27 Free Things to do in Paris, France

Paris is definitely one of our favorite cities in Europe. With sights like the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower it is easy to see why. But Paris can also be expensive. So, to help ease the pain in your pocketbook we have highlighted 24 Free Things to Do in Paris.

Why listen to us? Well, after visiting Paris 6 times and visiting all of the major sites we looked for things that we could do that would stretch our imagination and budget.

What we came to realize that you can have so much fun without spending a lot of money.

What Can You Do in Paris for Free

First, let’s get a few of the most common questions that we get answered right away,

Which Museums are Free in Paris?

All of the City Museums are free for everyone. If you are 25 and under and a member of the EU all National museums, including the Louvre, are free.

Are Museums Free on Sundays in Paris?

On the first Sunday of every month museums like The Louvre, Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Musée d’Orsay as well as others are free.

Is Paris Safe at Night?

Paris is a safe city. You can wander around most areas, especially the touristy ones like Le Marais, the Latin Quarter and the 7th arrondissement at night and be safe from things like muggings.

What is the cheapest area to stay in Paris?

Some of the more cost-effective areas in Paris to stay are the Latin Quarter and Montmartre. I would stay away from areas around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees as they are quite expensive.

Now that we have answered those questions let’s get right into what you can do in Paris for free!

Free Things in Paris

1. Museums

free things to do in Paris Musee d'Orsay

Paris is known for its art and history and that is for good reason. With incredible places like the Louvre and the Musee D’ Orsay, you have to take advantage of seeing these while you are there.

Quick Tip: Did you know, if you are under 25 years of age and an EU Citizen, you get into all the museums for free?

But how can you visit these museums if I am on a budget and not under 25 years of age? If you don’t fit into the “Under 25 EU Citizen” camp then I would recommend planning your visit around the first Sunday of any month.

Free Museums on Sundays

Museums that open their doors for free on the first Sunday of each month. That means you can visit Paris’ most famous museums for FREE if you plan for the right time of the month.

  • The Louvre
  • Musee D’Orsay
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Quaiai Branly – Jacques Chirac
  • Musée Rodin
  • Musée Picasso

Please be aware that many museums are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays.

For a list of museums and attractions opening, and closing times click here.

2. City Museums are Free

One of the many things that we learned on our frequent visits to Paris is that there is some great art in the City Museums to visit The good news is that entry to these museums is free all year round.

That’s right, just look for the coat of arms above the door, which indicates it is a city museum and you don’t have to pay anything. This is one of the many things I love about Paris. They make it accessible to everyone no matter what your budget is.

Other permanent collections that you can visit for free are:

  • The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 
  • Musée de la Vie Romantique
  • Musée Carnavalet 
  • Victor Hugo’s House (Maison de Victor Hugo) in Haute Ville

All city museums have free entry year round. There are way too many free museums to list, but the Official Paris Website has a complete breakdown of free Paris museums here.

3. Explore the famous graves in Cimetiere du Père Lachaise – Père Lachaise Cemetery

Visiting Cemeteries is a free thing to do in Paris
Deb at Jim Morisson’s Grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery

The Cemeteries of Paris are works of art and they are all free to visit. The Cimetiere du Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world and is the resting place of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris and it is not to be missed. Located in the 20th Arrondissement, Pere Lachaise spans an area of 110 acres (44 hectares)

While some might think it macabre to visit a cemetery, I do not. The headstones are a work of art and a tribute to those who have since passed. We have visited cemeteries in other cities like New Orleans and have always appreciated the artistry that goes into creating these beautiful headstones and crypts.

4. Visit the Residents of Cimetiere de Montmartre 

Pere la Chaise Cemetery in Paris

The Cimetiere de Montmartre dates back to 1798 and is the famous resting place of Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas.

Montmartre is an interesting and artsy neighborhood to walk around. If you are looking for a little more background on the Montmartre area we recommend spending a few dollars on a tour. These cemeteries are both free to enter and very interesting.

5. The Montparnasse Cemetery

Visit Montmartre cemetery for free in Paris

The Montparnasse Cemetery houses the graves of such renowned writers and thinkers as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire, and Julio Cortázar.

