Want to see the Mona Lisa (la Jaconde) at the Louvre? Good luck at getting within 100 feet of her. Visiting Notre Dame Cathedral? Bring a good book; the line to get in can last an hour or more. And this is true of many other popular, well-know sites in Paris. Fortunately - for you - Paris is full of wonders, and many of them are not so well known to the average tourist.
Today begins a five-part series on cool places to go in Paris that are - so far - undiscovered by foreign tourists.
To find it begin at the Opéra Bastille. With your back to the Opéra turn left and begin walking down the Rue de Lyon. Just past the last of the Opéra buildings take the street that veers to the left - Avenue Daumesnil. After about 50 yards you will notice, on your left, a red brick structure with arches and shops on the street level that extends down the avenue as far as you can see.
This structure is actually an old elevated railway. And while on the street level it does indeed house shops and restaurants, above all of this is a truly wonderful and unexpected surprise.
As you stroll down this walkway there will be benches, fountains and grassy areas all along the way where you can sit and enjoy the sun, read a book - or just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. And there are also restaurants and bistros scattered along the route.
You are still in the heart of Paris - but you would never know it. The noise and hustle bustle of the city seem a million miles away. This walkway extends for 3 miles all the way to the Boulevard Periphérique which surrounds Paris - and nary a tourist (except for you) in sight.
So when you reach that point in your Paris vacation when the crowds which infest everywhere you want to visit have started to drive you nuts - escape from it all the way real Parisians do and take a stroll on the Promenade Plantée. It's one of the most pleasant undiscovered secrets of Paris.