As a capital of luxury, designer fashion and champagne-drenched soirées, Paris may seem inaccessibly expensive for travelers on a tight budget. But behind the opulent veneer lies a city that offers scores of free attractions and activities, no matter the season. It's true that you can easily spend a fortune in Paris-- but it's also true that you can get away with spending a reasonable amount and still head home having seen quite a lot. Without further ado, here are our picks for the top free things to do in Paris. Bookmark these ideas, and you'll likely find it far easier to keep your budget in check.
We can confidently say that Paris is the world's best city for walkers-- not only because most neighborhoods are built for pedestrians (with some caveats-- see Paris Safety Tips) but because the city of light's neighborhoods are dizzyingly varied and fascinating.
Just when you think you know the place back to front, some undiscovered corner beckons you to come explore it. So pack a good pair of walking shoes, gear up with a Paris city street map or comparable smartphone app, and hit the streets for a zero-Euro adventure you won't soon forget.
Popular Neighborhoods to Explore:
Get Off the Beaten Track:
In French, the word "culture" means more than it does in English: it has a broader sense that refers to the universal right for all to be exposed to the arts, sciences, and humanities. To that end, the government funnels significant funds into making "la culture" accessible to all. Many Paris museums offer entirely free admission at all times, while others, including the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, are free for all every first Sunday of the month.
Paris hosts scores of fun, inspirational and entirely free annual events, from arty affairs like all-night public art installations to artificial beaches implanted on the Seine River each summer. Many of these are concentrated in the spring and the summer months, but each season hosts at least one or two of these festive, budget-friendly happenings.
Related: Summer Festivals in Paris
Paris houses many of history's more stunning spiritual relics-- cathedrals and chuches that stand today as breathtaking testimonials to a complex heritage of Christianity that dominated in Paris from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution. Many of these majestic cathedrals and churches fell into near-ruin in the wake of the Revolution but revived interest in the 19th century brought about their restoration. Many of these are must-see sites no matter your budget-- but the fact that entry is free doesn't hurt.
No matter the season, a long stroll or picnic in one of Paris's many distinctive, elegant parks and gardens is an essential element of any trip to the city. Also check out old-fashioned amusement parks like the Jardin d'Acclimation, which kids and parents alike will love.
Getting a good bird's eye view of Paris can be an exhilarating experience-- and is in many cases free of charge. Whether you head to the top of Montmartre or the little-known Parc de Belleville, there are plenty of ways to get panoramic views without paying a Euro cent.
Take a Free Walking-- or Running-- Tour of the City
Last, but not least-- go take a free tour of the city by foot. Discover Walks is a company offering several good walking tours of Paris for no charge. You are, however, encouraged to tip the friendly docents.