The renowned, charming, and multi-faceted “City of Lights” has a lot to show off. Making its worldly presence felt in photographs, cuisine, literature, and films, most notably Woody Allen’s latest, Paris radiates enchantment and seduces dreamers of all kinds. Home to some of the most familiar landmarks in the world, it’s a city which creates different kinds of expectations for its visitors, one of the most common being the way it can snub your wallet.
First-timers are quite right to be wary of the city’s pricy-ness. Accommodation can be quite expensive, so you’d do well to compare Paris hotel deals.
At cheaphotels.org you will find available budget hotels in Paris. If you know where to look and when to go, you can indulge in some of the finest cultural sites, museums, food, and art, all for free!
Explore one of the world’s finest collections
Dying to see the Mona Lisa first-hand? On every first Sunday of the month, entrance to the Louvre, a historic monument as well as the most visited museum in the world, is free for all visitors. The entrance fee is also waived on any day if you are under 18, or if you are under 26 and a resident of the EU.
If you still haven’t had your fill of art after navigating the endless collection at the Louvre, check out the Musée D’Orsay, which is also free on Sundays and for under 18’s, and which houses the greatest works of impressionism by artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir.
In the mood for something more modern? The Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris exhibits works from the 20th and 21st centuries in a free permanent collection right across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, including art from movements such as surrealism, Dadaism, abstractionism, and cubism.
Snap a shot of splendid views
The city is a museum unto itself just walking is an amazing way to experience the best sights of Paris for free. Put on some comfortable shoes, and take a camera with you. Along the River Seine, the scene of inspiration of many artists, you can zig-zag back and forth across some of the 37 wood, stone, and metal bridges which span the river within Paris alone, including the Pont Neuf, which dates back to 1607.
You can also see the city from above at the Promenade Plantée, a linear 4.7 km parkway which was once an elevated railway viaduct leading east from the Bastille, and which houses gardens, small parks, and public art on exhibition.
At the heart of the city, the most famous masterpiece of French Gothic Architecture, the Notre Dame Cathedral, is free to enter, and on every first Sunday, you can climb the North Tower’s 387 steps free of charge to get a magnificent glimpse of the city from above.
Get a taste of world-class gastronomy
If you happen to be in Paris in late November, then you’re in luck. The city’s annual food- and wine-tasting events are held at this time, and most of them are free. And on the second week of October, you can also enjoy wine tasting, fireworks, and other festivities at the Harvest Festival of Montmartre to celebrate this distinct Parisian neighborhood.
Paris also has a thing for free couscous. At the popular neighborhood joint Les Trois Frères, you can snack on complimentary couscous on Thursday nights, as well as at La Chôpe du Château Rouge in the heart of Montmartre, on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Wind your way through old cemeteries
It sounds a bit morbid, but Paris is actually home to some very interesting cemeteries that are worth seeing, as they are resting place of many celebrity writers, philosophers, artists. On an ethereal walk through the Montmartre cemetery, which dates back to 1798, you can find the graves of Edward Degas, Hector Berlioz, and Heinrich Heine. The Montparnasse cemetery houses the graves of such renowned writers and thinkers as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire, and Julio Cortázar.
Catch some free tunes
If you enjoy classical, baroque, or contemporary jazz music, Paris’s most prestigious music conservatory, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse, offers over 300 student concerts a year, most of which are free.
Also check out some of the 180 free concerts which Radio France gives a year, mostly orchestral and chamber music, in the Museum of Fine Arts, where tickets are handed out 30 minutes beforehand.
So don’t be afraid of the high costs in Paris, there are plenty of things that you can do for absolutely free. For more ideas on how to experience Paris for free, check out our other posts on Paris.
Visit Paris on a Budget
Three Days in Paris
Do you have any advice for how to experience Paris for free? We’d love to hear from you!