Paris is one of Europe’s most popular capital cities, attracting travellers from all over the world in droves, especially during the sunny summer months. Despite its reputation as an expensive spot, there are actually plenty of ways you can save money in this city, including our ‘15 things to do for free in Paris’.
1. Go on a free walking tour
Over 4 million people have enjoyed one of the Sandeman’s New Europe free walking tours of Paris since 2004. Take this tour and you’ll find yourself walking along the banks of the Seine, strolling through the popular Latin Quarter (pictured here), standing in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and more. Lasting for a substantial 3.5-hours, these tours pass by lots of the top Paris attractions, making them a great way to see lots of the city while meeting other travellers.
Location: Tours meet at fountain on Place St. Michel.
Tour times: Daily at 11am & 1pm.
2. Explore the city’s beautiful parks
One of our favourite things to do in Paris is to wander through the gorgeous green expanses found throughout the city. These are some of the best-kept parks in the world and it won’t cost you a single cent to enjoy them. Jardin de Luxembourg (5th Arrondissement) is home to what are probably the most famous gardens in the city. On top of that, this is also where you’ll find the stunning Palais du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Check out Jardin du Tuileries in front of the Louvre and relax by the lake or at the fountain. When you visit the Eiffel Tower, try to save some time for hanging out in the Parc du Champ de Mars, right underneath the famous structure, and Jardin de Trocadero, located on either side of a fountain across the river from the Tower.
3. Soak up the atmosphere along the Seine at night
After a day of sightseeing, your wallet might be feeling a little light but never fear, there are some great things to do for free in Paris in the evening. Our advice? Make your way down to the Seine and go for a walk along the banks of the river. Along the way, you’ll get amazing views of some of the city’s top attractions. On warm summer evenings, you’ll also meet plenty of people along the way. Try to check out the Pont des Arts near the Louvre, as it tends to attract lots of artists who come to capture the beautiful scene before them.
4. Stroll down the Champs-Élysées
The glamorous Champs-Élysées, Paris’ iconic tree-lined avenue, is definitely somewhere you should check out during your stay. Go for a stroll during the day and wander by chic stores and crowded cafés. This beautiful boulevard is also very impressive at night, when a plethora of lights highlight the avenue’s impressive width. Wander all the way down the Champs-Élysées and you’ll come to the world-famous Arc de Triomphe. Built by Napoleon Bonaparte, it’s one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in Paris and somewhere that’ll have you reaching for your camera.
5. Check out the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral
You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s free to visit the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral, which is recognised as one of the world's most beautiful cathedrals. Immortalised in Victor’s Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this Gothic cathedral was finally completed at the start of the 14th century after more than 100 years of work. Inside, be sure to check out the fantastic collection of sculptures and striking stained glass windows.
Location: 6 Place du Parvis, Île de la Cité, 4th Arrondissement.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6.45pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7.15pm.
6. Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle
One thing we’ve discovered about Paris is that the Eiffel Tower is even more enjoyable once the sun sets. Standing 324 metres tall, this Tower is the most famous attraction in the French capital. It’s impressive enough during that day but at night, when it’s all lit up, it’s simply breath-taking. Once it gets dark, the tower actually does ‘sparkle’, as it hosts a fabulous light show for 5 minutes every hour on the hour until 1am (2am in the summer).
Location: Champ de Mars, 7th Arrondissement.
7. Explore the diverse Paris neighbourhoods
Paris is one of the coolest cities in Europe and a large part of its cool reputation can be attributed to the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. One of the most well-known is Montmartre (pictured here), which is the place to go if you’re looking for alternative stores. It also boasts a huge selection of cafés where you can indulge in one of the most popular Parisian pastimes, people-watching. Other neighbourhoods to check out include The Latin Quarter, which is located South of the Seine and is full of narrow, pedestrianised streets and is the perfect spot for a stroll. There’s also St Germain, a big yet extremely charming neighbourhood in the 6th and 7th Arrondissements, and Le Marais, Paris’ gay quarter.
8. Enjoy live music at ‘Showcase’
Head on down to Showcase before midnight and you’ll be treated to free admission. Why should you check out this spot? Well, it hosts a fantastic array of live acts playing everything from rock to jazz, along with some of the world’s top DJs. On top of that, Showcase attracts a cool crowd and boasts a stunning location beneath the beautiful Alexandre III bridge.
