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Top Free Things to Do in Paris

Budget Sights and Attractions in the City of Light


As a capital of luxury, designer fashion and champagne-drenched soirées, Paris may seem inaccessible for travelers on a tight budget. But behind the opulent veneer lies a city that offers scores of free attractions and activities, no matter the season. It's true that you can easily spend a fortune in Paris-- but it's also true that you can get away with spending very little and still head home having seen a lot. Without further ado, here are the top free things to do in Paris.

1. Explore Paris Neighborhoods

Champs Elysees Cityscape
David Freund/Photodisc/Getty Images

I can confidently say that Paris is the world's most walkable city-- not only because most neighborhoods are built for pedestrians (with some caveats-- see Paris Safety Tips) but because the city of light's neighborhoods are dizzyingly varied and fascinating. So bring a good pair of walking shoes, invest in a good Paris city street map, and hit the streets for a zero-Euro treat.

Popular Paris Neighborhoods to Explore:

Off the Beaten Track:

2. Free Paris Museums

©2006 Claude CF. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

In French, the word "culture" has a broader sense that refers to the universal right for all to be exposed to the arts, sciences, and humanities, and to that end, the government funnels lots of funds into making "la culture" accessible to all. Many Paris museums offer entirely free admission at all times, while others, including the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, are free for all every first Sunday of the month.

3. Free Annual Events in Paris

©2007 Courtney Traub.

Paris hosts scores of fun, inspirational and entirely free annual events, from arty affairs like all-night public art installations to artificial beaches implanted on the Seine River each summer. Many of these are concentrated in the spring and the summer, but each season hosts at least one or two of these festive, budget-friendly happenings.

Related: Summer Festivals in Paris

4. Paris Cathedrals and Churches

©2005 Claudecf. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.

Paris houses many of history's more stunning spiritual relics-- cathedrals and chuches that stand today as breathtaking testimonials to a complex heritage of Christianity that dominated in Paris from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution. Many of these majestic cathedrals and churches fell into near-ruin in the wake of the Revolution, but revived interest in the 19th century brought about their restoration. Many of these are must-see sites no matter your budget-- but the fact that entry is free doesn't hurt.

5. Paris Parks and Gardens

©2006 Celesteh. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

No matter the season, a long stroll or picnic in one of Paris's many distinctive, elegant parks and gardens is an essential element of any trip to the city. Also check out old-fashioned amusement parks like the Jardin d'Acclimation, which kids and parents alike will love.

6. Panoramic Views of Paris

©2006 Andrew C. Parnell. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
Getting a good bird's eye view of Paris can be an exhilirating experience-- and is in many cases free of charge.
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