Note: Make sure to check out the Catacombs of Paris to compliment your Cemetery tour.

6. Walk the grounds of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame in Paris
Notre Dame de Paris

Update: Unfortunately Notre Dame de Paris is unaccessible right now due to the massive fire. They received a lot of donations so I think it will be restored sooner than we all think! 

Places, where you can still experience the Gothic architecture and charm of Notre Dame in Paris, are:

  1. Tour Saint-Jaques – One of the things that attracted people to Notre Dame de Paris was climbing its Belltower, but there is still a place in Paris where you can get a view of the city. Tour Saint-Jaques has a Belltower that lets you climb its 300 steps for a view of Paris, complete with gargoyles!
  2. Notre Dame de Paris was famous for its stained glass window. A must visit place in Paris is Sainte Chapelle, it has towering stained glass windows that are more impressive than Notre Dame.
  3. Saint Eustache – A lesser-known church but no less impressive, it has a beautiful gothic facade and Renaissance interior. Definitely worth a visit if you are into architecture.

We’ve named Paris one of the most romantic places on earth. Check out where else we suggest.

7. Parc Champs de Mars

Visit the Parc Champs de Mars is one  of the many free things to do in Paris
Parc du Champ de Mars

The parks in Paris, like everything, are massive. The Parc Champ de Mars is probably one of the most famous as it is at the base of the Eiffel tower.

You can stroll this public green space or grab yourself a baguette and some cheese and have a picnic. Just be aware that there is no public drinking in the Parc du Champ de Mars (or any other Paris park) so you will have to save the wine for later. After your picnic head to the other side of the tower where you can get shots of it with the carousel and fountains.

8. View the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Square

Trocadero Square in Paris for a great view of Eiffel Tower

Trocadero Square is probably the most popular place to photograph and get the best view of the Eiffel Tower. Just cross the river Seine and keep going past the fountains.

When you look back you will see what we mean. Make sure to head up the stairs for the best vantage point from the platform.

9. Galeries LaFayette Observation Deck

Galeries LaFayette free view of Paris

There are a lot of places to go for great views of Paris but most charge a fee. That is what we love about the Gallerie Lafayette, it is free.

This is one of those best-kept secrets in Paris. Most people visit it to shop, but the real gem is at the top. you get 360-degree views and can see the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur.

The building itself is also a work of art. So whether you just want to stroll around and take in the beauty of the architecture or find that great view of Paris, both can be done for free right here.

Looking for the Best Area to Stay in Paris?

Check out our detailed breakdown of the most popular areas in Paris and where to stay in each one! Where To Stay In Paris – The Best Neighborhoods in Paris

10. Go Dancing

On Sundays on the Left Bank, of the Seine, there is free Dancing to old French music. Watch and learn from the older couples that are dancing their hearts out. It is a great way to pass some time and enjoy some great music.

11. Take free walking tours

Free Walking Tours in Paris

One of the things we love about most big cities in Europe is that they offer free walking tours. We find this is a perfect way to get to know your way around the city, especially if this is your first time.

The guides are friendly and incredibly knowledgeable and can answer most questions you have about Paris. Tipping is optional at the end and the tours should be booked in advance.

12. View the Jardins du Luxembourg

free paris gardens Jardin de Luxumbourg

This amazing garden in the Montparnasse area is a beautiful place for a picnic. Inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence it is easy to see why these are some of the most impressive gardens in Paris.

It is filled with sculptures, gardens, and greenery. It is a work of art and a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. We even saw a free art display while walking around the garden.

As with everything on this list, entrance is free. The opening and closing times vary with the season so it is best to check before heading out.

13. go on a Pub Crawl

Go on a Pub Crawl in Paris for free

What better way to get to know the nightlife in Paris than to go on a Pub Crawl. In Montmartre, you can join a free pub crawl of the bars in the area.  It’s a great way to go where the locals go.

Just look up “free walking tours in Paris” and you’ll find many a tour that takes you on a pub crawl.

It’s also a great way to meet fellow travelers enjoying Paris too. There’s nothing better than having company as you explore the city.

