Ah Paris! A dream destination for many of us! But between the vertiginous price of climbing the Eiffel Tower, the Seine cruise with champagne, the detour to Versailles, the great museums, shopping on the Champs Élysées and so on, the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare for your wallet! What if it was possible to visit Paris for free, and without missing out on what to see and do? Let’s go together to discover free Paris in 10 ways!
1- See Paris from above!
One of the great classics of a Parisian tour is of course to observe Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I grant you, the view is magnificent, but when we realize that the price of tickets starts at 16.30 euros per person (about 24 $ Canadian) and that at this price we do not even go to summit, we say that there must be a way to do otherwise right? Well, yeah! Paris is full of observation points of the city which you can access for free! Here are my favorites!
The Butte de Montmartre (18th arrondissement)
Whether by climbing its very many steps or taking advantage of the funicular (included in the public transport card if you took one), the Butte de Montmartre is one of the most popular places to have a magnificent view of Paris. In addition, you will certainly want to take the opportunity to stroll through this legendary district that has a lot to offer! If you are lucky you can even enjoy the view by listening to one of the excellent street artists who perform regularly at this place! But arrive early, especially if you are in high season! You will certainly not be the only ones to have the same idea!
The terrace of Galeries Lafayette (9th arrondissement)
High-end shopping enthusiasts already know this popular shopping center in the 9th arrondissement very well, which for 120 years has attracted crowds thanks, among other things, to its exceptional architecture. Take the opportunity to play the instagramers by taking a selfie on its glass walkway located 16 meters above the void and admire its magnificent ornate dome! Then take the escalator towards the 7th floor to reach its terrace which offers, for free, a splendid view of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe!
Les Buttes-Chaumont (19th arrondissement)
Almost unknown to tourists, this magnificent park, the steepest in Paris, is the work of Baron Haussmann, who led the transformation of the city under the Second Empire. In addition to being an extraordinary place to walk and enjoy a haven of peace in the heart of the city, the Buttes-Chaumont park contains a high perched belvedere which allows, in my opinion, to have the most beautiful view of Paris on the hill of Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur! Take the opportunity to bring a picnic and a bottle of wine (and yes, as long as it is done reasonably, alcohol consumption is tolerated in city parks). You will definitely want to enjoy the place a little longer!
2- The Eiffel Tower
Passing through Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower is almost sacrilege. But did you know that there was a way to enjoy it completely for free while having splendid souvenir photos? Of course, you will not be able to climb to the top, but many other options are available to you!
Visit his park
Although it costs a considerable amount to climb, few people know that entry to the site is completely free. Tickets are purchased after security! You can walk under the tower, touch it, take beautiful photos and enjoy its park and the atmosphere, without taking out your wallet, and, admit it, saving yourself the very loooooooooong queue to go up there.
The Champs de Mars
Obviously, if you want to take a picture of the entire Eiffel Tower, its park is really not the best place! On the other hand, it is only a few minutes walk on the Champs de Mars. In addition, if you are lucky, one of the many festivals or parties organized at this place will take place at the same time and you can enjoy it (don’t worry, the tents and stages are set up so as not to harm your photos) . Although the site is really pleasant by day and very well located to observe the illumination of the tower after dark, the place swarms with rats as soon as the darkness sets in. So for my part, I’m happy with a hi day visit!
The Trocadero esplanade
For me, this is the perfect place to enjoy the illumination of the Eiffel Tower at night. The steps there offer a place to sit; the fact that the esplanade is high provides a superb point of view and allows you to take magnificent photos of the tower and the Champs de Mars; excellent musicians perform there and above all, not the shadow of a muzzle in sight!
3- The Arc de Triomphe
Another of Paris’ must-see monuments is the Arc de Triomphe, but once again the entrance is rather expensive. Especially if you take into account that the visit is done very quickly. On the other hand, just like for the Eiffel Tower, the entry on the site is free and will allow you to explore the exterior structure, to photograph its statutes, to have fun finding your last name on the walls and to see the tomb of the unknown soldier. In addition, if you are present at 6.30pm, you can attend the flame ceremony which takes place every day at this location!
4- The Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Located at the very top of the Montmartre hill, the visit to this splendid basilica is free and accessible, every day, from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. If you want to visit the dome (and climb the 300 steps to get there) or the crypts, you will have to pay a few euros. But Sacré-Coeur is really worth it, even without it. Interestingly, no guided tour is allowed in the basilica to preserve the spirit of the place. So to discover its history and make the most of your visit, there is an audio guide that you can download for free. http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/francais/histoire-et-visite/article/audio-guide Not to be missed!
