20 Things To Do For Free In Paris, France
It is no secret that Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its location by the River Siene coupled with its deep historical associations through landmarks has made it the most visited city on earth. 45 million people come to Paris each year and you can’t blame them; the city has some of the most iconic museums and monuments such as the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. Here is a rundown of 20 things that you can do for free while in Paris.
Things To Do In Paris
flickr/Tracey & Doug
Most people derive pleasure from taking indulgent peeks at wild curiosities and objects of art they don’t even want to buy in the first place. For the guilty, window shopping provides the best opportunity to yield to this pastime. The best place to do this in Paris is the antiques fair and flea market St-Ouen. Here, you can let your mind run riot knowing that at the end of it you will have had an insight into the French culture. The flea market is quite a stretch from Porte de Clignancourt all the way to where souvenir stalls are succeeded by side streets full of great buys. This bazaar is thought to be Europe’s biggest and has among many other things, brass diving bells, bearskin rugs and antique tapestries to haggle over.
If sentimental and romantic photo opportunities get you mushy then the Love Wall in Montmartre may be a test of a lifetime. To conquer your heart however, join millions of visitors who come to this mural to grab a kissy holiday photo moment. This mural with the phrase ‘I love you’ in hundreds of different languages, was thought out by a Parisian Frederic Baron. In his quest to appropriately gift the city of love a befitting present, he teamed with a renowned calligrapher Claire Kito to illustrate this mural. The other upside of visiting the Love Wall is it proximity to the white Sacré-Coeu (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) which can also accessed for free.
The ease with which this sweeping city park can swallow a visitor’s day is one of the reasons visiting it is one of the best things to do for free in Paris. This beautifully landscaped garden whose creation begun in 1612 is Paris’ second largest; it now belongs to the French Senate. The lush park has several monuments, hundreds of statues including Frédéric Bartholdi’s model of the Statue of Liberty. If you want to cool down a bit and peruse a few pages of the bestselling novel you parked in your holiday valise then any spot inside the Luxembourg Garden would be ideal.
There is no denying that Notre Dame is one of the leading attractions in Paris visited by some ten million tourists annually. The naturalist sculptures and the spiky apse of this icon complete its dominance over the Siene. It’s splendidly stained glass windows and the lanky gothic buttresses are a charm regardless of where you view them from. The Cathédrale is open daily from 7.45 a.m. to 6.45 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. on Sunday but you need to get there early to avoid the long queues. You might want to take advantage of the free one and a half hour English guided tours at 2.00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays at 2.30 p.m.
If you want to explore the main museums of Paris then you might want to plan your visit to coincide with the first weekend of the month. This is because these museums have a fantastic offer that allows visitors in for free every first Sunday of the month! This offer covers the visitor magnets like Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre as well as other minor but pleasurable spots like Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens.
This is Paris’ single largest concentration of artisan bakers, cheese shops and gourmet sweet stalls. The cobblestoned street market comes alive on Saturdays when it closes off to become one big food market full of dramatic foodies and equally charged but delightful vendors. One of the many delicacies to look forward to is the rose shaped ice-cream available from Gelati d’Alberto.
Take a crash course of the city of Paris in Musée Carnavalet. This tour will provide you with insights into city’s origins and the slow but steady progression it has made to become the fashion and sophistication capital it is today. The museum’s permanent collection is free to view so you can wander through the drawing rooms as well as the intricately reconstructed baroque interiors. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The enchanting walkway that is La Promenade Plantée can be accessed from Avenue Daumesnil just after the Bastille métro stop. This 4.5 kilometer railroad track is elevated as such you get to have a superb view of the city as you sidle through arches of lush greenery well above the city crowds. You will go up and down flights of staircases, peep across viaducts and even get a chance to wave at homeowners whose apartments face this attraction.
Right between Gare du Nord and République along in Paris’ 10th arrondissement is Canal St. Martin, a lively waterside haunt frequented by chic Parisians. You can join them here while the sun is setting or simply skip stones. This attraction is an ideal spot for a picnic, having some wine or just sitting and eavesdropping on the locals (you however will need to first perfect your grasp of the language of French).
