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Sophisticated, elegant, and known for luxury and high-class cuisine – that’s Paris. While the opportunities are endless when it comes to spending all of your money, with a bit of know-how, you can have a fantastic time in Paris even on a smaller budget. Read on to know about more than 70 fun and free things to do in Paris.
At the end of this article, you find a map with all the budget things to do in Paris to help you with orientation.
Visit the Rooftop at Galerie Lafayette
The Galerie Lafayette is the most famous department store in Paris and is known for its exquisite brands and shopping experience. But not everything is expensive! The rooftop of the Galerie Lafayette is free to visit and grants a terrific view of the roofs of Paris, the Opéra Garnier, and the Eiffel Tower.
Discover Street Art in Belleville
If you are looking for an alternative side of Paris and lots of Street Art, you will find it in Belleville. This quirky neighborhood is a hidden gem that is located in the east of Paris. You’ll be surprised by its big contrast to the rest of town.
Cross the Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris, despite the name, which means literally “new bridge”. It is not only connecting the left and right banks of Paris, but also the Seine Island Île-de-la-Cité with the rest of town.
Visit the Square de Vert Galant
Just under the Pont Neuf, on the Île-de-la-Cité lays one of the nicest little parks of Paris. The entrance is right by the statue of Henry VI in the middle of the Point Neuf.
Head out to the Jardin Tropical, also known as the Human Zoo
You absolutely read that right. The Human Zoo of Paris. Hidden in the eastern part of the Bois de Vincennes, you find the Jardin Tropical with the remaining structures of the human zoo that were part of the Colonial Exhibitions in the early 20th century.
Take a walk on the Coulée Verte René-Dumont
The Coulée Verte is a high line walk that starts close to Bastille on top of the Viaduct des Arts and ends at the outskirts of Paris in the 12th Arrondissement.
Attend an author reading at Shakespeare & Company
The beautiful English language bookstore across Notre Dame is an institution in Paris. The free author readings are a popular event and you better be 30-45 minutes early to get a seat. Don’t rush out once it’s over, the author is signing their books, and they might even serve you some wine. (the readings are on hold at the time of writing due to COVID-19)
Explore the Petite Ceinture
Back in the days, a railway circled Paris that connected the capital with the villages around. With the invention of the Metro and the more efficient suburb trains, the former petite ceinture (little belt) became redundant and lied fallow for a few decades. Today, some sections are free to the public and are pleasant destinations for having a walk. Check this post to know where to find them.
Relax at the Tuileries Garden
It’s one of the most famous gardens in Paris and of course free to visit. Bring a book and settle down in one of the iconic green chairs, or stroll through the classical landscape and enjoy the many statues that are scattered all over the park. Look out for the famous bronze statue “Le Baiser” which is actually a masterpiece from no one less than Auguste Rodin.
Window-shop at the Champs-Élysées
The Champs Élysée is one of the most expensive streets of Paris and luxury shops are all over. But window shopping and people watching are not only fun, but it is of course also free!
Visit the grave of the unknown soldier and the Arc de Triomphe
One of the most iconic sights in the Parisian landscape is the Arc de Triomphe that sits at the head of the Champs Élysée. While you have to pay a fee to visit the viewing platform on top, it is free to walk around the arc and see the grave of the unknown soldier with the eternal flame.
Get to know Paris at the Musée Carnavalet
If you are interested in the history of Paris through the centuries, head to the Musée Carnvavalet. The museum is located in one of the beautiful palaces in the Marais district and displays all sorts of artifacts related to Paris. From shop signs and Roman weapons to funky items like earrings showing the beheaded Marie Antoinette.
Head up to the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
Recognizable from far, the iconic white walls and the atypical shape are a centerpiece in the Parisian skyline. The Sacre Coeur thrones on top of Montmartre and can be visited for free. Do take a break at the famous stairs before heading down the hill to enjoy the view and the street artists who are usually performing on the forecourt.
Tip: Montmartre is a fantastic location if you are looking for things to do in Paris at night.
Visit Emily in Paris filming locations
The Netflix show “Emily in Paris” is polarizing, and many Parisians and Expats hate it due to the many clichés. Well, I loved it and if you did as well, go and explore the filming locations. You find a free Emily in Paris guide here!
Take a photo at the Maison Rose
Whether you are looking for fantastic Instagram spots in Paris or are keen on visiting some filming locations of Emily in Paris, the Maison Rose should not be missing on your list. It’s right behind the Sacre Coeur, on Rue ‘de lAbreuvoir – known as the prettiest street of Paris.
Explore the Canal Saint-Martin
As a hang-out place on warm summer evenings or as a destination to venture into the rather non-touristic Paris, the Canal Saint-Martin is a good place to be. It’s located in northern Paris and connects the Seine with canals further north outside of Paris.
