30 Free Things to Do in Paris

By Michelle Yastremsky

From fashion shows to cathedrals to royal courtyards, the splendors of France's capital city are calling!

Add these free things to do in Paris to your itinerary, so you can spend less money on sightseeing and spend more on wine & cheese!

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Free Museums in Paris

Culture without the cost!

Free entry to some of the city’s most iconic museums – what’s not to louvre?

1. National Museum of Modern Art in Paris

Free entry into this modern wonderland? Really! From Braque to Matisse to Picasso, enjoy a selection of works from some of the world’s most famous artists. Temporary exhibits may have a fee.

2. Petit Palais

Dreaming about an art collection a little less modern and a little more fine? Entrance to the permanent collection at Paris’ fine art museum is always free, and features masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Rembrandt, and Cézanne. Temporary exhibits may have a fee.

3. The Louvre

Enjoy free entry to Paris’ most famous museum every first Sunday of the month, from October to March. Be sure to say hello to the Mona Lisa!

4. Musee Fragonard

Housed in a lavish Napoleon III townhouse, the museum of fragrance is sure to awaken your senses.

5. Musee des Arts et Metiers

Follow the path from mind to matter in this museum celebrating the inventors and pioneers of scientific and technical knowledge. From scientific instruments to the materials that make up some of the world’s most famous inventions, there is no shortage of things to discover and explore – you can even see Foucault’s amazing pendulum!

6. 59 Rivoli

In 1999, a handful of local artists gathered at an abandoned building and joined forces to revitalize the squatters den. What resulted was 59 Rivoli, an eclectic gallery, concert space, and hub for artistic development.

Best Panoramic Views of Paris

Views so breathtaking, they belong in a museum.

From shopping malls to Gothic cathedrals, experience Paris' skyline from different angles.

7. Galeries Lafayette

Enjoy grand views of the city skyline from the rooftop of this famous department store.

8. Parc de Belleville

Grab a pen and paper and get inspired by the picturesque views of Paris from Parc de Belleville.

9. Montmarte Hill

Hike to the top of the hill at Montmarte and enjoy magnificent views of Paris; from this location the skyline is dominated by the stunning Sacre Coeur.

Picturesque Parks & Gardens

Relaxing in Paris is just a walk in the park!

From Medici-funded masterpieces to parks housing concert venues, Paris' outdoor wonders go above and beyond.

10. Parc de la Villette

Paris’ third largest park is also home to some of the city’s most exciting cultural venues! After a stroll in the park, you can unwind at Europe’s largest science museum, or catch a concert at one of the three venues found within the park.

11. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Artificial lakes, crags, waterfalls, beaches, and even.. palm trees – you’ll soon forget you’re in a bustling city as you start to lose track of time at this Napoleon III-era green space. Be sure to stop by the cave and take a photo of the (fake) stalactites!

12. Parc du Champ de Mars

A former army marching ground, this perfectly manicured park offers direct views of the Eiffel Tower. Grab a blanket, some French wine, and perhaps a spread of your favorite cheeses and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower as it becomes illuminated come nightfall!

13. Jardin de Luxembourg

Go for a jog in the Jardin de Luxembourg, the iconic park in the fifth arrondissement was paid for by Marie de Medici. Pass by impressive sculptures, picturesque fountains, and then enjoy views of Paris’ Pantheon all without leaving the park!

14. Promenade Plantee

A stroll through this elevated park offers visitors sweeping views of the city, all while being surrounded by lush green archways and floral wonders.

15. Parc Monceau

Where can you find a Chinese Garden, fake Roman ruins, a miniature Egyptian pyramid, a Dutch windmill, and even an Italian Vineyard? Look no further than Paris’ Parc Monceau!

16. Jardin des Pantes

Paris’ botanical garden is also one of the oldest and largest in the world. See flora from regions from Australia to Mexico. Note: there is an extra charge to visit the section specializing in preservation of endangered species, but those who look closely can still spot a small panda or two at a distance from the gardens themselves.

17. Bois de Vincennes

While away the day at Paris' largest public park, created by the Emperor Napoleon III. Once part of a forest surrounding an ancient Roman town, the park is now home to an English landscape garden, zoo, botanical garden, and even an ancient chariot track!

Morbid & Memorable

City cemeteries worth checking out.

18. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Rub elbows with greats like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison with a stroll through the iconic Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

19. Montmarte Cemetery

Not quite as famous as Lachaise, this secluded space can be found under a bridge, and is sprinkled with cobbled alleys, extravagant tombs, and chilling sculptures throughout.

Photo Ops

Spots with backgrounds worth instagramming about.

Take the perfect selfie or stage a photo shoot - the City of Light is your runway!

20. Palais Royal Courtyard

Hiding behind the awe-inspiring Palais Royal is a courtyard like no other; 260 black and white striped columns decorate the space, almost as if they are awaiting their moment to shine in your selfie!

Capture the perfect blend of whimsy mixed with iconic beauty by getting both the carousel and Eiffel Tower in your frame.

22. Pont Alexander III

Picture yourself casually looking over the bridge, posed perfectly for that Paris vacation photo. Stage a shoot both in the daytime and in the evening, as the lights lining the bridge illuminate the pathway.

Markets, Mega Stores & More

Make the city streets your personal catwalk.

Being one of the world’s fashion capitals has its perks; experience great window shopping, peruse bustling markets, and maybe even see a fashion show or two!

23. Galeries Lafayette

A trip to this breathtaking department store is an adventure of itself; surround yourself with beauty and glamour without spending a dime.

24. Marche d'Aligre

A walk through this covered food market is a celebration for the senses! Sample local cheeses, feast your eyes on locally-sourced cuts of meat, and stop to smell the roses at the colorful Marche d'Aligre

25. Marche aux Puces

Paris’ famous market place is a great place to rummage for antiques or do some people watching! While strolling through the market is free, you'll most likely break down and do some shopping when you see the fantastic wares available.

26. Marche aux Fleurs

If one of the city’s many stunning parks doesn’t satisfy your floral fix, head to Paris’ vibrant flower market where you’ll be treated to a wonderland of flowers in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Bonus: Free fashion shows

Where can you find the latest fashions, for free? At the Galeries Lafayette, of course! Enjoy a twice-weekly fashion show (Mondays and Fridays at 3pm) – reserve your spot by email or telephone and learn more here.

Iconic & Free

Cross these off your bucket list.

The city's most famous landmarks, at a price that fits any budget (free)!

27. Sacre Coeur

After enjoying the amazing views from Montmarte hill, stop by the famous Sacre Coeur Basilica, where you can lose track of time as you explore the stained glass windows while listening to the chimes of one of the world’s heaviest bells.Note: there is a charge to go into the dome and crypt of the basilica.

28. Notre Dame Cathedral

The cathedral’s rooftop offers some of the best views of the city, and while climbing to the top has a fee, exploring the inside of this imposing icon is absolutely free!

Water: Ride it or Drink it

Stay hydrated while you see the highlights.

Water fountains with sparkling water? Only in Paris.

29. Cruise down the Canal.

Ride the canal shuttle in the Canal Stain Denis which connects the metro station Conetin-Cariou (number 7 line) to the Milleaire a Aubervilleirs mall.

30. City of Light? More like City of Fountains!

Paris sports over 260 fountains that offer free, portable water. Add some sparkle to that bottle - six of the fountains actually deliver sparkling water!

BONUS: Birthday perk!

If you're lucky enough to be in Paris on your birthday, take a Siene river cruise! Just bring documented proof of your special day and the Vedettes de Paris will let you board without having to pay for a ticket.

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