Free Things to Do in Paris
This post contains a list of the best free things to do in Paris, France. You can find a top 10 list, museums and attractions, nighttime things to do, family-friendly activities, and almost-free ideas.
Here we have our top 10 suggestions for the best free things to do in Paris. This section includes tours, museums, attractions, and fun activities for the family.
Don’t forget to check out our other popular Paris posts:
- Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
- Using Paris Public Transportation
- Eiffel Tower Tickets and Discounts
(1) Sightseeing Tours
Looking for the most cost-efficient way to get around Paris and see all the sights? Check out Public Bus Tours – a guide to using the city’s very cheap public transportation to make your own sightseeing tour.
Of course, if you prefer to have a knowledgeable guide narrate your journey, we have some great paid bus tours here.
We also offer our own, GPS-led audio tour, developed and narrated by a local tour guide, which is free and you can take it anytime you wish.
Here is a sample of the tour.
(2) Free Concerts at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique
The Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique has been around since the late 1700s, producing talented musicians, singers, and dancers. The current students often give concerts in the Conservatoire’s theater, which are free to the public.
If you see a performance on the calendar with the phrase « entrée libre dans la limite des places disponibles » next to it, no tickets are required. If you see « réservations à partir du… » on the calendar, you must send an email to the Conservatoire or call them to reserve your tickets.
Of course, in Paris there is always music to be found. If you’re looking for a different genre, try Le Motel for up and coming DJs, Cafe Zero Zero for house or hip hop, or La Bellevilloise for singer-songwriter nights.
For more free things to do in the evenings, check out the section below.
(3) Find a Free Museum
Petit Palais is the city’s museum of fine arts and is always free to enter. If you’re interested in the great painters in art history such as Rembrandt and Monet, check out this museum.
The well-known museums will have a queue, so you might want to arrive early at the big-name spots.
More free museums and attractions are listed below.
(4) Discover the Paris Neighborhood of Montmartre
Paris is quite a large city and encompasses multiple neighborhoods. And one of the most popular neighborhoods in Paris is Montmartre. It was built on a large hill and used to be home to the city’s struggling artists. As such, it has a lasting charm. Of course, one of the best views of Paris can be found at the top of the steps of the basilica.
If you’d like a tour of the neighborhood, we have a review of several great Montmartre tours.
Make sure you check out some other neighborhoods as well! The Latin Quarter is full of impressive architecture and historic monuments.
St. Germain is classic Paris with an upscale feel to the restaurants and boutiques.
Montparnasse is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for dining options and cafes.
(5) See the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. The great thing is, you can get up close and personal to the tower for free!
While you must buy a ticket in order to go up onto the viewing decks, you can take pictures of – and with – the Eiffel Tower as much as you want from the ground.
Of course, if you prefer to go up into the Eiffel Tower, we have a guide on getting the best tickets here.
(6) Cemetery Père Lachaise
If you have a fascination with cemeteries, or how people in the past lived or died, you might want to take a trip to the largest cemetery in Paris.
A number of famous people you’ve heard of are buried here, including:
- Jim Morrison
- Oscar Wilde
- Edith Piaf
This is one of the most visited cemeteries in Paris, and you’ll see why when you arrive to well-manicured lawns and pathways and a peaceful atmosphere. It could be a fun game to see just how many famous historical figures you can find!
(7) Take the Kids to Champs-Elysees
This is one of the most famous avenues in the country. The 1.17-mile stretch is covered with shops of big-name brands, cafes, street performers, and ample people-watching opportunity.
Kids will love taking a peek inside the Disney Store that sits on the avenue, filled with plushies and familiar characters. And once you’re ready to walk further down the street, there will be plenty of street performers to catch their interest!
(8) Free Wine Tastings
If you know where to look, you can participate in free wine tastings in Paris. Several wine bars and stores will hold open-to-the-public tastings to talk about their wines.
- Les Caves Augés offers frequent, free wine tastings outside on their sidewalk, so stop in to see when their next one will be happening.
- La Cave des Papilles is well-known for its natural wines. Keep an eye on their blog for their somewhat infrequent tasting sessions.
If you’re looking to get a good taste of Parisian food and drinks, check out a food tour.
(9) Parks + Gardens
Paris is full of beautiful parks and gardens to explore, play, or relax in.