Collect Flash Invaders
When walking through Paris, you will notice now and then small mosaics stuck on houses, bridges, or even streets. Often they look like aliens from 80’s video games, but they actually can have all sorts of forms and shapes: The Space Invaders. A fun way to entertain you while walking Paris is collecting them with the app “Flash Invaders“. It’s fun! I found already 328!
Walk along the Berges de Seine
It’s not even 10 years ago that the banks of the Seine were a busy city highway. Luckily, these times are over and instead of traffic jams, the banks are crowded by runners, families, cyclists, and everyone else, who is up for a stroll at the Berges de Seine.
Visit the Butte Chaumont
It’s the 5th biggest park in Paris and comes with some interesting features: a waterfall, an extension bridge, a temple, and due to the immense difference in levels a fantastic view of parts of Paris. Especially the view on the Sacre Coeur is spectacular!
Take a photo at the Mur de Je t‘aimes
The wall in Montmartre was created by two artists, Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito, and represents 192 Nations and displays “I love you” in more than 250 languages. Not surprisingly, this romantic, whimsical destination has seen its fair share of proposals since it was unveiled. The I Love You Wall is free to visit and is open from around 8 am to 6 pm.
Make a bargain at the Flea markets
Paris is a famous paradise for Vintage fans, and especially for avid flea market bargain hunters. Among the many markets, the flea market in the South of Paris at Porte de Vanves is an amazing hidden Gem.
Check out Photography at the Galerie Instant
If you are keen on seeing photography exhibits, head to the Galerie Instant. It’s a tiny gallery, not bigger than a living room, but that shows wonderful photography.
Walk the GR75
The GR75 is a hiking trail that leads you once around Paris. It is not always the nicest landscape but definitely an interesting view on Paris off the beaten track and a good challenge: The GR75 is 50 km long and got initiated preparing for the Olympic Games in 2024 and leads you through many parks, 2 forests, and even along the petite ceinture.
Have a walk in the Bois de Boulogne
The Bois de Boulogne is one of the 2 forests that are belonging to Paris. The Bois de Vincennes in the South East and Boulogne in the west. It’s a beautiful green stretch with lakes, green spaces, and great to get some air without leaving the convenient Metro system.
Enjoy the Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the beautiful Latin Quarter, the Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the biggest gardens in Paris and also one of the oldest. It’s a classical French park with water basins, statues, and plenty of free-to-use chairs to relax, have a picnic, or watch people. It is although one of the locations in Paris that has its very own Statue of Liberty!
Discover Parc Monceau
If you are searching for a place to relax that is far from all touristy buzz, the Parc Monceau is a wonderful place. The lush garden is a great place for a stroll and a very interesting one as well, thanks to the many statues and architectural features, for example, the Venetian bridge.
Have Lunch at the Marché des Enfants Rouge
Tucked away in the Marais, you can find the Marché des Enfants Rouge, also known as the oldest market in Paris. The now covered market exists since more than 500 years and is a remarkable place if you are looking for a bite or want to stock up on fresh produce. But you can of course just walk through without buying anything.
Look for antiques at the Book Market at Parc Georges Brassens
This is one of the best-hidden treasures of Paris. If you are searching for old books, this Paris gem is your place! The little covered book market is next to Parc Georges Brassens in the 15th arrondissement, a nice garden to have a walk or relax in the sun.
Take a Photo at Rue Cremieux
If you are looking for a beautiful and colorful photo motive, head to Rue Cremieux. It’s one of the cutest streets of Paris.
Explore the Arènes de Lutèce
Discover free Art at the Nuit Blanche
The Nuit Blanche is a cultural event in Paris with events and exhibitions all over Paris, all night long. It’s not only a great way to discover art, but it is also entirely free. And so are many museums during the Nuit Blanche.
Wander the Père Lachaise Cemetery
The most prominent graveyard in the world. Many famous personalities are buried here, for example, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and of course, the legendary Jim Morrison. Read our post about the Père Lachaise cemetery to know more.
Walk along the Rue Mouffetard
This street close to the Latin Quarter is known as one of the best food streets in Paris. Even if you are not keen on food shopping, it’s an enjoyable street for a stroll and for people-watching.
Discover Rue des Thermophyles
This half-hidden street and very green alley in the 14th arrondissement make a perfect motive for an Instagram post!
Enjoy the views from the Champs de Mars
Probably not the most secret place in Paris, but one that comes with a priceless view: the Champ de Mars is just in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Take a Picture of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most captured photo motifs in Paris, and while you can take beautiful photos from the Champs de Mars and also the Trocadero, there are a few more photo spots that are worth visiting. See this guide for more top locations!
Visit the Musée de la vie Romantique
The little museum on the foot of Montmartre is among others dedicated to the renowned author George Sand, who is actually a woman who wrote under a man’s name to be considered an author. The Museum has also a little greenhouse and a café.
