Top Free Things to Do in Paris

In Paris and Don't Have Much Cash? Here's How to Make the Most of Your Time

Paris is one of the best cities in the world, but unfortunately, that comes at a price.

Yes, Paris is one of the most expensive cities you can visit as a traveler. 

But that doesn't mean you have to choose between spending all your money or seeing nothing at all. Paris has plenty of free activities to keep you busy in the city. From visiting famous people's graves in Pere Lachaise cemetery to catching a free movie with locals at Parc de la Villette, there's no end of free things you can do in Paris! 

Even better: if you're a student in Paris and have a student ID you can show, you'll be able to score a ton of discounts for museums, shows, and activities all over the city. 

01 of 05

Cimetiere Pere Lachaise

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Bruno De Hogues/Photolibrary/Getty Images
8 Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris, France
+33 1 55 25 82 10

This is one of my favorite activities in Paris, free or not. 

This famous cemetery is an excellent spot to spend a quiet Sunday morning in reflection. The cemetery itself is huge and if you planned to wander down every pathway, you could spend an entire afternoon admiring the graves. 

There are plenty of famous people resting in Pere Lachaise's grounds, from Oscar Wilde to Frederic Chopin to Jim Morrison, whose grave is nearly always surrounded by fans of The Doors. Be sure to check out the maps when you enter the grounds to make sure you don't miss any graves on your list. 

You can get to the cemetery by navigating to the Phillipe Auguste or Pere Lachaise metro stations.

02 of 05

See Free Movies at Parc de la Villette

Parc de la Villette
Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Getty Images
211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France
+33 1 40 03 75 75

Parc de la Villette is an 86 acre park and gardens at the edge of the Paris suburbs. 

Don't let the location put you off, though -- if you happen to be in Paris during the summer months, this is the place to be. Entrance to the park is free, and when the warmer weather rolls around, you'll be able to check out street art, music festivals, and even a few free movie screenings in the evenings. 

The park attracts locals and tourists alike, so if you're feeling homesick, you'll most likely be able to meet a group of Americans while you're there. 

To get there, take the Line 5 metro to Porte de Pantin.

03 of 05

Hit the Paris Beach

Paris Plage
Pawel Libera/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Voie Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France

One of my favorite things to do in Paris is to head to the "Paris Plage", which runs from July to August.

Every year, sand is loaded onto a bank of the Seine to create a beach for locals and tourists to relax on. You can find it alongside the road and river from Ile St. Louis to the Jardin des Tuileries.

Umbrellas, concerts...park a picnic on this man-made beach to meet people and lounge. Remember that the Seine's water is not fit for swimming, though.

Rouse yourself long enough to watch a wild bike ride-parade-street happening near nearby Hotel de Ville on summer Friday nights.

04 of 05

Fashion Gawk

a fashionable couple walking by Avenue Montaigne

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

Loiter on fashion aves Rue de Faubourg St. Honore ("Much to buy with lots of money," writes Paris Digest) or nearby Avenue Montaigne to see what really rich people are wearing. Wow.

Even the most avowed non-fashionista will get a kick out of watching shoppers here -- check out feet for views of shoes that could stop a man's heart in more ways than one. Get a drink afterward at an Avenue des Champs-Elysees cafe to people-watch while you sip a coffee. 

Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05

Free Friday Nights at the Louvre

The Louvre
MathieuRivrin/Moment/Getty Images
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
+33 1 40 20 50 50

If you want some culture with that travel, Musee de Orsay is free on first Sundays and the Louvre is free on Friday nights for folks under 26. This museum, once a palace with dungeon and moat, is the free thing to do in Paris, and well worth queueing up to get inside.

The free Friday nights for younger folks might be a good time to visit the Louvre if you want to miss the Da Vinci Code crowd that's been descending on the Louvre since summer 2006. 

Enjoy the free things to do in Paris!

This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff

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5 Fun and Free Things to Do in Paris as a Student Traveler