Best Free Things To Do in Paris: Thrifty Traveler’s Guide

As a seasoned Parisian resident with American roots, I have been asked many times, “How do I experience Paris on a shoestring budget?”

I get it. Paris, the City of Love, Art, and Fashion, isn’t exactly known for being budget-friendly.

But what if I told you that you can explore this city without breaking the bank?

Yeah, you heard me right. Paris has plenty to offer, even if you’re on a budget tighter than your old college jeans.

So tighten your belt another notch, my frugal friends, we’re about to go on a cost-free journey in Paris.

Take a Free Walking Tour

To start, get acquainted with the city with a free walking tour.

Yes, FREE.

Sandeman’s New Europe offers guided tours that cover major landmarks like the Notre Dame and the Louvre from outside.

Their guides work on a tip-only basis, so you decide what it’s worth.

💡 Tip: Buy travel health insurance before your trip.

Check out popular travel insurance plans and choose one that suits you.

Most plans only cost less than $20 a day.

Bask in the Glory of the Notre Dame

You can’t come to Paris and not visit the Notre Dame.

And guess what? It’s free to enter!

Check out the awe-inspiring architecture and don’t forget to appreciate those famous gargoyles.

Explore the Iconic Montmartre

With its bohemian charm and artistic heritage, Montmartre is a delight to explore. Wander the cobbled streets, visit the artists’ square (Place du Tertre), and stop by the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is free to enter and offers a panoramic view of Paris.

Discover Street Art in Belleville

Trade the Louvre’s Mona Lisa for the vibrant street art in Belleville.

Every corner here is a canvas showcasing Paris’s thriving urban art scene. The best part? This outdoor gallery doesn’t cost a dime.

Roam the Champs-Élysées

While the shops lining this famous avenue may not fit a thrifty budget, the Champs-Élysées is free to roam.

Stroll from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, soaking in the Parisian vibe.

Marvel at the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro

Why pay to ascend the Eiffel Tower when you can get the best photos from the Trocadéro Gardens for free?

Come early or late evening to witness the Tower’s sparkling light show.

Attend a Free Concert

Did you know you can enjoy free concerts in Paris?

From classical music at the American Church and the Notre Dame to jazz shows at the Caveau de la Huchette, keep an eye out for free performances.

Wander through Parisian Markets

From the food stalls of Marché Bastille to the vibrant flea market of Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris’s markets are full of sights, smells, and sounds that won’t cost you a thing (unless you decide to splurge on a vintage souvenir or a fresh baguette).

Take Advantage of Free Museum Days

Hold up, did you just say free museums?

Yes, yes, I did.

First Sunday of every month, many of Paris’s museums, including the Louvre, offer free entry.

Now that’s a budget traveler’s dream!

Enjoy a Picnic by the Seine

Grab a baguette, some cheese, a bottle of wine (let’s be real, you’ve got to splurge somewhere), and have a picnic by the Seine.

Watching the boats go by as the city lights twinkle on the water is a quintessentially Parisian experience that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Visit La Défense

The modern district of La Défense showcases another side of Paris.

Its futuristic architecture, giant skyscrapers, and the Grande Arche are a stark contrast to the historic heart of the city. And the best part? Roaming around this district is completely free.

Explore the City’s Parks and Gardens

Paris is not just about grand monuments; it’s also home to some stunning parks and gardens.

From the romantic Parc des Buttes-Chaumont to the lively Jardin du Luxembourg, these green oases are perfect for relaxing, people-watching, or even joining a free workout session.

Attend a Fashion Show

Yes, you heard it right. The Galeries Lafayette department store hosts free fashion shows every Friday afternoon.

Sure, the outfits might be out of our budget, but hey, a budget traveler can dream, right?

Visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery

Okay, I know this sounds grim, but hear me out.

The Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest in Paris, is the resting place of famous names like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison. Its poignant beauty makes it a serene place for contemplation.

So, there you have it, my penny-pinching pals. Paris can be explored without emptying your pockets.

Who says you need a bulging wallet to experience the City of Light?

Just a bit of savvy, a willingness to stray from the beaten path, and an openness to savor the simple pleasures that Paris generously offers.

Remember, travel is about experiences, not expenditures.

So, pack your bags and get ready to fall in love with Paris, the budget way!

💡 Tip: Buy travel health insurance before your trip.

Check out popular travel insurance plans and choose one that suits you.

Most plans only cost less than $20 a day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I visit Paris on a budget?

A: Absolutely! Paris is a city with plenty to offer even to those travelers on a tight budget. There are many free attractions, like the Notre Dame Cathedral, or the Champs-Élysées. In addition, the city is walkable, and affordable meals can be found in bakeries and markets.

Q: What are some good free things to do in Paris at night?

A: Paris is known as the City of Lights, and just walking around the illuminated city at night is a fantastic free activity. The Eiffel Tower light show is another must-see. Sitting by the Seine River and just enjoying the city’s ambiance is another great option.

Q: Can I visit museums for free in Paris?

A: Yes, many museums in Paris offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month. Also, certain museums, like the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Maison de Victor Hugo, are free all year round.

Q: Can I eat cheaply in Paris?

A: Yes, cheap eats are definitely possible in Paris. Look for bakeries, markets, and falafel stands in areas like the Marais. Also, many bars offer free nibbles with your drink during happy hour.

Q: Can I attend a fashion show for free in Paris?

A: Yes, Galeries Lafayette department store hosts free fashion shows every Friday afternoon. Make sure to book in advance to ensure your spot.

Q: Are there free guided tours in Paris?

A: Yes, free walking tours are offered by various companies in Paris. These tours operate on a tips-only basis, meaning you’re encouraged to pay what you feel the tour was worth at the end.

Q: Can I visit the parks and gardens for free in Paris?

A: Yes, parks and gardens like the Jardin du Luxembourg, Parc de la Villette, and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont are free to enter and explore.

Q: Are there free concerts in Paris?

A: Yes, there are free concerts held in churches around the city and in parks during the summer months. The city’s official website and local listings are good sources for this information.

Q: Can I visit the Pere Lachaise Cemetery for free?

A: Yes, entry to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where many famous individuals are buried, is free of charge.

Q: Are there free things to do in Paris with kids?

A: Yes, from parks and gardens to open-air movie screenings and puppet shows, there are numerous free activities for children in Paris. The city’s many parks often have playgrounds, and places like the Centre Pompidou offer free admission for kids under 18.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Travel enthusiast. Have lived in the USA, Middle East and India. Traveled to 13+ Countries.
Goal is to travel to all countires by 2030. Sharing everything I’ve learned during my travels here.

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