Soak up the charming Parisian culture and visit world-class attractions without breaking the bank. Enjoy the budget-friendly side of the City of Light with our guide to the best free things to do in Paris.

By - Paul | Last Updated - 18 Dec 2023 | Go to - Comments & Questions

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Paris can be an expensive city to visit, but there are ways to experience the charm of the French capital without spending a small fortune.

Take in panoramic views, explore hidden gardens, admire opulent architecture and visit some of the best museums in the world for free.

We’ve put together the best free things to do in Paris, some of which only opened to the public in 2023.

Enjoy some of the best experiences Paris has to offer without spending a dime.

For ideas on how to save on accommodation, read our where to stay in Paris guide.

moncler store champes elysees

1. SALLE OVALE

The stunning Oval Room (Salle Ovale) in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Library opened to the public in 2023. It has ceiling-height bookshelves and ornamental arches under a 44-meter-long glass roof. This stunning room is a great place to read a book or just absorb one of the most beautiful free things to do in Paris.  

Location: 58 rue de Richelieu, 75002

Oval Room (Salle Ovale) Richelieu site France National Library
OVAL ROOM, FRANCE NATIONAL LIBRARY

2. CENTRE POMPIDOU OBSERVATION DECK

The Pompidou Centre is the stand-out building in Le Marais, famous for its inside-out design. The plumbing, air vents, and cables form the outside of the building providing complete flexibility over the internal layout.

There’s an excellent gallery inside, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, but you can also visit the roof completely free of charge. Just use the regular entrance then head up to the 6th floor for panoramic views of Paris.  

3. LOUVRE

The Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited museums. It’s surprisingly affordable given the world-class art on display, but it’s completely free to visit on the first Friday of the month after 6 pm, except in July and August.

We recommend using the visitor trails from the official website to plot your course. You can also see the iconic pyramid and the remarkable palace exterior for free.  

Our itinerary for 2 days in Paris, starts at the Louvre.

4. STROLL LE MARAIS

Le Marais is a fashionable district known for its old streets, historic architecture, trendy boutiques, and art galleries. The area is adorned with elegant architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

It’s a great area to stroll around and one of our favorite free activities in Paris. Visit the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris; and Musée des Archives Nationales, the finest private mansion in Le Marais. Both are free.

5. MUSÉE CARNAVALET – HISTOIRE DE PARIS

Musée Carnavalet recently reopened after a much-needed makeover. The new chronological layout covers the history of Paris without losing any of the charm of the two existing townhouses.

It’s one of the great free things to do in Paris. The section on the French Revolution and the development of Paris between 1848 and 1900 is particularly illuminating.

Location: 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003

paris history museum
MUSÉE CARNAVALET

6. JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG

One of Paris’s most beloved parks, Jardin du Luxembourg is on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. The gardens cover 25 hectares including a French and an English Garden. They were inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

Within the park, the Luxembourg Palace adds a regal charm to this serene green space.

luxembourg palace jardin du luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG PALACE

7. PÈRE LACHAISE CEMETERY

Père Lachaise is one of the world’s most famous cemeteries. The 44-hectare space contains over 70,000 burial plots throughout a large English garden. Some of the most famous people buried here include Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison.

Strolling the cemetery searching for famous graves is one of the most interesting things to do in Paris for free. Take a photo of the map as you enter to help find your way.

Location: Entrances are near Père Lachaise and Philippe Auguste metro stations.

8. EGLISE SAINT EUSTACHE

Saint-Eustache Church is a magnificent Gothic church renowned for having the largest pipe organ in France. The interior is classical Renaissance and it’s an awe-inspiring place to visit. There are organ recitals on Sundays at 5 pm where you can hear the world-renowned instrument being put through its paces.  

Visiting the church and attending the organ recitals are both free. Arrive at around 4:45 pm for the recital to get a seat near the console.

9. MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE DE PARIS

The monumental Musée d’Art Moderne houses the best of Paris’s contemporary art. The permanent collection is free, and you’ll find works by Matisse, Chareau, and Delaunay. Don’t miss the room hung with canvases by Dufy and Bonnard and the lovely views out the windows and over the Seine.

modern art mueum paris
MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE

10. PLACE DU TERTRE, MONTMARTRE

Montmartre is one of the most popular neighborhoods to visit in Paris. It’s been home to artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso, an artistic legacy that lives on today.

At Place du Tertre, artists are allocated 3 feet of space which must be shared between two artists on alternating days. Have your portrait taken or peruse the landscapes, caricatures, and silhouettes for sale.

The charming streets around the square contain hidden cafes, artist studios, and indie galleries.

place du tetre montmatre
PLACE DU TERTRE,

11. SACRÉ-CŒUR

The Romano-Byzantine Basilica of Sacré-Cœur offers a picture-postcard Paris experience with excellent views across the city. The interior of the church is free of charge. Admire the ceiling which is decorated with the largest mosaic in France.

The climb up to the dome is one of the best things to do in Paris, but unfortunately, it’s not free.

sacre coeur montmartre
SACRÉ-CŒUR

12. BOUQUINISTES & SHAKESPEARE & CO BOOK COMPANY

The iconic book stalls along the Seine River are an unmissable part of the Parisian landscape.

Over 200 booksellers offer vintage books, prints, historic illustrations, engravings, and collectibles. They are so important to the culture of Paris that they were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

You can also visit the Shakespeare and Co Bookstore, a happy hunting ground for book lovers in Paris.

13. MARCHÉ AUX PUCES DE ST-OUEN

Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is a sprawling flea market on the northern edges of Paris. It’s the largest second-hand market in the world with an eclectic array of antiques, vintage goods, furniture, and unique finds.