5- Hunting for cubs in the Gobelins district
Since October 2018, teddy bears have invaded the Gobelins district in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, giving rise to rather funny scenes. Installed in shop windows, on the terraces of cafes or appearing on a motorbike around a street, these big cubs of 1.40m have something to make you smile. So why not treat yourself to a photo safari in the neighborhood and go looking for them while taking the opportunity to discover this corner of Paris which is far from the usual tourist routes? ), will love it! In addition, since this summer, the cubs have been escaping from the Gobelins district. So stay tuned, you could come across them far from their natural habitat! They even have their # Instagram if you want to follow their adventures! https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/nounoursdesgobelins/
6- The Louvre (and the major museums of Paris) for free
If you’re lucky enough to go to Paris between November and March and be there on the first Sunday of the month, you can enjoy a visit to the Louvre (and several other major Parisian museums) absolutely free. But make sure you arrive early so you can take full advantage of it! Otherwise, it’s not just the collections it contains that are worth seeing! The building itself is definitely worth seeing! You can walk on the site and take the opportunity to admire this superb castle, its glass pyramids and its exterior statues completely free of charge, then continue your walk passing in the Tuileries garden, where you will discover other magnificent statues . And as long as you are walking, you might as well continue to the Luxor obelisk which is at Place de la Concorde and go up the Champs Élysées! Something to keep you busy for a long time!
And since visiting Paris without seeing one of its museums is not visiting Paris, know that access to the permanent collections of the 14 museums belonging to the City is free at all times. It’s not the Louvre, but you will still find extraordinary works there. This is the case, among others, of the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, the Maison de Balzac and the Petit Palais.
7- The Luxembourg garden
The Luxembourg garden is one of my favorite places in Paris. Containing a superb palace built at the request of Queen Marie de Medici and which is now the Senate of France, it is surrounded by a huge 23 hectare garden. Throughout your walk you will be able to discover 106 statues, each one more beautiful than the other, giving you, without a doubt, the impression of walking through an open-air museum. The garden also contains greenhouses, an orchard, beehives, a park for children, cafes, sports grounds, etc. making it a place very frequented by the inhabitants of the city. But given its size, you will certainly find a small corner where you will feel like you are alone in the world. A place to discover and rediscover over the seasons!
8- Walking Paris
For me, the best way to discover a city, and this applies even more to Paris, is to walk it. Stroll through St-Germain-des-Prés, let yourself be amazed by the architecture of the Latin Quarter and the Marais or stroll along the Seine and take the opportunity to discover its many bridges and see Notre-Dame-de -Paris (even if the fire that affected it prevents you from visiting it). Let chance make you discover the small streets of Paris, its wonderful little shops and its old world charm. You can only fall in love with this magnificent city!
9- The arenas of Lutèce
Accessible by doors almost hidden on the streets Monge, Navarre and the Arena, hides one of the best kept secrets of Paris: the arenas of Lutèce. Built in the 1st century, during the Roman Empire, this amphitheater is the longest ever built. Rediscovered by the greatest chance in the 1860s, the arenas are today surrounded by buildings that completely hide its existence from those who do not know where to look. Today they are used as a playground for local children or even as a petanque for the oldest. A place full of history to discover absolutely! In winter, the arenas are accessible between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and until 9 p.m. in summer.
10- The St-Martin canal and its hidden bar
4.6 km long, this canal which links the Seine to the Ourq and Saint-Denis canals, is today bordered by a young district filled with trendy bistros, art galleries and small colorful shops more interesting than the others. Overflowing with a few bridges that allow you to walk without problem from one bank to the other, the surroundings of this canal turn into a party place on summer evenings and hide one of the most popular and extraordinary bars in Paris, the General Counter. I grant you, having a drink is really not cheap. But it is quite possible to visit it without consuming and its decor, which changes from room to room, taking you from a garden, to the hold of a pirate ship, passing through a treehouse atmosphere well worth the detour! A neighborhood not to be missed!
Le Comptoir Général: 80, quai des Jemmapes, 10th arrondissement
So no more excuses! Pack your bags, watch for the next discount flight to Paris and follow the guide! In addition, you may still have enough money to start planning your next trip!