Best Free Things to Do in Paris
Known as one of the world’s most romantic cities, Paris can easily be found on anyone’s Bucket List of places to visit. But the city life can be expensive so we have put together a list of the top 10 best things you can do in Paris – for free!
1. Paris Walking Tour
Sandeman organises an excellent and FREE walking tour of the city of Paris that will take you through the city’s top local attractions. Stroll by the banks of the river Seine, stand in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower or discover the lively Latin Quarter! This tour is perfect to meet up with fellow travellers in Paris and to truly get to know one of the world’s greatest cities. Tours last around 3 hours and leave daily from Place St. Michel at 11am and 1pm.
2. The Notre Dame Cathedral
One of Paris’s top attractions is actually free to visit! The stunning gothic cathedral of Notre Dame, immortalised by Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, is a 14th century gem that took all of 100 years to be finished. You can visit its interior free of charge and witness one of the world’s finest collections of gargoyle sculptures and stained glass windows.
3. Le Champ de Mars
Climbing all the way up to the Eiffel Tower can put a strain on your travel budget (especially if you are travelling as a family) and it will take away a big chunk of your time for the day due to the long queues! Of course, if you’ve got the time and the money, it will definitely be worth it to wait and pay the ticket. However, if you’re travelling on a budget, consider visiting the Champs de Mars – the park area that surrounds the Eiffel Tower. You’ll get great views of one of Paris’s landmarks and if you take a stroll at night, you’ll have the best seats of the house to the beautiful sight that is the Eiffel Tower all lit up.
4. Montmartre and Basilique du Sacré Coeur
The Montmartre district is one of the city’s iconic neighbourhoods that simply can’t be missed. Discover alternative shops, restaurants and cafés where you can indulge in the Parisian’s favourite pastime: people-watching. Walk up the steps to Basilique du Sacré Coeur and get a stunning panoramic view of Paris while you sit in one of the grass areas by the church. The 19th century basilica is also free to visit, although you will have to pay a charge to explore the dome and crypt.
5. Jardin du Luxembourg
The second largest garden in Paris, Jardin du Luxembourg is a true maze of landscaped beauty where you can easily spend a full day enjoying yourself. This 17th century garden contains hundreds – yes, hundreds! – of beautiful statues, monuments and fountains including the first model of the Statue of Liberty! Close to the city’s popular attractions, this is the perfect spot for any traveller looking to take a break from the bustle of the city and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
6. La Madeleine
This stunning church was begun by Louis XV and was transformed into a monument by Napoleon, who converted it into a temple and dedicated it to the glory of his army. Later, the temple was converted again into a church by Louis XVIII who dedicated it to Mary Magdalene. Mass is still held daily at the church and important weddings and funerals take place regularly. La Madeleine is a must-see for any traveller enamoured by Neoclassical architecture!
7. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is undoubtedly one of Paris’s most haunting places. As the city’s largest cemetery, it houses a host of elaborate tombs of many famous people who either lived or died in Paris including Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison from The Doors, Sandra Bernhardt and many, many more. There are free maps at the entrance to help you discover your way through the cemetery’s intertwining alleys.
8. Musée Carnavalet
This incredible museum is spread over two historic mansions and tells the story of Paris, from its ancient origins to the trendy capital of sophistication that it is today. Stroll through an exquisite host of 100 or so drawing rooms and witness the changing of the times through the interior decor and a collection of memorabilia and artifacts from the different time periods. Best of all: don’t even spend a euro to witness the history of Paris unfolding before you!
9. Canal St Martin
Perfectly set between République and Gare du Nord, Canal St Martin is the perfect place for a late afternoon stroll. Watch boats chug through the locks and enjoy the stunning views of the tree-lined quaysides. In the end, choose from a variety of cafés or restaurants to grab a quick bite or make your own picnic by the canal.
10. Rue Mouffetard
This picturesque street comes alive on Saturdays when it closes off to host one of the city’s best food markets. This is the spot to hit for foodies as the street will be filled with artisan bakers, cheese shops and gourmet sweet stores. Enjoy it all with wide eyes and a watering mouth or spend a couple of euro to indulge in some of Paris’s best food.
Want to visit more on a budget? Here is an extra pro tip: on the first Sunday of every month, a number of museums in Paris are actually free of entry! You can visit some of the city’s most famous attractions including the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay for free, saving you money to do more during your stay in Paris.