We’ll come right out and say it. Paris is one of our favourite cities in the world. But still, there’s just one little problem: it’s expensive!
While some of Paris’s experiences are well worth splurging for – after all, it is home to over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, dozens of world-class museums and monuments, and is considered a world capital of fashion – not every Parisian attraction needs to break the bank! With this guide of free things to do in Paris, you can enjoy the best of both worlds! Some of these experiences you’ll have heard of, and others will surely surprise you!
Printemps Rooftop Terrace
The first of my suggested free things to do in Paris is a beautiful secret. Take the elevator up to the rooftop of Printemps (a Parisian department store) for a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris and all of its famous landmarks. From the rooftop, you can relax, enjoy the view, and – although not free – enjoy a cocktail or a croissant at the tranquil rooftop café.
The Federation Francaise de Cuisine has partnered with the French capital to offer free cooking classes to the public! Class themes vary from organic foods to healthy cooking. Still, each class always focuses on seasonal ingredients or limiting food waste. Using the freshest ingredients from Parisian markets, you’ll learn from some of the city’s best chefs. Note: Book your class well in advance; spaces are limited.
Cimetière du Père Lachaise
Paris’s most significant (and most beautiful) cemetery, Père Lachaise Cemetery, opened in 1804. Ever since it’s been known for its estimated three million permanent residents and extravagant tombs. This fascinating graveyard is filled with love stories, war, and even the paranormal. This cemetery is a must-see so put it on your list of free things to do in Paris!
Picnic at Canal Saint-Martin
Grab some friends, a baguette, cheese, and a bottle of wine (or two…), and head over to one of the liveliest parts of the city: Canal Saint-Martin. Parisians and tourists frequent this canal, as nobody can resist its charm. With jovial crowds, endless greenery, and early-nineteenth-century architecture to enjoy, this outdoor space is the perfect place to soak in Paris slowly.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is an oasis in the middle of bustling Paris; it’s the perfect place to sit and chat, enjoy nature, and simply allow time to pass you by. For first-time visitors and locals, this garden is a true gem.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
If you think you’ve seen a beautiful cathedral, you really haven’t seen anything until you step foot into the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Known worldwide for its stunning Romanesque stained-glass windows and Gothic architecture, can you believe that entry to this medieval jewel is free? Yet, if you want to climb up to Notre Dame’s towers, it’s a different story; prepare to shell out 8.5 euros.
Wine Tasting at La Dernière Goutte
Every Saturday from 11 am to 7:30 pm, you can stop by La Dernière Goutte for free wine tastings with French winemakers! The wine here comes from all regions of France. It is presented to you by ex-pat-turned-wine-connoisseur Juan Sanchez, who gives explanations and lessons in English and French. Magnifique!
Marché aux Fleurs
Since 1830, Paris’s most famous flower market has attracted millions of green thumbs and curious onlookers alike. Marché aux Fleurs, open seven days a week offers a broad mix of flora, ranging from orchids and peonies to exotic flowers and shrubs. There is no excuse for missing this happy place!
For an authentic local experience, spend a weekend morning at Marché d’Aligre. This historic market, beloved and frequented by Parisians of all ages, offers the freshest produce, bright flowers, beautifully aged cheeses, charcuterie, fine wines, and much more. While none of the products is free, the samples, aromas, and vibrant colours are! If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the French diet and culture, Marché d’Aligre is a great place to explore. Add this stroll to the list of free things to do in Paris.
Pigalle Basketball Court
The Pigalle Basketball Court is my favourite on this list of free things to do in Paris! French fashion brand Pigalle Paris collaborated with the creative platform Ill-Studio to design a public basketball court in the Quartier Pigalle. So head over to the 9th arrondissement to shoot some hoops! If you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the world’s best basketball players known to frequent the court.
Play a game with the locals
While strolling about the city, why not try your hand at something new? Join in on a locals’ game of pétanque for some friendly competition. Pétanque is a classic French game, similar to horseshoes and bocce, and is beloved by generations.
La Promenade Plantée
Reminiscent of New York City’s High Line, La Promenade Plantée is an elevated public park built atop an old railway. Here, you can talk a pleasant stroll, jog, or bike ride, among the flowers, trees, and aerial views of Paris!
Open-air film screenings
On summer evenings, Ciné en Plein Air festival screens free movies in the Parc de La Villette for the public to enjoy. From Hollywood blockbusters to short pieces by up-and-coming directors, Paris’s most extensive open-air film screenings feature something for everyone!
Check free entrance days of Museums
Paris’s three most popular art museums, Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Louvre, and Musée de l’Orangerie, are free on every first Sunday of the month. The only exception is the Louvre, as this rule applies only from March through October. Whether you have to pay your way or not, these impressive institutions shouldn’t be missed. Free entry is just a bonus!
Explore Parisian neighbourhoods on foot
Getting lost in the historic, café-lined streets is undoubtedly one of the many free things to do in Paris. It is the best way to explore the City of Light. From the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés to Pigalle and Montmartre, Paris’s many different quarters wait to be discovered!
With this guide of 15 free things to do in Paris, you’re sure to experience the best of this city without going broke! While hundreds of free or low-budget activities are on this list, these are a few you shouldn’t miss during your next visit.