Parc du Champ de Mars is a large green park between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire. This green space is often used for public events and is the perfect place to have a picnic while looking at the Eiffel Tower.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is one of the largest parks in the city and one of the first public spaces. There are lots of walking paths covered in shade from the trees, as well as a pond. It is a popular spot to come and relax.
La Petite Ceinture is one of the better-kept secrets in Paris. This spot was a former railway line that has not been in use since 1934. Now, wild plants and flowers have taken over the tracks and the line is a haven from the bustling city.
Parc Monceau is a small, idyllic public park. It features a pretty rotunda, grassy open spaces, and plenty of trees and flowers. This is the perfect park to explore for horticulture-enthusiasts due to the variety of plant species and the historic architectural elements.
(10) Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
Pay just one flat price to get into more than 60 attractions and activities around Paris!
While not free up front, if you purchase an all-inclusive tourist pass you’ll end up getting free entry – and fast-track entry – into the city’s most popular sights.
Attractions included in the Paris Pass:
- Hop-On-Hop-Off Big Bus Tour
- The Louvre
- Palace of Versailles
- Rodin Museum
- Picasso Museum
- River Seine Cruise
- The Aquarium
And remember, fast-track entry will save you enough time to see even more.
MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS
Paris is covered in museums, many of which have permanent collections that are always free, or have free days.
Keep in mind that many paid museums in Paris are also always free to visitors under 18, or under 25 for EU citizens.
Musee Cognac-Jay in the Marais
Ernest Cognacq acquired 18th-century art for his home between the years of 1900 and 1927. After his death, his collection was given to the City of Paris. Now, these paintings, sketches, and other 18th-century pieces of art are displayed in the museum for everyone to enjoy.
The permanent collections are always free to view.
Note: This museum is not accessible to those with reduced mobility.
Museum of Modern Art
The Musee D’Art Moderne offers free entry for their permanent collections of modern and contemporary paintings, sketches, sculptures, and other works of art.
This collection is second in size only to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City – so for fans of modern art, this is a must-see.
Interested in the history of Paris? Then make sure to explore the two mansions that hold historic artifacts, documents, and artwork illustrating the city’s past. Many of the rooms are decorated in various period styles.
The permanent Carnavalet collection is free of charge.
The Curie Museum follows the discoveries of the four Curie family members who won Nobel Prizes for their work in radiology research and medical discovery. You’ll even see Marie Curie’s laboratory.
The museum is free to enter.
Musée du Parfum
Ever wondered how perfume is made? Take a free stroll through the Fragonard Museum of Perfume. You’ll get to see the raw materials used, equipment, a workshop, and a large collection of perfume-related artifacts.
Petit Palais Musée des Beaux-Arts
This museum of fine art contains collections from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, 17th Century, 18th Century, and 19th Century. You might find paintings or sketches of landscapes, portraits, or sculptures.
The permanent collection is free of charge.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
This museum of arts and crafts is dedicated to innovation and invention. What does it take to invent something new? You’ll find schematics and sketches for technology and inventions, as well as see what it takes to innovate.
The museum is free on the first Sunday of each month, as well as Thursday evenings between 18:00 – 21:30 (6:00 pm – 9:30 pm).
Maison de Victor Hugo
The famous French writer’s home is open to visitors. You can step through Victor Hugo’s apartments and see where he sat when writing most of Les Miserables, as well as get a look at the rest of his life.
The permanent collections are free to enter.
See the Cathedrals
Paris is full of breathtaking cathedrals. It seems that no matter what neighborhood you’re in, there is a beautiful church to discover.
Notre Dame is a symbol of the city – a medieval Catholic cathedral that was originally completed in 1345. The two towers, flying buttresses, and stained-glass rose windows are iconic and well-known.
Note: After the 2019 fire, Notre Dame is closed to the public but the outer facade can still be visited.
Basilique du Sacré Coeur
This large, white cathedral with its multiple domes draws crowds due to its interesting architecture. It is the second most visited monument in the country after Notre Dame. The ceiling of the basilica holds the largest mosaic in France. Entering the basilica is free, while the crypt and dome have an entrance fee.
This beautiful chapel is covered in stained-glass windows and is a perfect example of Gothic architecture.
It sits in the courtyard of the medieval Palais de la Cité and was originally intended to hold Christian relics.
