Paris can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. It is possible to spend an entire day, exploring the city for free.
Start with a walk around the Luxembourg Gardens. Visit Musée Cognacq-Jay, listen to a recital at a nearby church. Later, for the price of a beer, dine on a bowl of free couscous and finish the night off with some cool jazz!
But knowing how to do it on the cheap or for free, requires a little research. I have done the foot work for you!
Here you will find free food, free WI-FI, free jazz, free museums and some of my secret places!
You may need to buy a beer to get FREE couscous or a wine to see a fabulous ensemble of jazz musicians, either way, it is FREE or dirt cheap!
Of course, by far, the ultimate FREE experience to be had in Paris is to be a ‘Flâneur’ – walk the streets, take in the architecture, discover the boulevards, tiny laneways, poke your head through an open door to a secret courtyard and don’t forget to look up and behind you.
If you have a cheap idea or FREE thing to do in Paris, please leave me a comment or contact me below.
pronounced wee – fee.
There are more than 250 free wi-fi hot spots in Paris, supplied by the city. These include parks, libraries and town halls. You can find instructions and a list of places that have free wi-fi under the drop down box Practical Information or click here.
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FREE FASHION SHOW AT GALLERIES LAFAYETTE
After admiring the magnificent stained glass dome and a spot of shopping, perhaps even a glass of Moet and Chandon at the Champagne bar in the wonderful department store Galleries Lafayette, why not nosey on up to the 7th floor at 3pm on a Friday and watch some chic French models strutting their stuff at their free fashion show.
You will need to book via email at email@example.comGalleries Lafayette 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris Nearest Metro – Chaussée d’Antin MAP
THURSDAY NIGHT MEANS FREE COUSCOUS
Not completely free, you are required to buy a beer or a glass of wine but that will get you a free bowl of yummy couscous. The three brothers have been keeping this café and institution alive for over 20 years.Les Trois Frères 14 Rue Léon 75018 Paris Nearest Metro – Château Rouge MAP
COOL JAZZ IN A CELLAR
Watch, listen and bop along, down in the dungeon of a ‘cave’ or cellar at Le Caveau des Oubliettes. Yes, it really was a prison once. Work your way down the narrow staircase, buy a glass of wine and listen to free jazz in the rustic cellar. You never know who might turn up here for a jam, you may be lucky enough to be there on a night that someone famous has just finished a gig and needs to wind down!Le Caveau des Oubliettes: 52 rue Galande 75005 Paris Nearest Metro – Saint Michel MAP
FREE JAZZ ON MONDAY NIGHTS IN THE HEART OF PARISEnter the unassuming entrance on Rue de Rivoli in the heart of Paris and descend the narrow staircase to a small 12th century, stoned walled cave and join the upbeat crowd to listen to free jazz. Musicians come here to jam and entertain in the tiny yet atmospheric cellar. Cave du 38 Riv 38 Rue de Rivoli Paris, 75004 Nearest Metro: Hotel de Ville Free on Monday nights only Official website in English
A FREE BIRDS EYE VIEW OF THE NOTRE DAME
Located on the left bank of the Seine, is the wonderful ‘modern’ award winning building of the Institute of the Modern Arab World. From their top floor, open terrace you can get a free birds eye view of the Seine and the Notre Dame. The buildings innovative window design is also worth a look. Don’t forget your camera!
Go through security and take the lift to the ninth floorInstitute de la Monde Arabe 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard 75005 Paris Nearest Metro – Sully Morland MAP
GALLERIES LAFAYETTE ROOFTOP
A wonderful free view of Paris is available from the rooftop of the famous department stores Galleries Lafayette and the neighbouring Printemps. If you can avoid the temptation to shop on the way to the top, it can be a free day!