One of the best areas of the market is Marché Paul Bert Serpette. It’s the trendiest section with fine furniture, art, and decorative items. Although you might be tempted by the cool goods on sale, strolling around the market is one of the best free things to do in Paris.

14. LE PETIT PALAIS

The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Today, it houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts. The gallery has a free permanent collection containing several masterpieces, one of the most famous is Three Bathers by Paul Cézanne.

le petit palais paris
LE PETIT PALAIS

15. GALLERIES LAFAYETTE HAUSSMANN

The flagship location of this upmarket department store is an iconic shopping experience. But even if you’re not here to shop, the Art Nouveau building is topped by a shimmering glass dome, which looks particularly festive at Christmas. It’s also free to head up to the roof for one of the best, free views of Paris.

Location: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009

16. WALK ALONG THE SEINE

A stroll along the Seine is one of the unmissable free things to do in Paris. One of the highlights is Pont Alexandre III, an ornate bridge adorned with sculptures. It connects Le Grand Palais with Les Invalides and is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris.

It’s an excellent landmark to photograph, particularly at dusk, when the lights on the bridge and the Eiffel Tower are just beginning to come on.

eiffel tower views from pont alexandre iii
PONT ALEXANDRE III

17. STARE UP AT NOTRE DAME

A magnificent example of French Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame Cathedral has a rich history spanning over 850 years. Known for its intricate facade, stunning rose windows, and majestic interior, it’s a cultural gem.

Following the fire in 2019, the cathedral remains closed to the public. It’s due to reopen in December 2024. In the meantime, the square has reopened, and you can admire the iconic façade in the process of being repaired.

notre dame paris
NOTRE DAME

18. MARCHÉ AUX FLEURS

The Flower Market on the Seine just near Notre Dame sells rare and unusual flowers in grand pavilions dating back to the 1900s. The huge selection of seasonal flowers, exotic orchids, and shrubs makes it popular with locals picking up some color for their living rooms. For visitors, it’s a wonderful free thing to do in Paris.

Location: Place Louis Lépine – Quai de la Corse, 75004

le marche fleurs paris
MARCHÉ AUX FLEURS

19. ARC DE TRIOMPHE

Built to commemorate French military victories, the colossal arch stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. You can visit the base of the arch for free to see the eternal flame and the grave of the unknown soldier. You can also admire the intricate carvings and stunning statues on the façade.

One of the best ways to capture it, is by strolling along the Champs-Élysées. Another great free thing to do.

arc de triomphe and Champs-Élysées
ARC DE TRIOMPHE

20. MONTPARNASSE CEMETERY

The Montparnasse Cemetery serves as the final resting place of several of France’s most celebrated writers, artists, philosophers and political figures. Covering 19 hectares, it’s set among lush greenery with pathways meandering through the labyrinth of tombs and monuments. Some of the notable residents include Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett and Auguste Rodin.

Location: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014

montparnasse cemetery paris free activities
MONTPARNASSE CEMETERY

21. PLACE DES ABBESSES

Place des Abbesses is a charming square in Montmartre with a village-like atmosphere.

There are plenty of cool boutiques, cafes, and bistros to check out as well as one of the few original Art Nouveau metro entrance signs. The best way to see it is via a slow amble. Come on a weekend, grab a great Paris coffee, and enjoy the quirky second-hand market.

Don’t miss the Wall of Love just off Jehan Rictus Square featuring 612 tiles with the phrase “I love you” in 250 languages.

22. EIFFEL TOWER VIEWS

Capturing views of the Eiffel Tower across the city can be a great no-cost thing to do.

The best free viewpoint is Trocadéro, an elevated open space opposite the Seine where our 3-day Paris itinerary starts. There’s an English-style garden leading towards the tower with a 22-canon water feature, making it an excellent place for photography.

Ponte Alexandre III, the ornate bridge over the Seine is another great place to photograph the Eiffel Tower. Champs de Mars, the green space directly in front of the tower is also worth a visit.

place du trocadero view of the eiffel tower
TROCADÉRO

23. SAINT GERMAIN DES PRÉS

Nowhere feels more quintessentially Paris than Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This arty district on the left bank has cobbled streets lined with luxury boutiques, antique stores, classy galleries, and stylish cafes.

It’s a lovely area just to stroll around. Don’t miss Cour du Commerce Saint-André, a picturesque passageway with lively cafes.

saint germain des pres paris
SAINT GERMAIN DES PRÉS

24. EGLISE DE LA MADELEINE

Église de la Madeleine is a neoclassical church, planned by Louis XV as the main focal point in what is now the 8th arrondissement. It’s free to enter and explore the interior, however, it’s not overly decorative inside. The building is most impressive when viewed from the outside. Built like a Greek temple, the façade is adorned with 52 Corinthian columns.

eglise de la madeleine paris
EGLISE DE LA MADELEINE

25. FIRST SUNDAY FREE MUSEUMS

Many of the world-class museums are free to enter on the first Sunday of every month. If you can time your Paris itinerary, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of. Please note, although they are free, some require booking in advance.

  • Musée D’Orsay – Free admission to the entire gallery for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the Month. Advanced bookings are mandatory.
  • Musée de l’Orangerie – Free admission to the entire gallery for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the Month. Advanced bookings are mandatory.  
  • Centre Pompidou – The permanent collection and Galerie des Enfants is free for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the Month. Booking in advance is recommended
  • Musée Rodin – Free for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the month from October to March only. No need to book in advance.  

MAP | FREE THINGS TO DO IN PARIS

Find all these free attractions in Paris on our downloadable map.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


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