Gay Paree may not be considered a budget travel destination, but there are plenty of free things to do in Paris, if you know where to look. Enjoy your trip to Paris for a few dollars less by spending time doing some of these priceless – in every sense of the word – experiences.
Paris is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the world, and it won’t cost you a sou to enjoy them.
- 1. Enjoy the best kept and most famous gardens in the city at the Jardin de Luxembourg on the 5th Arrondissement. While you’re wandering through the gardens, you can also take in the famous Palais du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful buildings in a city of stunning architecture.
2. Relax at the fountain or by the lake in the Jardin du Tuileries by the famous Louvre museum.
3. Make time to visit the Parc to Champ de Mars when you visit the Eiffel Tower. The park is directly underneath le Tour Eiffel.
4. Cross the river from the Tower and spend some time exploring the Jardin de Trocadero.
- 5. Enjoy one of Sandeman’s New Europe free walking tours of Paris. Schedule 3 to 5 hours for one of these famous free walking tours, which will take you through many of Paris’ top tourist attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Latin Quarter and along the banks of the river Seine.
6. Speaking of the Seine, you can enjoy the atmosphere along the Seine at night for free. Check out the Pont des Arts near the Louvre, and enjoy the view of other top Paris attractions, lit up for the night.
7. Take a stroll down the famous Champs-Elysees during the day and enjoy window shopping the chic stores. Enjoy a café au lait at one of the famous sidewalk cafes before continuing on your way to stop at the Arc de Triomphe.
8. Visit Montmartre, the famous artsy-funky Paris neighborhood known for attracting the literati. Hang out at the sidewalk cafes frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Monet and Matisse.
9. Wander through the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter and soak up the delightful gardens and architecture of the pedestrian-friendly streets.
10. Enjoy the Bohemian atmosphere in Le Marais, Paris’ gay quarter, and drop in to one of the many bistros and bars to enjoy the show.
See the Famous Sites at the Best Times
Timing is everything, and that’s never so true as it is in Paris. While the most famous sites are impressive at any time of the day or night, there are some times that show them off better than others.
- 11. Visit the Eiffel Tower at night to catch the hourly light show. The Eiffel Tower is a stunning sight at night, with its full 324 meters lit up and sparkling. After dark, enjoy a five minute light show every hour on the hour until 1 a.m. (2 a.m. in the summer).
12. Visit Notre Dame on weekdays to enjoy the world’s most beautiful cathedral in all its stained glass glory. Admission is free at all times, but be sure to wander throughout the day to capture all the nuances of the stunning stained glass windows and the collection of sculptures. The cathedral opens its doors at 8:15 every weekday morning and 8:00 a.m. on weekends.
13. Get to the Showcase nightclub before midnight, and you’ll get in for free to enjoy an array of live music acts and some of the world’s top DJs spinning up eclectic playlists that range from rock to jazz.
Paris is rightly famed for its many museums. Typically, you’ll spend a pretty penny to get in and view some of the most famous works of art in the world, but on the first Sunday of the month, all of the most famous museums offer free admission.
- 14. Visit the Mona Lisa and many of the world’s most famous art treasures at the Louvre. The admission to all three wings of the museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
15. The Musee d’Orsay houses a collection of works by Paris’ most famous artist, including a selection of delightful Monet pieces.
16. Enjoy one of Europe’s top collections of contemporary and modern art at the Pompidou Centre, located at Place Georges Pompidou.
17. Pay homage to Victor Hugo with a visit to Place des Vosges, where you’ll find a former home of the famous writer. The Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in the city, and is still one of the coolest places to be. Lounge by the fountain or sit on one of the benches and enjoy performances by street buskers, or drop in on one of the many art galleries that line the square.
18. While it’s far from a museum, the Pere Lachaise is definitely worth a visit. The city’s largest cemetery is the final resting place of such famous people as Jim Morrison, Sandra Bernhardt, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. You can pick up a map of the cemetery at the entrance on Porte des Armandiers and Porte
Famous Views and Ways
It’s said that if you sit at a sidewalk café on the Champs-Elysees for long enough, everyone you’ve ever met will wander by. It’s a testament to the city that there are more places than just one where you can sit back and watch the world go by – and often enjoy entertainment and a stunning view while you’re waiting for your friends and acquaintances to wander over.
- 19. At the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees, the Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. You’ll get the best view and photos of the Eiffel Tower from the square, and can enjoy free entertainment provided by dancers, musicians, mimes, jugglers and more.
20. Visit Sacre Couer – the famous Sacred Heart Cathedral – located at the top of the hill in Montmartre. You’ll recognize the church immediately from the many famous paintings that depict it – but there’s more than the church itself to enjoy. The view of the Paris skyline from the top of the hill, on the grass by the church, are among the most beautiful you’ll get from anywhere in the city.
Paris is the fashion capital of the world. While many of the salons of famous designers are only open to those who can afford the pricey clothes, there are other options for fahionista tourists who want to enjoy a real Parisian fashion show.
- 21. Drop by the Galeries Lafayette on Friday afternoons at 3 p.m. to enjoy a 30-minute fashion show featuring some of Paris’ best-known designers. The chic department store hosts the show weekly, with a selection of designer ensembles modeled by six professional models.