100 Free Things to See & Do in Paris

Paris has a reputation for being a very expensive city to visit, but I believe that you don't have to break the bank to enjoy much of what the city has to offer. Much of the charm of Paris is on display for anyone to see, and many museums and attractions are free at least some of the time. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but is a great start towards enjoying the city without shelling out a fortune. You may be surprised at all the FREE things there are to see and do in Paris!

MUSEUMS

1- The Louvre: Visit the Louvre on the first Sunday of the month from October to March for free entrance.

2- Musée d'Orsay: Visit the Musée d’Orsay on the first Sunday of the month year round for free entrance.

3- Centre Pompidou: Visit the Centre Pompidou on the first Sunday of the month year round for free entrance. Take the outdoor escalator all the way to the top for a panoramic view over the city. The also have a children's art gallery and hands-on workshops for kids and teens.

4- Modern Art Museum : View the permanent collection for free. Special exhibits typically charge.

5- Maison de Balzac: See where the writer who lived on coffee wrote his famous novels. See his handwritten pages, and explore the home and gardens. Books are available for purchase.

6- Musée de Bourdelle: Visit the permanent collection.

7- Musée Carnavalet: Stop into this underappreciated museum for free.

8- Musée des Beaux-Arts: Visit the permanent collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in the Petit Palais. The building itself is worth a visit.

9- Maison de Victo Hugo: Visit the home of the man who wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables.

10- Musée du Parfum-Fragonard: Find out which perfume is right for you.

11- Musée Nationale de l’Air et de l’Espace: A fun air and space museum that's perfect for the whole family.

12- Musée de la Vie Romantique: A great way to spend an afternoon.

13- Musée de la Bible et Terre Sainte: Brush up on your biblical knowledge at this religious museum.

 

PLACES OF WORSHIP AND CEMETERIES

14- Notre Dame Cathedral: The main church and gardens are free to explore. Mass is open to the public.

15- Père Lachaise Cemetery: Wander the streets of the famous cemeteryand visit the impressive tombstones of some famous French and international musicians, writers, actors, and more.

16- Eglise Sacre Cœur: The main Church is free, and the square out front offers excellent views over the city as well as entertainment in the form of street performers and musicians.

17- Eglise de la Madeleine: The weathered exterior hides the riches within.

18- Eglise Saint-Germain des Prés: Visit the oldest church in Paris.

19- Cimetière de Montmartre: Visit the ornate tombs of famous Parisians at this famous cemetery.

20- Protestant Temple of the Marais: Visit the temple in one of the most famous neighbourhoods of the city.

21- Grande Mosquée de Paris: The Grand Mosque of Paris offers guided visits. Learn about the mosque's history of providing shelter for Jewish citizens during World War II.

22- Eglise de Saint-Sulpice: Visit the imposing church with its large fountain in the square out front.

23- Eglise Saint-Eustache: This grand cathedral is often overlooked by tourists, but is beautiful both inside and out, rivaling Notre Dame in its beauty.

24- Eglise Saint-Augustin: Built to be seen from the Arc de Triomphe, the impressive dome of the church is worth a visit. Also, the famous organ is one of the first in the world to employ the use of electricity.

 

WINDOW SHOPPING AND FASHION

25- English Bookstore Shakespeare and Co.: This bookstore is an institution in Paris. Squeeze down the tight aisles piled high with books both old and new, or head up to the second floor where there is a small seating area. The bookstore hosts a variety of events, both free and paid.

26- Village Suisse Antique market in the 15th Arrondissement: 150 antiques vendors populate this open-air market not far from the Eiffel Tower. Worth a visit to see antiques in all price ranges.

27- Passage des Princes: A covered market dedicated solely to children’s toys! There is also a large arcade/play space there, so a good way to let kids blow off some steam, though it isn't free.

28- Galleries Lafayette: Attend a Friday afternoon fashion show, by invitation only. Send an email to welcome@galerieslafayette.com to reserve your spot.

29- Le Bon Marché: Let your inner fashionista diva out with a visit to the oldest (and perhaps chicest) department store in Paris.

30- Passage Brady: Discover Paris’s “Little India” in the covered market, open every day of the year.

31- Passage des Panoramas: Window shop in this historical covered passage. The passage itself is worth checking out.

32- Marché des Puces de Saint Ouen: Stroll through the famous flea market and see where Parisians go to get a deal on everything from cutlery to electronics.

33- Les Bouquinistes: Stroll the banks of the Seine and sort through the old books and posters from the vendors at the riverside market stalls.

