighborhood businessmen stop during lunch to take a power nap before the next meeting, shoppers rest their eyes before jumping back into the fray, and weary residents go for a snooze. 

Silly as it may seem, the Zen Bar concept is actually quite clever. You choose between a high-tech massage chair, a memory foam mattress, or the shiatsu experience with heated stones, and then you’re off to dreamland for 15 to 45 minutes. Perfect for recharging from the hectic Parisian lifestyle of gallery hopping and bakery crawling.

The dark green storefront of Zen Bar located in one of Paris' many covered passageways.

Zen Bar
29 Passage Choiseul
2nd arrondissement
Métro: Quatre-Septembre (3) or Pyramides (7, 14)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-8pm

Le 4 Casino

You may be familiar with the Casino supermarket chain. But did you know that one of their stores has a full coworking space upstairs? Just off the Champs-Élysées, Le 4 Casino offers its remote working customers free Wi-Fi, comfortable seats, tables and a fully equipped kitchenette. 

There’s no charge, but you have to buy something from the supermarket, which can be anything from a coffee or a cookie to a bowl from the salad bar, a box of fresh sushi or the ingredients for a little DIY lunch. This unique coworking space is not well known, so there’s usually plenty of space.

Le 4 Casino
4 Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt
8th arrondissement
Métro: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1, 9)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 7am-11pm

The bright orange and fully equipped kitchen corner of the coworking space.

Musée des Égouts

This museum is about… sewage. In addition to the dry part, where you learn about the history and technology of the city’s sewer system, you actually get to go inside the sewer. It’s certainly one of the most educational and unusual of Paris’ many museums. But let us warn you: despite what some reviews say, a visit to the museum is not for those who are sensitive to smells.

Street-art of a sewer rat inside the museum.

A street sign reading "Galerie Turgot".

Musée des Égouts
Esplanade Habib Bourguiba (close to Pont de l’Alma)
7th arrondissement
Métro: Alma-Marceau (9)
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm


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