Our list of the top ten free things you can do in Paris, France during a vacation

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Paris is beautiful and is considered by many to be the most romantic city in the world. The “City of Light” is sleek and sophisticated. Unfortunately, it isn’t cheap.

However, if you can get to Paris, we can tell you about the many fun and free things to do in the city. These include canal side strolls, entry free galleries and museums and markets.

Here is our list of ten free, fun things to do in Paris.

1 Parc du Champ de Mars

A lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower might be a budget breaker but views from below the Tower can also be stunning. Parc du Champ de Mars is a former army marching ground. The lawns and flower beds are well kept and quite lovely. Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine, bread and cheese for a picnic on the lawn. This is a great vantage point to see the incredible light show at dusk at the Eiffel Tower

2 Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris

Decorated with gargoyles and Gothic touches, this Paris icon is a must see. The interior remains closed to visitors after the 2019 fire. Stroll along the Seine River bank to get a view of the exterior. The Cathedrale is charred and damaged but still beautiful.

3 Marche d’Aligre

If you’d like an authentic experience in a market that’s full of Parisians, Marche d’Aligre is it. Lively vendors will shout in friendly tones to buy de pommes. Watch the haggling and you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

The market is divided into 2 sections. The covered market is located inside 3 beautiful halls which will be appreciated by architecture lovers. See mountains of cheese and artisan butchers. The uncovered market opens out onto the square and has antique vendors and quite a bit of almost everything.

4 Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

The Museum of Modern Art is one of Paris’ free museums. It is dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries. See monumental murals by Raold Dufy, Gaston Suisse and Henri Matisse and the bolshy cubism of Braque.

5 Arenes de Lutece

See ruins of Paris’ Roman heritage that date back to1 AD. This is thought to be the longest Roman amphitheater ever constructed. You can find a quiet corner on the bleachers and just sit and think and be alone with history for a few minutes. The arena no longer hosts gladiatorial fights, petanque and soccer are played there now.

6 Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

In medieval Paris, the gallows were here. It was also a place where the bodies of those who were executed were displayed for months. From such grisly beginnings, it’s surprising the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is now one of the loveliest spots in Paris with great expanses of grass, a lake, suspension bridge and lots of paths, benches and playgrounds. There is a fantasy grotto, complete with artificial stalactites, shadows and lights and a 60 foot waterfall.

7 Canal St. Martin

Join Parisians at the water’s ede to watch a stunning sunset. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonapart to bring more freshwater and food to Paris, the Canal St. Martin opened in 1825. It has 9 locks and 2 swing bridges.

This is the perfect spot for a picnic. Sip your wine and watch the locks fill and the barges pass through the canal. The neighborhood has a dash of bohemian flair, so people watching should be fun.

8 Belleville

Belleville is a multicultural district with a history of rebellion. Belleville’s bustling Chinatown and artists residents make it an interesting place to explore. Rue Denoyez is where you’ll find Paris’ most dazzling street art. Stroll through Parc de Belleville which offers stunning views over the city.

9 Cimitiere du Parc Lachaise

Parc Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and covers 43 hectares. A unique place, it invites contemplation and daydreaming as it is steeped in art, culture and history. Wander through its maze of stones and vegetation. It receives more than 3.5 million visitors each year.

Parc Lachaise has over 70,000 ornate tombs. Notable figures buried there include Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Amedeo Modigliani and many more.

Jim Morrison died in Paris and he is buried in Parc Lachaise. His grave has been barricaded off to protect it from over zealous fans.

10 Musee Carnavalet

This museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. The museum occupies two neighboring mansions. You’ll see a huge collection of paintings, drawings and pictures of Paris through the 100 rooms of the museum. Entrance is free for the permanent collection.

Free Festivals in Paris

Paris has an array of free festivals throughout the year.

January

  • New Year’s on the Avenue des Champs Elysees
  • Traversee de Paris is a colorful parade of beautiful collector vehicles.

February

  • Chinese New Year in Paris
  • Carnaval de Paris

March

  • Cinema de Real is a festival of documentary films has some free sessions.

April

  • Journees Europeennes des Metiers d’Art is a festival with a focus on French arts & crafts
  • Trade Show at Montrenge spotlights contemporary art with new artists’ works in painting, photography, sculpture and video.
  • Kiosques en Fete – Kiosks host music, dance, plays, talks and sports.

