The view from the highest point in the city is free
So far in 2010, Paris has been experiencing a return to prominence as the top European destination for travelers. I found the city so beautiful and full of art, food, and wonderful people on nearly every corner. Plus it’s so easy to get around on the excellent Metro system.
To really enjoy this city you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. Book one of our value hotels and then enjoy these ten things you can do for free while in Paris:
1. Notre Dame – You can enter Notre Dame and walk the grounds for free. Certain areas are only accessible by tour, however.
2. Basilique du Sacre Coeur – See that big white thing on the hill known as Montmartre, you can tour it for free. It’s the highest point in the city, so enjoy the view, and it’s directly above some of the city’s best markets for exploring (don’t miss the spice market).
3. Take a ‘podcast’ tour – Download a free walking tour podcast and set out on your own. Rick Steves has a great Paris walk-tour and it’s a free download.
4. Enjoy a free walking tour – There are a number of free tours in Paris. At St. Michel in the Latin Quarter and in Montmartre you can join a free walking tour of Paris. Plus there are some tour guides who regularly offer ‘free’ tours. Just be sure to tip your tour guide.
5. Celebrity Spotting the easy way – There’s one place where you can always find famous people, the cemetery. The Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise is the famous resting place of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas can be found at The Cimetiere de Montmartre. Also many churches have some amazing burial tombs.
6. Have a Picnic in the Garden – Stop by the Tuileries, a 16th century palace with lots of public art to explore. The Jardin du Luxembourg – is best known for its puppet shows and toy sail boats, but it is also filled with sculptures, gardens, and excellent people watching opportunities. Grab a baguette, some cheese and wine and enjoy a wonderful afternoon.
7. Book Stores – Paris has some of the most unconventional book stores around. Les bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine are a must see and nearby is the world famous ‘Shakespeare and Co.’ store.
8. Performance Art – The Centre Pompidou usually has a free outdoor concert or other public art performance. You may also enjoy walking the streets near Picasso’s home (now a museum) and photographing the graffiti art that is a very popular activity there.
9. Look Around — The height limit set for buildings has meant that the density of architectural beauty is very high in Paris. There’s the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the exterior of the Louvre just to name a few. Repeat this tour at night for a completely different experience. The Centre Pompidou and La Defense are examples of more modern approach that has come to Paris lately.
10. Go Shopping for Flair – The Champs Elysees is world famous for a reason. But for me the magic of Paris is found in the small shops frequented by the locals. The Galeries Lafayette is known for its breathtaking setting. The unique Belle Epoque architecture of the store is worth a trip. Be sure to see the dramatic colored glass dome and the ornate Art Nouveau staircase while there.
This is just a short list. Keep an eye open for free days at museums, art galleries, and other events in the parks or streets of the city.