Welcome to the beautiful city of Paris, France! Known as the City of Love, Paris is a dream destination for many travelers around the world. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder that Paris continues to be one of the most visited cities in the world.
While Paris can be an expensive city to explore, there are also plenty of free activities that allow you to experience the best of what the city has to offer without breaking the bank. In this article, we will share with you the top 10 free things to do in Paris, along with some handy tips and a guide to help you make the most of your visit.
From iconic landmarks to charming neighborhoods, Paris offers a wide range of free attractions and activities for every type of traveler. Whether you’re interested in art and history, scenic views, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant city, you’re sure to find something that captures your interest.
So, if you’re ready to embark on a budget-friendly adventure through the streets of Paris, let’s dive into our top 10 list of free things to do in this enchanting city.
Visit the Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. This towering structure is not only a symbol of the city but also offers breathtaking views of Paris from its observation decks.
While entry to the Eiffel Tower itself is not free, you can still enjoy the beauty of this architectural marvel from the outside without spending a dime. Head to the Champ de Mars park, located at the foot of the tower, where you can have a picnic, relax on the grass, and admire the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower up close.
For a truly memorable experience, consider visiting the Eiffel Tower at night when it’s beautifully illuminated. Every hour, the tower sparkles and glimmers with thousands of lights, creating a magical atmosphere that is sure to leave you in awe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even climb up the stairs to the first and second levels of the Eiffel Tower for a small fee. This allows you to get a closer look at the intricate ironwork and enjoy panoramic views of the city along the way.
Pro Tip: Avoid long queues by planning your visit early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s less crowded. Also, keep in mind that the Eiffel Tower can be seen from various vantage points in the city, such as the Trocadero Gardens, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, and the Seine River, offering alternative perspectives and photo opportunities.
Explore the Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest and most famous museums, home to thousands of priceless artworks, including the renowned Mona Lisa. While admission to the museum does come with a fee, did you know that you can actually visit the Louvre for free during specific times?
Every first Sunday of the month, as well as on Bastille Day (July 14th), the Louvre Museum offers free entry to all visitors. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the museum’s extensive collection without spending a dime. However, do keep in mind that the museum can get quite crowded during these free admission days, so arriving early is recommended.
Even if you’re not able to visit the Louvre Museum on one of the free days, you can still enjoy the magnificent architecture of the museum from the outside. The Louvre Pyramid, located in the main courtyard, is an incredible sight to behold and makes for a great photo opportunity.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting the Louvre Museum on a day with paid admission, consider purchasing your tickets in advance online to skip the line and save time. Additionally, plan your visit strategically by focusing on the sections or artworks that interest you the most to make the most of your time in the museum.
Stroll through the Champs-Elysées
No visit to Paris is complete without a leisurely stroll down the Champs-Elysées. Known as one of the most famous avenues in the world, this iconic street is lined with elegant shops, charming cafes, and historical landmarks.
Walking along the Champs-Elysées will give you a glimpse into the Parisian way of life, as well as the opportunity to window shop or indulge in some people-watching. Admire the stunning architecture, from the Arc de Triomphe at one end to the Place de la Concorde at the other.
While some of the shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysées can be quite pricey, you can still enjoy the ambiance and beauty of the avenue without spending a fortune. Pack a picnic and enjoy it in the nearby Jardin des Tuileries, a picturesque park that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Pro Tip: Plan your visit during the holiday season to see the Champs-Elysées adorned with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. This is truly a magical sight that adds an extra dose of charm to an already enchanting street.
Enjoy the scenic views from Montmartre
For breathtaking panoramic views of Paris, head to the charming neighborhood of Montmartre. Perched on a hill in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre is not only known for its artistic history but also offers stunning vistas of the city.
Start your visit by exploring the picturesque streets of Montmartre, lined with quaint cafes, art galleries, and boutiques. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the days of famous artists like Picasso and Van Gogh who once called this neighborhood home.
