15 Free Things To Do In Paris

15 Free Things To Do In Paris

There’s no doubt about it – Paris can be an expensive city. But don’t let that dissuade you from visiting this beautiful place! We have put together a list of 15 great free things to do in Paris. Your wallet will thank us!

1. Champs Elysees

The iconic Champs Elysees is one of the best known streets in Paris. You’ve probably seen it in a dozen movies, TV shows, and on final stretch of the Tour de France. Go for a stroll down the tree-lined avenue, which leads you right to the beautiful Arc de Triomphe. Some of the flagship luxury stores have actually moved away from the Champs Elysees due the outrageous rent, but you can still find a few big names like Louis Vuitton. There are also a few luxury restaurants, but we wouldn’t recommend stopping off for lunch – it will probably drain your whole week’s budget!

Location: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 8e Arrondissement

Metro stop: Franklin D. Roosevelt

National Museum of Modern Art Paris France

2. National Museum of Modern Art

You can see the permanent collections of the National Museum of Modern Art for free – and there’s hardly any crowds! Big tick of approval from us on both fronts. The museum specialises in modern and contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and is a great introduction to modern art in Paris. There are also temporary exhibitions here, but you need to buy an entry ticket for these.

Location: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris11 avenue du Président Wilson

Metro stop: Iena

Deportation Memorial Paris France

3. The Deportation Memorial

This deeply moving memorial is located near Notre Dame Cathedral on Ill de la Cite island. The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation remembers the 200,000 people deported from France during World War II to Nazi concentration camps. The memorial’s design evokes particular characteristics of the Nazi camps, such as imprisonment, oppression and the inability to escape. You can easily lose an hour or so in the memorial wandering the crypts, which provide confronting details of the horrors faced by deportees in these camps.

Location: Mémorial des Martyrs de la DéportationSquare de l’Ile de France 

Metro stop: Pont Marie

L'Orangerie Paris France

4. Museums on the first Sunday of the month

A few big name museums in Paris offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month (all year round), including:

  • Centre Pompidou – a huge modern art museum with permanent collections and temporary exhibits (Musee national d’art moderne, Place Georges Pompidou)
  • Musée de l’Orangerie – home to Monet’s ‘Water Lillies’ (Jardin Tuileries)
  • Musee d’Orsay – one of the largest Impressionist art collections in the world (1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur)
  • Musee national Picasso – a large collection of Picasso’s works (Hôtel Salé – 5 rue de Thorigny)

You can find a full list here.

Travelators Tip: Don’t expect to see all the free big name museums on a single Sunday. Not only are the museums themselves huge, but the lineups are out of control. Get there early!

Galerie Montmarte Paris

5. Galerie Montmarte

We stumbled across this little art gallery while wandering around Montmarte. It is situated on the square at Place du Tertre, where portrait painters and other artists gather en mass to paint and sell their wares. The gallery has a great collection of modern and street art, holding exhibitions of some impressive modern artists including Picasso, Dali, Matisse and Miro.

Location: 11 Place du Tertre, Montmarte

Metro stop: Abbessess

Notre Dame Paris France

6. Notre Dame Cathedral

There is something really enchanting about Notre Dame Cathedral. We have visited plenty of cathedrals, but this is still probably our favourite. The first stone of Notre Dame was laid in 1163, but the stunning cathedral wasn’t finished for over 200 years. Notre Dame has predominately been used as a place of worship, but at one point it was  a marketplace and was even scheduled for demolition. Thankfully, Parisians rallied to save it!

Location: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II

Metro stop: Saint Michel Notre Dame

Sacre Coeur Montmarte Paris

7. Sacre Coeur Basilica

The imposing Scare Coeur Basilica is impressively mounted upon a hill overlooking Montmarte and the rest of Paris. Sacre Coeur is much younger than Notre Dame, with the first stone laid in 1875, but is arguably just as beautiful. You can’t beat the view over Paris from the steps either. There are lawns in front of the Basilica which are also a great spot for a picnic.

Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre

Metro stop: Anvers

8. Le Marais

Le Marais is the funky Jewish district in Paris, with winding cobble stoned alleyways full of cool boutique shops and cafes. Even if you aren’t in the mood for shopping, it is well worth wandering around to see a different side of Paris. If you’re hungry drop in to the traditional deli at Schwartz’s (lunch is not free though – obviously).

Location: Le Marais district is near Centre Pompidou, stretching across the 3rd and 4th Arrondissement.

