11 free things to do and see in Paris

Visit the French capital without breaking the bank? It’s possible with our selection of free things to do and see in Paris!

Did you always think that Paris didn’t rhyme with free? Well, that’s not quite true… Like all capitals, Paris has its fair share of attractions and tourist or artistic sites that charge a fee, but it’s also possible to enjoy the City of Light, its culture and heritage without paying a penny. Yes, that’s right, “without paying a penny”! Are you living in or visiting the capital and wondering how to get out and about on a budget? Here’s our list of 11 free things to do and see in Paris, created just for you!

1. Free museums

Explore for free la Gaîté Lyrique, Paris
La Gaîté Lyrique

Paris wouldn’t be Paris without all its museums. The capital boasts more than 1,200 museums and art galleries, covering all subjects, and the permanent collections of some of them are among the free things to do in Paris. And yes, no matter your age, status or season! Among them are :

  • Musée d’Art Moderne
  • The Balzac Museum
  • Le Petit Palais, Paris Museum of Fine Arts
  • The House of Victor Hugo
  • The Museum of Romantic Life
  • The National Air and Space Museum
  • La Gaîté Lyrique
  • The Shoah Memorial

In addition to these, there are museums that open their doors free of charge on the first Sunday of every month, such as :

  • Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou
  • Musée des Arts et Métiers
  • Musée National Eugène Delacroix
  • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Musée National de l’Orangerie Musée National Picasso

Many other museums offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month, except in summer! Good to know: if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris on the first Saturday of the month, take the opportunity to visit the Musée du Louvre, which is open free of charge from 6pm to 9:45pm.

🔗 Read Also: Explore Paris in 3 Days: Your Complete Itinerary and Tips

2. Free monuments

We continue our list of free visits to Paris with these two must-see monuments:

  • The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur: this superb edifice on the summit of the Butte Montmartre was built between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. It is currently the second most-visited religious monument in Paris, after Notre-Dame de Paris.
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral: this emblematic historical and religious monument of the city of Paris has dominated the Île de la Cité since the 14th century. (Due to a fire on April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame is currently closed for an indefinite period).

3. Père Lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise cemetery, a free thing to do in Paris

With its 44 hectares, Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris. Why visit it? Because it’s home to the graves of famous politicians, artists, literary figures and scientists who left their mark on their era, including Honoré de Balzac, Simone Signoret, Jim Morrison, Frédéric Chopin, Jean de La Fontaine, Alain Bashung, Molière, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. Don’t hesitate to consult the interactive map of the cemetery on the official website to find your way through its beautiful green alleys!

4. The quays and banks of the Seine

enjoy the banks of Seine for free in Paris

Wondering what to do in Paris for free? Take the time to stroll along the pedestrian banks, some of which have been redeveloped, along the Seine and its canals (Canal Saint-Martin, Canal de l’Ourcq…) that cross the capital! These walks may allow you to attend a free dance or dance class, play pétanque, basketball or ping-pong on the tables and courts provided by the city, or enjoy lovely views of the city and some of its finest monuments.

5. A cinema class

Take a cinema class for free in Paris

Did you know that you can attend a free cinema class at the Forum des Images? Every Friday evening (except during the summer), a film teacher, historian or critic offers a class on a film or theme that is open to all. To take part, advance booking is strongly recommended! Visit the Forum des Images website for the program.

6. Beautiful neighborhoods

View on Paris from Montparnasse tower

Paris is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and rightly so. So make the most of it! You can stroll through the lively Marais and Montmartre districts, walk up the Champs Elysées, before taking a break at the Trocadéro in front of the Eiffel Tower, or on the Belvédère de Belleville from where you’ll have a panoramic view of the whole city, for example. Alternatively, if you’d like to discover more unusual Parisian neighborhoods for free in the company of a local volunteer guide, you can also register on the Greeters website!

7. Inline skating

How about taking part in a roller-skating tour to meet new people and discover the capital while doing some sport! The roller skating tour is organized every Friday evening and is free for all non-beginner skaters. For safety reasons, it is advisable to be comfortable on rollerblades and to know how to brake to join the procession. Departure is at 9.30pm from Place Raoul Dautry in Paris’s 14th arrondissement.

8. Green spaces

Les jardins du luxembourg is a central park where the Senate is held.
Luxembourg Gardens

Strolling through the most beautiful parks is one of the best free activities in Paris. Is the sun coming out? Choose your favorite green space to enjoy it:

The sun is shining? Choose your favorite green space to enjoy it:

  • Parc des Buttes Chaumont
  • Parc Monceau
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Parc André-Citroën
  • Champ de Mars
  • Jardin des plantes
  • Luxembourg Gardens
  • Bois de Vincennes
  • Parc de Bagatelle
  • Jardin du Palais Royal
  • Parc Montsouris

9. La Ferme de Paris

meet animals for free at La Ferme de Paris

Travelling with the family and wondering what to do in Paris with kids for free? Take a trip to the Ferme de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes! This 5-hectare farm lets you discover the traditional crops and livestock of the Île-de-France region, as well as eco-pasturing, urban agriculture and permaculture. Children can meet geese, ducks, rabbits, pigs and goats, among others.

10. Free cooking classes

Awaken your inner cordon bleu and take part in one of the free cooking classes offered by the Fédération de Cuisine Amateur! Created in 2007, this association aims to promote cooking as a leisure activity to as many people as possible, and offers free cooking classes and tastings at Parisian markets. You can check upcoming dates on their website. Here’s one more free activity to add to your list!

11. Nightlife

Party for free in Paris at night during your stay

Yes, you can go to a concert or dance the night away in Paris on a budget! Whether you prefer a friendly, tropical, offbeat or trendy atmosphere, here’s a list of some of Paris’s clubs and concert bars with free admission:

  • Chez Moune
  • À la Folie 4 éléments
  • La Favela Chic
  • California Avenue
  • L’Alimentation Générale (except special evenings)
  • L’International
  • Le Wanderlust

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