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5 Free Things to Do in Paris

Updated on July 2, 2017

1. Self guided walks

Walking around the City is the best way to get an insight into everyday life and its culture. In Paris, each arrondissement has its own personality, by traversing the city you will get a flavour of each.

As much as I love endlessly meandering, people watching and getting lost, there is something to be said for a guided walk. No I am not talking about following someone around with a clipboard. I adore self guided city walks.

With a little bit of planning, a self guided walk can give you insight into parts of a city, and in particular its history that is not visible on first glance.

One of my favourite self-guided walks around Paris is published on the Time Out Website, and is about the French revolution. It takes you through a large part of the city, from the grand Tuileries gardens, through the Latin district and onwards. Take a good map, print off the info and enjoy! Even If you are prone to getting lost, Paris has a railway walk which is one straight line, called La Promenade plantée.

Window shopping in Paris
Window shopping in Paris

2. Window shopping

The tricky thing is going to be not spending any money if you look in the window of the beautiful shops in Paris. But if you can resist window shopping is a fun free way to spend time. From chic clothing to tempting viennoiseries and macaroons, there is lots of enticing merchandise to see.

My favourite place in Paris for window shopping in Le Marais district it has a nice mix of high end and more affordable stores. They are all small and boutique style. The streets are lined with ancient Parisian buildings, beautiful but unlike the grand buildings on the main boulevards. Don't miss the beautiful art studios that line the unique Place des Vosages, considered one of the most beautiful places in Paris.

Another favourite place for Window shopping is the Champs Eglisee. And the renowned Galleries Lafayette, which even hosts regular, free fashion shows (reservation required). Don't forget the markets, Marché aux Puces can be tricky to find but is full of interesting curiosities.

Chez Marianne - Marais District Paris
Chez Marianne - Marais District Paris
View from Parc de Belleville
View from Parc de Belleville

3. Parks

There are just so many parks in Paris, each has a unique personality. Grand structured Gardens are plentiful, the most famous of these are the Eiffel Tower's Champ de Mars, and the Tuileries. But there are parks of all shapes and sizes across the city, each with a different ambiance.

Two of the furthest flung parks are worth the lengthy metro ride. If you take the time to venture out to Buttes Chaumont or Parc de Belleville you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the city. For plant lovers, large parts of Jardin des Plantes is free, for sculpture lovers Jardin Tino Rossi can offer a lot to see.

show route and directions
A markerParc de Belleville -
Parc de Belleville, 47 Rue des Couronnes, 75020 Paris, France
get directions

B markerButtes Chaumont -
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris, France
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C markerChamp de Mars -
Champ de Mars, 2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007 Paris, France
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D markerJardin des Plantes -
Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
get directions

E markerJardin Tino Rossi -
Tino-Rossi Garden, 2 Quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
get directions

Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Saint Eustache
Saint Eustache

4. Churches and Cemeteries

There are plenty of churches and cemeteries across the city that are great to spend some time in, often for free! The most famous church of course being Notre Dame cathedral. The macabre and breath-taking Pere Lachaise cemetery, with its famous inhabitants, is increasing visited by tourists. However whatever arrondissement you were staying in, you are likely to have a quirky and interesting church or cemetery nearby.

One of my lovely surprises, whilst exploring the city, was finding a tryptic by Keith Haring in the Saint-Eustache Church near the Les Halles shopping district. The churches of the city are filled with stunning art. Eglise Saint-Sulpice is both magnificent and huge, when I visited there was a small Christmas market in the square outside.

show route and directions
A markerNotre-Dame -
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
get directions

B markerSaint-Sulpice -
2 Rue Palatine, 75006 Paris, France
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C markerSaint-Eustache -
2 Impasse Saint-Eustache, 75001 Paris, France
get directions

D markerPere LaChaise -
16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France
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Source

5. Your own hobby or interest

If you are lucky enough to be staying in this gorgeous city take time to take in atmosphere and enjoy your favourite pursuit. If your hobbies are creative, enjoy the knowledge that you are in place where Masters have found inspiration before you.

Knit? Crochet? You are in the home of Coco Chanel. Making a quick sketch? Know the Impressionists had been there before you. Making some notes of your thoughts? Oscar Wilde spent his time in this city doing the same.

There is no better place to enjoy your own creativity and than here. Especially if you're lucky enough to have one of the quintessential windows looking over the rooftops, what better way to spend your time than enjoying pursuit that you love.

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