Best Free Attractions in Paris

Best Free Attractions in ParisTravel can be an expensive hobby, especially when you’re visiting major cities and capitals. So why not add in a few free things to do in Paris to your travel list, because not only do these attractions cost nothing, they’re also pretty amazing to see.

If you don’t mind spending a little to ensure you have an incredible experience, then make sure you read our Guide to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Within both of our guides we mention the Paris Go City Pass, which is another option to help reduce the costs of visiting the city of lights.

Paris Top Things to Do for Free

Enjoy the Eiffel Tower

For most visitors the Eiffel Tower is at the top of their list of things to see. This iconic emblem of Paris and by extension France attracts over 6 million people a year. What started as the main exhibit in the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, is now one of the most photographed attractions in the world. But what makes it the perfect start to our list, is that you can witness its beauty from various spots throughout the city for free.

Of course, if you want to ascend the Eiffel Tower you will need to buy a ticket, which we’ve gone through in our guide. This will give you beautiful views of Paris below and the opportunity to stand on this incredible structure.

But in all honesty the best views of the Eiffel Tower are on the ground. As we’ve already mentioned, you can see the tower from various spots in Paris including the Place du Trocadéro and the Champ de Mars. We would recommend taking your pictures at various angles and throughout the day. It looks as lovely through the day as it does lit up at night, especially when the light show is on. This will happen every hour on the hour for around five minutes, so make sure you find the perfect spot to watch.

Visit the Place du Trocadéro

Because we have already mentioned it, it seems the next obvious choice, so why not visit the Place du Trocadéro. This spot is idea for those perfect views of Paris and the one-of-a-kind photos of the Eiffel Tower. It’s also a great spot to watch the light show, but it can get busy so make sure you arrive early.

The Place du Trocadéro can be found in front of the Palais de Chaillot and it leads down to the Jardins du Trocadéro. Because it’s in an elevated position you will enjoy an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. You can also stroll around the gardens which are home to the Fountain of Warsaw which has 20 water cannons.

Stroll Down the Champs-Élysées

Found in the 8th arrondissment the Champs-Élysées is known as the world’s most beautiful avenue. As you stroll along you will see many of the top designer stores, making this the perfect spot if you want to do some shopping. But for those who want to reduce their spends, you can simply take a wander down the street between the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.

There are lots of cafes and restaurants, so you may wish to take a break and grab a bite to eat or a drink. The Champs-Élysées is a great place to people watch, because it combines a good mixture of local Parisians and tourists.

Check out the Arc de Triomphe

arc de triomphe sunset viewsLike the Eiffel Tower, if you want to climb the Arc de Triomphe you would need to purchase tickets. But why ascend the arch when you can marvel at its beauty instead, whether that’s the sheer size of it or the intricate detailing. We first saw the Arch de Triomphe as we left the metro station, and it was a sight to behold. Yes you will see impressive views of Paris from the top including the Champs-Élysées, but if the pennies are a little tight then just enjoy the Arc de Triomphe from the ground.

So, what is the Arc de Triomphe? It is a commemorative monument celebrating the lives of French nationalists who fought in the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Great War can be found beneath the arch and is marked by an eternal flame. Upon the arch there are six very important reliefs each depicting key moments of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic War. They include General Marceau’s burial, the Battles of Austerlitz, Arcole, Jemappes and Aboukir, and the Fall of Alexandria.

Surrounding the Arc de Triomphe is the famous roundabout known for being the largest and craziest in the world. Not only is it the busiest roundabout in Paris, but there are also 12 lanes, and we cannot recollect there being any markings to show drivers which way to go: hence the chaos. We strongly advise you do not try and cross the roundabout because whilst we were there, we saw a couple running across which is incredibly dangerous. Instead take the underground tunnel which will take you to the Arc de Triomphe. You have pretty great access to the arc without paying, it’s only when you want to climb it that you have to buy a ticket.

Pose At the Louvre Museum

the louvre museum pyramid free accessAs you can imagine, to enter the Louvre Museum there would be a cost, especially because you’re seeing incredible works of art such as the Mona Lisa. But for many the most iconic part of the Louvre is the glass pyramid, especially if you search on Instagram for pictures of Paris. The best part of this is that the area where the pyramid is based, can be accessed by anyone and as such is completely free. So, practice those perfect poses and take a moment to relax and absorb your surroundings.

