20 Free Things to do in Paris, France

Paris is a magical place. Paris can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be.  I lived in Paris a few summers ago when I studied at the Sorbonne and I have visited every year since then. What I have learned is that you do not need to spend a lot of money to experience the real Paris. I’ve put together my list of 20 Free Things to do in Paris, You’ll Actually Want to do.

There is a ton of budget things to do in Paris and best of all there is a lot of free things to do too! My list is all free stuff that you will actually want to do. After all you’re in Paris so you should enjoy yourself. Don’t feel like you have to tackle everything as I have amassed this list over several years. Get ready to fall in love with Paris, the city of lights.

20 Free Things to do in Paris

20 Free Things to do in Paris1. Trocadero Carousel

Carousels will forever be one of my favorite things in the world. Paris happens to have one of the cutest ones, the Trocadero Carousel. The perfect amount of whimsy clashes with the steel Eiffel Tower behind it for a truly unique scene. Steps from the Eiffel Tower, this makes it a popular spot. If you would like photos get here early in the day.

2.Visit Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette is not only gorgeous but also the second most visited attraction in Paris. Shopping isn’t the only way to enjoy this huge department store. Head to the rooftop for free and stunning views of Paris. Witness one of their twice-weekly fashion shows. Mondays and Fridays at 3pm, don’t forget to reserve your spot by email or telephone. More info here.

3. Sacre Coeur

While visiting the dome and crypt of the basilica will cost you money, visiting the basilica is free. The Sacré Coeur is a great example of the Roman-Byzantine style. It is recognizable by its white color and gorgeous stained glass windows. The Sacre-Coeur is the second highest point of the city. It offers some impressive views of the city below.

20 Free Things to do in Paris4. Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous churches in the world. Forever ingrained in my mind as the magical backdrop for the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  While going inside is stunning and free, outside is my favorite part of the cathedral. The cathedral is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. I love to watch the locals and birds outside. It is the perfect backdrop for some portraits of locals.

5. Visit Monmarte 

Monmarte is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Paris. Greats artists like Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso all lived here. Filled with street art, cafes and the cutest boutiques, you can easily wander around for hours. Make your way to the top of the Monmarte hill and enjoy gorgeous views of the city. Often there are performers outside of the Sacré-Coeur. One of the best places to view the Eiffel tower is from the steps of the basilica.

6. Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. Yet it is often overlooked by tourists. The park which was commissioned by Napoleon the second, was to be a oasis for Parisians. One of the most unique parts is the Belvedere Island. Sitting in the middle of an artificial lake it offers one of the best views of the Sacré Coeur. The park also has a grotto, waterfall and even a suspension bridge.

20 Free Things to do in Paris7. Pont Alexander III

Pont Alexander III in my opinion is the prettiest bridge in all of Europe. Created for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, it is listed as historic monument. The bridge is a great example of Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau décor. It exemplifies the Parisian Belle Époque (“Beautiful Era”) of 1871 to 1914.

8. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Admittedly visiting a cemetery may not be on the top of everyones bucket list. While a bit morbid, Pere Lachaise Cemetery is the resting place for a bunch of famous artists. Like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Édith Piaf and Marcel Proust. Did we mention it is also the largest park in Paris?

9. Parc du Champ de Mars

Champ de Mars is the classic Parisian picnic spot. Every time I visit Paris I make sure to visit. Right at the foot of the famous Eiffel Tower, the park is the perfect place to see the sparkling lights and pop a bottle of champagne. You absolutely must plan a visit to see the Eiffel Tower lite up at night. The five-minute show, which happens every hour on the hour starts after sunset.

20 Free Things to do in Paris10. Jardin de Luxembourg

Jardin de Luxembourg is one of my favorite parts of Paris. When I lived in Paris I came here weekly. Whether it was strolling along the gorgeous lawns, visiting the gardens, watching children race sailboats in the lake, I always had something to do.

11. Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau is the funkiest park in Paris. It was created in 1778 for the Duke of Chartres, Philippe d’Orléans, the cousin of Louis XVI. He wanted to create a park filled with wonders from around the world. It has a Chinese Garden, fake Roman ruins, a mini Egyptian pyramid and even a Dutch windmill.

12. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Admittedly visiting a cemetery may not be on the top of everyones bucket list. While a bit morbid, Pere Lachaise Cemetery is the resting place for a bunch of famous artists. Like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Édith Piaf and Marcel Proust. Did we mention it is also the largest park in Paris?

20 Free Things to do in Paris12. Palais Royal Courtyard

The Palais-Royal built in 1629, stands opposite the Louvre museum and features a famous courtyard. The courtyard known as, Cour d’Honneur, has  280 black and white columns that spring from the ground. They have in the last few years become a famous instagram spot.

13. Paris Modern Art Museum

Paris Modern Art Museum is one of few museums in Paris that is free to visit. Perfect for a rainy day the museum houses works from Matisse, Bonnard, Derain, and Vuillard. Head outside for a cup of espresso on the terrace for views of the Eiffel tower.

14. Le Petit Palais – Paris Fine Arts Museum

Housing collections from Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Eugène Delacroix. The -renovated Petit Palais next to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, houses around 1,300 works dating from antiquity through the early 20th century. Created for 1900 for the World Exhibition it is a stunning example of art nouveau architecture. It also happens to be one of the city’s crown jewels from the turn-of-the century era known as the “Belle Epoque.” The outside is a interesting as the outside.

20 Free Things to do in Paris15. Avenue des Champs-Elysées & Arc de Triomphe

Next to New York’s 5th avenue the Champs-Elysées is one of the most famous shopping districts in the world. Is there anything more french than Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen riding around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris ? Probably but I remember seeing that in Passport to Paris and instantly wanting to live there. While it costs money to go up the Arc de Triomphe getting a great selfie outside doesn’t. The sun tends to set behind the monument so if you line up your shot it can look pretty epic.

16. Museum of Paris History

Museum of Paris History is housed in a Renaissance-era building, the Hotel Carnavalet, in Paris’ lively Marais district. Here visitors learn about Paris’ origins and development through history. For this fact visiting this museum at the beginning of your trip will give you a great background for your visit.

17. Canal St-Martin

Canal St-Martin connects Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine. The Canal is a picturesque district with a 19th-century waterway and iron footbridges. Recently, the area has transformed from a hidden treasure to a trendy hot spot filled with some of the city’s best restaurants and shops. It is one the of hippest parts of Paris.

20 Free Things to do in Paris18. Hôtel de Ville

Hôtel de Ville or city hall has been the municipal headquarters of Paris since the 14th century. It features Renaissance Revival style and the sculptures and stunning artistic details all across the building. The building façade contains the sculptures of 338 individual figures of notable Parisians.  Inside guide tours are available for purchase but once-weekly tours are free (twice a week in summer). Reserve in advance.

19. La Promenade Plantée

A railroad track that has been given a second life. with a floral makeover. Totted as the world’s first elevated park it has cherry trees, maples, rose trellises, bamboo corridors and lavender.

20. La Madeleine

Located right between Place de la Concorde and the Palais Garnier opera house. Unlike other churches in Paris there is no bell tower or crosses here. Instead this Neo-Classical church, commissioned by Napoleon, was built to resemble a Roman temple.

20 Free Things to do in Paris

Last but not least walking along the Siene will give you one of the best views of Paris while taking in it’s culture. So many of the amazing city sites are along the river. I loved just walking and sitting, reading and people watching by the many gorgeous bridges. So don’t forget to take a stroll in the day or at night Paris is simply stunning.

20 Free Things to do in Paris, You'll Actually Want to do | France

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20 Free Things to do in Paris, You'll Actually Want to do | France20 Free Things to do in Paris, You'll Actually Want to do | France20 Free Things to do in Paris, You'll Actually Want to do | France

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