Take a step back from costly tourist attractions in Paris and visit some of the more relaxed places that might not be on your radar. Yet. You can still see some of Paris’s top attractions and landmarks, without having to spend a euro.
If you’re travelling on a budget or simply searching for an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon, we hope you enjoy some of the free things to do in Paris with our travel guide…
La Promenade Plantée
Roughly translated as ‘The Tree-Lined Walkway’, La Promenade Plantée (also known as Coulée Verte) is a 2.9 mile (4.7 km) long elevated green space, built atop an abandoned railway line. Discover a quiet and peaceful retreat from the city centre - a great place for a walk and a picnic. Not only does the Promenade have beautiful gardens, but it’s also a great viewing platform to see the rooftops of Paris. Underneath the promenade, the viaduct is full of gorgeous boutiques.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
If you’re game for some exercise, then hike up the aptly named Butte Chaumont (butte is French for mound/hill). The reward is unobstructed views over Paris from a completely different perspective. Throughout the park there are waterfalls, bridges and a stunning array of trees and plants. But the most famous feature is the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature version of the ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. This is a great way to take in the Paris sights.
The Seine banks
Here you can see many of the city’s greatest architecture and landmarks. On the right bank, you can find the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries, place de la Concorde, Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Palais de Chaillot. On the left bank, explore the rue Saint-Jacques, the Palais de l'Institut de France, the Palais Bourbon, the Invalides, the Ecole Militaire and the Eiffel Tower. It’s a great place for a gentle stroll and an idyllic location to watch the world go by.
Red Route, Stop: Tour Eiffel
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Looking for an unusual activity in Paris? It has been said that Père Lachaise is the most visited graveyard in the world. It’s not surprising, as many famous people are buried here. Although visiting a graveyard may seem a bit sombre, the beauty of the artistic grave stones makes for a very fascinating and inspiring visit.
As you make your way along the paths, your attention will be drawn to the many eye-catching monuments. Some of the most famous graves are Oscar Wilde (writer), Jim Morrison (lead singer of The Doors) and Georges Rodenbach (Belgian writer/poet). Posted at the entrances are maps highlighting the most well-known.
A prominent fixture on the Parisian skyline, the Sacré-Cœur is a breath-taking building. You can appreciate it by both day and night, each offering a unique view of Paris from its high vantage point. The Sacré-Cœur is a magnificent work of architecture and makes for a magical atmosphere to relax. Entry is free, but there is a small fee to climb the dome or visit the crypt.
Blue Route, Stop: Gare du Nord
Musée d’Art Moderne
The permanent collection at the Musée d’Art Moderne showcases works representative of artists through the 20th and 21st centuries, including Modigliani, Soutine, Braque and Matisse. The interior is airy with cleverly designed spaces that use innovative lighting. The museum also has a smattering of intriguing sculptures in its grounds. Although entry is free, there is a cost to visit temporary exhibitions.
Red Route, Stop: Trocadéro
The Musée Carnavalet is dedicated to the history of Paris, depicted through its mementos of the French Revolution, medieval and Gallo-Roman archaeological collection, sculptures, paintings, furniture and items of art. The building is a marvel in its own right, and these collections are arranged in rooms reconstructing life in the 14th and 15th century private residences. Like most of the other museums in Paris, entry is free, but you’ll have to pay to visit any temporary exhibitions.
Red Route, Stop: Notre Dame
Founded in 1898 by Henri Cernuschi (1821–1896), the museum is located in the small mansion that used to be his home, set in the stunning Parc Monceau. Displayed are Cernuschi’s wonderful collection of Chinese statuary, bronze, porcelain and an impressive Buddha collection. The main room of his house was designed to receive the Buddha Amida - the masterpiece of the collection. There is a cost to visit temporary exhibitions.
Red Route, Stop: Champs-Elysées
Jardin des Tuileries
Travel back in time as you walk through this historic park, dating all the way back to 1564. It’s situated between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Here you can see where Napoléon built his triumphal arch and walk in the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette. There are plenty of trees, shrubs and flowers and large grassy areas where you can unwind. It’s also a perfect place to people-watch whilst enjoying refreshments from the selection of vendors. A great option for anyone wondering what to do in Paris.
Red Route, Stop: Musée d'Orsay
Not even the tourists and crowds can dispel the magic and awe-inspiring beauty of Notre Dame. It’s a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Here Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame is brought to life, as you’re surrounded by the Cathedral’s great presence.
A must-visit in Paris, look out for the three ornate 13th century rose windows, the carved portals and huge flying buttresses. Inside feels quite gothic with its long nave, lined with side chapels founded by city guilds and nobles. Started in 1163 and completed 170 years later, Notre-Dame continues to be a living church with daily masses, services, organ recitals and state funerals. There is a cost to visit the crypt and climb the tower.
Jardin des Plantes
Founded in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden for Louis XIII, it is now a diverse botanical garden home to the alpine garden, rose garden, tropical greenhouses. There are also displays of medicinal plants and the old laboratory where Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896. In 1739, the maze was added and this can still be explored today. The perfect place to relax away from the crowds. There is a fee for the zoo, Alpine Garden and Les Grandes Serres.
Red Route, Stop: Notre Dame
If you’re wondering how to fit this all into your time in Paris, we recommend going on one of our open-top bus tours, where’ll you have a front-row seat to many of the landmarks and attractions mentioned above. And with the option to hop off and explore at any time, the possibilities are endless…