Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as well as one of the most popular tourist destinations. Known as “the city of love” and “the city of lights” it also happens to be one of the most expensive. But if you know your way around, there are tons of exciting free things to do in Paris. 

Whether you’re a fan of soaring church spires or want to try some authentic dishes at a French market, we’ve picked the city’s best free activities for you to choose from. So if you’re on a budget, you can still enjoy the best that the city has to offer. 

Also Read: 25 Unusual Things To Do In Paris

The Best Free Things To Do In Paris

1. Stroll Through The Jardin du Luxembourg

City Parks

This sweeping city park is the second largest in Paris, and is also the garden of the French senate. You can spend an entire day wandering around the beautifully landscaped 17th-century gardens, seeing the many statues, monuments and fountains, including the first model of the Statue of Liberty by Frédéric Bartholdi. It’s also the perfect place for you to put your feet up, read a book and enjoy a picnic.

2. Explore The Père Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Paris’s largest cemetery may seem like a macabre choice, but spread over 100 acres are thousands of ornate graves, tombs and memorials that are fascinating to explore. It’s actually one of the most  fascinating free things to do in Paris. Many are even the final resting places of famous figures like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. 

3. Check Out The View From The Sacré-Cœur Basilica

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica

There’s something incredibly memorable about the all-white, hill-top Sacré-Cœur Basilica. This palatial white marble church crowns the lively Montmartre district and is as famous for its gold mosaics and towering stained-glass windows as it is for the stunning views of Paris from its balcony. It’s completely free to visit, so stop by at dusk and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle across the Seine.

4. Visit The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

notre dame, free things to do in Paris

If you haven’t had enough of stunning churches, make a stop at Paris’s most famous one. The iconic Notre Dame cuts a dominating figure on the Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine and is truly a must-see thing to do in Paris. While the interior of the structure remains closed to visitors following the devastating fire of April 2019, you can still stroll along the Seine for amazing views of the cathedral’s exterior.

5. Walk Along La Promenade Plantée

La Promenade Plantée

La Promenade Plantée (also known as Coulée Verte) is a tree-lined walkway on an old elevated railway line in east Paris. It runs for 4.5 kilometres from Bastille to one of the city’s largest parks, Bois de Vincennes and is a wonderful way to explore the city, taking you up and down staircases, across viaducts, and above the streets.  

6. See A Fashion Show At Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette

Getting a seat for Paris Fashion Week might be extremely expensive, but it wouldn’t be Paris without a dose of fashion. Luckily there’s an alternative to see France’s finest fashions for free at the twice-weekly fashion shows (Monday and Friday at 3 pm) at Galeries Lafayette department store. Just remember to reserve by email or telephone to be sure of a seat.

7. Try The Free Samples At A French Street Market

French Street Market

When you’re in Paris, skip the large supermarkets and get the best products at the best price from individual shops. For example, get cheese from an actual cheese shop, bread at a bakery, and meat from a butcher. You can also find all these staples at street markets such as Rue Mouffetard, and if you’re looking for things to do for free in Paris, you’ll be able to score a few free samples too.

8. Have A Picnic Along Canal St-Martin

Canal St-Martin, free things to do in Paris

This lively waterside haunt sits between République and Gare du Nord in the 10th arrondissement and is a favourite with chic Parisians. It is the perfect spot to bring a picnic (put those free samples to good use!) and relax while you watch the sunset. 

9. Relax At The Beach On The Seine At Paris Plages

Beach On The Seine At Paris Plages, free things to do in Paris

The summer months can be quite warm in Paris. If you feel the need to cool off, why not head to this unique beach holiday experience? Mounds of sand are piles along the Seine and dotted with deck chairs and ice-cream sellers. It’s a truly magical thing to do in Paris.

10. Visit The Parc de la Villette Free Open-Air Cinema

Parc de la Villette Free Open-Air Cinema, free things to do in Paris

If you’re in Paris during the summer months, make the most of the warm evenings and catch a free film at the open-air cinema at the Parc de la Villette. It’s a wonderful communal event. Running through July and August, the film line up usually follows some kind of theme (such as “Tous en scène'” or “Everybody on stage”).

11. Make The Most Of Free Museum Day

Louvre pyramid, Paris

On the first Sunday of every month, a number of the city’s best museums are completely free to visit. You can check out famous spots like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay as well as smaller quirky museums like the Albert-Kahn Musée et Jardins (a homage to gardens around the world) and the Musée de l’Assistance Publique (which celebrates the history of Paris’ hospitals).

Read More: All you need to know about visiting the Louvre Museum

So, Which Of These Free Things To Do Will You Be Doing?

You don’t have to spend tons of money to have a good time in Paris. So, even if you’re on a tight budget, there’s no need to skimp on your je ne sais quoi adventures you’ll encounter in Paris. Between art and architecture, the fashion, the culture, and the food, you’ll always have lots of amazing and free things to do in Paris. 

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