The best things in life are free, aren’t they? Yes, even in Paris, the city of 8€ espressos, we have found our fare share of activities that are totally ~lit~ AND do not require you to spend a cent. So if you want to balance out all the Cedric Grolet fruit tarts and recklessly decadent dinners, add something from this list to your itinerary.
Dance nights at Jardin Tino Rossi
You’ve heard of dancing in the moonlight, but how about adding the river Seine and view of the right bank of Paris to the equation? Each weekend, right opposite to the Île Saint-Louis, there’s a riverbank square known from its popularity amongst the enthusiasts of salsa, bachata, tango and other hot hot dances. No partner? No problem. Yours truly have been flirted on while peacefully sitting and contemplating life while (gracefully) shredding a tear or two, imagine what can happen in much more ~sensual~ environment.
DEETS: just show up with your dancing shoes and you’re good to go
La Coulée Verte
Paris is filled with parks, gardens green squares, forests; actually when G.E. Haussmann was renovating Paris in the 19th century, he specifically ordered a creation of « at least one park in each of the 80 neighborhoods of Paris, so that no one was more than ten minutes’ walk from such a park ». And don’t get me wrong, we are very proud of many of them — but only one was created on top of unused railway infrastructure, so there’s that.
This Promenade plantée starts right by the Bastille square and goes all the way through the 12th arrondissement to the Bois de Vincennes, with amazing views, city- and nature-wise alike. Feel free to walk all 3 miles to see how different it can be, from narrow passages filled with flowers to wide squares with people picnicking and playing ball.
What’s nearby? With the park crossing through few of the best neighborhoods, there’s an abundance of great cafés, restos and bars that will tempt you to walk off the road to check them out before heading back to the « green flow ».
ADDRESS: 1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont (12th arr.)
HOURS: 7a‑9:30p on the weekdays, 8a‑9:30p on the weekends
DEETS: park, great views, off the beaten track, expect the unexpected
Covered passages of Paris
Before there was ~the~ Avenue des Champs Élysées or Place Vendôme, to shop in style one was heading towards one of the Les Passages couverts. These glass-ceiling shopping arcades with rich ornaments and decorations were perfect for those days when you just ~absolutely need~ to take a stroll in your Louboutins and wool hat around, but IT’S RAINING! With the oldest ones dating back to late 1700, the passages were protecting all the single ladies (the married ones had a husband with an umbrella in hand at all times I imagine?) from rain, wind and accidental contact with peasants.
There’s only ~teen on the Right Bank that survived the G.E. Haussmann’s 19th century renovations (yeah, it was a bit shoot and miss), with most of them concentrated around 2nd, but also 8th, 9th and 10th arrondissements. Now you can find there some artisan shops, antiques, cafés and book shops. Perfect rainy day? Head to the centre to visit few of them, pick your favorite one and sit down for a coffee and a pastry with a book, while listening to the sound of the rain right above you. Who said you need a couple to lead a romantic life?
ADDRESS: For the full list of the passages with exact addresses and opening hours, click here.
HOURS: usually Mon-Fri, from 7/8a to 7/8p. Some open 24/7
DEETS: city art, architecture pearl, ~that girl~ vibes
First Sunday of the Month
First Sundays of each month are known as the holiest of days for the underfunded, and this might be the ~ultimate~ Paris hack. On that day all public museums and monuments in Paris offer free admission for everyone. That includes the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, even the Arc de Triomphe…
Downside? Obviously, the queues may get insane. But if you can spare that 17€ for an entrance, then the price of waiting a few(-ish) minutes is truly low. You can buy 2 very overpriced espresso and still end up with a profit, just saying.
Not so lucky to visit in the beginning of the month? Some places are free all year round. Check out the list here.
HOURS: first Sunday of the month, standard Sunday opening hours
DEETS: bring a snack and a bottle of water (not glass)
Picnic in the park
While this is more of a Summertime-only thing, we could not omit that one here — mostly because picnics in here are a big deal. These simple, yet chic affairs consist of good quality dishes (and quite a lot of le vin). If you do it on the whim, you can easily get away with simply visiting the closest supermarket, but if you want ~the full experience~ do as ze Parisians do — and get your picnic goodies from one of the many food markets dotted around the city. Don’t overthink it, simple solutions are the best — whether it’s cheese and butter on a best baguette in the world, olives, fresh fruits or desserts.
If that’s not enough food (or too much preparation) for you, you can always just pick up some food from your favourite restaurant and head down to the nearest park (it actually happens a lot, because the best restos are usually just a hole-in-the-wall that has only two outside tables and one chair…eh).
Of course, picnics are not only for the alternative lunch sittings, but also a great pass-time between other responsibilities, some time off with a book, playing ball or just to gossip and people watch with your homies. Siesta might be for our friends from the South, but we picnic-rest like no one out there.
DEETS: plein air meal, lazy Sunday, summer vibes
Drink off by the Canal St. Martin
Picnic seems to PG 13 for you? Well, you can always skip the food, the book and the basket and just head down the Canal St. Martin to share a bottle (or 5) while sitting on the asphalt with legs dangling down the water (sounds nasty to anyone? That’s how we roll in Europe, I swear). Great deal of gossips and people (or small ships) watching has been observed by these old stones and you are sure to be accompanied by some friendly Parisians that ~just forgot their lighter~ and will gladly make acquaintance with some nice strangers that lent them one. And if your butt hurts, you can of course head out to one of the great wine bars around these streets.
What’s nearby? La Villette neighbourhood with nice hangout spots and cool parks or known and belowed to all Parisians Le Marais.
ADDRESS: From place de Stalingrad (19th arr.) to Mémoire du 13 Novembre (11th arr.)
DEETS: Parisian refugee spot, nice for evening drunk strolls, totally check out the graffiti
Down the 13th arrondissement, right by the city limits, there’s a vast street space filled with some ~absolutely lit~ graffiti. Former « grey arrondissement », filled with ugly towers and boring rectangle blocks of flats, became a mecca for those seeking free artistic expression space. From simple popular culture references to huge wall activism, this neighborhood gives you a front row sit to ~real Paris~. Talking about taking the art to the people! By the way, they even offer tours for visitors — the cool thing about it? Every month there’s a new collection to show.
DEETS: art walk, ephemeral, off the beaten track, true alternative
Deyrolle, the Cabinet of Curiosities
Talk about « off the beaten truck » when you visit Deyrolle — the Cabinet of taxidermy. After passing the threshold, you see exotic specimens, entomology, and other natural history artefacts displayed around old wooden furniture and old 19th century-traveller decor. The opinions of 21st century visitors vary from calling it a « freak show » to « some sort of natural history museum ». You cannot also take away its nearly 200 years worth of history, or the fact that this place, has been frequently visited by great Parisian residents, such as Modigliani, Picasso, Dali or Nabokov, who searched for inspiration for their paintings and literature. Well, it’s always best to form your own opinions, so we definitely recommend you to at least take a peak while you’re taking the stroll down on the Left bank.