Paris On A Budget: 11 Free Things To Do In The City Of Light

by Chris Dong

Paris is one of those places that tops the bucket list of cities to visit. As with most world-class cities, you can spend various amounts of money enjoying the Parisian lifestyle. However, I have friends who go to Paris and never seem to spend much money. I’ve always wondered how that’s possible because for many, including myself, a Parisian trip means beaucoup bucks! So I put my frugal pride aside and finally asked my friends about the free things to do in Paris that save them from spending so much money.

Here are 11 tips for free things to do in Paris. 

1. Take a free tour.

There are various options for free tours, but friends have told me about Sandemans New Europe — an experience where expats guide you around Paris for free. Tours last about three hours.

Sandemans New Europe Paris Free Walking Tour

2. Explore classical museums.

Some museums in Paris are completely free. Last time my friends were in Paris, the Musee des Arts et Metiers was free every Thursday after 6:00 PM and on the first Sunday of the month. The Europeenne de la Photographie was free on Wednesdays after 5:00 PM. You’ll both avoid the busy touristy hours and avoid paying a fee.

3. Watch free movies in the park.

If you’re a fan of French films (I am), check out the Open-Air Cinema in Parc de la Villette. They have free monthly films. As the French do, be sure to bring a picnic and some wine!

free things to do in paris

Parc de la Villette

4. Enjoy the Paris Jazz Festival

During the summer, there’s always live music in the streets of Paris. The annual Jazz Festival runs from June 30- July 22 and is completely free.

5. See the Paris Quartier L’Ete.

If you enjoy circus acts, theater performances, and fashion shows, you can see them throughout Paris from July 12 – August 3rd. And they are free!

6. Eat free food samples.

I don’t know the French words for “food samples,” but that could be Paris’ nickname. Especially the Rue Mouffetard, where you can walk along the streets and try everything from regional cheese to fresh baked bread.

free things to do in paris

7. Enjoy a free cooking class.

It’s true that people do go to Paris to learn how to cook, and they pay a lot for the experience. But you can also enjoy free, seasonal cooking demonstrations at Marche d’Anvers.

8. Visit a cemetery, the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise.

You may think it’s weird, but I like visiting cemeteries when I travel. This cemetery in Paris is a really interesting one, not only because of who’s buried there but also because of the lush landscape. It’s considered a garden cemetery.

9. Explore the flea markets.

Flea markets are not really my thing, but my friends like them. Even if you don’t spend any money, there is plenty to see at the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen. It’s huge!

10. Enjoy a free concert.

On Sunday nights, enjoy free classical concerts at the American Church in Paris. The concerts have been going on since the early 1930’s and have become a Parisian tradition.

free things to do in paris

American Church in Paris

11. Visit vineyards.

October is harvest month, so it’s really fun to explore the vineyards and see the freshly crushed grapes. Any time of year though, the Rue des Saules is home to a beautiful vineyard, Clos Montmartre, with wonderful views of Paris. It’s the last remaining vineyard in Paris.

Final Thoughts

It’s always fun to mix in some free events and outings with the paid ones. Many cities, Paris being one of them, offer up a whole host of free events that appeal to just about everyone. I may enjoy visiting cemeteries while you’re at the flea market……c’est la vie! I hope some of these suggestions from my frugal friends give you some new ideas. Do you have any of your own to add? Let’s grow this list!

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