The actual building that the Louvre Museum is based in was built by King Francis I in 1546, to serve as a royal residence. Because he and his descendants were collectors of great art, it made sense that the building become a museum to some of the most spectacular pieces in the world. As you can imagine, because the louvre was originally a palace, its architecture and façade are ornate and lavish. So, whilst everyone else is wandering around the inside, you can take a moment of solitude and enjoy the outside at no extra cost.

Wander Up to the Sacré Coeur

One of the most popular attractions in Paris is the Sacré Coeur which is a Roman Catholic Basilica. It can be found on top of the Butte Montmartre which is a beautiful area, known for being the favourite location for artists such as Dali, Picasso, Renoir and van Gogh.

This bright white building with its majestic domes stands atop a hill and can be accessed in a variety of ways including the Funicular de Montmartre, the petit train de Montmartre and of course simply by walking up the steps that lead up to the front.

Sacré Coeur Basilica free bucket listThere are two great reasons to add the Sacré Coeur Basilica to your list, firstly because of the incredible views of Paris from the front, including the Eiffel Tower. Since you’re stood on top of a hill, you can see Paris from a different angle, and it makes you realise just how big the city really is, because the buildings seem to go on and on. Secondly because it’s a basilica there is no cost to enter, or in other words it’s free!

Sacré Coeur Basilica has donation pots dotted around the inside, as you would normally see in any religious building. You can visit every day between 6.30 am and 10.30pm, so this is a great option for later in the day when the museums are all shut.

If you want to climb the 300 steps to the dome, then you will have to pay a small admission charge. They also request that you remain silent during your time in there, so you don’t disturb others who may be praying. This means there won’t be any guided tours conducted within the Basilica.

When you’re inside the Sacré Coeur you will see some beautiful Romano-Byzantine architecture including the largest mosaic in France which depicts the risen Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, the Virgin Mary and Saint Michael. Then there is the largest bell in France, amazing stained-glass windows, the bronze altar and a grand organ. The crypt is worth seeing because it has a relic of what is believed to be the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

Walk Along the River Seine

A must do for any trip to Paris is walking down the river Seine and what makes this one perfect is it’s free. Most of the top attractions can be found along the river including the Musée d’Orsay, La Conciergerie, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

But what makes this a wonderful addition to your Paris bucket list (apart from the fact it’s free), is the way that it makes you feel as if you’re a Parisian. Strolling and watching the local artists sell their paintings or seeing people meeting with friends on the boat bars which are found all along the river, gives you that local vibe.

seine river street artist stroll freeThe Seine River is quite long though, so you can end up spending your day just ambling along, which isn’t the worst way to fritter away a sunny afternoon. We enjoyed it as we walked to each attraction, because the city really changes as you move through each section of the river. There are many bridges along the way such as Pont Neuf and Pont Alexandre III, which also have historical meaning to Paris.

Most of the time you’re on the roadside of the river and can use the bridges to get across, but if you want to get closer to the water then there are steps down. This is ideal if you’re looking for a romantic picnic spot and it’s an area used often by Parisians to meet with friends and family over the weekend.

Gaze at Notre Dame

As we are writing this (July 2022) Notre Dame Cathedral is currently closed and during our visit it was surrounded by boards with cranes in the background. This is the result of the fire in April 2019 which burnt down a large section of the cathedral and as such it is undergoing a lot of renovation. When it was open it was free to enter, but don’t worry because you can still enjoy the medieval gothic architecture from a distance.

Notre-Dame became famous because of the Victor Hugo novel the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It can be found on the Île de la Cité and its name means ‘Our Lady of Paris’. We wouldn’t expect this to take you too long, but we still highly recommend stopping by and having a look.

Visit Celebrities at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

It may seem a strange place to add as a thing to do, but the cimetière du Père-Lachaise is the ideal place for those of you who want to see the resting place of many artistic geniuses. The cemetery is free to enter and is a mixture of an English park and shrine, with many famous people having graves, burial chambers and mausoleums there such as Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. You can take a stroll around this serene area, before you re-join the hustle and bustle of the city.

Experience the Cabaret of the Moulin Rouge

moulin rouge windmillKnown as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can, the Moulin Rouge is a cabaret club in the north of the Montmartre region of the city. Although you can buy tickets to see the musical dance show, most visitors head to the area to witness the bright red spectacle that is the Moulin Rouge. That includes a large windmill on the roof which is a nod to when the area was a small village and had a number of windmills dotted around. In fact, Moulin Rouge translates to red windmill, so the connection would make sense. There are additional rumours that the many windmills in the area would double as brothels and the colour was heavily connected to the red-light district.

Either way it is a spectacle to behold and again because it’s free why not take the time to have a look and maybe grab a drink in the area whilst you’re there.

