Free Paris: Top 20 Free Activities in Paris

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Paris has a reputation the world over for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and whilst this can be true, it’s also a city which is very easy to do on a budget. Paris welcomes student discounts, offers free museum days and is overflowing with free activities. There really is no need to spend copious amounts of money in Paris in order to have a good time! The first year that I spent in Paris I was on a very tight budget working as an au pair with a low disposable income but that it didn’t stop me from having a good time, in fact is was the best year of my life to-date. Experiences are what count, not materialistic possessions. It’s the little things that I would value the most such as the moment the Eiffel Tower would sparkle, passing by monuments which I’d only seen in films beforehand and being around people who’s company I cherished.  I am convinced that you can come to Paris, spend little money and leave with your heart full of happiness and dozens of new friendships and wonderful experiences. After all the best things in life are free!

Here are the best Free activities in Paris…


Printemps & Lafayette terrace 

You have to pay to climb nearly all of Paris’ monuments but the rooftop terraces of two of the city’s most luxurious department stores are completely free of charge. They are located right next to each other and they both offer great panoramic views spanning across the whole of Paris. My pick would be the view from atop Printemps.


The best way to explore a city is to walk until you’re weary feet can walk no longer. It’s the only way to really uncover every nook and cranny of a city and stumble across hidden surprises along the way.

Ispahan picnic-2


One of the best ways to enjoy the balmy summer evenings in Paris is with a picnic. Gather together a group of friends and fill a picnic basket full of food for an outdoor feast to be remembered. A favourite picnic spot of mine is the banks along the Seine where the surrounding monuments and sparkling Eiffel Tower are like watching a real-life motion picture.



All of Paris’ parks are completely free and provide a wonderful place to while away an afternoon. For a more extensive guide on which ones to visit, you can see this article here.

Arc de Triomphe

18-25 EU residents

Being an 18-25 EU resident in Paris has so many benefits. Entrance to every national monument and museum (excluding temporary exhibitions) is free. That means that you can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, enter into the Louvre museum and visit the Château de Vincennes, to name but a few examples. Just show you’re I.D card and you’ll be allowed to enter entirely free of charge. This is also applicable to nationalities outside of the EU if you have proof of long-term residency in the European Union i.e. a visa. Here’s the website to find out which monuments qualify.

Flower market

Flower market

The flower market is located on Ile de la Cité and is a great little activity to brighten up any day in Paris. Rows of potted plants are sheltered under the covered passageway and birds of every color tweet away in the background.

La Promenade Plantée

La Promenade Plantée

The Promenade Plantée is an elevated footpath in Paris that was once a former railway track, comparable to the High Line in New York. It provides a scenic walk through the city where you’ll be at eye level with some of Paris’ finest apartments and verandas.



Nature has gifted to us some incredible sights, one of which is the sunset. Better than any show you could every pay for, the sky ignites with vivid colours and profound cloud formations as the sun meets the horizon. Collect memories, not things; something everyone ought to collect is sunsets around the world and I would definitely add Paris to that list.

Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet

Walking into this museum is as though stepping into a novel and journeying through Paris’ history. Each room is dedicated to a historic event of a different century and therefore provides an interesting insight into some of the city’s most fascinating historical milestones. Entrance to the museum is free to all visitors.

Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise Cemetery

It seems a bit spooky to visit a graveyard as a tourist attraction but Père Lachaise has become one of the top things to do in the city. It evokes an eerie calm and peacefulness and you might be surprised at just how much you enjoy it. It is extremely large and maze-like therefore it might take a little perseverance to find some of the graves you’re looking for such as Edith Piaf or Jim Morrison.


