11 of the best FREE things to do in Paris

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There are few cities whose reputation so boldly precedes itself as much as the city of Paris.  When one thinks of the city of lights, romance quickly comes to mind.  In fact, any number of superlatives are associated with one of the world’s most popular destinations.  Paris is undoubtedly viewed as a Fashion capital known for its gastronomical delights, historical architecture and its artistic legacy.  If you are planning a visit to this wondrous city, why not take advantage of the many free cultural experiences that this world class city has to offer?  Here are some of the absolute must-see free sites that you will enjoy:

  • Notre Dame Cathedral (6 Parvis Notre Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, tel. +33 [0]1 42 34 56 10) – few sanctuaries can match the resplendent character of this Gothic masterpiece.  Not only can you enjoy the imposing figure’s external glory, but you will also have the opportunity to go inside and take in this architectural wonder’s unmatched stained glass, sacred statuaries and magnificent pipe organ as it serenades you during the cathedral’s free recitals on Sunday afternoons.  Be sure to check out their thrice weekly tour.   Notre Dame is located in the fourth arrondissement and can be reached via the metro at the following stops:

    notre dame

  • Père-Lachaise Cemetery – This two century old graveyard  in the twentieth arrondissement is the final resting place for many French luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Chopin, Moliere, Sarah Bernhardt, Gertrude Stein and the American pop icon, Jim Morrison.

jimmorrison

  • Jardin des Tuileries is one of the many magical garden parks that are treasured by Paris residents and visitors alike.  The Tuileries spans from the right bank of the Seine River to the front of the Louvre Museum and features large Italian style gardens, several water fountains, life-sized statues and a footbridge that leads you to the famed Impressionist museum, Musee D’Orsay.   As if that wasn’t enough, two museums, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie, which displays Claude Monet’s large water lily paintings are located directly on the property.

TuileriesGarden

Photo courtesy of  travelwithterry.blogspot.com

  • Experience a free 3.5 hour walking tour that covers all of the main historic sites of central Paris.  Sandeman’s New Paris Tours meet daily at 11 am and 1 pm in front of the fountain at Place Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter.  Take the Metro Line 4 to Saint-Michel and exit the station at Fontaine Saint-Michel.  Look for the guides wearing red NEW EUROPE t-shirts.  Pre-register if there is more than 10 in your group, otherwise just show up.

  • For the past seven summers, three separate areas along the Seine (where you can just enjoy its Tropical splendor), Bassin de la Villette (the area dedicated to water sports and boating) and La Villette (where you can sunbathe to your heart’s content on the sandy beaches and sample the goodies at the boardwalk style cafes and groove to the evening concerts) have been transformed for the enjoyment of young and old.  The Paris Plage (Beach) is open from July 20th to August 20th from 8 a.m. to midnight.

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Photo courtesy of andrics.com

  • Attend a free Haute couture fashion show featuring a team of six professional models at the fashion stalwart, Galeries Lafayette department store.  It is held every Friday at 3 p.m. on the 7th floor of the main Haussmann store in the Salon Opéra.  You must make your reservation by email : welcome@galerieslafayette.com or call +33 1 42 82 36 40.

galeries lafayette

Photo courtesy of: Dynamist’s flickr photostream

  • The first Sunday of the month gains you free entry into some of Paris’ most renown art museums.  Get your fill of art appreciation by visiting the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Musee Picasso &  Musée Rodin. While you are at the Centre Pompidou during free first Sundays, be sure to take the escalators all the way to the top to get a breath-taking view of the city.

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The Louvre

  • Allow yourself to sway to the performance of Tango and Salsa dancers who give free dance lessons (tips are welcome!) by the Seine.  It all happens at Square Tino Rossi at 9, quai St.-Bernard in front of the University of Paris at Jussieu just a few steps from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, classes begin at 7:30 pm with dancing extending well into midnight.
  • Free sampling of Southwestern French wines at Le Dernier Goutte wine shop on Saturday mornings in St Germain de Pres.  Stop by between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 6 rue Bourbon-le-Chateau.
  • Watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle up every thirty minutes beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m. with all the Parisians at the Champs de Mars Garden.

eiffel lighted

  • Walk up the middle steps (not the side steps) to the Sacre Coeur Basilica, and enjoy the heavenly sounds of nuns singing in French every day.

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Sacre Coeur

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