Free Things to Do in Paris, France
Visit the Iconic Eiffel Tower
No visit to Paris is complete without taking a stroll through the Champ de Mars and checking out La Tour Eiffel. The Champ de Mars is a huge sixty acre park full of gardens and trees. The park stretches from the Ecole Militaire, a military academy that Napoleon Bonaparte once attended, to the Eiffel Tower and Seine River. Built for the 1889 World's Fair, standing 1,063 feet tall, the tower is the tallest building in Paris. There is a fee to ascend the Eiffel Tower, €3-26 depending on the level, but walking around the base of the iconic structure and enjoying the park is free.
See the World Famous Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris
The famous 700 year old cathedral with its twin 200 foot-tall, gargoyle topped, bell towers. Walk around the outside and look at the ornate façade then go inside to see the light coming through the beautiful stained glass windows. There is a fee to go up in the gargoyle towers, €7.50. The lines for the towers are long. I was there at the end of March when most of the attractions were free of tourist crowds, but there was still a huge line here.
UPDATE - A devastating fire closed portions of the Notre Dame Cathedral after April 15, 2019. The public is being allowed to enter the historic structure again as of June 2020.
-When you're done at the cathedral, cross the bridge over the Seine and browse the book stores and shops along the river.
Stand Under the Historic Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is huge monument honoring the French who fought in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon after his victory at Austerlitz. The names of French generals and victories are inscribed in it. It's 164 feet tall and 148 feet wide. 284 stairs lead to the top of the Arc de Triomphe where you can take in great views of the city. Getting close and viewing the outside is free. The inside is free for kids and €12 for adults.
If your legs aren't too tired after the climb to the observation deck of the arc, take a walk down the famous Champs-Elysées Boulevard. This grand boulevard is lined with luxury stores, elegant cafes, and restaurants.
Marvel at the Sacré-Couer Basilica
The Sacre-Couer is a 130 year old byzantine-looking Catholic church located in the Montmartre district of Paris. It's built on the city's highest point and affords some great views. It's a steep walk to basilica, but well worth it. The neighborhoods surrounding the church are colorful and lively. There's lots of people selling stuff in the streets, including art, clothes, trinkets, and just about anything you can imagine.
Pay Your Respects to the Dead at the Père Lachaise Cemetery
The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is a city of graves of past Paris residents like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Frédéric Chopin to name a few. The cemetery is the oldest and largest in Paris with over 300,000 remains intered there. It was opened in 1804. Free to roam around. You can buy maps of the maze-like 110 acre cemetery at nearby shops for €2.
Take a walk through the Tuileries Gardens
The lush gardens of the Jardin des Tuileries is located between the Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde. The open space of the gardens were once occupied by factories before the Palais des Tuileries was built there in 1564. The gardens in their current style were landscaped in 1664 during the reign of Louis XIV.
Now visitors can walk or relax on benches while watching children sail boats in the ponds.
Art lovers will appreciate the statues made by Rodin and Giacometti. They can also visit the Musée de l’Orangerie which sits on the garden grounds. It houses works by Monet, Renoir, and Matisse. There is a 9 euro fee for the museum.
The Tuileries Gardens are open year round. Hours are seasonal.
Museums with Free Days and Times
The Musée du Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and the Centre Pampidou are all free on the first Sunday of the month.
Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pampidou are free to kids under 18.
The Louvre is free on Bastille Day. Other times, the Louvre is €15.00 for adults and a couple Euros for kids, but well worth it. You can spend a whole day at the Louvre and not see everything.
As you can see, there are many free things to do in Paris. This article doesn't come close to being an exhaustive list. If you're like me you could even pass the day walking around Paris people watching, looking at architecture, or pondering the city's long and interesting history.
Have you been to Paris? What free, must-see Parisian attractions did I miss?