Take the escalators in Galleries Lafayette as far as you can go and then take the stairs a couple of flights up, here you will find a large artificial turfed rooftop deck with Paris at your feet, offering views of the Palais Garnier and the Eiffel Tower.Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
40, boulevard Haussmann
75009 PARIS Nearest Metro: Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette Opening Times
Monday – Wednesday 09:30 – 20:00
Thursday 09:30 – 21:00
Friday 09:30 – 20:00
Saturday 09:30 – 20:00 Closed Sundays. Website Store floor plan & directory
- Belle Époque BrothelsLavish brothels dotted around Paris during the Belle Epoque were easily identifiable, some relics exist today, if you know what to look for.
- La GalcanteVintage periodicals and books fill this small quirky, off the beaten path shop in a secluded courtyard where you may find the perfect Parisian souvenir.
- Rue CrémieuxA tiny paved street, that oozes charm, lined with pretty colourful houses that will take your breath away, still one of Paris' best kept secrets.
- Le Passage des PrincesAmber lamps, giving off a warm, golden glow, with a beautiful glass ceiling, the entire passageway is dedicated to toys.
- Musée CarnavaletLocated in the heart of the Marais, this museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. Boasting 600,000 pieces, ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.
- How to Use the Paris MetroLearn how to use the Paris Metro and look like a local. Detailed tips on how to purchase tickets and navigate the underground.
- Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux DomestiquesThe oldest pet cemetery in Europe and the final resting place for TV star Rin Tin Tin.
- Musée de la Vie RomantiqueTucked away behind an unassuming green gate, you will discover this enchanting hôtel particulier. An absolute delight.
- St. Sergius Orthodox Theological InstituteHidden away on a leafy hill is the oldest Russian Orthodox Theological Institute in Western Europe.
- Montparnasse CemeteryIt's only fitting that Montparnasse Cemetery has a large number of film makers, artists, authors and publishers buried here.
- Marché aux Puces – Porte de VanvesA friendly, vibrant place to spend a weekend morning where you will find a treasure trove of antiques and retro items.
- Passage BoudinCreeping vines, colourful flower boxes and an unusual semi-circular building that would be more at home in the Mediterranean is just some things you will find.
- Père LachaiseThe sprawling and leafy Cemetary, Père Lachaise, is the resting place of many famous people and is a wonderful way to spend a pleasant, relaxing day.
- Palais Royal-Musée du LouvreThe jewel of Place Colette. Murano glass beads and aluminium make up this colourful metro entrance to celebrate the centenary of the Metro.
- Rue des ThermopyleApart from locals taking a short-cut, or Parisians on a quiet stroll, what you will find here is a wisteria filled, rustic cobbled pathway.
- Passage du Bourg l’AbbéSubtle and elegant pastel interior, muted by natural light from the unusual curved glass ceiling.
- La Butte aux CaillesA secret hideway with cobbled streets, a sweet village square, interesting street art and friendly, affordable cafés, tucked away in the 13th arrondissement.
- Petit PalaisNot as small as its name suggests. Elaborate ceiling murals, magnificent mosaics, grand staircases a pretty garden café and it is free.
- Jardin des TuileriesThe Tuileries history unfolds like a terrific saga. Once home to a Palace, Kings and Queens, a riding school, menagerie, hunting, fire and massacre.
- Musée Cognacq-JayThis stunning home of Samaritaine Department store founder, Ernest Cognacq-Jay and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, includes Fragonard, Rembrandt, Cézanne ...
- Villa Olivier-MétraPretty cottages with colourful shutters line this serene leafy path with quaint personal touches added by residents who have a playful sense of humour.
- Square de MontsourisA hidden jewel, begging to be discovered. Eclectic maisons wrapped in greenery, unseen by most tourists to Paris.
- The Secret PassageThis lush and adorably sweet top secret passageway is a pure delight. Let me show you where to find it and how to gain entry. But sssh ... it's our secret.
- Musée BourdelleFormer home and studio of the artist; Antoine Bourdelle, who was famous for his monumental public statues and friezes, is an exceptional free museum.
- Parc MonceauOnly a short stroll from the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe with a pretty lily pond and surrounded by elegant homes.
