5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Top things to do for free in Paris

PUBLISHED: 16:55 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:56 08 March 2017

Steps lead down to one of the charming narrow streets in Montmartre © Iakov Kalinin

Steps lead down to one of the charming narrow streets in Montmartre © Iakov Kalinin

Archant

From picture-perfect squares to streets once thronging with artists, we choose the best places that you can experience for free in Paris

Amble through the streets of Montmartre

Situated on the city’s highest hill, Montmartre has such a village charm to it that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Provence. This northern quarter of the city has a rich artistic history; Pablo Picasso invented cubism at the Bateau-Lavoir on Place Émile-Goudeau, while Suzanne Valadon, and her son Maurice Utrillo, lived in an apartment at the entrance to the Musée de Montmartre on rue Cortot. This very museum offers a fascinating insight into the many artists who lived and worked here at one time, with names including Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Degas and Dalí. A wander through the streets of Montmartre will eventually lead you towards its crowning glory, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Built between 1875 and 1914, this glistening white building stands tall above the city and offers unparalleled views across belle Paris.

The quayside running along the edge of the Seine © vichie81 The quayside running along the edge of the Seine © vichie81

Go for a stroll along the Seine

The city of love has no shortage of romantic places to walk through but the banks along the Seine have to be among the most seductive. This long, paved quayside extends for several kilometres from the Île de la Cité – home to the beautiful Notre-Dame – all the way to the Pont de l’Alma, which leads on to the unmistakeable Eiffel Tower, and offers picture-perfect views of other notable Paris landmarks too. You can rest your feet along the way at one of several barge cafés, which are open all year round and are a perfect place to perch and soak up the beauty of the Seine.

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

10 Paris museums you can visit for free

8 places in Paris the tourists miss

____________________________________________________________________

The Jardin du Luxembourg in the summer © lumikk555 Fotolia The Jardin du Luxembourg in the summer © lumikk555 Fotolia

Explore the Jardin du Luxembourg

Featuring on everyone’s top-ten list of places to go in Paris, this [iconic] 17th-century park on the city’s Left Bank is a great place to visit, come rain or shine. Originally the gardens of the Palais du Luxembourg, visitors today can explore French-style gardens with gravel paths and avenues lined with trimmed hedges on one side of the palace and English-style gardens complete with rolling lawns on the other. This iconic green space also has plenty to offer youngsters, with pony rides, sandpits and a playground, not to mention a large pond on which children can sail a rented toy boat.

The tree-lined Canal Saint-Martin © Delpixart The tree-lined Canal Saint-Martin © Delpixart

Spend time at the Canal Saint-Martin

If you’ve seen Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 blockbuster Amélie then you will remember that it was the tree-lined quays and green iron footbridges that made up some of the film’s most atmospheric scenes. This 19th-century waterway begins at Port de l’Arsenal marina, before going underground near Bastille and emerging near République. Extensively gentrified in recent years, the canal is today a magnet for trendy Parisians who come to while away an evening in one of the many shabby-chic bars and cool bistros that have opened up nearby.

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

4 secret villages in Paris revealed

Explore Paris in a day

____________________________________________________________________

Panoramic view of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont © Carlos Sanchez Pereyra Panoramic view of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont © Carlos Sanchez Pereyra

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Created in the 1860s by Baron Haussmann and his engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, this park is a veritable oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of central Paris. There is plenty to see here: giant cedars, palm trees, a waterfall and even a cave, complete with (fake) stalactites. Rolling lawns make this park a great place for summer sunbathing or for a tasty picnic à la française. And when you’re done exploring the park, round off your visit with a climb up to the top of Temple de la Sybille, which offers stunning vistas over the city.

The identical red brick facades that make up Place des Vosges in Le Marais © Francois Roux Photography The identical red brick facades that make up Place des Vosges in Le Marais © Francois Roux Photography

Pause for thought in Place des Vosges

Laid out by Henri IV in 1605, Place des Vosges was the city’s first planned square and was known as Place Royale. Situated in the Marais district, this square is a wonderful piece of town planning with 34 identical red brick buildings complete with charming archways. Today the square is home to many art galleries and cafés as well as the Maison de Victor Hugo, a writer’s house museum situated where the author of Les Misérables lived for 16 years from 1832-1848.

Like this? You might also enjoy:

Lose yourself in these hidden parks in Paris

10 alternative city breaks in France

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking for a new route for your next cycling holiday to France? On the ‘Trail of Two Cities’ route you can cycle from London to Paris and discover many beautiful towns and villages along the way

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 14, 2018

There are 14 villages on the shortlist to win the title of ‘France’s favourite village 2018’ – explore them all and vote in our poll to let us know which one is your favourite

Read more
Monday, June 11, 2018

In a patchwork of landscapes, the Upper Valley of the Aude boasts unspoilt countryside and a protected natural environment, which is perfect for hikers and nature lovers looking to escape the crowds of Carcassonne

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

Cycling through the Loire Valley past vineyards and châteaux, dressed in vintage clothes and riding a retro bike… what’s not to love about the Anjou Vélo Vintage?

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Need ideas for this summer holiday in France? There are plenty of routes for a multi-activity trip in the Maurienne valley in the French Alps

Read more
French Alps
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

From recycling schemes to public parks and green spaces, a number of French cities are making an effort to become more environmentally friendly. According to a report these are the 10 greenest cities in France

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Friday, June 1, 2018

From famous gardens in Antibes and Nice to less well-known jardins in Menton and Mandelieu-la-Napoule, there are plenty of remarkable gardens to visit along the Côte d’Azur

Read more
Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Explore Europe on a CroisiEurope river cruise and discover sunlit vineyards, vibrant cities and fascinating places...

Read more
Boating in France
Friday, May 25, 2018

Fancy something a little different during your next trip to France? Visit one of France’s many weird and wonderful museums

Read more
Culture and attractions
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Soothe aches and pains and take in beautiful architecure with a visit to these spa towns renowned for their thermal waters

Read more
Short breaks
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now