The cathedral that holds the shrine of the patron saint of Paris is a beautiful French Renaissance building. If Saint-Etienne-du-Mont looks familiar to you, it’s because you’ve seen it before. The church was seen in the 2011 film Midnight in Paris. Hemingway also mentioned it in his novel A Moveable Feast.
FREE THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
Looking to stay under budget but still enjoy the City of Lights?
Here we have a list of fun attractions, light shows, and things to do that are free after dark.
Stroll along the Seine
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing walk or a romantic stroll with your special someone, head to the banks of the River Seine.
You’ll find romantic views, cute cafes, and ample people-watching opportunities.
You can even take the stairs down by the quays to walk right at the water’s edge.
Free Light Show at the Eiffel Tower
Every evening, 20,000 light bulbs light up the Eiffel Tower. As soon as night falls, you can expect a five-minute light show every hour, on the hour. A beacon shines from the top and the whole structure is covered in sparkling lights.
Best of all, you just need to find a nice spot on the grass nearby to enjoy this light show for free.
Canal St-Martin is a beautiful street in the evenings. The cafes and restaurants light up after dusk.
The light bounces off the water in the canal and gives the street a magical quality. You can eat outside at one of the bars or cafes, or get some groceries ahead of time and make your own picnic by the water.
Saint Eustache Church
This church is unusually large, which draws crowds to see its gothic facade and Renaissance interior. It also holds the largest pipe organ in the country.
Saint Eustache has a resident organist who performs free concerts on Sunday afternoons at 5:30 pm.
Basilique du Sacré Coeur
Besides the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur is the highest point of Paris. It was built at the top of Montmartre’s hill, which means the church’s dome and bell tower have one of the best views in the city.
Walk up the steps to the entrance of the church and you’ll have the best panoramic view of Paris that you can find for free.
Late Open for Free Museums
Several museums throughout the city stay open late, and whether they are always free or only on certain evenings, there’s bound to be a great option for your post-sundown culture fix.
- On the first Saturday night of each month (and on July 14, Bastille Day), the Louvre offers free entry to everyone between 6:00 pm and 9:45 pm.
- Visit the Musée des Arts et Métiers for free on Thursday evenings between 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm.
Fete de la Musique
This free music festival happens on June 21 – the longest day of the year. Parisians celebrate Summer Solstice with free concerts throughout the city. You can plan which concerts you’d like to see with the schedule, but many people wander through the streets to stumble upon performances.
While not free up front, if you purchase an all-inclusive city card like the Paris Pass, you’ll get free entry, and fast-track entry, into 60+ attractions and activities.
Open-Late Activities Included:
- Louvre Museum
- Les Caves du Louvre Wine Tasting
- Picasso Museum
- Paris Science Museum
Looking to find something the whole family will enjoy without breaking the bank?
Here is our list of free and kid-friendly activities to enjoy in Paris. For more inspiration, we have a family-friendly Paris post!
Place de la Concorde
This public square is at the end of Champs-Elysees and is a great spot for watching street performers and passers-by. It holds a large, beautiful fountain, and the Luxor Obelisk – a 3,000-year-old Egyptian structure.
Place de la Concorde was also once an execution site for the French Revolution. Marie-Antoinette was one of the unlucky victims of the guillotine in this square.
The iconic Notre-Dame is a sight to see. Many kids will have learned about it in school as an example of Gothic architecture with its many flying buttresses.
Now that you’re in Paris, this is the perfect opportunity to see it in person!
Note: After the 2019 fire, Notre-Dame can only be viewed from the outside while cleanup and restoration takes place.
The Pompidou Center is the largest museum of modern art in Europe. They also hold a variety of exhibits and free events for kids aged 0 to 16. These include interesting and interactive art, as well as a chance to make their own art.
On Free Run Wednesdays, the center puts on free arts and crafts workshops for kids between 2 and 10 years old. Throughout the year there are also special times for family tours and visits. Check their schedule for more information.
Visitors under 18 get in for free.
See the “I Love You” Mural
This mural is in a small corner in Montmartre, and a perfect stop if you’re already checking out the neighborhood. Le Mur des Je t’Aime, or the I Love You Wall, is a mural with the phrase written in over 250 languages on tiles.
Kids can look for languages they understand and it is the perfect spot for a family photo op!