Make your way towards the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, a stunning white-domed church that sits at the top of Montmartre. As you climb the stairs to the basilica, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Paris sprawling below.
Once at the top, take some time to explore the grounds of the Sacré-Cœur and enjoy the serene atmosphere. From here, you can gaze out over the city, spotting famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Pro Tip: While visiting the Sacré-Cœur itself is free, keep in mind that there may be a fee to enter the dome or visit certain areas of the basilica. However, the panoramic view from the outside is equally magnificent and won’t cost you a thing.
Discover the beautiful parks of Paris
Paris is home to several stunning parks and green spaces, providing a tranquil oasis in the heart of the bustling city. Take some time to explore these parks, enjoy a picnic, or simply relax and soak up the natural beauty.
One of the most famous parks in Paris is the Jardin du Luxembourg. Located in the 6th arrondissement, this expansive park features beautifully manicured gardens, fountains, and even a picturesque pond where you can rent a small wooden sailboat. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, find a shaded spot under a tree, or watch a game of boules being played by locals.
Another delightful park to explore is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Located in the northeast part of the city, this park offers stunning views from its hilly landscape. It features a large lake, waterfalls, and even a suspension bridge. Take your time to wander through the park’s winding paths and discover its hidden nooks and crannies.
If you’re in the mood for some cultural exploration, head to the Parc de la Villette. This park is known for its modern and artistic atmosphere, with various architectural structures and contemporary art installations scattered throughout. It’s also home to the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the largest science museum in Europe.
Pro Tip: Many of the parks in Paris offer free concerts, performances, and other cultural events during the summer months. Check the schedules in advance to see if there’s anything happening during your visit, and enjoy some entertainment in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Take a leisurely walk along the Seine River
The Seine River is the lifeline of Paris, flowing through the heart of the city and connecting its iconic landmarks. Taking a leisurely walk along the Seine is a delightful way to soak up the beauty of the city and immerse yourself in its romantic atmosphere.
Start your walk at the Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge over the Seine, and make your way along the riverbank. As you stroll, you’ll pass by famous landmarks such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower, each offering a different perspective of Paris.
Along the riverbanks, you’ll find several open-air bookstalls known as “bouquinistes.” These iconic green stalls sell vintage books, postcards, and artwork, making them perfect for browsing and picking up a unique Parisian souvenir.
When you need a break, find a bench or a spot along the riverbank to sit and enjoy the views. You can even bring along a picnic and have a riverside lunch while watching the boats pass by.
Pro Tip: Consider taking a sunset stroll along the Seine to witness the city bathed in a warm golden glow. The combination of the gently flowing river and the illuminated buildings creates a truly magical atmosphere.
Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
One of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in the world, Notre-Dame Cathedral is a must-visit attraction in Paris. While admission to the cathedral itself is free, it offers a magnificent architectural masterpiece and a glimpse into the city’s rich history.
Marvel at the intricate details of the façade, adorned with stunning sculptures and imposing towers. Step inside the cathedral to admire the grandeur of the interior, with its high arched ceilings and stained glass windows that create a kaleidoscope of colors when the sunlight shines through.
While the cathedral tragically suffered from a fire in 2019, plans for its restoration are underway, and visitors are still able to wander around the exterior and take in the view of this iconic Parisian landmark.
Pro Tip: Arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds and fully appreciate the serene atmosphere of the cathedral. Alternatively, attend a mass service if you’re interested in experiencing the religious significance of Notre-Dame.
Explore the charming neighborhood of Le Marais
Located in the heart of Paris, the neighborhood of Le Marais is known for its historic charm, narrow cobblestone streets, and vibrant atmosphere. This trendy district is a perfect place to wander around and discover hidden gems.
Le Marais is home to numerous museums, shops, and art galleries. The Musée Carnavalet, devoted to the history of Paris, and the Musée des Arts et Métiers, showcasing scientific inventions, are among the highlights. Entry to these museums may require a fee, but you can still appreciate the beauty of the neighborhood from the outside.