Metro stop: Saint Paul

Garden near Louvre Tuileries

9. The Tuileries Garden

This beautiful garden is located right beside the Louvre, and is a relaxing spot to unwind after a crowded trip inside! There are sculptures and fountains dotted around the park. Plus, there are free garden chairs sitting around the park. Try to nab one and settle in for a picnic!

Location: 113 Rue de Rivoli

Metro stop: Concorde

Obelisk of Luxor Paris France

10. Obelisk of Luxor

The Obelisk of Luxor is located in the middle of Place de la Concorde. While it seems like any ordinary square now, this was one of the bloodiest sites of the French Revolution. The square was overtaken by revolutionaries who executed more than 1300 people by guillotine, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The guillotine was eventually replaced by the Obelisk of Luxor, an impressive 22 metre high edifice from Egypt. The Obelisk is over 3,300 years old and the heiroglyphics inscribed tell the story of Ramses II and Ramses III.

Location: Place de la Concorde

Metro stop: Concorde

Travelator Tip: If you love Egyptian history, you can’t miss the Egyptian Antiquities collection at the Louvre. Not free of course, but definitely worth a visit.

Pont Alexandre III Paris

11. Pont Alexandre III

This stunning arch bridge is probably the best decorated and most iconic bridge in Paris. It was also featured in Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ music video so is apparently now also known as ‘Adele Bridge’. We’re not sure how we feel about that…

Location: Pont Alexandre III, near Le Petit Palais

Metro stop: Invalides

12. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

It may sound a bit grim suggesting to visit a cemetery, but we promise it’s not that bad. The cemetery is Paris’ most prestigious address to be buried, and is actually quite beautiful. There are thousands of old tombs and gravestones, many of which date back hundreds of years. There are also quite a few famous residents at Peirre Lachaise, including Jim Morrison, Chopin and Oscar Wilde.

Location: 16 Rue du Repos

Metro stop: Pere Lachaise

Eiffel Tower Paris France

13. The best lookout to see the Eiffel Tower

We think the view from Trocadero is probably the best (free) view you will get of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. To get there, catch the metro to the La Tour-Maubourg stop (lines 6 and 9).

Location: Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre

Metro stop: Trocadero

14. WeGo Walking Tour

After a couple of months in Europe taking free walking tours, we had become a bit disheartened. We had remembered them from our first visit (back in 2007) as being a fun way to learn more about the places we were visiting, ask questions and meet locals. But alas, most have turned into ‘McDonald’s Tours’ – you (and 40 others) hear a script from a non-local guide who tends to spend more time touting the company’s paid tours than actually answering your questions.

But WeGo Walking Tours was different. WeGo is what free walking tours should be. The company is run by Paul and his wife, who both call Paris their home. The tour size is limited, which makes the tour much more personal and informative. You can tell Paul is really passionate about Paris and the experience of his visitors. The tour is ‘free’, but at the end you pay what you think the tour was worth (it works on a tip system). We cannot recommend WeGo Walking Tours highly enough. (Note: WeGo didn’t pay us for this plug – we were just like any other tourist on the tour!).

Location: Meet near the entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Check WeGo Walking Tour’s website for details.

Metro stop: Saint Michel Notre Dame

Travelator Tip: WeGo Walking Tours are very popular, so book ahead! You can book on their website.

Booksellers Seine Paris France

15. The Booksellers of the Seine

These legendary second-hand book sellers line around 3 kilometres of the banks of the Seine selling antique and used books. Their green book stalls are now iconic, and were even declared UNESCO World Heritage site. The tradition of selling second-hand books began in the 16th century, and has continued ever since. On a sunny day, you will still find them selling their wares along the Seine to locals and tourists alike.

Location: Les bouquinistes de Paris, Bords de Seine – du Pont Marie au quai Voltaire

Metro stop: Saint Michel Notre Dame

Have you found any other great free things to do in Paris? Let us know in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “15 Free Things To Do In Paris

  1. Great article 🙂 even some things I didnt know.
    Concerning museums, I’ll add : some museums are free in the evnening time and some are free for students and under 26 year-old. Easy to find on gg.
    If you come again to France, visit Lille, my City for 9 years 🙂

    Happy travelling in France !

    1. Great tip thanks! We actually went to Lille back in 2008, and thought it was a beautiful city. If we ever return we will get in touch!

  2. Among these are some of my favorite things to do in Paris! I accidentally stumbled upon Sacre Coeur Basilica, and wow what a view! Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world!

    xx
    Elizabeth

    1. We totally agree – the Sacre Coeur is incredibly beautiful! We were actually staying around the corner in an AirBnB apartment so were lucky enough to see it every day. Thanks for commenting!

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