Location: Pont Alexandre III, Port des Champs Élysées.
9. Visit the main museums on the first Sunday of the month
If you’re planning a trip to the French capital, try to organise it around the first Sunday of the month. Why? It’s simple! Lots of the city’s main museums offer free admission on this day every month. This is a great way to see three of Paris’ top attractions, namely the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Pompidou Centre, without having to spend a cent. Head to the Louvre and you’ll come across one of the most impressive art collections in the world. As you wander around the three wings of the museum, you’ll be able to see works by world-famous artists from all over the globe including Leonardo da Vinci’s incredible Mona Lisa. Over at the Musée d’Orsay, which is the second most famous art gallery in the city, you’ll be able to marvel at even more beautiful works of art including an intriguing selection of paintings by Monet. At the Pompidou Centre, you can expect to see one of Europe’s top collections of modern and contemporary art.
Location: Musée du Louvre - Cour Napoléon, 1st Arrondissement; Musée d’Orsay - 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur; Pompidou Centre - Place Georges Pompidou.
Opening hours: Musée du Louvre – Mon, Thurs, Sat & Sun 9am-6pm, Wed & Fri 9am-10pm, closed Tuesdays; Musée d’Orsay – Tues-Sun 9.30am-6pm (open until 9.45pm on Thursdays), closed Mondays; Pompidou Centre – Wed-Mon 11am-9pm, closed Tuesdays.
10. Check out Place des Vosges
This beautiful spot is actually the oldest planned square in Paris. Make your way to Place des Vosges and you’ll be able to lounge on the grass by the fountain, sit on one of the benches, watch the street performers or stroll around the square checking out the cool buildings. These include a former home of famous writer, Victor Hugo. You can also visit some of the art galleries lining the square, many of which will allow you to check out their art collections for free.
Location: 6 Place des Vosges, 4th Arrondissement.
11. Wander around the Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and is definitely worth a visit. Wander along the huge number of paths and you’ll pass by an array of elaborate tombs. A whole host of famous people are buried here including The Doors frontman, Jim Morrison. During your visit, you can also pay your respects at the graves of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Sandra Bernhardt and many more. To help find your way around, pick up one of the free maps at the Porte des Amandiers and Porte Gambetta entrances.
Location: 16 rue du Repos, 9th Arrondissement.
12. Enjoy free entertainment at Place de la Concorde
Covering over 8 hectares, Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. Located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées in the city’s 8th Arrondissement, it looks towards the Eiffel Tower and is a great spot to bring your camera and take some amazing pictures of the most famous landmark in Paris. On top of that, the square is a great spot to just hang out, watching the world go by. You can also enjoy lots of free entertainment around the square, from musicians and dancers to more unusual street entertainers.
13. Take in the view from Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
Sacre Coeur is a stunning stone church located at the top of the ‘butte’ or hill in the popular neighbourhood of Montmartre. While Sacre Coeur is undoubtedly a fantastic attraction in its own right, we love the views you get of the Paris skyline from outside the church, views that won’t cost you anything to enjoy. Take a seat on one of the grassy areas by the church and then take a moment to drink in the city spread out before you.
Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier-de-la-Barre.
Opening hours: Daily from 6am-10.30pm.
14. Check out a fashion show at Galeries Lafayette
Calling all fashionistas! You’ll be delighted to learn that you can enjoy the best that Paris’ world-renowned designers have to offer by taking in a free fashion show at Galeries Lafayette. During these 30-minute shows which take place on the 7th floor of this chic department store, six professional models show off the latest fashions. These shows take place every Friday at 3pm.
Location: 40 blvd Haussmann.
15. Listen to an organ concert at Saint-Eustache Church
If you fancy hearing some free music, make your way to Saint-Eustache Church where they hold free organ concerts every Sunday at 5.30pm. The organ in this Gothic church is said to be one of the biggest in the world, boasting an impressive 8,000 pipes.
Location: 2 impasse Saint-Eustache.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-7pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 9am-7pm.
So if you’re planning a trip to the French capital and you’re looking to save money during your stay, make sure to try some of our 15 things to do for free in Paris. Don’t forget, we’ve also got a great selection of hostels in Paris for you to check out.