As you explore the streets of Le Marais, you’ll come across stunning architecture, including the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. Take a moment to sit in one of the cafés or browse the boutiques that line the streets.
Le Marais is also famous for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene and the historic Jewish Quarter. You’ll find a diverse range of shops, restaurants, and bars that cater to different tastes and interests.
Pro Tip: Make sure to visit the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris, where you can sample delicious French and international cuisine at the various food stalls.
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Parisian markets
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture of Paris is by visiting its lively and bustling markets. Exploring these markets allows you to sample delicious food, browse unique goods, and interact with the friendly vendors.
The Marché Bastille is one of the largest and most popular markets in Paris. Located near the Bastille Square, this market boasts a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, gourmet delicacies, and even clothing and crafts. Take your time to stroll through the stalls, taste some delicious samples, and maybe even pick up some souvenirs.
For a more eclectic and bohemian experience, head to the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. This famous flea market is the largest in the world and offers a treasure trove of antique furniture, vintage clothing, artwork, and unique collectibles. Even if you’re not in the mood to buy anything, the lively atmosphere and the chance to witness the art of bargaining make it a must-visit.
In addition to these larger markets, Paris is also known for its neighborhood markets, or “marchés de quartier.” These smaller markets, scattered throughout the city, offer a more intimate experience and a chance to interact with local vendors. Here, you’ll find fresh produce, cheeses, bread, and other essentials.
Pro Tip: Most markets in Paris are open in the morning and close around midday, so plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to bring a reusable bag or basket to carry your purchases, and don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price!
Enjoy free cultural events and exhibitions
Paris is a city known for its vibrant cultural scene, and luckily, many of its events and exhibitions are offered for free. From art exhibitions to music festivals, you can immerse yourself in the art and culture of Paris without spending a dime.
One of the highlights is the Nuit des Musées (Night of Museums), an annual event where museums across the city are open late into the night, allowing visitors to explore their collections free of charge. This is a fantastic opportunity to see famous artworks and learn about Parisian history and culture.
In addition to the Nuit des Musées, many museums and cultural institutions offer free admission on certain days or during specific hours. For example, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is free all year round, while the Musée Picasso offers free entry on the first Sunday of each month.
Throughout the year, Paris also hosts numerous free outdoor concerts and festivals. From classical music performances in the parks to jazz festivals along the Seine River, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music in the open air.
Furthermore, keep an eye on the city’s event calendars for free exhibitions and cultural events happening throughout Paris. From photography exhibitions to contemporary art installations, there’s always something interesting and inspiring to explore.
Pro Tip: Check the websites and social media pages of museums and cultural institutions for updates on free events and exhibitions. Additionally, pick up a copy of the Pariscope or Time Out Paris, both of which provide listings of free and low-cost cultural events happening in the city.
Paris, the City of Love and Lights, offers a wealth of free activities and attractions that allow you to experience the very best of this enchanting city without breaking the bank. From iconic landmarks to beautiful parks, from cultural events to vibrant markets, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower, exploring the Louvre Museum on free admission days, and strolling along the Champs-Elysées are just the beginning. The charming neighborhood of Montmartre and the picturesque Seine River provide stunning views and unforgettable moments. The historical Notre-Dame Cathedral showcases the city’s rich architectural heritage, while Le Marais offers a taste of local charm and culture.
In Paris, you can also immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of markets, savoring the flavors and interacting with the friendly vendors. And don’t forget about the numerous free cultural events and exhibitions that Paris has to offer, providing an opportunity to dive into the art, music, and history of the city.
As you plan your visit to Paris, be sure to take advantage of these free experiences. From enjoying a picnic in a park to admiring world-class art, you can create lasting memories without spending a fortune. Paris truly has something magical to offer every traveler, regardless of budget.
So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on a budget-friendly journey through the charming streets of Paris. Discover the city’s hidden treasures, soak up its romantic atmosphere, and create unforgettable moments that will stay with you long after you’ve bid au revoir to this captivating city.