Free things to do in Paris the City of Lights

Paris is one of Europe’s favourite capital cities, boasting incredible architecture beautiful churches, and world class museums. Who can forget one of the most famous boulevards in the world – the Champs Élysées? But having all these wonderful sights and attractions within the boundaries of the city can make visiting an expensive experience. Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom; here are seven free things to do in Paris to help give your wallet a break.

Notre Dame de Paris

free things to do in Paris - Visit Notre Dame de Paris, photo Make Time To see the World

Visit Notre Dame de Paris, photo/Make Time To see the World

Notre Dame de Paris, one of the famous gothic churches in Europe, is a must-see in Paris. Over the years its gargoyles have been immortalised in literature and film. Light shining through its stained glass windows creates beautiful, intricate patterns on the floors inside the church. While admission to the ground floor and grounds is free, there’s a small fee to climb the Belfry and follow in the footsteps of the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s. The view over the city is worth the price of admission.

Visit museums

Frere things to do in Paris - You can visit the Louvre for free the first Sunday of the month, photo courtesy Make Time to See the World You can visit the Louvre for free the first Sunday of the month, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World#sharetravelpics #bestoftheday #travelphoto #travelgram

You can visit the Louvre for free the first Sunday of the month, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Paris has over 130 Museums; whilst the big name museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month (year round for d’Orsay and between October and March for the Louvre), there are plenty of other museums that offer free entry to their permanent collections throughout the year. These include the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, Le Memorial de la Shoa, (a very well presented memorial to the Holocaust), and the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, displaying art from a range of periods including Medieval, Renaissance and major French artists of the 19th century.

Visit a park

free things to do in Paris - People watch or just relaz at the Jardin des Tuileries, photo courtesy Make Time to See the World

People watch or just relax at the Jardin des Tuileries, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Paris is one huge metropolis but there is a surprising number of large green open spaces, all of which are completely free to enter, walk around, meet and relax. There is The Parc du Champ de Mar, the very pretty garden that stretches out in front of the Eiffel Tower; the Luxembourg Gardens on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter; the Jardin des Tuileries, set between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde with over 200 sculptures AS well as the woods and Jardin des serres d’Auteuil at the Bois de Boulogne.

Walking the Banks of the Seine

free things to do in Paris - Walk along the banks of The Seine, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Walk along the banks of The Seine, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Granted UNESCO Heritage status in 2001, the banks of the Seine tell the story of Paris’ history, from industrialisation to gentrification. The banks are a great place to stroll and soak in the Parisian atmosphere. A favourite with tourists and locals alike, the banks are full of life. Should you decide to take a stroll at night, you’ll also get a unique perspective on the 33 bridges across the Seine that are beautifully lit up.

Check out rooftop views of Paris

freet things to do in Paris- View of Paris from the roof of Printemps Department Store photo/ Make Time to See the World

View of Paris from the roof of Printemps Department Store photo/Make Time to See the World

There are two spots right in the Centre of Paris where you can step outside and be among the rooftops of Paris. The first is La Terrace on the top of the Galleries Lafayette Building, open from 9.30am to 7.30pm every day. The second is the Rooftop Café at the Printemps building where you’ll need to take the elevator as far up as it goes and then take an escalator up. It’s totally worth it!

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Scare Coeur, located at the top of Montmartre, is a beautiful building both in daylight, and when lit up at night. Entry to the ground floor is free and open from 6am to 10pm daily. There’s a small fee If want to climb to the top of the dome which offers one of the best views in Paris. It’s worth it! My top tip: make sure you are here at dusk. Street performers entertain as the sun sets over Paris. If you stay long enough, you’ll get to see the lights of the Eiffel Tower from one of the best vantage points in the city.

Watching the Lights of the Eiffel Tower Twinkle

Free things to do in Paris - Eiffel Tower lit up at dusk, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

Eiffel Tower lit up at dusk, photo/courtesy Make Time to See the World

One of my favourite free things to do in Paris is to watch the lights of the Eiffel Tower twinkle. For five minutes on the hour every night, from sunset until 1am there’s a mini-light show. It is one of the prettiest light shows I have ever seen. Great spots to catch the show are the steps outside Sacre Coeur (as mentioned above) or the Parc du Champ de Mar (the gardens directly in front of the Eiffel Tower).

While it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, these free things to do in Paris are a great way to get the most from your budget.  Enjoy your time in the City of Lights!

What are your favorite free things to do in Paris?

Vicki Garside, originally from the UK now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has visited 39 countries and has lived and worked in 6. Her blog, MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld specializes in short term travel itineraries and tips, highlighting the must-do’s and off the beaten path  treasures a destination has to offer. Her aim: to help those who work FT get the most from their vacations. if you’re feeling social, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Just discovered 10 Non-Touristy Things to do in Paris: Tips from a Local. It’s a great list of places you may never have heard of. The best news: many of these places are free!

Here are more posts in our free things to do series:

Free things to do in Santa Fe
Free things to do in San Diego
8 free things to do in Melbourne
5 free things to do in Seattle
5 free things to do in London
Free things to do in Ipoh, Malaysia
Free things to do in Budapest
11 free things to do in Edinburgh
Free things to do in Lisbon
Free things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Free things to do in Ottawa
7 Free things to do in Rome
5 free things to do in Copenhagen
5 free things to do in Barcelona

 

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