Take photos of all the monuments

The majority of images that you see of Paris, tend to be of the monuments from the outside. Whilst entering them might not be free you can take as many photos as you desire from the outside and chances are they’ll be the best shots. Do a tourist tour of the whole city and take a photo of yourself in front of Paris’ iconic monuments. Here are a just few to tick off: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Hôtel de Ville, Palais Royal, Opera House and Sacré Cœur.

ciné en plein air

Movies Al Fresco

In the summer months, namely July and August, film fanatics can enjoy watching movies al fresco. Crowds of movie-lovers congregate in front of the large outdoor screen with their chairs and blankets in tow. (


Nuit blanche 

In Paris there is always something happening. One of the events which I most look forward to is Nuit Blanche; one night of the year museums and art galleries are open all night until the early hours of the morning and entrance is completely free. The entire city turns into an art exhibition with tangible art installations and exciting performances. Nuit Blanche is held on the first Sunday of October but there are plenty of other free events happening in Paris, another of the most popular is Fête de la Musique which takes place in June.


Canal St Martin

Canal St Martin is located in the hipper part of town and is where all the cool kids hang out. Its tree-lined banks are the ideal place for a shady stroll, along the way you’ll pass speciality coffee shops, graffiti painted walls and busy bars.


Inside Notre Dame and churches

The great thing about churches is that entrance is completely free. Paris boasts some incredibly beautiful ones with gold-adorned interiors and beautiful stain glass windows. Notre Dame aside, a few favourites of mine include la Madeleine, St Sulpice and Saint Eustache.


Le Marché

Sunday markets are a ritual for many Parisians who come to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, quality meats and specialty cheeses. Whilst buying might not be free, perusing the stands and sampling a few things certainly is.



Admittedly this activity isn’t entirely free of charge, but for only €1.70 for a day pass it’s a fairly reasonable thing to do and it’s so much fun! Nothing beats seeing Paris by bike, swiftly cycling past pretty buildings with a breeze in your hair and a huge grin on your face. It will be the best couple of euros you spend in Paris.

Tuileries in the rain-4

Museum day

On the first Sunday of each month, many of Paris’ museums offer free entrance to all visitors. Included are the Musée d’Orsay, the Pompidou Center, the Rodin museum and the Musée de l’Orangerie and many more. If you happen to be in Paris on the Sunday that it falls on, make sure to make the most of it but also be prepared for queues.


Rollerblade along the Seine

On a Sunday the banks of the Seine close to motorists and instead open up to walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers. It feels as though the whole of Paris is enjoying the weekend and there is no better way to join in than hiring a pair of rollerblades and gliding down the riverbanks.

I Love you wall

Wall of love

The I Love You wall is a work of art dedicated to love, written on it is “I love you” over 311 times in 250 languages. Located in the Abbesses garden, in the heart of Montmartre, this wall is a testament to the romance of the neighbourhood.

Photography and words by Faye Bullock

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    October 25, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much! This post will be very useful next year when I’m in Paris and travelling very much on a budget! 🙂

    Judith Sterling
    September 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    If you are longing to go to Paris…then you MUST GO. Begin to dream and plan now. It is the most wonderfully magnifique city in the world…nothing is even a distant second. It’s lovely if you have a friend who is also keen to go too, but go regardless…don’t let anything stop you.
    I dreamed as a girl of 19, and now I’m planning my 4th trip for next Sept, staying five weeks in a tiny but elegant apt in the Latin Quarter. Every arrondissement has its charm so I hope to stay in the Marais in 2017. I spend a lot of time jumping thru hoops to accrue air miles so I can either pay for a coach ticket or upgrade to BUS with them. Air France has the most impressive service IMO so shoot for the stars. American Airlines has a great promo now w a Citibank MC which can earn 50k miles…enough for two upgrades.
    Wishing you the best of luck and hoping you fall in love with her as I did. ❤️

    Stine F
    September 1, 2015 at 5:33 am

    I’ve been longing towards Paris for some time now, although I’ve never been there. I just feel I should be there. Need to go soon!

    Lombok Wander
    August 31, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Lovely Paris !

    Brandie Mcnemar
    August 31, 2015 at 1:46 am

    I am headed to Paris here in the fall, and these kinds of posts are the ones that I print off and put in my suitcase! I have been enthralled with Paris and to go is a dream come true, been flipping through Michael Saint James’ photo book called Bridges of Paris, and his photos are amazing. It’s been my motivation to see the things that are already there, and bridges are free so it’s even better. HIs pics are amazing, is his site for the book. If nothing else his pics are beautiful!

