Everyone dreams of going to Paris: the lights, the sites, the romance, the exotic cuisine, the history the culture...the list is endless. But with airfare and hotel costs alone, a trip to Paris can put quite a dent in your travel expenses.
This is where we come in as the best things to do in Paris are not necessarily expensive. We have compiled a list of the top ten free things to do in Paris. That’s right: free. Sure you might want to splurge on some of the typical touristy sites like the Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. But there are plenty of fun things to do in Paris that won’t leave you broke.
1. Sample Free Food
Paris is not one of the cheapest European cities, but there are plenty of affordable restaurants in Paris, so no matter what your budget, you won’t go hungry. We discovered that as long as you are willing to keep the bar tab going, the following bars and popular nightspots offer free food to their patrons.
- Les Trois Frères offers free couscous with lamb sausage after 8pm on Thursdays
- Le Penty offers free appetizers
- Le Bouillon Belge offers free mussels and fries
- Tribal Cafe offers free couscous nightly and free moule-frite on Wednesday and Thursdays
I am sure that there are plenty of other bars that offer free food with your beverages, but these are just a few of our favorites. Bon appetite!
2. Discover the Many Vineyards of Paris
If you happen to be in France during the month of October, you can take part in The Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, which is held in honor of the grape harvest. But no matter when you go, Paris has some of the most beautiful and ancient vineyards in the world. Stroll through the gorgeous grounds and breathe in the history of some of the most famous wines and champagnes from around the world.
3. Enjoy a Free Concert
There are plenty of ways to enjoy free music in Paris. A great number of churches offer year round concerts. Some of the more popular concerts may incurs a cost, but there are a multitude of free concerts for you to enjoy.
- The American Church in Paris a Sunday night concert series.
- The Notre Dame Cathedral offers free organ music concerts, Gregorian chants and other concerts for free year found.
- Église de la Madeleine offers both free and paid concerts.
There are many other churches and venues that offer free and low-cost music performances any time of year. Simply ask around and you will be able to find an abundance of musical venues to enjoy.
4. Take a Free Cooking Class
If you have a taste for adventure, and French cuisine, you will enjoy one of the many free courses offered at the Fédération Française de Cuisine. Founded in 2007, The FCC was created to teach consumers how to prepare healthy and enjoyable French cuisine. You do not have to be a professional chef to take part in these courses as they are open to everyone. The classes are offered at several venues throughout Paris, such as fairs and green markets. Take advantage of these free cooking courses and learn how to cook like the French!
5. And Have We Mentioned Free Cinema?
Imagine watching an outdoor viewing of your favorite American and foreign movies on the big screen in a park in Paris under the stairs on a summer night. Grab a picnic basket, a blanket and a bottle of wine and head over to the Parc de la Villette. In the summer months, the Cinéma en Plein Air offers a summer movie series.
Even more romantic, board a boat on the Canal de l’Ourcq in the Parc de la Villette at the La Peniche Cinéma and enjoy free year round concerts and films on Fridays and Saturdays year round.
6. Explore the Local Flea Markets
There are plenty of flea markets for you to peruse in Paris including the Village Vintage, Clignancourt and Vanves as well as the Porte de Montreuil. If you are an antique buff there is the Foire de Chatou held in October and March. You will be able to find cafes, antiques, fine wines, art and other such goodies at the local flea markets. But be sure to get there early, they start when the sun rises and usually close up by 1 pm. The early bird gets the worm, or the best wine!
7. Sample Free Wine at Local Wine Tastings
Both casual and experienced wine connoisseurs will enjoy free sampling at some of Paris’ finest wine shops. They offer wine courses, as well as free wine and cheese tastings on Friday evenings and during the day Saturday.
8. Be a Part of the Art Scene at the Le Centquatre
From the late 1960’s until 2008, this gorgeous 18th century building was abandoned. But in the last 8 years, it has undergone an outstanding renovation and rebirth. It is now one of Europe's top venues for modern art. You will be able to experience dance, music, cinema, theatre and visual arts all in one historic venue. There are live concerts during the evenings on weekends and there are vintage shops and even a bookstore as well as restaurants and a gourmet cafe.
9. Take a Romantic Stroll Around the Canal St-Martin
You have not experienced Paris at its finest until you have strolled along the breathtaking Canal St Martin with its picturesque bridges and canals. It is truly a site for the photographer in you and the perfect place for a romantic picnic for two.
10. Wander Aimlessly Through Parks and Gardens
It’s just not a visit to Paris without a stroll some of the magnificent parks and gardens. Be sure to check out the Jardin du Luxembourg with its tennis courts, orchards, an apiary and Paris oldest carousel for the kid in you. Also stop by the Jardin des Plantes which is the most popular botanical garden in Paris. It also houses the Museum of Paleontology as well as the world's oldest zoo.
There you have it! Some of the best things to do in Paris: for free! So pack your bags, book your hotel and your flight and brush up on your French! Paris is waiting for you!