Budget Travel

20 of the greatest free things to complete in Paris: explore France's capital inexpensively

Sleek and sophisticated, the town of affection isn't noted for as being a cheap date. However, Paris includes a whole heap of fun and free attractions even the most budget traveler can also enjoy, ranging from free-entry museums and galleries to frenzied markets and canal-side strolls.

Here are the most useful samples by mail to do in Paris.

Watch the Eiffel Tower light show from Parc du Champ de Mars

A lift to the top level of the Eiffel Tower can squeeze your budget but views from below can be equally stunning. Parc du Champ de Mars has lawns and flowerbeds manicured with military precision (as you'd expect from a former army marching ground). Bring a blanket, wine, and also the best picnic ingredients you'll find for this expanse of greenery and wait for a light show at dusk to set La Tour Eiffel a-twinkle.

Go window-shopping in Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

Window-shopping (or lécher les vitrines to the locals) is a superb method to take an indulgent peek at objets d'art and wild curiosities you'd never buy. The St-Ouen flea market and antiques fair is the perfect spot to let your imagination run riot. Marvel at bearskin rugs, antique tapestries, and brass diving bells in this decadently eccentric marketplace. (But try to keep your eyebrow-raising under control when you look at the prices.) Hop from the metro at Porte de Clignancourt (line 4) and continue underneath the bridge before the souvenir stalls cave in to side streets filled with beautiful buys.

See the permanent collections at Musée d'Art Moderne en Ville de Paris

For a surreal view of French culture, dive in to the permanent collections in the Museum of contemporary Art, one of Paris's many free museums (a EUR5 donation is usually recommended). From the bolshy cubism of Braque to Matisse's dancers, there's certain to be something to lift your spirits. Take metro line 9 and alight at Alma-Marceau.

Take an atmospheric stroll through Cimitière du Père Lachaise

The most haunting spot in Paris allows you to rub shoulders using the ghosts of literary greats like Proust and Balzac, and modern icons like Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. Jim Morrison also lies in this ancient cemetery, his grave barricaded off and away to protect it from over-zealous fans who make a musical pilgrimage here. The tree-lined avenues and calling crows make Père Lachaise probably the most atmospheric walk in Paris. Go to the 20th arrondissement and jump off the metro at Père Lachaise (line 2) or Gambetta (line 3).

Promenade in Parc Monceau

If celebrity-spotting in a cemetery is too morbid, march among France's greats in Parc Monceau, that has statues of luminaries such as the composer Chopin and celebrated writer Guy de Maupassant. The park's rich history makes it a fascinating destination to promenade (stroll): this peaceful green space was the site of the massacre in 1871, and was a favorite painting spot for Monet. Toss in an extra freebie with a gander in the wonderful assortment of rarely seen Chinese statuary showcased in the Musée Cernuschi, a municipal Asian Art Museum in a elegant mansion near the park's eastern entrance on av Vélasquez. Take line 2 towards the Monceau metro station in the 8th arrondissement.

Enter Basilique du Sacré-Coeur free of charge

This palatial white marble church crowns the lively Montmartre district within the 18th arrondissement. Its interior is bedecked with gold mosaics and towering stained-glass windows, and you may listen for that peal of one of the world's heaviest bells. There's electric power charge to ascend into the dome or explore the crypt, but visiting the basilica is free. This is also a great place in the future during the night, using the monument lit up by floodlights, and couples strolling happily arm in arm with the neighborhood.

Walk along the Seine by Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Festooned with gargoyles and Gothic touches, the imposing Cathédrale Notre Dame is an icon of Paris and a must-see for every visitor. Although the interior of the structure remains closed to visitors following a devastating fire of April 2022, you may still stroll along the neighboring Seine to have an alternate view of the cathedral's beautiful exterior.

Explore Roman heritage at Arènes de Lutèce

Trace the ruins of Paris' Roman heritage at the Arènes de Lutèce in the Latin Quarter. Dating back to 1AD, it is regarded as a long Roman amphitheater ever constructed. While the arena no longer hosts gladiatorial fights, it will provide a space for a competitive sport believe it or not formidable: pétanque.

Wander the paths of Cimitière du Montparnasse

The final resting spot for countless glamorous and intellectual Parisians, Montparnasse cemetery is less ostentatious than Père Lachaise but ideal for a serene stroll. Get closer than you thought easy to Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Samuel Beckett. Ride metro line 6 to the Edgar Quinet or Raspail stop.

