13 Free Things to do in Paris
Paris is known for being pretty expensive. But there are plenty of things to do in the French capital that cost absolutely nothing. If you’re looking to explore the city on the budget, you’re in the right place. These are 13 amazingly fun free things to do in the City of Lights…
Top tip to remember: for every first Sunday of the month in Paris entry to most museums is free including Le Louvre. See which others here.
1 Admire the Arc du Triomphe
Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
An iconic landmark. The Arc du Triomphe is a site not to be missed in Paris and it’s free! Just head to the western end of the Champs-Élysées to get a close-up view of it. Napoleon issued the arch to be built to honour those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Did you know the structure is 164ft high and 148ft wide making it the second largest arch on the planet?
2 Go inside the Notre Dame
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
To go inside the Notre Dame is completely free of charge - and of course it also costs nothing to sit and gaze at it from the exterior. It’s a true masterpiece so it’s no wonder that the Notre Dame is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. This Gothic cathedral is located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. It’s best to go early in the morning to avoid queues. To climb up to the actual bell tower you do have to pay up to €10 (but you will be rewarded with a fantastic view at the end - and it’s a killer workout with over 400 steps).
3 Walk through the Quartier Latin
Le Quartier Latin is definitely a place to tick off your Paris bucket list. It’s the heart of student Paris as it was home to the original Sorbonne University campus throughout the Middle Ages until 1968. This area is basically split in two, by Boulevard St. Germain and the Boulevard St. Michel. You should explore both streets which have little crooked side streets leading off them just waiting to be discovered. Quartier Latin has many French bistros, cheap and cheerful bars and cafes and popular landmarks. Here are some things to do in the area:
- Check out the baroque fountain of St. Michel
- Grab a kebab from one of the many Greek restaurants
- Window shop
- See the Pantheon
- Look at all the books in Shakespeare and Company
- Walk down Rue Mouffetard
4 See the Eiffel Tower from Parc du Champ de Mars
Instead of paying to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (or Tour Eiffel), why not enjoy the view of the giant structure from the neighbouring Parc du Champs de Mars for free? From this park you can get a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower. This large green space is the perfect place to set up a picnic, take some photos and watch the Eiffel Tower’s twinkling lights at night.
5 Get cultured at the old churches
Our two favourites churches in the city (other than the Notre Dame) are:
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
One of Paris’ most visited monuments and it’s simply stunning. Admission to the Sacre Coeur is free but it’s the outside that is truly impressive. Perhaps our favourite site in Paris, the Sacre Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church sitting on the highest point of the Butte Montmartre where you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views over the city. It’s recognisable for its white colour and it’s the second highest viewpoint in Paris.
Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France
Situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, Le Madeleine is a beautiful Roman Catholic church dating back to 1764. It resembles a Greek style temple with Corinthian columns. It was built in dedication to Napoleon's army - and is worth a visit to admire the neoclassical architecture. It is free to go inside, opening hours are 9.30am-7pm every day.
6 Stroll around the parks and gardens
Paris is home to some beautiful green spaces to relax and take a quiet break from the busy fast-paced city. Two notable parks to visit include Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg. Jardin des Tuileries is located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde - the landscaping is simply stunning with two gorgeous ponds making for a peaceful retreat. Jardin du Luxembourg is equally as beautiful if not more, covering 23 hectares in close proximity to the Latin Quarter.
7 Explore the Jewish quarter in Marais
Head to Marais and stroll around the Jewish Quarter. It’s one of the most pleasant areas to take a stroll in Paris with a strong Jewish community. The Rue des Rosiers is the main and most lively street of the Jewish area full of quaint shops, the best falafel, historic buildings and rich history.
8 Free walking tour
Tour meeting point
Explore Paris with the Sandemans Free walking tour. Departing daily from Fountain St. Michel the tour covers many main attractions including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc du Triomphe and more. Just remember to tip your tour guide at the end to thank them for their time. You can sign up for the tour at the St Christopher's hostel reception.
9 Walk along Canal Saint Martin
A simple but worthwhile free thing-to-do. Find a nice spot along Canal Saint Martin, read your book, chat with friends, do whatever you please. The canal is 4.5km long lined by lush trees and equipped with foot bridges. People flock to the banks of the canal whether it’s to walk, picnic, cycle and even busk.
10 Check out some street art
While you’re in Paris, head to the 13th arrondissement if you’re a street art fan. Let the walls do all the talking while you stroll around with a cup of coffee. Other notable places to find street art is Rue Saint-Maur and Rue Oberkampf. Rue Saint-Maur is in the 10th and 11th arrondissements and it’s a 2km-long street known for its killer street art.
11 Free museums
On a tight budget? Many of Paris’ greatest museums come at a price including the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. And they aren’t cheap. Instead, why not check out a couple free ones?
Musée d’Art de Moderne de la Ville de Paris
For those interested in contemporary art. Entry is free to the permanent exhibitions.
Musée de la vie Romantique
A charming villa in Pigalle with a courtyard and tea room. This museum is recreates a historical setting evoking the romantic period. With jewellery, portraits and furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
12 Walk past the Louvre
It doesn’t cost a thing to admire the Louvre pyramid from the outside - so definitely make sure to stop here for a snap. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world (home to the Mona Lisa).
13 Get a panoramic view of Paris
From the top of the Galeries laFayette you can get a pretty awesome view of Paris (including the Eiffel Tower). This department store boasts a spectacular view from its rooftop, the perfect place to chill and soak up the charm of the city. There’s also a restaurant and bar up there if you’re feeling peckish.
Article by Shereen Sagoo
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