Things to do

5 Free Things to do in Paris

A trip to Paris often comes with a price tag, but with our guide, you can explore the city without worrying about your budget.


Paris has a bit of a reputation as one of the world’s most expensive destinations, and it’s certainly not difficult to blow your holiday budget on all the fantastic food, cultural experiences and tours that you can take around the city. Fine dining and luxury hotels aside, Paris is a goldmine of activities that can be enjoyed for free.

Having grown up in Paris, I know about many of the city’s hidden gems and secret places where you can enjoy an afternoon without having to worry about your budget. Hopefully my list of free things to do in Paris will help you to explore the city like a local, and fall for its many charms.

Free first Sundays

Many of Paris’ museums and galleries, such as the Musée d'Art Moderne, are free entry to see the permanent collections, and while many of its more famous institutions do charge a fee for entry, they also take part in ‘free first Sundays’. This means that on the first Sunday of every month, some museums are free entry, such as the Musée d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. From October to March, The Louvre also takes part in free first Sundays, and if you’re under 26 you can visit for free on Friday evenings, while under 18s visit for free year-round.

Stroll along the Seine

One of my favourite evening activities to do when in Paris is a stroll along the Seine River. While it’s possible to enjoy a boat tour along the river, it’s free to explore on foot and you’ll pass beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. The river passes through the centre of Paris, so there’s no better way to explore some of the city’s best sites. It’s dotted with quays and bridges, making an evening walk especially pretty.

River Seine

Take a walk along the River Seine and admire Paris by night. © Flickr user Ninara

Visit the Sacré-Cœur

One of the best views of the city can be found by visiting the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Free to enter, it’s open every day from 6am until 10pm, and sits atop the hill of Montmartre in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. Inside you’ll find stunning mosaic ceilings including a 475 square-foot Mosaic of Christ, a vast chapel, grand pipe organ and eerily beautiful crypt. Built in a Romano-Byzantine style, it was apparently inspired by such places as Venice’s San Marco.

Sacré-Cœur basilica

Visit the Sacré-Cœur basilica © Flickr user Navin Rajagopalan

Meet the locals at Marché de Belleville

If you’re looking to head a little off the beaten path, travel to Paris’ Belleville neighbourhood. You can enjoy wonderful city views from the Parc de Belleville, and on Tuesdays and Fridays between 7am and 2:30pm, you’ll find the Marché de Belleville. Selling quality fresh groceries, the market started in 1858 and has been held along the boulevard de Belleville since 1860. It’s really fun to explore the market and meet the locals, and it’s a great place to try your hand at a little French!

Discover history at Arènes de Lutèce

One of the most important historical sites in Paris, the Arènes de Lutèce is a wonderful hidden gem, away from the hustle and bustle of the main road. Tucked away in the city’s 5th arrondissement, the site was once a bullring and arena, built between the 1st and 2nd centuries. Once capable of holding around 15,000 people, the arena was around 100 metres wide. I love visiting this part of the city in the summer, when you’ll see locals playing pétanque and enjoying the sunshine.

Arènes de Lutèce

Step back in time at the Arènes de Lutèce. © Flickr user Carole Raddato
When you visit Paris, use our guide and explore the city on a budget.

Travel from Folkestone to Calais takes just 35-minutes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and then Paris is under a three-hour drive away.