Look for vintage books at the Bouquinistes along the Seine
The Bouquinistes along the Seine belong to the Parisian cityscape, like the Eiffel Tower or the Beateaux Mouches. The book vendors with their iconic green wooden boxes are nominated by the city of Paris and sell vintage books, little paintings, and sometimes even souvenirs.
Visit the Marché de Fleurs
This beautiful little market is located on the Île-de-la-Cité and sells flowers in all forms and sizes. It is an open-air market with pavilions from 1900s.
Visit the hidden Vineyards in Paris
We all know that France is renowned for its wine production. But did you know that there are even a few vineyards in Paris? The most known is clearly the Vignes du Clos Montmartre, right behind the Sacre Coeur in the North of Paris. However, also on top of Belleville and in the Parc Georges Brassens in the South are small wine-producing yards.
Window-shop at the Place Vendôme
This square on the right bank of Paris is one of the most majestic locations. Not only because it’s a pretty place, but also because you can shop the most luxurious brands – Louis Vuitton, Channel, Dior… just to name a few.
Take in the sun at Place de Vosges
The Place de Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris and describes a true square and beautiful flower compositions. It is also a popular picnic spot in the Marais.
Visit Maison Victor Hugo
The Maison Victor Hugo is the former house of the famous French writer and is free to visit. It is right by the fancy Place de Vosges and displays artifacts of his household but also letters and manuscripts.
Visit a free museum on the first Sunday of the month
If you are traveling to Paris on a budget or a just looking to save a penny, visit Paris early in the month. Most Parisian museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. Click here to know more!
Stroll through Covered Passages and Galeries
Probably one of the nicest walks you can have in Paris – especially if you want to see Paris with the flair of past times. The covered passages are all are more or less in the same area, and are a great destination on rainy days. The most known is the Galerie Vivienne.
Look for the Wind Mills in Montmartre
Originally, there were more than 300 windmills located in Montmartre. Today, 4 are remaining. Can you find them?
Sneak into the Hotel Dieu
Just next to the famous cathedral Notre Dame lies one of the most overlooked places in Paris. Most people just walk by, not knowing what they’re missing! Curious? Check here to know more!
Discover Street Art at the Butte-aux-Cailles
The elevated area just next to Place d’Italie is covered with street art. The Butte aux Cailles is also great for having lunch, dinner, or drinks and is not as expensive as many other areas in Paris.
See the Hôtel de Ville
The mayor house of Paris is a stunning and recognizable building in the heart of Paris. Even though it can’t be visited currently, you should come by. The Paris Tourism Office is located in the Mayor House and hosts usually free exhibitions about Paris.
Visit the Tourist Office
Located on the left side of the Hôtel de Ville, the tourist office of Paris is not only a place to get information about Paris, but they also run often free exhibitions.
Take a photo at the Buren Colums
Located in the Palais Royal, the Buren Colums are one of the most Instagrammable places of Paris, but also one of the most controversial art installations in town. What do you think about them?
Say “hi” to the oldest tree in Paris
Right by the bookstore Shakespeare & Company sits the oldest tree in Paris. The locust tree was planted in 1601, can you imagine this?
Take a photo of the Pyramid of the Louvre
One of the most photographed locations in Paris is certainly the Pyramid of the Louvre, located in the courtyard, the Cour Napoléon. The Pyramid is actually the main entrance to the museum!
See a free movie screening at la Villette
Every July and August, a free open-air cinema takes place in the Parc de la Villette in the North of Paris. Pack a picnic and a cover and enjoy the nightly screening.
See concerts at la fête de la music
The fête de la music is not a Paris-only event anymore. This free music festival is open to everyone and is celebrated in many cities around the globe on the 21st of June.
Relax at Paris Plage
During July and August, the Berges de Seines are hosting events right by the Seine – dance, sport, animation for kids, pop-up bars… the event is free and you can as well bring your own drinks.
Sample food at the Fête de Vendange
The Fête de Vendange in Montmartre is a yearly food and wine festival, set up on top of the hill around the Sacre Coeur. It’s traditionally celebrating the new wine made from the grapes growing in Montmartre, but many food vendors join the celebrations. You have to pay for their treats, of course, but many are letting you sample their goods.
See the Statues of Liberty
There are 5 Statues actually scattered over Paris at the moment. One on the Île-de-Cygogne by the Eiffel Tower, one in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and a miniature Statue of Liberty hidden on the Centaur Statue on Place Michel Debré. These 3 are freely accessible. Number 4 is in the Musée d’Orsay and the last on in the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
Have an apèro at Pont des Arts
The pedestrian bridge in the center of Paris is a popular spot for evening gatherings and hangouts – and of course for having an Apéro by the Seine.
See the Parades for the Chinese New Year
The Asian community in Paris is big, and so are the festivities for the Chinese New Year. The most significant is the parade that leads through China Town and starts around Place d’Italie. Get there a bit early to get to a good place.
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