    August 31, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Ah, thanks for so many great ideas. Paris is on top of my travellist 🙂

    Quaintrelle Georgiana
    August 30, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    You are right, the best way to explore Paris is on foot. I would never find so many interesting little things if I travelled by metro. I also love their parks. I was surprised by the occurence of really little parks hidden behind buildings. For me it is something almost unheard of, really unusual.
    I heard that in Paris there are a lot of cinema clubs that are really cheap. This is something I would definitely try if I stayed there for a longer period of time.
    And also – there were some little events like concerts in front of Louvre and dancers at the bank of Seine, but these are just happenings by “normal” people and you must be lucky to be at the right place at the right time 😉
    I think you might enjoy my photos from Copenhagen and the amusement park Tivoli in Copenhagen or my photos and a few words about Paris, my dream city (how cliché, right? :D).

    August 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Ahhh I love picnics in paris 🙂 My favourite thing on this list.

    August 30, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Great tips! I’m desperate to go back to Paris and this post has increased that desire tenfold!

    Shakerra J.
    August 29, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    I am planning to go for Christmas this year… I am so excited!! 🙂 I’m only going for 5 days and 4 nights, but is so worth it. I’m doing it solo too. I’m so nervous as it will be my first solo trip, but I am over the moon for this trip!! 🙂

    August 29, 2015 at 5:34 am

    I have a confession to make. I have never been to Paris! I have been to France many times, I have travelled all over Europe and Latin America and… still haven’t been there. I know I know. Shame on me. I just… I have always thought of it as the kind of place I’d want to visit with a significant other, and nobody has been in my life long enough or has been significant enough to decide to go to Paris together. Perhaps I should just give in and go there by myself. After all, I am totally in love with me 🙂

    August 29, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Wonderful list! My friend and I dream of traveling to Paris together during college, but we will be on a tight budget. I am so glad to hear that college age EU residents have access to so many museums and monuments. Thanks!

    Sandy Conner
    August 28, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    So many things to see and do in Paris and so little life in which to do them. My husband and I have been to Paris at least a dozen times and always with the goal of keeping our spending at bay while getting to know the city, the language and the people. We have seen and done 18 of your 20 suggestions and HIGHLY recommend them all. A visitor who walks outside the confines of tourism will leave with a feel for the people and rhythm of this amazing city. As Gertrude Stein (who was an American) once said…”America is my country and Paris is my home town”. Thanks for the great article.

    Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog
    August 28, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Such a good list! La Fayette is such a good one – I love the view across the rooftops to the Opera House. I’m also gutted that I’ll soon be too old for the 18-25 free museum passes. I think I’ll just have to squeeze in a trip back to Paris before I turn 26!

    August 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I’m moving to paris next week so this will definitely come in handy! You can follow my adventures on my blog

    Eve x

    Velysia Zhang
    August 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    The open-air movie looks interesting. Thanks for the share. I love your photos, very charming.

    Dave Jones
    August 28, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    The absolute best thing to do is Picnic at the Eiffel Tower. Bring your own wine, cheese, bread, and other snacks. Throw in some music and good friends, and you got yourself a party!

    August 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I can’t even….like I just can’t…..THIS MAKES ME WANT TO GO BACK TO PARIS SO BAD. Such beautiful photos!!! Amazing posts, I’ll bookmark this for when I go back there someday 🙂
    PS: I have a blog –
    Please check it out lovelies xxxx

    A Stint Abroad
    August 28, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I loved Paris! It was a breath of fresh air after being in London and I didn’t have to bust out my converter app. Great list!

    August 28, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Awesome list Faye! I’m heading to Paris in February so I’ll definitely save this. Can’t wait to hear more from you :]

    August 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I always thought Paris was super expensive but all these ideas look like fun!

    Jacqui |

    Holly smith
    August 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I am hoping to visit Paris next year and these ideas are great ! I especially love the idea of the flower market. I am a HUGE fan of flowers and the thought of flowers in Paris just seems so perfect! Thanks for sharing 😀

    Holly ||

    August 28, 2015 at 9:10 am

    My city!!