14. Walk along the Champs-Élysées

Walk the Champs-Elysees in Paris for Free

The Champs-Elysees is easily one of the most famous streets in the world. Stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde it is nice and wide and perfect window shopping.

Pretend you are a millionaire for a day and go into all the high-end stores. Be sure to dress in something sleek so you fit in with all the beautiful Parisian fashions.

Make sure to keep your eye out for celebrities as they frequent the shops here when they are in Paris. Strolling this street is definitely one of the best free things to do in Paris.

15. Louvre from Outside

Free things to do in Paris | The Louvre

It took us four visits to Paris before we finally went up the Eiffel Tower. It was three visits before we went into the Louvre.

We never felt that we were missing out because the buildings of Paris are so grand, seeing them from the outside is just as exciting as going in.

The Louvre has beautiful gardens outside and its most famous building, the glass pyramid designed by IM Pei, can be viewed for free too.

If you are on a budget, you don’t have to go inside every attraction, enjoy them from the outside. The city of Paris is a work of art.

If you do want to go inside any of these places and want to get a lot for your money we recommend the Paris Pass. The 2-day pass is all you really need and it gives you free entrance to over 60 sites and skip the line access!

16. Arc de Triomphe

The view from Arc de Triomphe at night

The city of Paris is a work of art and just walking around looking at it is an attraction unto itself. 

The Arc de Triomphe is an impressive sight to see. Every year I see it on the Tour de France as this is the finish line. The Arc de Triomphe was built to honor of the soldiers that fought for France.

At the foot of the Arc is the tomb of the Unkown Soldier and the eternal flame. You can walk around it and read about its history but if you want to go up it will cost you 12 Euro.

17. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

free Paris the tomb of the unknown soldier

You can easily spend two to three days running around Paris seeing all the attractions outside without having to spend one penny on admission fees. I love how the city is set up. You can get close to all the attractions and even inside many of the buildings to get a taste of it.

18. Free Music in Paris

Free Music in Paris

Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse

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.

19. Walk along the River Seine

Walk the River Seine in Paris for Free

Put on some comfortable shoes, and take a camera with you to take a walk along the River Seine.

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 that 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.

20. See Basilique du Sacré Coeur

Sacre Coeur offers free views and picnics
Basilique du Sacré Coeur 

Located in Montmarte, Sacre Coeur is the other famous church in Paris. You can enjoy access to the first floor for free but will have to pay a nominal fee to walk up the 300 steps to the dome.

Honestly, because the Basilique du Sacre Coeur is located on the highest point in Paris, the views are just as spectacular from the steps out front. While you are there, pick up some lunch and have a picnic on the steps, take in the view and do some people watching.

21. View of Paris from Montmartre

Best Free view of Paris is in Montmartre

The views at sunset from here are spectacular you can take in the whole city including the Eiffel Tower when the light show starts at dusk.

Grab some snacks and a drink and relax on the steps leading up to Sacre Couer beside the funicular. It’s one of the best views of Paris and its free! This is one of our favorite free things to do in Paris.

22. Wander the streets of Montmartre

Streets of Montmartre Paris

Montmartre is our favorite district of Paris and a perfect place to spend a day if you want to see a lot for free.

There are artists painting in the square and street performers showing off their talents. Wandering the streets and discovering things like Picasso’s studio and the Dali museum will bring you back to old Paris.

23. Watch Street Artists and Browse for Art

Free Art Market in Montmartre Paris

Throughout Paris there are street artists that draw scenes from the city and portraits. Peruse their art and find a souvenir to take home some memories.

You can even grab a beer and just hang out on the steps of Sacre Couer watching the locals and tourists spend time basking in the sun.

This area is also home to the Moulin Rouge. If your budget affords you should definitely stop in for a show, it is something you won’t regret and will remember forever.

24. Stroll the Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris

As you can see Paris is a city for walking and you cannot miss the Jardins de Tuileries. Stretching between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde this walk is just simply beautiful.

 Landscaped by the famous gardener of King Louis XIV in 1664, you feel like royalty as you take in the sculptures from artists like Rodin and Giacometti or grab a seat by one of the ponds to admire the intricate gardens.