This gleaming white marble church is the icing of the touristic cake that is the Montmartre District located in the 18th arrondissement. Visiting Sacré Coeur is easily one of the top things to do for free in Paris. The church’s interior is adorned with gold mosaics and tall stained glass windows plus it plays home to one of the heaviest bells in the world. You can walk the interiors of the church for free but will have to pay a small fee is you want to explore the crypt or climb to the dome.
A walk along the Seine is very rejuvenating at night, especially if you’ve had a busy day scouring the delights of the beautiful city of Paris. This location also has some of the best viewpoints of the city’s leading attractions. It is even more fun during summer because of the lively company you will encounter. Remember to stop by the Pont des Arts close by the Louvre and take in the grand view before you.
Being the fashion capital that it is, Paris holds a great fashion week. Getting a seat to this may however be too dear for many visitors to afford. The Galeries Lafayette however gives visitors something to look forward to by holding free shows every Friday afternoon. These shows feature professional models sashaying the runways to showcase the store’s latest collection. Free as these shows may be, it still pays to book early in advance or even confirm if and when they will be on.
The bizarre and surreal structures of Pompidou Centre’s do have an enlightening effect on visitors. It however is the performers in the surrounding street who provide the real thrill. These mimes, clowns, buskers and magicians perform for tourists as well as locals. They don’t tire despite staging their entertaining shows all day long.
Parisian magic and Square du Vert-Galant are synonymous because this attraction is the best place in Paris to stir the said magic. This cozy park located on the western edge of Île de la Cité is accessible by taking the stairs from Pont Neuf. It is another perfect place to pop a cork especially in the evening when it is dotted with other people taking in the Parisian evening charm. The view of boats sailing by as well as the occasional tea lights that float with the boats only add to the magic.
Place de la Concorde occupies some 8 hectares and is the largest of all Parisian squares. It is located on the eastern edge of Champs-Élysées in Paris’ 8th Arrondissement and looks straight towards the city’s most iconic attraction, the Eiffel Tower. It therefore is the most appropriate spot in the entire city to get the best shot of France’s most famous landmark. So don’t be shy, get out your camera and click away, you might just end up with photos great enough to make friends back at home really jealous. The square is also a great place for visitors looking to hang out and watch the hours slip by. There is a lot of free entertainment provided by musicians, dancers and street entertainers so you might want to sway to this in appreciation of the musicians’ efforts and talents.
The crowded cafés and the chic stores that populate Champs-Élysées are places you might want to experience during the day if you want to really spice your visit. It also is worth coming back at night since the avenue’s impressive width can only fully be appreciated then. The abundant lights that shine on it during the night provide another aspect not many visitors know of. The magic of this iconic avenue stretches all the way to another famous Parisian landmark, the Arc de Triomphe which was conceived and constructed by Napoleon Bonaparte. A combination of these two landmarks does often inspire visitors to take out their cameras so they can immortalize the magic of Paris.
This museum located in 11, Avenue du Président Wilson in the city’s 16th arrondissement offers collections that highlight France’s contemporary and modern art done mainly in the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum’s permanent collection includes Braque’s bolshy cubism as well as Matisse’s dancers. Other famous works exhibited in this museum include Amedeo Modigliani’s portrait of Lunia Czechowska with a fan, Wassily Kandinsky’s on the points and Le pigeon aux petits pois by Pablo Picasso. The museum is open every Tuesday through to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you want to get to the peak of the Eiffel Tower, plan on spending almost fifteen Euros. Considering that the views at Champ de Mars are equally as phenomenal as those at the summit, you might want to consider saving the fifteen euros and instead taking it easy in this large public green space. Located between the Eiffel Tower and the Military School, it is the perfect spot for having some private blankets and wine festival.
Théâtre du Lucernaire on 53 Rue Notre-Dame des Champs is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. and offers the best of French cinema, art and theater. The beauty of it is that the theater is surrounded by very welcoming coffee hangouts and has a lot of cost free activities like regular photo exhibitions. It is a perfect place for a visitor to have fun.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont has about 7 kilometers of paved paths and roads providing a lot of opportunities sightseeing and exploration. The small belvedere in the park is the main attraction. Its position atop an island on the enchanting lake provides visitors with such an awesome view. Visiting this park sure is one of the best things to do for free in Paris.