Enjoy peace in Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Paris' steepest park is difficult in your calf muscles but a feast for the senses. With abundant birdlife, rocky reliefs, and even a waterfall masterminded by landscaping genius Baron Haussmann, it's not hard to forget you're in France's hectic capital. Find the park from Botzaris and Buttes Chaumont metro stops (both line 7) in the 19th arrondissement.

See into the mind of an artist at Atelier Brancusi

Immerse yourself in the smooth shapes of Brancusi's sculpture having a free visit (between 2pm and 6pm) to his recreated studio while watching Centre Pompidou. The Romanian-born abstract sculptor, who moved to Paris in 1903, is considered an innovator of modernism, producing beloved works like The Kiss (not to be confused with Rodin's sculpture of the same name, which may be seen across town at the Musée Rodin). This Brancusi workshop is a lovingly assembled and surprisingly intimate glimpse into the mind of the artist.

Picnic alongside Canal St-Martin

Join chic Parisians at the water's edge while the sun goes down or skip stones such as the heroine of Amélie. The lively waterside haunt of Canal St-Martin, between République and Gare du Nord within the 10th arrondissement, is the perfect spot to bring an open-air picnic, pop a cork, and eavesdrop on the locals.

Travel through history at Musée Carnavalet

Experience a tour de force through Paris' history, from the ancient origins to the fashion-forward capital of sophistication it's today. Musée Carnavalet's permanent collection is free to go to, allowing you to saunter through fin-de-siècle drawing rooms and delicately reconstructed baroque interiors without spending a euro. The nearest metro stops are Chemin Vert (line 8) and Saint Paul (line 1).

Pick up picnic supplies on rue Mouffetard

This cobblestoned market street is crammed with artisan bakers, fromageries, and gourmet sweet shops. Visit it on the Saturday when it closes off and away to form a huge food market, and listen out for the hum of bartering foodies and vendors enthusiastically touting their wares.

Tour the colourful Belleville neighborhood

A stroll along the streets of Belleville, a district with a good reputation for rebellion and multicultural flair, is certain to fire the imagination. Belleville's bustling Chinatown and artist residents turn it into a lively place to explore. Wander up rue de Belleville to see where tragic chanteuse (female singer) Edith Piaf has been said to have been born within street lamp, then turn right onto pedestrian rue Dénoyez where you'll find Paris' most dazzling street art. End your Belleville encounter having a meander through leafy Parc de Belleville, offering first-class views within the city.

Walk a former railway track at La Promenade Plantée

A railroad track with a floral makeover, this elevated walkway offers superb views and allows you to sidle through lush green archways high over the city crowds. The charming 4.5km (2.8 mile) pathway runs through the majority of the 12th arrondissement and you can join it from ave Daumesnil near the Bastille metro stop.

Overload your senses using the smells and sights of Marché d'Aligre

Feast your vision on the finest local produce only at that fabulous covered food market on Place d'Aligre in the 12th arrondissement. Mountains of cheese, artisan butchers, and a field of flower stalls can send you into sensory overload after wandering through a few aisles. It's worth parting with some cash for any discreet glass of Bordeaux and to get your hands floury on the crusty baguette, but otherwise admiring the mouthwatering produce is free of charge. Ride metro line 8 towards the Ledru-Rollin stop.

Tour the lovely artworks at Musée de la Vie Romantique

If you are in Paris for that romance, there is no lovelier free place compared to Musée de la Vie Romantique, a museum focused on two artists active throughout the Romantic era: writer George Sand and painter Ary Scheffer. Squirreled away at the end of a film-worthy cobbled lane, the villa originally belonged to Scheffer and was the setting for popular salons of the day, attended by notable figures for example Delacroix, Liszt, and Chopin (Sand's lover). Objects within the museum centrer around Sand and Scheffer's life, with one notable inclusion as being a bust of Chopin's left-hand.

Catch free seasonal events in Parc en Villette

As well as being one of Paris's largest green spaces, the Parc de la Villette can also be one of the cultural hubs from the city, the place to find the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (City of Science and Industry) museum, Philharmonie de Paris concert hall, and Grande halle en Villette, an abattoir turned contemporary exhibition space. Though many of these institutions charge entry fees, each regularly hosts free events, sometimes in the actual grounds from the park, with a notable example the Parc en Villette open-air cinema, which screens films to picnicking crowds throughout July and August.

Go to Paris' free festivals

Paris comes with an array of exciting, free festivals available throughout the year. Stay up all night viewing eclectic art instillations in quirky locations during La Nuit Blanche (October), see pros and rising stars perform impromptu sets through the city for Fête en Musique (June) or catch the grand military parade (and accompanying revelry) along ave des Champs-'Elysées that kick-starts Bastille Day (July).

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