- Passage de l’AncreWho would know a delightful, tranquil little piece of paradise could be hidden away behind an unassuming crooked doorway in the heart of Paris.
- Secret Garden Hôpital Hôtel-DieuA secret garden in an unusual location, right in the centre of Paris that thousands of tourists pass by each day without knowing it exists.
- Lavirotte Building and Square RappExquisite Art Nouveau building with one of the most beautiful doors in Paris & a tiny square that offers a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Passage du CaireA unique façade, a magnificent glass ceiling, 360 metres in length, Passage du Caire is the oldest and longest Passage in Paris
- Square Saint-Gilles Grand VeneurHidden away behind the Hôtel du Grand Veneur in the Marais is a little known secret square with a surprising artistic connection.
- Musée des Arts ForainsTransport yourself back in time. Ride spectacular antique carousels, play ancient fair-ground games and admire colourful memorabilia.
- Musée ZadkineThe small sun drenched former home of Ossip Zadkine allow light to bounce off African influenced work, giving the museum a quiet sense of calm and elegance.
- Passage JouffroySift through old books at the famous bookstore; Librairie Paul Vulin as you walk upon geometric black, white and grey tiles and discover the quaint Hotel Chopin.
- Rue de MouzaïaOff the beaten path, Rue de Mouzaia will make you feel blessed that you discovered this secret hideaway and it’s surrounds in the 19th arrondissement.
- Porte Dauphine MétroSitting in a lush green park, the Hector Guimard canopied beauty of Porte Dauphine would have to be the prettiest Métro entrance in all of Paris.
- Passage des PanoramasBuilt in 1799 and inspired by the Oriental Souks, Passage des Panoramas is one of the oldest passageways in the world.
- An Angel in ParisSoaring high above, with it's delicate wings nestled under a fourth floor balcony and yet remarkably this rare Paris secret often goes unnoticed.
- Restaurant Foyer de la MadeleineLurking deep in the cellars of L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is one of Paris' best kept secrets, Restaurant Foyer de la Madeleine.
- Bibliothèque Sainte-GenevièveA remarkable and historic reading room with its spectacular ceiling, books lining the vast long walls and rows of green reading lamps.
- Marché aux Puces de MontreuilColourful fabric, car parts, halaal food, fur coats, old books and more. Slightly on the seedy side but that keeps it interesting.
- Marché d’AligreThis small ancient and charming undercover, neighbourhood market which is full of friendly vendors and a sumptuous array of food also has a small flea market outside.
- Luxembourg GardensMost Parisians will tell you the Luxembourg Gardens is their favourite park, it is easy to guess why.
- Passage du PradoRarely mentioned in travel guides, with not a tourist in sight, this unique passage was once in the heart of fashionable Paris.
- Passage VerdeauExplore antiques, rare books and vintage postcards beneath the elegant, neoclassical, glass ceiling, then continue over the road to Passage Jouffroy.
- Saint-Georges MétroOpposite the stunning l'hôtel de la marquise de Païva, with it's intricate façade, adorned with Gothic and Renaissance statues you will find the unique Saint-Georges métro entrance.
- Bibliothèque RichelieuMillions of books line the walls of this historic library under monumental ceilings and finally, it is open to the public.
- Bastille MarketsThe Bastille Markets are everything you could hope for in a typical Parisian Market; vibrant, colourful, delicious and intoxicating.
- Passage du Grand CerfNatural light drenches this elegant passageway from its 12 metre high glass ceiling with unique boutiques.
- Sentier MétroThe unique and striking blue and red signage of Sentier Métro, suspended from a spectacular façade on Rue Réaumur is the only surviving sign of two ever produced.
- Salvador Dali SundialMany people pass this hidden gem by Salvador Dali tucked away on the Left Bank of Paris unaware that they only need to look up.
- Maison de Victor HugoNestled in a corner of Place des Vosges, is the former home of famous author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame; Victor Hugo.
- Cité FloraleA secret micro village hidden away, in a small pocket, off the beaten path in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Discover why it is called the Floral City.