34- Paris Food Markets and Specialty Markets: Paris is home to over 80 weekly food and specialty markets such as antique books and stamps. If you want to get a look at true Parisian life, stop by one of the markets and explore the many stands selling everything from fruits and vegetables to fully cooked meals.

35- Rue Saint-Honoré: Where the rich come to shop for designer goods.

36- Rue de Rivoli: A more affordable shopping street with many chain stores.

37- Rue de Commerce: In the 15th arrondissement, this shopping street is a mix of chain stores and independent boutiques. Less touristy than the streets mentioned above.

 

MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS

38- Arc de Triomphe: While it costs to climb the tower, exploring it from the base is free. Be sure to visit the eternal flame that marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's particularly beautiful at night, all lit up.

39- Place de la Concorde: Admire the obelisk given to France from Egypt, watch visitors take a ride on the giant ferris wheel, or choose to take a walk either in the Tuileries or down the Champs Elysees.

40- Opéra Garnier: Marvel at the gilded masterpiece, home of the phantom of the opera, and enjoy the daily free entertainment in the square at Place de l’Opéra just in front.

41- Moulin Rouge: If you’re feeling adventurous, head for the famous red-light area of Pigalle at night, where you can see the Moulin Rouge lit up the way it looks in photographs.

42- Pyramides du Louvre: Visit the pyramids of the Louvre, take pictures in the gigantic square, and then admire the pyramids from below in the Carousel du Louvre mall.

43- Arènes de Lutèce: See the ruins of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater located in the heart of the city.

44- Hotel de Ville: The town hall is impressive from the front and back, and the great square out front plays host to a variety of events, from skating in the winter to beach volleyball and soccer in the summer, most free of charge.

45- Flame of Liberty: Located at the place de l’ Alma, directly above the tunnel where Princess Diana died in a car accident. It has become a makeshift memorial for Princess Diana.

46- Statue of Liberty: Follow the steps down from the Pont de Grenelle and walk to the base of the Statue of Liberty, the replica used as a model for the larger version gifted to the United States by France.

47- Eiffel Tower: Watch the tower sparkle at night every hour from the Champ de Mars or from one of the many bridges that provide great views.

48- Palais de Chaillot: Now a museum, the outdoor terrace is the place to go for excellent views of the Eiffel Tower. It's where you see all those great shots of people standing with the tower in the background.

49-Place de la République: Visit the famous square and the monument that presides over it all. This is where Parisians congregate when they are protesting or marking an important event. There are still reminders of the vigils held after the Charlie Hebdo and Paris attacks.

50- Fontaine Stravinsky: Enjoy the atmosphere and street art around the fountain, close to the Centre Pompidou.

51- Palais de Tokyo: Visit the courtyard of the museum, with a gorgeous sculpted façade and outdoor square.

52- Assemblée Nationale: Be impressed by the imposing façade of this important building.

53- Institut du Monde Arabe: This institue of Arab culture has lovely gardens and a great view over the city.

 

PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, AND GREEN SPACE

54- Jardins des Tuileries: Walk through the gardens, let the kids play on the playground equipment, admire the statues, and sit by the pond near the exit by Place de la Concorde.

55- Jardins de Luxembourg: Spend a morning or afternoon in these lovely gardens. There are playgrounds, walking paths, a large pond, sports fields, benches and chairs, fountains, and more.

56- Bois de Boulogne: Walk, run, bike, or simply explore the Bois de Boulogne, the gigantic park on the edge of the city. For a small fee, you can pay to take the kids to the Jardin de l'Acclimatation, which has carnival rides and playgrounds.

57- Parc Monceau: A lovely park in a chic neighbourhood, filled with statues, gardens, and a great playground for kids.

58- Garden of Hôtel de Ville: Previously closed to the public, this small garden is a pretty place to explore the rose gardens and chicken coop.

59- Bois de Vincennes: An impressively large green space in the city, with plenty to do for the whole family.

60- Jardin Nelson Mandela: Located in the newly renovated area of Les Halles, the Nelson Mandela park offers a large playground for kids that has areas for sports, slides, and other play equipment. It's also located just steps from the Saint-Eustache church.

61- Jardin des Plantes: An impressive garden in the heart of the city.

62- Parc de la Villette: Head to one of the largest parks in the city and home to several indoor and outdoor activities. Not all activities located within the park are free, but there are plenty of free ones to keep the whole family busy.

63- Parc des Buttes Chaumont: This gorgeous park offers spectacular views and is less frequented by tourists than some of the other parks in the city.

64- Square Saint Lambert: In the 15th arrondissement, this park has a fountain, green space, several playgrounds arranged by age, a carousel and snack bar.

