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Paris, France, Eiffel Tower

Pirates on Tour: Free & affordable things to do in Paris plus some money-saving tips💰

We know Paris is like Marmite, some people love it and others hate it. Having lived there, I can tell you Paris is a great city, you simply need to know where to go and what to do. Trust me, if you know the hidden gems, you’ll fall in love with the city. The other reason people hate it is that it’s expensive. And you’re right, it definitely can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

As an ex-local, I’ve pulled together a list of the best free and affordable things to do in Paris, so you can fall in love with the City of Love, just like I did.

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In Paris, there are countless free sights to explore, so you can fully immerse yourself in the city's charm without spending a cent. Admire impressive iconic landmarks, visit beautiful parks and gardens, and visit underrated attractions. Additionally, Paris has a bunch of vibrant markets for you to peruse on the weekend.

Discovering Paris doesn't have to break the bank, as we provide valuable tips to help you save money when planning your trip and throughout your stay in this enchanting city! 🙌

Our top free things to see & do

If you have a trip planned to Paris in the future, or if you have put off visiting as you know how expensive it is, then check out our list of cool things to do that cost absolutely nothing.

  1. Walk along the banks of the River Seine - You can take a leisurely walk, passing by iconic landmarks such as the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. To be honest, walking around any Parisian neighbourhood is quite nice.

  2. Père Lachaise Cemetery - Wandering around a graveyard might not be the first on everyone's must-do list, but this cemetery is filled with ornate tombs and the graves of famous figures like Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf and Jim Morrison, and so offers a unique, peaceful and free experience for history enthusiasts.

  3. Gardens of Paris - Paris has a number of picturesque gardens, perfect to wander around or to relax in on a summer's day. The most commonly visited are Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg, but I'd recommend visiting Parc des Buttes-Charmout, Jardin des Plantes and Parc Monceau.

  4. Eiffel Tower - Do you know the worst view of Paris is from the Eiffel Tower? Because you can't see the Eiffel Tower. Don't pay to go up and instead take a picnic to Jardins du Trocadero or Champs de Mars. You can also take great pictures of the Eiffel Tower from streets nearby like

  5. Notre-Dame Cathedral - As you might know, the Notre-Dame is scheduled to re-open at the end of this year. If the rules remain the same, then, while entry to the towers and crypt of Notre-Dame may require a fee, the cathedral itself is free to enter.

  6. Visit some of the more underrated art galleries & museums - Unlike in London, the majority of museums in Paris charge an entry fee (to avoid these fees, keep reading below 👇). But, some museums don't, such as Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Palais de Tokyo, Musée Carnavalet and Petit Palais.

  7. Sacré-Cœur Basilica & Montmartre - Entering the Basilica itself has a fee, but admiring the impressive architecture from the outside won't cost you a penny. Montmartre (where the Basilica is located) is also charming area to explore, known for its artistic legacy. Get panoramic views over Paris from the park in front of the Sacré-Cœur or visit one of my favourite (and most underrated) parks in Paris - Square de la Turlure.

  8. Street Art in Belleville - This area near Canal St Martin used to be a relatively rundown area but has been gentrified in the last five years, and is now a great place to spend a sunny day. Lots of people gather there, and it usually has a lively and vibrant atmosphere.

  9. Dance along the Seine - If you head towards Jardin Tino Rossi & Musée de la Sculpture En Plein Air on a weekend (usually 4pm until late), there will be people dancing to all types of music. Join them (all levels welcome) or take a picnic and watch them as they dance the night away.

  10. Markets - There are various markets across Paris, depending on what you're after and what days you are available to go. Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris' oldest covered market, dating back to the 17th century, and is open every day except Monday. It features a diverse array of stalls selling fresh produce, international cuisine, flowers, and handmade crafts. Other food markets in central Paris include Marché Saint-Germain and Marché Bastille. If you prefer antiques and clothes, you should visit what's known as the largest flea market in the world Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, just outside of Paris.

There are also many free walking tours in London you can join, where you 'pay what you want', so if you think the guide done a great job you can tip accordingly.

🏴‍☠️Pirate tip: Every year on the summer solstice (21 June), the streets of Paris erupt with music for Fête de la Musique (or World Music Day) and street performers and buskers perform music in throughout the city for free. It really is a beautiful day and magical to be a part of.

Cheap things to do in Paris

There are actually loads of cheap things for you to see and do in Paris, that won't break the bank, and you can still have loads of fun and get the most out of the city.

  1. 🍷Drink on the banks of the Seine🍷
    Either buy a bottle of wine and some paper cups from the nearest supermarket or sit at one of the popular bars. Some of my favourites are Rosa Bonheur sur Seine (they also serve great pizzas) or Maison Maison next to Pont Neuf. Alternatively, you can soak up similar vibes along the banks of Canal St Martin (try le Valmy or Paname Brewing Company).

  2. 🏛️Cheap museums🏛️
    We already mentioned there are a few museums in Paris that are free to enter, but if none of them tickle your fancy, tickets to Paris' world-class museums don't tend to be that pricey. For under €15 per person, you can visit Musée d'Orsay, Centre Pompidou (modern art), Musée de l'Orangerie (where you can see Monet's Lillies), Musée Picasso Paris and Musée Rodin. If you like photography, I'd highly recommend Maison Européenne de la Photographie (my personal favourite).

  3. ☕Taste a famous hot chocolate
    You might have to queue, but you can enjoy a deliciously thick hot chocolate at one of the iconic and historic cafés such as Angelina or Café de Flore.

  4. 🥖Eat a typical French meal🥖
    Eating out can be quite expensive, but if you visit any of Bouillon restaurants, you can have an affordable and authentic French meal. There are Bouillon restaurants in Pigalle and République as well as Bouillon Chartier, Bouillon Julien. They might have a big queue, but they move fast, or try get there early. Another cheap French option is La Cantine Diderot.

  5. 🛥️Take a cool mode of transport🛥️

If walking isn't your thing, you can also get a very affordable river cruise, so you can float up and down the Seine for an hour from €16.

🏴‍☠️Pirate tip: We wouldn't usually say the metro is a "cool mode of transport", BUT if you catch line 6, you'll get unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower as the metro crosses over the Seine between the stops Passy and Bir-Hakeim.

Paris money-saving tips

Naturally, us pirates are keen on saving every penny we can, so here are some of our best tips to cut costs during your adventures in Paris.

  • 🤑Visiting over the first weekend of the month🤑
    Almost all the museums and art museums are FREE on the first Sunday of the month, so if you really want to squeeze in as much culture as possible but don't want to pay big bucks for it, try visit on the first Sunday of the month.

  • 🚂Book the cheapest transport🚂
    Eurostar has regular sales from London that'll take you right into the heart of the city from under £40 one-way. While it might initially look cheaper to fly to Paris, take into consideration the cost of getting from the airport to Paris city centre and to add on luggage (since you get that free on the Eurostar). Paris Beauvais Airport, for example, is barely in Paris and will cost you at least €16.90 on top of your airfare.

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