Paris is one of the premier cities of Europe. With so much history and art, The City of Lights can get expensive, unless of course you keep reading. Here's a list of free things to do in Paris that are fun and will let you explore its wonders.
Take a walking tour of the city
When travelling Europe, you're bound to see these types of tours. They require no fee and only recommend that you give your guide a tip at the end of the tour. I was lucky enough to get on one of these with a bicycle! It truly was amazing, riding around the entire city on two wheels. The tour guides usually speak multiple languages and it's easy to meet other people your age with whom you can travel with.
Check out some Museums
While the many famous museums in Paris charge a fortune to get in, there are so many that some of them are actually free. The Musée Carnavalet, for instance, is one of the many free museums in Paris and is one of the best museums for learning the history of the city from its birth to its present through exhibits, art, furnishings, artifacts, recreations, photographs, and letters as you learn about the French Revolution, Voltaire, Rousseau, death by the guillotine, 20th century paintings, and more. The museum's structure itself is also historical as the museum resides within two mansions, one from the 11th century and one from the 17th century. Some other notable free museums include the:
Maison de Balzac- Museum dedicated to the French novelist Honoré de Balzac who produced works like "La Comédie humaine", "An Episode of Terror", and "Vautrin" in the mid-1800's. The museum is actually housed in his former residence. Petit Palais- A fine arts museum with a range of exhibits like The Eastern Christian World, Paris 1900, Renaissance, Graphic Arts, and The Classical World, to name a few. Musée d'Art Moderne- Modern art museum that houses works from the 20th and 21st centuries from artists like Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, and Pierre Bonnard. The Louvre- While this famous and overwhelmingly large museum isn't free everyday, it is always free on the first Sunday of each month.
Enjoy live music and get a bird's eye view of the city at Sacré-Coeur
Sacré-Coeur is one of the best attractions in Paris and sits on top of a giant hill. Seeing the sunset with a picnic and a bottle of wine and enjoying an all-encompassing view of the entire city is one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. The area is named after the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which is a Roman Catholic Church that you can go inside and explore. You can also stroll around the church and visit little shops and small parks. The best part about the area, however, is the live music. There always seems to be a talented singer or musician playing for tips with a big crowd of people gathered around, sitting on the steps near the church, listening to music and sipping their drinks. It's a really laid-back yet social atmosphere.
Take a stroll on Avenue des Champs-Èlysées
This famous walk will allow you to see the many different sides of Paris all in one stroll, as there are bars, clubs, restaurants, theaters, monuments, landmarks, and tons of upscale shopping venues like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and Hugo Boss (okay, so buying diamonds and designer clothing isn't free...but browsing is!). You will also see the Arc de Triomphe, where you can get a great view of Paris as well as visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Grand Palais, a historical palace and museum, and the Place de la Concorde, a huge square with monuments, fountains, and French architecture.
The Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church designed in a stunning French Gothic style that is not only a place the spiritual will enjoy, but also the artistic, with 17th century paintings, a Virgin with Child sculpture, beautiful church bells and organs, intricate stained-glasses windows, and a trippy 360 degree panoramic view when you look up. The cathedral also plays the important role of housing the official chair of the Archibishop of Paris, which is currently André Vingt-Trois. It is open Monday-Friday, 8AM-6:45PM, and Saturday-Sunday, 8AM-7:15PM, and is always free of charge to enter. You can also take a look at their service times as well as times for free guided tours organized by language preference.
Spend time outdoors in the city's many parks and gardens
Paris is home to many beautiful parks and gardens where you can spend hours just relaxing and taking in nature. My absolutely favorite outdoor garden area to visit is the Luxembourg Gardens, which was once only open to members of royalty but is now open to everyone, regardless of class. They are formal gardens that are extremely well-manicured and peaceful with statues, fountains, and a large pond known as the Grand Bassin. There are also a lot of activities that go on in the park, like puppet shows, live music, toy boat races, chess games, and Tai Chi. The Tuileries Gardens, which is also a formal and immaculate park that was once owned by royalty, is also a favorite of mine to visit. If you're there in the summer, there is an annual amusement park held there. To change it up a bit, I'd also vote the Jardin des Plantes as one of the best parks in Paris, as it is a bit more sprawling and unkept, in a natural way, with tons of tropical plants, irises, climbing plants, roses, medicinal plants, and more. It is also the site of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (Natural History Museum), a zoo, and an aquarium.
Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to this iconic landmark. When I was in Paris I visited the Eiffel Tower both during the day and at night, and I would definitely recommend buying a bottle of wine and some picnic supplies and heading over there after the sun goes down. It's a lot more striking at night when it's all lit up, and every hour a light show occurs where thousands of flash bulbs start going off, which is a pretty mesmerizing sight to see.
Take in the music scene
There are many venues in Paris that offer great music free of charge. If you like dramatic organ music, visit Saint-Eustache Church at 5:30 on Sundays. You can also enjoy free classical music concerts put on by students at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris. Moreover, certain nightclubs like L'Opa (live bands on Tuesdays and Thursdays), Le Régine, and Le Showcase are usually free to enter and offer more upbeat musical fare.
Sources of Information
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