65- Parc André Citroën: Make like the locals and explore Paris’s only park that opens directly onto the banks of the Seine. This large park also has a tethered hot air balloon that provides great views over the city for a small fee.

66- Jardin de l’Atlantique: Walk along the original and quirky garden suspended above the train tracks that served as the inspiration for similar gardens around the world.

67- Parc Montsouris: Spend a morning lounging around this wonderful park in the city.

 

FREE ACTIVITIES

68- Listen to the choir rehearsal at Sacre Cœur every Sunday at 9:45am.

69-Lounge under an umbrella along Paris Plages, the temporary beaches that line the Seine during the summer.

70- Go ice skating on one of the many outdoor rinks around the cityin the winter, including the large one at the Hôtel de Ville. Skate rental costs a small fee.

71- Hear the giant organ at Notre Dame by attending a Sunday afternoon recital. Sundays at 4:30pm.

72- Picnic on the Champ de Mars in the shade of the Eiffel Tower, or join in one of the pick-up soccer or basketball games on the nearby sports areas.

73- Enjoy the view of the Invalides and the golden dome from the Esplanade des Invalides, or join the locals in a game of Frisbee on the grass.

74- Pedestrian Sundays: Join Parisian when they walk, bike, or blade along some of Paris’s largest streets that are pedestrianized along the Seine.

75- Admire the fountains in the Jardins de Trocadéro, and take some great unobstructed photographs of the Eiffel Tower while you’re there.

76-Enjoy a street performance in any of the big squares in the city

77- Take a Friday night bike ride with Rando Vélo, which offers free tours of the city.

78- How about a Friday Night Fever roller skate tour of Paris?

79- Tour Saint Jacques: Picnic in the shadow of the tower, the only remaining part of a church destroyed in a fire, now located in a small park in the city.

80- Visit the Bibliothèque Nationale.

 

NEIGHBOURHOODS AND INTERESTING WALKS

81- Stroll the Champs Elysées: Take a walk down one of the most famous avenues in the world

82- Place des Vosges: Enjoy people watching in the lovely square surrounded by pretty brick buildings.

83-La Bastille: Explore this trendy area with its bars and restaurants, and admire the column that stands where the famous prison once stood. There is also a lesser-known opera house here, with inexpensive shows.

84- Canal Saint Martin: Take a stroll along the length of this pretty canal, and climb the many bridges that cross the canal for excellent photo opportunities.

85-Allée des Cygnes: Stroll the Pont de Grenelle where the Statue of Liberty is located, to the Pont Bir Hakeim and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower. This walkway is located in the middle of the Seine, and is lined with large, leafy trees.

86- La Défense:  Explore the Esplanade and the large cube that defines the area. There is also a large mall located just off the esplanade.

87- The Marais: Explore this chic and popular neighbourhood on foot.

88- Place Saint Michel: Soak up the student vibe in this neighbourhood. Throw a coin in the fountain and browse for books in one of the many bookstores that line the streets on either side and explore the pedestrian side streets.

89- Place du Tertre: Admire the works of art painted by local and visiting artists in the Montmartre area.

90- Ile Saint Louis: Visit one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Paris. Check the plaques on the walls, which point out the former homes of famous people in Paris’s history. It's also home of the famous Ice cream maker, Berthillon.

91- Chinatown: Wander the streets of Paris’s Chinatown, and pop into the famous Frères Tang supermarket.

92- Canal de l'Ourq: Explore the lesser known canal in Paris.

93- Promenade Plantée and the Viaduc des Arts: Head to the 12th arrondissement and check out these destinations, with original pieces of artwork on sale.

94- Stroll Les Berges on the Seine, between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont de l’Alma, where there are gardens, chairs, and great views.

95- Enjoy the view of the Panthéon, and watch the students hurry by on their way to the University nearby.

96- Wander the pedestrian streets of the Latin Quarter.

 

BRIDGES

97- Pont Neuf: Walk across the oldest bridge in the city, and admire the statue in the middle, as well as the views along the Seine.

98-Pont des Arts: Although the love locks are gone, the bridge has some new artwork going up to replace them.

99-Pont Alexandre III: The famous bridge with its gilded statues offer beautiful views. It also leads to the Esplanade des Invalides.

100- Pont de Bir Hakeim: This bridge has lovely lanterns that hang down, a pedestrian area, and gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower.

Well, there you have it! My list of 100 free things to see and do in Paris. Why not take advantage of all the city has to offer, while savings a few Euros at the same time? I hope you find this list useful! Please send me a note or a photo of the fun, free things you do while in Paris.