Our recommendation is to grab a snack and sit and enjoy this beauty in the middle of the city.

24. Walk along the Canal St. Martin

Explore the banks of Canal St. Martin in Paris

Walking along the Seine is great but the real Paris is along the Canal St. Martin. A trendy cool up and coming area for locals, it is filled with quirky bars and street performers that are right out of a movie.

Located in the 10th Arrondissement it promises cute corners and bridges as well as cool markets like the Marché Couvert Saint-Martin. One of only 5 left in Paris.

To see this area at it’s best we recommend taking a River Seine/Canal Cruise that starts at Parc de la Villette. It allows you to get a different vantage point of this area.

26. Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Parc des Buttes Chaumont views are free

This park may be off the beaten path a little in the 19th Arrondissement but it is well worth the journey. Built by Napolean III, it is home to caves and waterfalls, a suspension bridge, and a high viewpoint. It is one of those parks that you could spend a whole afternoon in and you should.

27. Walk in the Steps of Midnight in Paris

midnight in paris

Head over to the Cheat Sheet and follow the footsteps of Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. He spends the nights roaming the streets of Paris and you can spend your days doing so too!

Plus Get your copy of Midnight in Paris on Amazon Prime now. It will totally get you in the mood for Paris.

28. Free Open Air Cinema at Parc de la Villette

Like New York, Paris has its own open air cinema. Located in the 19th arrondissement, the open air cinema takes places in the summer Parc de la Villette. What could be more romantic in the city of love than watching movies outdoors under the stars. For movie programs visit the website.

Free Wifi

McDonald’s, Starbucks and other coffee shops have free Wifi in Paris. There are more than 400 Free WiFi Hot spots in Paris. Many Museums also have free WiFi

Great Paris Travel Resources

  • Lonely Planet Paris – Lonely Planet is our go-to guidebook for all destinations and locations. You can download ebooks, apps or city guides, whatever you need.
  • Rick Steve’s Paris – Nobody knows Europe like Rick Steve’s and he gives great tips for Paris travel
  • Packing Tips for Europe – We give tips to help you pack smart for European travel for Paris and beyond.
  • Paris Museum Pass – Paris is known for its museums. Get the museum pass for front of the line entrance to 60 museums.
  • Paris Tourism Office – We always like to visit the official tourism website for any destination. Paris tourism is full of useful city information.
  • Paris Museum and Attraction Closures – Museums, attractions and shows are closed on certain days of the week or month. Be sure to check them out before you travel.

Read More About How to Plan your Trip to Paris

If you are planning a trip to France, make sure to check out our France Travel Guide!

Do you have any suggestions for more free things to do in Paris? Leave a comment below with some advice. Everyone in the world can use more free things in their life.

Did you enjoy all the things you can do in Paris for Free? Save it to Pinterest for future reference!

free things to do in paris

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

24 thoughts on “27 Free Things to do in Paris, France”

  1. Wooh!! this article is a treat for backpackers like us. Thank You so much Deb for this article. Bookmarking this right away, for future reference. Much love to You Dave and Deb for understanding the pain of broke backpackers like us?Thankyou once again!

    Reply
  2. Ohh.. how I miss Paris! The first time I went was last minute and very much on a budget. Thankfully I found many of the places you mentioned and enjoyed myself immensely. There is truly no other city like it!

    Reply
  3. When we do citybreaks we tend to do a LOT of walking and don’t use public transport all that much. So for us, Paris’ Metro Carnet (book of 10 tickets) is perfect. Two great things about them:

    1: They don’t expire so any leftover tickets can be kept & used for the next time you visit Paris.
    2: They’re 10 individual tickets so you can hand tickets to friends who’re travelling with you and you both benefit from the cheaper price per ticket.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the great information Marie Louise, it is great for people to learn more about free stuff to do in Paris……

    Reply
  5. I love these posts about finding free things to do. I have visited Paris several times and I swear the best things there are free.

    Specifically, I like your opinion about just walking to the attractions and viewing them from the outside. To be honest, most of the fun is just getting there and seeing the people on the way.