May

  • European Night of Museums – Hundreds of museums and cultural venues will stay open late.
  • Le Printemps des rues is a festival devoted to street entertainment. Enjoy circus arts, dance and theater performances.
  • Tous a l’opera – Some venues host free events like concerts, opera, karaoke and more.
  • Villette Sonique Festival is an electronic music festival with a number of free events.

June

  • Festival 36th de Saint Eustache offers 36 hours of nonstop pop, rock and electro music in this Paris church.
  • Futur en Seine has free exhibitions and workshops on digital innovation and creation.
  • Fete de la Musique has stars and rising stars performing impromptu sets throughout the city.
  • Marche de la poesie is held in Place Saint-Sulpice for French speaking poetry lovers.

July

  • Bastille Day – Watch the grand military parade and accompanying revelry along the Champs Elysees and the legendary fireworks display.
  • Paris Plages – Artificial beaches are installed on the banks of the Seine and the Bassin de la the Villette with sun loungers, palm trees and refreshment kiosks.

August

  • Cinema en plein air festival – See open air movies on giant screens in the gardens of the Villette.
  • Traversee de Paris – Summer edition

September

  • The European Heritage Days – You can explore museums, private museums, ministeries and gardens of the Elysee for free.
  • Fete des jardins – Gardens are open to visitors with guided tours, gardening workshops, games, concerts and walks.

October

  • La Nuit blanche – See works by contemporary artists displayed in churches, museums, the Sene quaysides and the banks of the Canal St. Martin.
  • Fete de la science is a range of free events by the scientific community.
  • Fete des vendanges de Montmartre is a grape harvest festival with parades, concerts, exhibitions and tasting sessions.

November

  • Christmas Illuminations on the Avenue des Champs Elysee, on Avenue Montaigne, and in many other places across the city make Paris even more magical.

December

  • A traditional skating rink is installed in front of the Hotel de Ville and anyone can use the rink for free.
  • New Year’s Eve

Discounted Paris Hotels

Another way you can save money in Paris is by booking a hotel that offers discounted rates. If you can save $40 or $50 a night on your stay, over several days the savings will really add up. Here are some of the best deals on fine Parisian hotels.

  • Hotel Sainte-Beuve 41% Discount
  • Idol Hotel 35% Discount
  • Relais 12bis B&B 35% Discount
  • Hotel De Varenne 34% Discount
  • Hotel Le Bellechasse Saint Germain 30% Discount
  • Arcais Etoile 25% Discount
  • 9Hotel Bastille-Lyon 25% Discount
  • 9Confidentiel 25% Discount
  • Le 9Hotel Opera 25% Discount
  • 9Hotel Republique 25% Discount
  • Milestay – Hello 25% Discount
  • La Belmont Paris 25% Discount
  • Hotel Alison 23% Discount
  • Villa Royale 22% Discount
  • Villa Luxembourg 22% Discount
  • Pavillon Opera Grands Boulevard 22% Discount
  • Hotel Marignan Champs Elysees 22% Discount
  • Normandy Le Chantier 22% Discount
  • Villa Alessandra 22% Discount
  • Villa Beaumarchais 22% Discount
  • Pavillon Louvre Rivoli 22% Discount
  • Hotel Duquesne Eiffel 21% Discount
  • Hotel des Saints-Peres 21% Discount
  • Grand Hotel du Palais Royal 21% Discount
  • Hotel Louvre Sainte Anna 21% Discount
  • Hotel du Rand-Point des Champs Elysees 21% Discount
  • Citadines Bastille Gare de Lyon Paris 20% Discount
  • Hotel Mademoiselle 20% Discount
  • Hotel Les Jordins de la Ville & Spa 20% Discount
  • Maison Armance 20% Discount
  • Hotel de La Bretonnerie 20% Discount
  • La General Hotel 20% Discount
  • Hotel Flor Rivoli 20% Discount
  • Hotel de Nell 20% Discount
  • Best Western Empire Elysees 20% Discount
  • Les clas du 27 Paris 20% Discount
  • Hotel Le Clos Medicis 20% Discount
  • Citadines Montmartre Paris 20% Discount
  • Le Relais Saint Honore 20% Discount
  • K+K Hotel Cayre Paris 20% Discount
  • Hotel Camille Paris Gare de Lyon, Tapestry Collection by Hilton 20% Discount
  • Hotel Opera d’Antin 20% Discount
  • La Maison Gobert 18% Discount
  • Hotel Castex 16% Discount
  • Apostrophe Hotel 16% Discount
  • Hotel La Sanguine 16% Discount
  • Residence & Spa La Prince Regent 15% Discount
  • Hotel Muguet 15% Discount