Paris, renowned as the city of love and the city of lights sounds so romantically…expensive. Its grandeur can be daunting to travellers on a budget. But unknown to many, there are countless things to do in this luxurious city, free of charge. You just need to know where to look. You could spend your whole vacation touring places without breaking the bank, and the city will still enchant you. Save on admission prices and splurge on something more deserving like brie and Bordeaux…Now that’s my kind of Paris.
1. The Louvre
The museum waives admission the first Sunday of each month as well as Bastille Day (on July 14). Guests 25 years old and under are free on Friday evenings from 6- 9:45 pm to access the museum’s permanent collection. Visitors under 18 years of age are always free.
2. Musée d’Orsay
Admission is also free the first Sunday of the month at the Musée d’Orsay. Marvel at Impressionist works by Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, and others in this transformed 19th century railroad station. Arrive early but expect crowds for both museums.
3. Jardin du Champ-de-Mars
While climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower can be pricey, the view from below is scenic on its own. Pack a picnic and head to Jardin du Champ-de-Mars, a public lawn littered with tourists enjoying the sights. Wait until night to watch the 10-minute lightshow for some romance.
4. Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
The gothic Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris constructed between 1163 and 1334 is a historic Catholic icon. Admire the architecture, view the famous gargoyles, or even attend a service.
Admission is waived the first Sunday of the month from November to March (children under 18 are always free) to the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle, a medieval chapel with breathtaking stained glass panels.
6. Flame of Liberty
The Flame of Liberty is a full-sized, gold-leaf covered replica of the flame carried by the Statue of Liberty. It has since become an unofficial memorial for the late Princess Diana who died at the nearby Place d’Alma underpass.
7. Maison de Victor Hugo
The Maison de Victor Hugo is the place where Hugo dwelled for 16 years from 1832-1848 on the second floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée. Tour his apartment and view his drawings, manuscripts and first editions of his work written here, which includes a large portion of Les Misérables.
8. Le Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
One of Paris’ most impressive flea market, it’s comprised of more than a dozen flea markets within it, making it the largest antique market in the world. Hunt for treasures from the many vendors spanning over streets, and don’t be surprised by the price tags.
9. Rue Mouffetard
Walk the cobblestoned streets of Rue Mouffetard and admire the distinctive buildings in this old neighbourhood as you peruse the market and listen to local street performers. You’ll find specialty cheeses, artisan breads, gourmet pastries, and much more in the charming shops and open-air stalls.
10. Musée Carnavalet
The Musée Carnavalet tells the story of Paris dating back to 4600 BC to the present day. With around 600,000 exhibits in 100 or so rooms, there is much to discover. Admission to the permanent collection is free of charge.
11. Parc de la Villette
This 35-hectare park with pavilions, gardens, playgrounds and kid-friendly attractions is the largest public park in Paris. Enjoy free movie screenings, concerts, social events, and plays.
12. Père-Lachaise Cemetery
Pay your respects at the graves of famous talent like Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Bellini, Jim Morrison, and Proust.
13. La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre
Located at the highest point in the city, the Romano-Byzantine-inspired architecture and white travertine stone of the basilica makes this an awe-inspiring structure. (For a fee, you can climb the 243 steps to the dome and experience beautiful panoramic views of the city. The 19-tonne bell at the top is the largest in France.)
14. Arènes de Lutèce
For a bit of Roman history, visit Arènes de Lutèce in the Latin Quarter. Dating back to 1AD, this amphitheater sat 10,000 people during gladiator combats. Today, you may find people playing football or pétanque, a game similar to bocce.
15. Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse
Students at Paris’ prestigious conservatory of music and dance perform free concerts and recitals several times a week.