    Reply
    • I agree, I always love finding the free things. It can be just as exciting to see the outside of the Louvre as going inside. It is such a masterpiece! and I agree, half the fun is getting there. People watching, strolling along the water, discovering a statue, eating ice cream…it makes for a lovely day.

      Reply
  6. Great blog…we are going to Paris for three days. I had been as a singleton four years previously and did exactly the same as you….this time however, my new hubby is accompanying me so i wanted to make sure we were making the best use of the time. Thank you for reminding me that most can be done free and on a budget…it is the ideal break for us before we start our trek across West Africa!

    Reply
  7. Le Petit Palais, built for the 1900 World Fair and conveniently located by the Champs Elysees is free to the public. The building itself serves as an architectural museum, but it houses various changing collections as well as a few permanent ones, including the history of the construction of the building with great photos and sketches of Paris in 1900. There’s a great little cafe inside that overlooks the courtyard gardens. Been to France almost a dozen times and only visited for the first time in June 2011. Definitely worth a free visit!

    Reply
  8. Thank for the free tips. Actually that’s what I always hear about Paris too, that it’s way too expensive. Everyone always seems to really like it though.

    Reply
  9. Thanks so much for the list. We are actually planning our trip to Europe next year. And this is the first time I’ve been to your site. I’m so bookmarking this, and I hope to see more FREE lists of things to do around England, Scotland, and Greece,
    Keep up the great work!
    .-= Canadianfreestuff.com´s last blog ..Shoe Company Canada Coupon =-.

    Reply
    • Hey CanadianFreeStuff. Glad this helped. We are not going to England, Scotland or Greece this trip. But we are considering coming back in late summer to cycle our way south through Europe possibly starting in the UK. We are just in the planning stages, but we will keep you posted and we will definitely keep an eye out for free stuff!

      Reply
  10. The first Sunday of every month, the Louvre and other major museums are open and Free! This Saturday, all Museums in Paris are open at night and are free. All towns in France with a museum of note are also open at night and are free. This free, night opening is a once a year event. There are free Poetry readings at many of the English bookstores as well as events of meeting current authors. The American Library has a monthly program of free events with a variety of speakers, free wine, fruit juice and small snacks. At the American Cathedrale and also the American Church there are weekly music programs of all styles of music performed. These programs are also free however its kind to put in 1 Euro as a donation, but not necessary.In the summer there are free Tango classes once a week on the Quay of the Seine. Several major parks, in the summer, have Film Festivals with space to bring a blanket or chairs and a picnic lunch to enjoy. Can you just imagine watching “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and looking across the city of Paris and seeing the spires of Notre Dame? There are the Flea Markets, weekly in Paris where you can glimpse items of history that are of France. Books, Dolls, Stamps,China, cookware, vintage clothes…an endless list of fascinating objects to have an insight into the life in La Belle France!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the great information Marie Louise, it is great for people to learn more about free stuff to do in Paris!

      Reply
  11. Great list! Paris is indeed a rare gem among cities where anyone can enjoy it without paying a dime.

    Another great place to visit that is free is the Bois de Boulogne. For some reason it was chosen for shady activity at night, but in the day time it is a paradise. The lake is beautiful – a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon or go for a brisk walk or run in the early morning. It’s in the 16th arrondissement, which is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Paris.

    Another great way to enjoy Paris for free is to find a host. A great resource for finding a host is Tripping.com. Through the site, you can find a host to meet you for coffee and give you the inside scoop on which of the many beautiful parks to visit, where to shop for clothes, etc. Or you can find a host who will offer you a spare room, a sofa or floor space.

    Lastly, I wanted to mention that the Trocadero is beautifully lit up at night. It’s better to go with another person, as one can find shady characters there. But mostly you’ll see lots of smiling tourists and the mesmerizing beauty lighting up the night.

    If you want to check out that resource website I mentioned, here is the link:
    http://www.tripping.com

    This was a great article, and I can’t wait to see other reader tips!

    Paris, je t’aime. Tu es mon coeur.

    Reply
    • Anis, thank you for adding some great suggestions for free things to do in Paris, we are developing a great list here that we are goign to use for reference when we go back.

      Reply