Paris unveiled: 10 exquisite and free experiences for travelers

Posted on 22 September 2023 By Tsoku Maela

In the refined and elegant realm of the City of Love, extravagance often reigns supreme. However, Paris generously bestows upon its visitors an array of delightful and cost-free attractions that even the most discerning budget-conscious traveller can savour. These include a treasure trove of complimentary museums, art galleries, bustling markets, and idyllic canal-side promenades.

Below, we present the most exquisite complimentary activities to relish in Paris:

Picture: Seine River

Witness the Eiffel Tower’s enchanting light spectacle from Parc du Champ de Mars

While an ascent to the summit of the Eiffel Tower may lighten your wallet, the view from its base is equally breathtaking. Parc du Champ de Mars, meticulously adorned with lush lawns and manicured flowerbeds reminiscent of its former role as a military marching ground, provides the perfect setting. Bring along a picnic blanket, a bottle of wine, and the finest ingredients for a sumptuous meal. As dusk descends, watch in awe as the Eiffel Tower sparkles and shimmers, casting its magic over the city.

Window-shop at Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

Indulge in a delightful session of “lécher les vitrines” (window-shopping) at the St-Ouen flea market and antiques fair. Immerse yourself in a world of objets d’art and whimsical curiosities you may never purchase but can’t resist admiring. Feast your eyes on bearskin rugs, antique tapestries, and brass diving bells in this decadently eccentric marketplace. Exercise restraint as you browse, particularly when glancing at the price tags. To reach this veritable treasure trove, disembark from the metro at Porte de Clignancourt (line 4) and venture beneath the bridge until souvenir stalls give way to charming side streets brimming with captivating finds.

Peruse the permanent collections at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

For an enchanting journey into French culture, explore the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, one of Paris’s many complimentary museums (a €5 donation is suggested). From the audacious cubism of Braque to the rhythmic dancers of Matisse, there is an abundance of artistic brilliance to elevate your spirits. Navigate your way there by taking metro line 9 and disembarking at Alma-Marceau.

Pro tip: Enhance your museum experience with a free multi-lingual mobile app that guides you through the collections as you immerse yourself in the art.

Take an atmospheric stroll through Cimitière du Père Lachaise

Paris’s most haunting locale invites you to wander among the resting places of literary luminaries like Proust and Balzac, as well as modern icons such as Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. Jim Morrison’s grave, a pilgrimage site for music enthusiasts, is also located here, carefully barricaded to protect it from fervent fans. The tree-lined pathways and echoing caws of crows create an eerie yet mesmerizing ambiance, making Père Lachaise the most evocative walk in Paris. To reach this atmospheric site, head to the 20th arrondissement and alight at Père Lachaise (line 2) or Gambetta (line 3) metro stations.

Take a leisurely stroll through Parc Monceau

If cemetery celebrity spotting seems too somber, opt for a leisurely promenade among France’s luminaries in Parc Monceau. This picturesque park boasts statues honoring luminaries like composer Chopin and celebrated writer Guy de Maupassant. With its rich history, including serving as a painting spot for Monet and the site of a historical massacre in 1871, Parc Monceau offers a captivating setting for a peaceful stroll. Accessible via line 2, the Monceau metro station in the 8th arrondissement provides convenient access.

Pro tip: Enhance your visit with a complimentary glimpse of the splendid collection of rarely seen Chinese statuary showcased in the Musée Cernuschi, an Asian Art Museum housed in an elegant mansion near the park’s eastern entrance on Av Vélasquez.

Enter Basilique du Sacré-Coeur without charge

Perched atop the lively Montmartre district in the 18th arrondissement, this opulent white marble church offers a majestic interior adorned with golden mosaics and towering stained-glass windows. Here, you can also listen for the resonating peal of one of the world’s heaviest bells. While there is an admission fee to ascend into the dome or explore the crypt, visiting the basilica itself is free. This site takes on a particularly enchanting aura at night when it is illuminated by floodlights, and couples meander arm in arm through the charming neighborhood.

Stroll along the Seine River by Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Adorned with intricate gargoyles and Gothic embellishments, the imposing Cathédrale Notre Dame stands as an iconic symbol of Paris, a must-visit for all travelers. Although access to the interior remains restricted following the tragic fire of April 2019, you can still enjoy a leisurely stroll along the adjacent Seine River, offering an alternative perspective of the cathedral’s stunning exterior.

Pro tip: Volunteer guides from CASA still provide complimentary tours of the Cathedral’s exterior. These guided tours, available in multiple languages, gather next to the Virgin statue in the square. Be sure to check the schedule before planning your visit.

Explore Paris’ Roman heritage at Arènes de Lutèce

Delve into the remnants of Paris’ Roman past at the Arènes de Lutèce, located in the Latin Quarter. Dating back to the 1st century CE, this amphitheatre is believed to be one of the longest ever constructed during Roman times. While it no longer hosts gladiatorial contests, it remains a venue for a different yet equally captivating sport: pétanque.

Wander through the pathways of Cimitière du Montparnasse

Montparnasse cemetery, the final resting place for numerous glamorous and intellectual Parisians, exudes a quieter, less ostentatious charm than Père Lachaise. It’s the ideal setting for a serene stroll, offering a chance to get up close to notable figures like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Samuel Beckett. Access the cemetery by taking metro line 6 and disembarking at either the Edgar Quinet or Raspail stop.

Revel in tranquillity at Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Paris’ most elevated park may challenge your calf muscles, but it rewards your senses with its abundant birdlife, rocky landscapes, and a waterfall designed by the visionary landscaper Baron Haussmann. Amidst this oasis of nature, it’s easy to forget the bustling metropolis beyond its borders. Accessible via the Botzaris and Buttes Chaumont metro stops (both on line 7) in the 19th arrondissement, Parc des Buttes Chaumont offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.


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