Travel Hacks

16 of the best free things to do in Paris

Paris, the city of love and the city of lights, is synonymous with all things elegant, romantic, sophisticated and beautiful. So it isn’t news that Paris has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world, but this doesn’t mean you have to miss out if you’re on a tight budget. Whether you enjoy museums, amazing architecture, a quiet place for a picnic, or a stroll through the park, Paris has it all to offer.

Here’s 16 FREE things to do in Paris…

1. Snack on cheese with an Eiffel Tower view

Luckily you can see all the iconic landmarks of Paris for free! Although you do have to pay to go up the Eiffel Tower (unless you’re on a Contiki, of course) and fork out a pretty penny for a meal at the restaurant on the first floor, nothing beats gazing at its grandness from below in the Parc du Champ de Mars. Grab a cheap bottle of French champagne, some baguettes and cheese all for under 10 euros, and enjoy a lunch to remember!

Image source: Contiki

2. ...And then watch this icon light up the night sky

Another amazing view of the tower is from the Place du Trocadèro. Head to this viewing spot at dark and bask in the beauty of La Tour Eiffel as it bursts into a golden sparkling spectacle that lights up the whole city. The light show happens every night after dusk, on the hour for a whole five minutes.

3. Window shop along the Champs-Élysées

Take a stroll down the glamorous Champs-Élysées and window shop the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. Although your budget might limit any couture shopping, I still think everyone deserves to treat themselves to some of the best macaroons in the city from Laudrée.

Image source: Contiki

4. Have your movie moment at the Arc De Triomphe

Macaroons in hand, at the end of the iconic tree-lined avenue you’ll find the world-famous Arc De Triomphe in the chaotic roundabout of The Étoile. The iconic landmark is even more beautiful lit up at night.

5. Catch some live music

If you love live music, you can experience the vivacious nightlife of Paris at Showcase, with free admission before midnight. They host regular live acts of jazz, rock and DJ’s at an amazing location beneath the Alexandre III bridge at Port des Champs Élysées.

6. Museum hop across the city

Paris is home to some of the world’s biggest and best art museums, many of which offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month, including the Lourve, Musée d’Orsay, Musée National Picasso and the Pompidou Centre. Other worthwhile museums with free entry all year round include Musée d’Art de Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Musée de la vie Romantique and Musée Curie.

Image source: Contiki

7. Visit the Basilque du Sacré Coeur

The Basilque du Sacré Coeur, (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris), is a grand white marble church that sits atop the charming district of Montmartre and boasts breathtaking views overlooking the city. You can enter the basilica for free and marvel at its gold mosaic interior, however climbing the spiraling steps to the dome will cost you a few euros.

8. Roam the romantic district of Montmarte

While you’re in the area of Montmartre, take a walk through each alley and enjoy the talented street artists, chic cafes and smell of the crêpes cooking. This picture perfect district really gives you the fairy-tale feel of Paris, so it’s well worth the uphill walk from the Metro station. Watch the quirky French film called Amélie which was based in Montmartre for planning inspiration!

 

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9. Sit front row at a runway show

Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world and is home to the biggest designers and haute couture. For all you fashion fiends, you can catch a free runway show on the 7th floor of the Galeries Lafayette every Friday at 3pm!

10. Snap one for the 'gram at Rue Crémieux

If you’re in the neighborhood of the 12th arrondissement and looking for an insta-worthy backdrop, check out the hidden secret backstreet called Rue Crémieux. You’ll find a cobble stone street with houses painted in pastel and candy hues.

 

 

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11. Pig out at Place d’Aligre

Another hidden gem in the 12th arrondissement is the authentic, lively food market on Place d’Aligre. If you’re a foodie this is the place for you! Feast your eyes on the array of fresh cheeses, local produce, artisan meats and flower stalls.

12. Spend a rainy afternoon at Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company is a charming old bookstore located on the south side of the Notre Dame down by the Seine river, founded in 1919. The store was featured in Ernest Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast, and in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris. This is the perfect place to hang out on a gloomy day and browse through the free reading library of second-hand books.

 

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13. Catch an open air movie (summer only)

If you’re in Paris during the months of July to August, bring your blankets and snacks and head to the green lawns of Parc de la Villette for a free open air cinema! The film festival is on every weekend all summer, with a different theme each year screening French films, international films and old time classics.

14. Pack a picnic and eat al fresco

Dining out in Paris isn’t cheap, so why not opt for a  Parisian style picnic in the park instead? The gardens of the Luxumbourg Palace make the perfect place to relax on a sunny day, among the flower beds and historical sculptures. The Jardin des Tuileries located between the Lourve and the Place de la Concorde makes another perfect place to chill out, or the lesser known Parc De Belleville with panoramic views over the city.

But my favourite place to have a picnic, read a book or do some exercise after one too many choccy croissants is the Place des Vosges. This park is the oldest planned square in Paris, where the locals lounge on the grass by the water fountains. It’s also surrounded by art galleries you can check out for free.

Image source: Contiki

15. Soak in the elegance of the Palais Royal

A short walk from the Lourve you’ll find the Palais Royal, the home of royalty until the Palace of Versailles was built. The palace is a peaceful refuge in the city’s tourist centre, with elegant gardens and a monochromatic courtyard housing contemporary art, which is open to the public. Grab a coffee from Cafe Kitsune and enjoy a quiet moment.

16. Get to know the 'hoods

With something picturesque down every turn, Paris is the best city to explore by foot and get lost aimlessly strolling though the cobblestone streets. Wander through the beautiful neighbourhoods of St Germain, the Le Marais gay quarter and the Latin Quarter, which is my favourite place for an affordable three-course meal in Saint Michel.

 

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