Free Things to Do in Paris

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.

What’s near­by? Notre Dame, the open-air sculp­ture muse­um and the mul­ti­tude of cool places that make up the icon­ic  Latin Quar­ter.

ADDRESS: Square Tino Rossi, 2 Quai Saint-Bernard (5th arr.)

HOURS: Fri­days and week­ends, flex­i­ble hours (from late after­noon until every­one drops) 

MÉTRO: Quai de la Rapée (line 5) or Gare d’Austerlitz train sta­tion (lines 5 and 10)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Pan­théon / Mouf­fe­tard / Jardin des Plantes

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

METRO: Bastille (lines 1, 5 and 8)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Bastille / Arsenal 

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

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sen­tier  / Cov­ered Pas­sages / Bourse

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.

ADDRESS: check out our favorite muse­ums 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.

ADDRESS:  —

HOURS: 24/7

NEIGHBORHOOD: Each of 20 arrondisse­ments of Paris

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.)

HOURS: 24/7

NEIGHBORHOOD: Canal St. Martin

DEETS: Parisian refugee spot, nice for evening drunk strolls, total­ly check out the graffiti 

Spot 13

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.

What’s near­by? Live­ly Chi­na­town area, City of Fash­ion and Design and Bib­lio­thèque François Mitterand

ADDRESS: 47 allée Paris — Ivry (13th arr.)

HOURS: 24/7

NEIGHBORHOOD: Butte aux Cailles / Place d’Italie

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. 

What’s near­by? Musée d’Or­say,  Hôtel Invalides, Musée Rodin.

ADDRESS: 46 rue du Bac (7th arr.)

HOURS: Mon. — Sat. 10a-7p

METRO: Rue du Bac (line 12)

NEIGHBORHOOD: Invalides

DEETS: off the beat­en truck, shop­ping encour­aged but not nec­es­sary, all spec­i­ment aval­able for rent if your daugh­ter wants a pony for birth­day or something

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