Bonjour Paris: 8 Free Things To Do in Paris

Paris without the price tag


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From its designer shops to pricey big name attractions, Paris is perhaps not the thrifty travellerโ€™s first thought. However, if you know where to look, the city offers plenty of free activities and experiences. From stunning panoramas to high culture, below weโ€™ve gathered together the best budget friendly locations in Paris.ย ย ย ย ย 

1. Sacrรฉ-Coeur & Montmartre

Make the climb up to the Right Bankโ€™s bohemian quartier for stunning views and a vibrant atmosphere. Once the haunt of artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso, now itโ€™s known for its nightclubs and cafe culture. Stop by the Place du Tertre to see Montmartre’s finest artists at work, or the โ€˜Wall of Loveโ€™ to celebrate the cityโ€™s romantic side. Not to be missed is the Basilica of Sacrรฉ-Coeur. Set within a lush park the church looks out over Parisโ€™s iconic skyline. Entry is free, but for a small fee you can climb up onto the roof for breathtaking views.
Image Credit: @parisjetaimeย 

Basilica of Sacre Coeur 2. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Grottoes, lakes, islands, and a bridge by Gustave Eiffel all feature in this impressive park. Located in the north-east of Paris, it is one of the biggest green spaces in the city. This former quarry was developed in the 1860s by Parisโ€™s top architects and gardeners, turning a once forgotten corner into a masterpiece of design. Winding paths shaded by established plants make this the perfect place to wander. The Temple de la Sibylle, perched on a cliff 50 metres above the lake, is a highlight of this park.
Image Credit: @parisjetaimeย ย 

Temple of Sybille in the park

3. Musรฉe dโ€™Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Housing over 15,000 works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, this free museum is a must-see for any art lover. Located within the impressive Palais de Tokyo (which offers views of the Eiffel Tower), the museum has been welcoming visitors since 1961. The list of artists within their collection reads like the greatest hits of art. Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp, Modigliani and Haring all grace the walls. A free app is also available so you can be your own guide around the museum, or use it to swot up on the works to impress your fellow museum-goers.
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Trocadero palace's exterior

4. La Promenade Plantรฉe

Take a walk across the rooftops of Paris on this tree-lined walkway. This partly elevated linear park is the predecessor of New Yorkโ€™s High Line, and follows the route of a disused railway. The track travels over viaducts, crossing above (and sometimes through) the cityโ€™s buildings. Completely pedestrianised, itโ€™s the ideal way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the streets below. Itโ€™s a good distance too at 4.7 kilometres, so makes for the ideal location for either a leisurely stroll or morning jog.
Image Credit: @parisjetaime

promenade plantee passing between two buildings

5. Shakespeare & Co.

This Left Bank icon is a haven for booklovers and history buffs alike. The current shop opened in 1951, but pays homage to the earlier one of 1919 where James Joyceโ€™s โ€˜Ulyssesโ€™ was published. Packed with new and second hand English language books, itโ€™s the place to come to find that perfect holiday read. The shop is a pilgrimage site for many readers, having played host to big-name writers such as James Baldwin and Anaรฏs Nin. The interior is highly instagrammable, and thereโ€™s plenty of cosy seats to curl up with a book in. Make sure to stop by the cafรฉ, which offers views of Notre Dame from quaint tree-shaded tables.
Image Credit: @shakespeareandcoparisย ย 

Shakespeare and Company bookshop exterior

6. Cimetiรจre du Pรจre Lachaiseย 

A trip to the cemetery might not be everyoneโ€™s idea of a great day out, but Pรจre Lachaise is often listed as one of Parisโ€™s top attractions. Each year 3.5 million visitors flock to Parisโ€™s largest cemetery to see the graves of internationally renowned celebrities and historical figures. Politicians, writers, film stars and musicians are all interred here. One of the most infamous burials is that of Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, whose tomb is mobbed by fans leaving gifts. One of Paris’s more unusual attractions, Pรจre Lachaise makes for a unique alternative to the cityโ€™s other historic sites.
Image Credit: @parisjetaimeย ย ย 

a tree lined walkway in the cemetery

7. Parc Monceau

Filled with architectural oddities, Parc Monceau is just a stone’s throw from the bustling Champs ร‰lysรฉes area. It was built in 1778 at the request of the unlucky King Louis XVIโ€™s cousin with the intention of amazing all who saw it. The park was the Disneyland of its day, filled with costumed servants and exotic animals, as well as miniature replicas of buildings from around the world. Successive revolutions and city renovations have impacted the park, but it still maintains its original air of fantasy. Make sure to check out the picture perfect Roman-style colonnade and its reflective pond.
Image Credit: @parisjetaimeย ย ย 

a bridge in the Parc Monceau

8. Canal St-Martin

One of Parisโ€™s lesser-known gems, the Canal St-Martin offers a peaceful inner city escape. These 19th century canals are lined with laid-back cafรฉs and bistros, or alternatively grab a picnic to eat on one of the benches. Artists and photographers flock to these canals, so thereโ€™s a chance youโ€™ll get to see a masterpiece in progress too. If youโ€™re lucky to stop by during the cleaning of the canal, you can watch all sorts of long-hidden treasures emerge. The Canal St-Martin lets you take a leisurely stroll through a number of Parisโ€™s quartiers, offering an excellent introduction to the city.
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bridges and locks of the canal


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