Are you looking for the best things to do in Paris, France?

Paris is a notoriously pricy city, and a lot of the top things to do cost money… a lot of money.

Fortunately, there are a number of free things you can do in the city that are worthwhile.

I used to live in Paris and I recently returned for a month-long stay, and I’ve always been on the hunt for the best free activities in the city.

A lot of lists I’ve seen online of free things to do in Paris include entries like “walk down the Champs-Élysées” or “visit the Latin Quarter.” And while these are nice areas to see, I don’t consider walking down a specific street or through a neighborhood as a real “thing to do.”

So below, you’ll find the best museums, churches, parks, and other free attractions in Paris.

Tip: Don’t make these common Paris mistakes on your trip!

1. Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet Paris

Musée Carnavalet is one of my favorite museums in Paris, and best of all, it’s always 100% free.

The museum is located in two interconnecting mansions in the charming Marais neighborhood and is dedicated to the history of Paris, from ancient times to the present day.

Tip: After you visit this free museum, walk five minutes to the elegant Place des Vosges park.

Here, you can visit the Maison de Victor Hugo where the famous French author lived for many years. This is another free museum (and it’s pretty small, so you don’t need too much time here.)

2. Free Museums On The First Sunday

the outside of the louvre museum in paris france

Most museums in Paris are free to all on the first Sunday of each month. If the timing works out with your visit, this is your chance to visit famous museums like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and more that normally carry a steep admission fee.

Just know that you’ll need to book a ticket in advance because the first Sunday free tickets fill up!

Tip: If the timing for this doesn’t work out on your trip, two great art museums that are always free and worth a visit are the Petit Palais and the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris.

3. Basilica of Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur in Paris

Sacré-Cœur is one of the most iconic churches in Paris. Located at the top of a hill in the Montmartre neighborhood, you can see some of the best views of Paris from in front of the church.

But many visitors don’t realize that it’s actually free to go inside the church too!

Unlike some other historic churches in Paris, Sacré-Cœur doesn’t charge an entry fee. It’s open to all, but if you want to climb the almost 300 steps to the top of the dome, you will have to pay €7.

4. Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette Rooftop

Galeries Lafayette is one of the most famous department stores in Paris. It’s also home to a great free observation deck with incredible views of the city skyline.

This is my top recommendation for where to go if you want to see views of the Eiffel Tower for free.

Tip: The department store itself is also really beautiful, and you can reserve a time slot for the free “Glasswalk” that allows you to walk below the stunning domed ceiling of the store.

5. Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Another one of my favorite free things to do in Paris is visit Père Lachaise Cemetery. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it’s a little off the beaten track for many tourists but well worth a visit.

For one thing, it’s a beautiful cemetery that feels more like a park most of the time, with big shady trees all around. It’s the perfect place to walk around and escape the crowds.

You’ll also find the graves of many famous people from around the world here: it’s the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin, Marcel Proust, and more.

6. Luxembourg Garden

Couple sitting in Luxembourg Garden

Many tourists head to Tuileries Garden, a beautiful public garden near the Louvre, but I personally prefer the less crowded and less touristy Luxembourg Garden instead.

This is another gorgeous garden in between the 5th and 6th arrondissements. On a nice day, the park is full of Parisians lounging in green chairs and soaking up the sun.

It’s the perfect place to go for a picnic lunch or just for a nice stroll, enjoying views of the landscaped gardens and Luxembourg Palace.

Tip: Another free garden to visit in Paris is the Jardin des Plantes. This beautiful botanical garden is located in the Latin Quarter about one mile from Luxembourg Garden.

7. Free Walking Tour

Street in Montmartre

If you’re looking for free things to do in Paris, why not take a free walking tour?

This isn’t 100% free because the tour guides on free walking tours work for tips, but it’s pay-what-you-can pricing. You can use a website like GuruWalk to find free walking tours in Paris.

These are great for first-time visitors who want to get an introduction to Paris without paying for an expensive tour.

You can also find unique tours that go in-depth exploring one particular neighborhood or a specific era in history if you’re looking for something a little less general.

8. Centre Pompidou

View from Centre Pompidou in Paris

Centre Pompidou is a modern art museum in Paris, and while it is unfortunately not free (except for on the first Sunday of each month), it offers a great free viewpoint of the city.

You can enter the Centre Pompidou and take the glass-encased escalators up to the top floor of the building.

These escalators offer amazing views of the city, expanding more and more as you ascend to the top, including views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

9. Covered Passages

Galerie Vivienne Covered Passage in Paris

Finally, one of the best free things to do in Paris is visit the city’s covered passages. Many tourists don’t know about these, but they’re a unique hidden gem worth checking out.

There are around 20 of these passages throughout the city, with the best concentrated in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements. Inside the passages, you’ll find hidden cafes and amazing little shops.

Some of the best to visit are Galerie Véro-Dodat, Galerie Vivienne, and Passage des Panoramas.

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