Visit a Museum for Free

Although there are some museums which offer free entry, most have an entrance fee and visiting these top attractions can add up. To try and reduce those costs you can take advantage of the museums for free on the first Sunday of every month. This wonderful idea has been in place since 2000 and means all of the museums throughout Paris are free to visit. This includes the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay and Rodin Museum, which are some of the top attractions for visitors to the capital. As you can imagine this will make them incredibly busy and queues can build up quickly, so get there as early as possible.

Take a Look at the Statue of Liberty – Pont de Grenelle

We all know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States, in celebration of their success in ending the American Civil War and building a democracy.

In contrast the Statue of Liberty Pont de Grenelle was a gift from the United States to France, to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. It can be found in the middle of the river Seine on an artificial island called the Île aux Cygnes and is a quarter-scale replica. Given to Paris in 1889 it was installed three years after the New York version.

You can either access the island from the Pont de Grenelle or the Pont de Bir-Hakeim or keep an eye out for it when you are standing on the Eiffel Tower. Whichever option you choose it will be completely free, so it’s the perfect addition to your Paris bucket list.

Saunter Through the Latin Quarter

notre dame without spending moneyIt may seem a little strange to list a neighbourhood as an attraction, but the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris is a little bit special. Famous for bars and cabarets, which drew popular artists and musicians to the area, the Latin Quarter is one of the prettier neighbourhoods in the city. It is also home to many of the top attractions such as the Pantheon, but if you’re looking at making it a cheaper trip then simply wander the small quaint streets or visit a café, order a coffee and soak in that Parisian vibe.

Get Inspired at 59 Rivoli Art Gallery

What was originally a squat for artists, became an art gallery and a venue for parties, exhibitions, and performances. The gallery is completely free to enter, and you can visit from Tuesday to Sunday, between 1pm to 8pm.

You will find the gallery on the ground floor which exhibits pieces from a variety of artists. There are also a number of artists studios available for hire throughout the building. Finally, every Saturday and Sunday evening 59 Rivoli becomes a venue for bands and music, from a variety of genres.

The gallery is only a six-minute walk from the Louvre, so it may be an idea to pop in afterwards and enjoy the local art scene.

Picnic in the Tuileries Garden

This is a public garden which is found between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde within the 1st arrondissement. Of course, because it’s a public space it is free to enter, hence it being on the list. But we won’t just throw anything on our list, only the places we really feel you should see during your trip.

The Florentine Garden was created in 1564 and opened in 1667 following the French Revolution, so as you can imagine it has a lot of significance to local Parisians and is the most popular park in the city. The main tree lined avenue, sculptures and fountains make this a must-see spot and it’s perfect if you need a little rest in the day. In fact, why not treat yourself to a little picnic in the park and really take in the atmosphere.

Roam Around the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

If the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are on the more expensive side for your Paris trip, then why not head to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. This is a modern art museum which is completely free, although they will accept donations if you wish to give something. There are over 15,000 pieces of work within the collection including murals by Matisse and paintings from Picasso and Braque. The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is in the 16th arrondissement and is only a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, so it is pretty centrally located and can easily be slotted into your day.

Reflect at the Fontaine Saint-Michel

Fontaine Saint-Michel free accessFound in the 6th arrondissement the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a monumental fountain in the Place Saint-Michel. It is an impressive and ornate neo-Renaissance fountain and was apart of the Baron Haussmann era. Although the 6th is a little out of the way, if you are in the area then the Fontaine Saint-Michel is certainly worth visiting. It was designed to look like a triumphal arch and uses different colours of stone, which is why it is so striking.

Within the centre you will find the Archangel Michael wrestling the devil and the water flowing out from an artificial rock base. To add to the dramatic look there were two winged dragons on either side of the fountain.

Learn on a Free Walking Tour

Walking tours tend to be quite expensive, so we were intrigued to see that in Paris there are free options. Simply Google ‘free walking tour Paris’ and you’ll see a few of them pop up. We would recommend pre-booking the tour even though it is free. They tend to work on tips and cover a number of areas such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, providing the history of the area and some fun facts.

Free Paris Attractions Summary

So, there you have it, plenty of options to keep your costs down during your Paris city break. What really makes these must do items is that many of them are locations where you will find local Parisians, so it adds a level of authenticity.

If you are heading to Paris then make sure you check out our guides, because it will really save you a lot of time in the long run. We hope you have a fantastic time when you are there and please tag us in on Instagram, we love to see our readers living the bucket list life!